You already know that protein is one of the main cornerstones of a healthy meal. The macronutrient is crucial to building and maintaining muscle mass.
But protein also has another nutritional superpower: helping you feel full.
This includes at mealtime, which dietitians refer to as "satisfaction," meaning that if you eat protein during a meal you'll feel fuller faster during that meal. And that also includes after mealtime, which dietitians refer to as "satiety," meaning that if you eat protein during a meal you'll feel fuller longer after that meal.
(Slightly nerdy, we know, but important!)
Feeling satisfied at a meal means you're less likely to overeat at that meal and feeling satiated after that mean means you're less likely to snack between meals.
This is also why so many calorie-restrictive diets fail. If you're trying to cap your calories at, say, 1,500 per day, that could easily push protein off your plate. Yes, you'll lose weight this way, but you'll also lose muscle. Plus, you'll quickly grow tiresome of feeling hungry all the time and no wonder people hate dieting.
So how much protein is enough protein? Extensive research and the dietitians on our advisory board recommend that you target 30 grams of protein at each meal in order to reap the full extent of the nutrients muscle-building, gut-filling powers.
That said, sometimes it's hard to hit the mark when it comes to getting enough protein in your diet. And high-protein meals don't always sound that appealing, either. (If you've been eating nothing but grilled chicken breast every night, you know exactly what we're talking about.)
That's why you should check out these 18 high-protein meals, which are are flavorful, simple, and satisfying. Each one contains a payload of protein—and flavor. So that you never have to gnaw through another tough and stringy chicken breast again.
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1 Spicy Pork Chops with Pineapple
The chili powder, chipotle, ancho, and cayenne combine into firestorm of heat, tempered only by the enhanced sweetness of fresh pineapple rings grilled in pork juices. With a little mint and sea salt on top, it’s hearty and light all at once. Check out the video on how to make it.
2 Jalapeno Popper Chicken
Inspired by everyone's favorite tailgate food, this inventive recipe from Cast Iron Keto isn't your average chicken dinner. The chicken breasts are stuffed with jalapeño and two different kinds of cheese, each of which bring extra filling power to the dish. And it's all wrapped up in a couple strips of bacon.
3 Tuna Burgers
Firm, seared tuna. Creamy, spicy mayo. Crisp, crunchy snap peas. This burger has it all—except the beef—and you'll be totally okay with that. Click here to watch how to make it.
4 Sweet Chili Salmon
Topped with chili sauce, sesame oil, and liquid aminos, this flavorful fish recipe from The Big Man's World strikes a perfect balance between sweet and spicy. And even though it sounds gourmet, you can cook it in just 10 minutes, so it's a quick and easy option that tastes chef-ier than it actually is.
5 Chicken Pan Pie
That's right—a pan, not a pot. You'll enjoy 30-plus grams of protein per serving from the chicken, plus a hearty does of vegetables AND oodles and oodles of deliciousness. Check it out here.
6 Garlic Shrimp with Quinoa
This flavorful garlic shrimp and quinoa recipe from Well Plated is made with just one skillet, so it doesn't require a ton of cleanup. Plus, shrimp are one of the leanest protein sources around, and quinoa is also high in protein as far as grains are concerned, so it's a great choice for a filling dinner.
7 Steak Dinner
Okay, maybe this one is obvious, but this is like no steak dinner you've ever had before—let alone cooked. You make everything—the steak, the garlic spinach, and the sauteed mushrooms—all in one pan. All protein. Less mess. Get after it.
8 Sausages with brussel sprouts.
This recipe from The Castaway Kitchen combines both bacon and sausage in one dinner. The Brussels sprouts brings some green to your plate, along with the anti-inflammatory power of turmeric.
9 Black Bean and Corn Salad
Aside from the chewy couscous (or quinoa if you prefer it), this is a no-cook recipe, so it's ideal for scorching end-of-summer days when you don't want to turn on your oven. But even in cooler weather, this salad from Hurry The Food Up is an easy, colorful way to get in some vegetarian protein. It also makes for a great meal-prep lunch that you don't have to heat up.
10 Turkey Sloppy Joes
These Sloppy Joes call for ground turkey instead of ground beef, making it a lighter version of one of the manliest comfort foods around. This version from The Iron You also sneaks in some vegetables by adding mushrooms and onions to the mix. Adjust the spices to your liking, and turn it up a notch with extra chili powder.
11 Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas
Move over, Taco Tuesday: Fajita Friday is here with this simple recipe from The Lean Green Bean. Shrimp and black beans bring the protein, and you can top 'em off with your-go to fajita fixings like guac and salsa. Serve over brown rice or wrapped up in a soft tortilla.
12 Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo
It's hard to believe this decadent dish from A Saucy Kitchen is vegan—and high in protein. The secret is the chickpea pasta, which is having a moment right now. (Try a brand like Banza; buy it here). Almond milk, tomato paste, and vegan parmesan bring the creamy sauce together.
13 Ground Beef and Vegetable Skillet
This one-pan meal from Primavera Kitchen pairs ground beef with onions, bell pepper, zucchini, and asparagus. It's filling enough to eat on its own; you can also pair it with whole-grain pasta or cauliflower rice.
14 Skillet Zucchini Lasagna
Created by Health Starts In The Kitchen, this decadent lasagna gets its protein from hot Italian sausage, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese. It cuts back on the carbs by subbing lasagna noodles for ribbons of zucchini, so it's filling without being absurdly heavy. Mushrooms give the dish an extra boost of vegetables.
15 Tofu Scramble
This recipe from The Fitchen is made with tomatoes, spinach, and avocado, and it only takes 15 minutes to whip up. While it's technically a breakfast dish, this scramble doubles a quick dinner option whether you're a vegetarian, vegan, or a meatless Monday devotee, or even none of those things.
16 Salmon with Lentils
This recipe from Macheesmo advocates for keeping the salmon simple: basically, salt, pepper, and a little olive oil are all you need. Add flavorful mix-ins to the lentils, such as onion, celery, carrot, and capers.
17 Southwest Bean Bake
This dish from Pinch Of Yum is a Tex-Mex feast. Ground turkey, black beans, Monterey Jack cheese, and bacon bits make it a protein-packed dinner option.
18 Jambalaya Soup
Made with Andouille sausage, chicken breast, and shrimp, this hearty recipe from Gimme Some Oven is a triple threat in the protein department. The soup version of this Cajun classic is spiced up and loaded with veggies like onions, bell peppers, and celery.
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