10 High-Protein Meals Every Athlete Should Eat

by P S | Reviewed by Advisory Board

High protein meals: fish, meat, eggs, nuts, and cheese

As an athlete, you need to get enough protein in your diet.

When you work out intensely, muscle fibers exhibit microtears. In order for your muscles to rebuild and grow larger and stronger, you need to consume protein.

Protein helps your body recover after exercise and provides amino acids to build muscle tissue via protein synthesis. Thus, it's best to consume protein within 30–60 minutes after a workout. However, to make sure you get enough protein on a daily basis, it's crucial to include a quality protein source with every meal.

Check out these 10 easy, high-protein meals to work into your weekly round-up.

10 Easy, High-Protein Meals To Make This Week

Looking for high-protein meals to work into your weekly routine? The recipes below are simple to meal prep and pack plenty of protein, greens, and fiber into your diet.

1. Summery Shrimp Salad With Avocado

High protein meals: Shrimp salad with avocado

Image: Meals With Maggie 

Shrimp is incredibly nutrient-dense and low in calories.. A 3-ounce serving of shrimp contains just 84 calories, but nearly 18 grams of protein and plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. It also provides B vitamins, iron, and roughly half your day's worth of selenium. 

In this recipe, a pound of shrimp is combined with corn, avocado, arugula, red onions, and feta into a high-protein dish. Toss in a homemade dressing made with olive oil, lemon, honey, and mustard for a healthy lunch or dinner option. 

2. Ground Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers 

High protein meals: Ground turkey stuffed bell peppers

Image: Brownie Bites

Compared to ground beef, ground turkey has less total calories and fat but more protein. Plus it's rich in beneficial minerals, like iron, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.

These stuffed bell peppers are a low-carb dish with mozzarella, crushed tomatoes, onions, turkey, and plenty of spice. Two bell pepper halves offer more than 30 grams of protein, plus vitamin D, calcium, and iron.

3. Southwest Quinoa Salad 

High protein meals: Southwest quinoa salad

Image: Damn Tasty Vegan 

If you're a vegan or vegetarian athlete, it can be difficult to get enough protein to fuel your workouts. Quinoa is a versatile grain that can be worked into breakfast bowls, salads, and vegan burgers. Plus, a cup of cooked quinoa packs 8.1 grams of protein — far more than most grains.

This vegan quinoa salad combines quinoa, cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, avocado, onions, and black beans — which add another 15 grams of protein per cup. The flavor comes from lime juice and cilantro rather than dressing. These ingredients are also low in saturated fat and high in fiber.

4. Chipotle Chicken Bowl With Avocado Salsa 

High protein meals: Chipotle chicken with avocado salad

Image: Bowls Are the New Plates 

If you struggle to give up pasta, spiralizing zucchini into noodles is a viable option. At only 4.2 calories per cup, zucchini offers vitamin C, B vitamins, and manganese. Plus, the veggie manages to sneak in 1.5 grams of protein per cup.

This high-protein, Mexican-inspired chicken bowl combines chicken breasts, salsa, zucchini noodles, and a homemade chipotle vinaigrette. It packs a staggering 53 grams of protein into every bowl, even though the entire meal is just 550 calories. 

5. Sweet Potato and Lentil Hash With Garlic Sauteed Kale

High protein meals: sweet potato and lentil hash with garlic sauteed kale

Image: A Sweet Pea Chef 

If you want to eat more protein throughout the day, you may want to rethink your breakfast bowl. Grabbing a bowl of oats before sprinting out the door is a missed opportunity to load up on protein.

This meatless breakfast bowl features shallots, sweet potatoes, kale, red lentils, and a fried egg. Make this for breakfast and you’ll consume 21.8 grams of protein and nearly 10 grams of fiber to kickstart the day. Make it vegan by omitting the fried egg.

6. Chicken Parmesan Zucchini Boats

Chicken parmesan zucchini boats

Image: The Wholesome Dish 

If you're a fan of the traditional Italian dishes, there are plenty of ways to rethink your meals to get the same flavors and more protein and veggies. Low-carb options such as cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, and zucchini noodles offer far more vitamins and fewer calories than traditional rice or noodles.

This high-protein Italian-inspired dish combines all the flavors of traditional spaghetti and meatballs. Packing nearly 40 grams of protein and just 11 net carbs per serving, this veggie-loaded dish makes an excellent lunch or dinner option.

7. Sheet Pan Salmon and Roasted Veggies 

Sheet pan salmon and roasted vegetables

Image: Travel and Food 

If you're ever at a loss for what to make for a busy weeknight meal, simply roast a protein source (like salmon fillets) and veggies on a single sheet pan. You're left with a balanced meal and little to no clean-up.

This salmon and veggie sheet pan recipe calls for roasted asparagus, Brussels sprouts, garlic, and salmon filet on a cookie sheet with olive oil and seasonings. Half a salmon fillet offers nearly 40 grams of protein as well as essential B vitamins omega-3 fatty acids. 

8. Thai-Style Chilled Shrimp Lettuce Cups

Thai-style chilled shrimp lettuce cups

Image: The Kitchen Whisperer 

If you're used to enjoying wraps for lunch, you may want to swap your traditional tortilla for butter lettuce or collards. Using veggies in lieu of a wrap gives you more room for veggies and protein.

These Thai-inspired tacos combine red peppers, cucumbers, shrimp, and a spicy peanut sauce into a delicious wrap. With 22 grams of protein and just 9.2 grams of total carbohydrates, this dish is high in protein, keto-friendly, and as good as takeout.

9. Slow Cooker Green Chili Pulled Pork Bowl 

Slow cooker green chili pulled pork bowl

Image: Bowls Are the New Plates

Pork is incredibly high in protein. One large pork chop contains 38.6 grams of protein, with 13 grams of fat and 286 calories. You can use pork to make a number of high-protein dishes, including stir-fry, breakfast frittatas, and fajitas.

These high-protein pork bowls are made with shredded pork seasoned with chilies, lime, and jalapenos. You'll spread your dish over cauliflower rice and avocado, then sprinkle cilantro on top.

10. Strawberry Rhubarb Protein Overnight Oats

Strawberry rhubarb protein overnight oats

Image: Randa Nutrition

To finish out your round-up of high-protein recipes, we couldn't forget about dessert.

If you have a sweet tooth, there's usually a way to satisfy any cravings without wrecking your meal plan. Chia pudding, smoothies, and overnight oats are just a few dishes you can sweeten with berries or other healthy sweeteners. Add a scoop of protein powder to the mix for an added protein boost.

These high-protein overnight oats are a cinch to prep the night before. Plus, you can get your sweet fix by adding vanilla protein powder, almond milk, and a homemade strawberry rhubarb sauce. 

Try To Consume Protein at Every Meal

As an athlete, you should try to include protein, carbs, and fat in every meal. You should also consume protein immediately following exercise.

While the above recipes should give you a few meal prep ideas, we understand cooking meals from scratch is time-consuming. Plus, depending on your training program, it could be difficult to get enough protein through meals alone.

When you struggle to get enough protein in your diet, we recommend supplementing with protein powder. Transparent Labs’ 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Concentrate and Organic Vegan protein powder are easily transportable. You can toss them in your gym bag for a quick protein shake following your workout. You can also mix protein powder in smoothies, breakfast bowls, and even pancake batter to increase your protein intake.


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