When it comes to sticking to your calorie and macro goals there’s not much that beats a good batch of meal prep.
Not only does it drastically improve your ability to stick to your diet plan by making sure you have pre-made meals that fit with your goals and saving you from having to shop and cook when you’re tired after a long day at work.
But if you listen to a good podcast or throw on some Netflix in the background it’s never as painful as you think it will be.
In this article, we’ll look at some top meal prep ideas to help you ensure you’re getting enough protein.
But first, why is protein so important?
Protein is one of 3 macronutrients that provide calories to the body and whilst its role in the body is varied, in the context of dieting it helps to maintain or build muscle mass as well as make you feel fuller after meals.
Getting enough protein daily is the key to making these things happen. Knowing this the question now becomes how much protein do you need?
For active individuals, particularly those who are strength training regularly the research [1, 2, 3] consistently shows that a protein intake of 0.6 – 1.1 g per lb of bodyweight is what you need.
For a 160 lbs male, this would be between 96 – 176 g of protein per day.
The rule of thumb is to aim for the upper end of the bracket when trying to lose fat and maintain muscle and the lower end when trying to build muscle.
High Protein Breakfast Ideas
Sometimes getting enough protein in your diet can feel like a bit of a struggle, but with these breakfast ideas that struggle will be a thing of the past.
Using these high-protein meal ideas you can make sure you get a good dose of protein first thing, making it easier to hit your goal across the day.
- Eggs: Providing about 13g of protein per 2 eggs if you’re after a cooked breakfast then you’ll be hard-pressed to do much better than this. With numerous ways to cook them and tonnes of ways to eat them, eggs are the perfect ingredient for a high-protein warm breakfast.
- Loaded Pancakes: If you prefer something sweet for breakfast then look no further than our loaded pancake mix. They contain 20g of protein and 25g of carbs per serving which make them the perfect pre- or post-workout meal for anyone training in the AM.
- Greek Yoghurt: Packing 20g of protein per 200g Greek yoghurt is easily one of the best high-protein, calorie friendly breakfast around. It’s hugely versatile which means you can mix it will all sorts of things from oats to cereals and seeds and nuts to fruit for a diet-friendly start to the day.
Not a fan of any of these or looking for more substance? Then you could try one of the following: bacon, turkey sausages, chicken sausages or porridge oats.
Protein Filled Lunches
Your lunchtime meal is the perfect time to get a big portion of your daily protein needs which means you want to pick one main protein source and have a big chunk of it.
This can be done in a variety of ways to suit a variety of preferences and dietary needs but here are a few of our favourites.
- Loaded Ham Sandwich: Sometimes you’re busy and don’t have the time or energy to make a big lunch. We get that which is why we love the loaded ham sandwich. This easy lunch packs 21g of protein per 100g for the ham as well as 5-10g for two slices of bread which means by the time you’ve added some salad and some cheese you’re looking at about 40g in total, setting you well on your way to hitting your goal.
- BBQ Pulled Chicken: If you’re looking for a high-protein lunch that uses a ‘set it and forget it’ cooking style then you’ll want to take a closer look at this slow cooker made BBQ pulled chicken. With a whopping 31g of protein per breast, you can eat it with wraps, potato, rice or pretty much anything you like.
- Tuna Pasta: This is the kind of thing you always have in your cupboards but never think to make, even though canned tuna packs a fantastic 28g of protein per 100g. Add some sweetcorn, some light mayo and black pepper then mix into pasta for a high-protein take on the classic tuna and mayo combination. If that’s not your thing then switch the mayo for a tomato sauce for a more traditional take.
Not a fan of any of these? Then you could try one of the following: tofu and rice in a spicy sauce, lamb steaks with couscous or turkey breast sandwiches.
For most people, this will be the meal closest to finishing your workout which means you want a good mix of protein and carbs. However, it’s also when you’re likely to be most tired so you also want something pretty straightforward.
- Turkey Meatballs: A personal favourite of mine, these turkey meatballs provide 25g of protein per 100g and are super simple to make. Just mix the minced meat with garlic, ginger, onion, and spices of your choosing and then baked in tomato passata for 20 – 30 mins. Serve with couscous, rice or potato and you’re good to go.
- Homemade Lean Beef Burgers: Like the above, these homemade burgers provide 20g of protein per 100g and are just as simple to make. You can fry these off in a pan or grill in the oven before adding to a bun with extras of your choosing for a quick, easy dinner that tastes great.
- Baked Cod: Cod is possibly one of the most versatile types of fish due to its gentle flavour which allows you to combine it with a variety of flavours. Some of our favourites are the classic lemon and garlic or sundried tomato and black olive. Providing 18g of protein per 100g cod is not to be passed over when looking for high-protein dinner ideas.
Does nothing take your fancy? Then you could try one of the following: meatloaf with veggies, salmon and sweet potato wedges or steak and mashed potato.
Quick Protein Snacks
If you’re the kind of person who is always getting hungry then these quick protein snack ideas will not only help you hit your protein goal but will also help you stay fuller for longer.
- Protein Shakes: We’d be amiss if we didn’t mention protein shakes here as not only do they provide 20g+ per serving but they quick, easy and transportable making them perfect as pre- or post-workout snacks or simply as a way to boost your protein intake for the day.
- Cottage Cheese: If you’re looking for a high-protein, low-calorie snack idea that can be eaten on its own or mixed with a variety of other flavours then cottage cheese is the one. Not only is it a good source of other important nutrients but 150g will give you a huge 17g of protein.
More snack ideas include beef jerky, hard-boiled eggs, edamame beans or nuts.