A lot of people choose to start their day off on the right foot with a high-protein breakfast.
Protein is a very satiating macronutrient, so it can help you stay fuller for longer, supporting healthy weight management and preventing an energy crash at your desk mid-morning that leaves you reaching for a sugary coffee drink and a candy bar.
However, while we often begin the day with the best intentions to eat well and get in enough protein, by the time lunch rolls around, some of that resolve has faded away from the stress and busyness of the day.
Many people would like to eat a high protein lunch but don’t have many high protein lunch ideas, and find it easier to grab something convenient at work.
Ideally, your lunch should have about 20-30 grams of protein, depending on your body size and goals.
Fortunately, there are some easy high protein lunch ideas that you can readily modify based on your preferences. Whether you are looking for high protein lunch ideas for weight loss or just to eat healthier, we will give you plenty of variety for healthy meals to enjoy throughout the week.
Ready to swap your bagel or basic sandwich for one of our filling, high protein lunch ideas?Keep reading for some of the best healthy high protein lunch ideas:
#1: A Protein-Packed Smoothie
Smoothies are truly a blank canvas where your own customization and personalization can take over based on the ingredients you have available and your flavor preferences.
A basic smoothie recipe should involve a protein source such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or protein powder. You can also combine Greek yogurt and protein powder for a super high-protein smoothie.
Add milk or plant-based milk such as almond milk, oat milk, or coconut milk.
Then, load up with fruits and veggies.
Here is a basic smoothie recipe:
- 1 frozen banana, chopped
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- 1 cup unsweetened milk (almond, soy, dairy)
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 1 teaspoon flax seeds
Blend everything together. You can add ice if you like a thicker consistency or add more milk if you like more of a juice-like texture.
Other fruits that work well in smoothies include pineapple, mango, melon, and peaches.
You can add frozen riced cauliflower to bulk up the smoothie and reduce the carbohydrate content while also providing some potassium, vitamin C, and a little bit of fiber.
#2: Edamame and Tofu Salad
Edamame is popular in Japanese cuisine, but no matter what part of the world you’re from, we could all stand to follow suit by adding this high-protein, high-fiber legume to our diets.
Edamame is green soybeans that are typically found either in their pods or shelled in the frozen aisle of the grocery store.
One half-cup serving of edamame has 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and minerals like iron and magnesium.
Add cubed tofu, slivered almonds, and steamed broccoli florets. Dress the salad with low-sodium soy sauce or tamari sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds for a high protein lunch idea with flavor notes from pan-Asian cuisine.
Tofu adds a lot more protein, and you’ll get even a bit more with the almonds and broccoli, along with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, and magnesium.
You can also put a Mexican flavor spin on your high-protein salad by combining the shelled edamame, thawed frozen corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and jalapeños. You can dress the salad with lime juice and a little salsa or sour cream.
The black beans will increase the protein and fiber content, and the array of veggies each contributes different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
#3: Turkey, Cheese, and Apple Sandwich
Simple turkey sandwiches with a slice of cheese are certainly a lunchtime staple, especially for children, but you can doctor up this classic for a more sophisticated palate while also boosting the protein content.
Instead of white bread, use whole grain bread or a whole grain wrap. This swap will increase the protein, fiber, and B vitamins.
Use low-sodium deli turkey, which has about 9 g of protein in a 2-ounce serving. Alternatively, you can make turkey breast and then slice pieces to place in rows on your sandwich.
Add cheddar cheese, baby leaf spinach, and slices of Granny Smith apple to round out the flavor profile of the sandwich with creaminess, sharpness, sweetness, and acidity.
The spinach will add vitamins and minerals and a little more protein, and the cheddar cheese will add additional protein and calcium.
#4: Greek Yogurt Parfait
A plain individual cup of Greek yogurt without any add-ins probably isn’t going to feel as satisfying as an entire lunch, nor will it keep you full for long enough to prevent a mid-afternoon hunger crash.
However, you can bolster the meal using Greek yogurt as a canvas to add additional ingredients to round out this one of our high protein lunch ideas.
One cup (8 ounces or 227 ounces) of nonfat plain Greek yogurt has about 23 grams of protein.
Use one cup of low-fat Greek yogurt, fresh or thawed frozen mixed berries, slivered almonds or crumbed walnuts, coconut flakes, and flaxseeds.
You can also add low-sugar granola or muesli for a more filling lunch.
#5: Cottage Cheese
Like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese can be a great foil for a high-protein lunch. Although you can certainly just eat it plain, again, this probably won’t be the most satisfying or filling option.
However, it’s quite easy to doctor up cottage cheese in the same types of ways you would for Greek yogurt. A lot of people enjoy sliced fruit such as peaches, bananas, and pineapple with their cottage cheese.
You can also go in a different direction and add chopped nuts, coconut flakes, a drizzle of honey, and even some cacao nibs.
One cup (8 ounces or 227 ounces) of cottage cheese has about 24 grams of protein.
#6: Beef Lettuce Wraps
If you want a high-protein, low-carb lunch, you can whip together beef lettuce wraps. Lean ground beef is packed with 25 grams of protein in just 3 ounces. You’ll also get a ton of iron and B vitamins, including vitamin B12, which helps generate energy.
Add pinto beans, diced tomato, onion, avocado, bell peppers, corn, and jalapeños. Top with salsa and cilantro!
You can also sprinkle in pepper jack or cheddar cheese to boost the protein even more.
This is a super filling, low-carb, high protein lunch. Note that you can skip the beans and corn if you’re following the keto diet or need to cut carbs further.
#7: Tuna Lettuce Wrap
If you don’t like beef or you try to avoid red meat in your diet, you can make this same basic beef lettuce wrap recipe with tuna fish, chicken, turkey, or any other protein.
If you’re not following a low-carb diet, you can use a whole-grain tortilla for a more filling, balanced lunch.
You don’t have to flavor these the same way.
With turkey, you might like green apples and cheddar cheese. With tuna, you might like celery, lettuce, avocado, and tomato.
Play around with combinations you enjoy.
#8: Hummus, Eggs, and Veggies
Another one of our great low-carb, high protein lunch ideas is to pack a bento box with homemade (or pre-packaged) hummus, hard-boiled eggs or deviled eggs, and dippable crudités like baby carrots, celery, cucumber strips, pepper strips, broccoli florets, and snap peas.
Hummus is made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and tahini, which is a sesame paste. It is high in protein, and fiber, and contains complex carbohydrates to keep you energized and satisfied for several hours.
Eggs are a complete source of proteins and contain many essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin D, biotin, and B vitamins.
Add sliced avocado and cherry tomatoes in the other slots of your bento box.
Of course, the lunch box isn’t mandatory! Just pack the hummus and eggs in separate containers and throw the vegetables in a ziplock bag.
If you’re not concerned about carbs, you can also enjoy whole-grain pita or crackers.
#9: Protein Power Bowl or Salad
You can make a high-protein salad or high-protein grain bowl with your choice of protein, veggies, and whole grains or greens, depending on your macronutrient and calorie goals.
Ideas for protein include chicken, turkey, hard-boiled eggs, chickpeas, tofu, seitan, tempeh, edamame, beans, or other animal protein.
Add your favorite vegetables, and then add seeds or nuts, such as walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, or almonds.
You can also add cranberries, grapes, raisins, or other fruits, depending on how you like to flavor your bowl.
Eating one of our high protein lunch ideas can help stave off a mid-afternoon energy slump and can help you stay on track to achieve your fitness and weight goals.
If you are using these high protein lunch ideas for weight loss and also want to cut carbs for breakfast, check out our low-carb breakfast ideas.