If you’ve heard the buzz about high protein and low carb eating plans, you might wonder whether this type of diet is right for you. A diet plan is labeled as high protein if at least 20 percent of your total daily calories are from a protein-rich food source like meat, poultry, eggs, fish, or soy products like tofu.
While high protein eating plans don’t appeal to everyone, those who raise their daily intake can see some health benefits – according to scientific studies. You probably already know that low carb/high protein eating can help you lose weight and build muscle, but you might not know that it also boosts health in the following ways:
- Lowers blood pressure levels
- Reduces LDL cholesterol and triglycerides
- Promotes faster recovery after injuries
- Maintains strong muscles as you age
- Strengthens bones
- Keeps hunger and cravings at bay (protein intake reduces the production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone)
- Reduces blood sugar and helps regulate insulin levels
So, if you’ve decided to take advantage of these great health benefits, take a look at this article about high-protein meal prep. It’ll get you off to an easy start with lots of exciting meal planning ideas and helpful tips.
Meal Planning Tips For High Protein Eating Success
Whether weight loss, weight maintenance, or any other health benefit is your reason for switching to a high protein and low carb diet, your most important tool for success is organization and planning.
In previous articles on our blog, we show you how meal planning saves time and money while helping you make better food choices and successfully reach your goal.
Here are more tips to make your high protein meal planning easier:
- Plan to do your “formal” meal planning on a specific day of the week.
- Look for recipes online or in magazines to add interest to your weekly menu.
- If you’re inexperienced, try easy recipes to start.
- Plan the entire week of meals for nutrition balance and fewer shopping trips.
- Plan for snack items that fit into your high-protein eating plan!
- Choose your recipes and write down each ingredient you’ll need.
- Check your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see if you have any of the items on hand.
- Look for deals at local supermarkets. Typically, you can pay lower prices for proteins when you buy them in larger quantities.
- Make your final shopping list for the weekly meal plan.
- Separate items into categories according to the supermarket’s layout and save time.
- Do your shopping one day of the week. Choose a day and time when your supermarket isn’t busy or when you can get the best deals.
- When you get home with the groceries, start your high-protein meal prep. Break down larger cuts of meat or poultry into individual packages for the freezer. Get the tougher cuts of meat into a slow cooker for freezing later. And re-package other bulk items that you can store in the refrigerator.
- Cut down on your prep time by using an air fryer or cooking two items at once: veggies on a sheet pan while the meat cooks in the slow cooker or instant pot.
- Be flexible with your high protein meal prep recipes — if the supermarket is out of something, be ready to adapt or change your high protein recipe. For example, if you can’t get all the ingredients for your buffalo chicken meal prep recipe, plan for chicken fajitas or Mexican burrito bowls.
- Healthy recipes don’t have to be boring! Use plenty of herbs, spices, and sodium-free seasonings to keep yourself from losing interest.
- Make things in large quantities; make a big batch of turkey meatballs and freeze them for cooking later!
How to Get More Protein Into Your Meals
Whether you’ve decided to cut back drastically on the amount of carbs you eat or just want to boost your protein intake, we’ve got some great ideas for getting that extra protein into your meals. Remember to consult your doctor before starting any new diets, such as keto or paleo.
To get you started, here’s a list of some readily available foods – high in protein – that you can easily incorporate into your weekly meal plans:
- Ground chicken, turkey, beef, pork, lamb
- Large cuts of beef or pork for slow-roasting or braising
- Whole turkey or chicken for roasting or soups
- Steaks, pork chops, individual chicken breasts, or leg pieces that cook fast
- Deli slices of turkey, ham, beef, etc.
- Cheeses like cottage cheese, feta, and parmesan
- Yogurt (especially high protein varieties like Greek yogurt)
- Canned salmon or tuna
- Fresh or frozen fish
- Whey powder
- Beef jerky
- Venison and other wild game
And don’t forget these nutritious veggie sources of protein:
- Almonds and almond butter
- Soy products like tofu, tempeh, edamame
- Black beans, chickpeas, and lentils
- Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts
- Peanuts and peanut butter
High Protein Meal Prep Ideas Using a Slow Cooker
If you’re away from home during the day and want a meal ready when you walk in the door, use a slow cooker. Pull your protein of choice out of the freezer and get other ingredients prepped the night before. Put everything into the slow cooker in the morning, set the timer, and come home to a delicious meal.
A few ideas for super easy, high protein, slow-cooked meals include:
Different types of chilis made with beef, pork, chicken, or only beans.
Rich, hearty stews made from tougher cuts of meat that need longer and slower cooking. Add vegetables like celery, onions, carrots, and potatoes that cook down slowly and add more flavor to the broth.
Comforting soups are perfect for high-protein lunches and weeknight dinners. You can find many high-protein soup recipes online that work well in a slow cooker.
Braised beef roasts cooked slowly and at low temperatures are tender and yummy. Let the meat have the starring role accompanied by vegetable side dishes. Or, make it play second fiddle by adding it to other dishes like beef and broccoli, beef tacos, or sliced thinly for wraps or sandwiches.
Slow-cooked chicken thighs can also serve as the main dish, or you can add the meat to other dishes. They also work in wraps and sandwiches for lunches.
Meat sauces like bolognese using ground beef, pork, turkey, or a combination. You can serve them on pasta or rice if you aren’t cutting carbohydrates, in tacos, on salads, or in lettuce leaf wraps.
Last-Minute Protein-Packed Meal Prep Ideas
When you need to come up with a meal that fits your eating plan in short order, there are plenty of ideas.
Stir fry a protein like chicken breast or thinly cut beef in a hot wok or fry pan. Add some low-carb vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, onions, and garlic. Then finish it with some soy or teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds.
Pan-fried fish filets cook fast and are loaded with healthy fats. You can serve them with just about anything, like quinoa and a fresh, green salad.
Beef or pork steaks or chops are packed with protein, easy to make, and satisfying after a long day. They go with all kinds of different sides too.
Use eggs. Eggs are loaded with protein (six grams of protein per large egg), cook quickly, and are the king of easy meal prep. You can scramble them and add some cheese, make an omelet with mushrooms, or get fancy and make a frittata with loads of vegetables. And don’t forget to hard-boil some eggs for easy snacking.
Interested in High Protein Meals Delivered to You?
If you want to try some delicious, high-protein meals delivered to your door in Mahoning, Trumbull, or Columbiana counties, try YoFresh! We’ve got delicious Asian, Mediterranean, and BBQ dishes, all healthy, high protein, and low carb! You can also find more tips for healthy meal prep, meal planning, and more at Yofreshfood.com.