High Protein Pineapple Mango Whey Smoothie

11 High Protein Lunch Ideas

High Protein Lunch Ideas For Weight Loss

A high protein lunch is never a bad idea.

Lunch is a great time to take a big leap towards hitting your protein goals for the day.  Having a decent amount of protein at lunch can help you to feel satiated  throughout the rest of the day and can also be the difference between being a bit hangry before dinner.

Getting in some lean protein can also help you to have enough protein in your system to keep muscle growth happening from your morning workouts, and have you prepped and ready to go for your evening session.

How Much Protein Per Day?

Protein intake will vary for folks for many different reasons which I detail in my Counting Macros post, but a simple rule of thumb is to aim for one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.  

So for me, as a 180 pound male, I aim to eat 180 grams of protein per day.  A 125 pound female would aim to consume 125 grams of protein per day.

Shooting for this simple goal will have you fuller for longer, can help to stabilize blood sugar, and help you reach your aesthetic and performance goals.

Calorie Calculator

Knowing how much to eat is a question I get asked often.  The one gram of protein per pound of body weight recommendation is a great place to start.  To get a full view of your caloric needs based on your age, sex, height, weight, and activity level, check out my Calorie Calculator.

A Calorie Calculator showing details for a 155 pound female.

Macro Guidelines for Weight Loss

Once you know how many calories you eat or should eat based on your goals, an easy way to lose weight is to subtract 250 to 500 calories a day from your current intake.

To do that, it could look like cutting out 60 to 125 grams of carbs, 25 to 55 grams of fat, or more likely, some mixture of the 2.

Macro guidelines are usually touted to be 30P/30F/40C, where 30% of your calories come from protein, 30% of your calories come from fat, and 40% of your calories come from carbohydrates. 

Important to know that protein, carbs, fat, and alcohol each have:

  • Protein = 4 calories per gram
  • Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
  • Fat = 9 calories per gram
  • Alcohol = 7 calories per gram

Doing The Math:​

So if I’m 180 pounds:

  • Protein = 180 grams of protein or 720 calories
  • Total calories based on this would be 2,400
  • Fat = 30% of 2,400, or 80 grams
  • Carbs = 40% of 2,400, or 240 grams.

It is never recommended for total fat intake to go below 20% of total calories, and I’d recommend 25% just to be safe.

  • 25% of 2,400 = 66 grams of fat

So my previous intake of 80 grams drops to 66 grams, which gets me 126 calories of the way to my 250 calorie deficit.

Now you can drop as many carbs as needed to see a difference.  I would cut to the new carb intake level and hold for 2 weeks before making any changes, unless you were losing weight to quickly.

With roughly 125 calories left to cut:

  • 125 divided by 4 calories per gram of carbs = 31 grams of carbs.

Weight Loss Conclusion:

Now you have a simple equation to get started counting macros, as well as insight into how I would go about cutting into a deficit.  Remember that when in a deficit, protein is your friend.  Hitting that 1 to 1 ratio of protein grams to body weight will help you feel full while losing weight.

High protein lunches for the win!

Macro Guidelines for Muscle Gain

To gain muscle, it’s as simple as adding 250 to 500 calories per day.

It is super easy to add calories by piling on the fat, though it may not be the most effective at helping you gain muscle.

Carbs help to stimulate your insulin response.  As long as you have worked out hard enough to stimulate a stress response and have had enough protein, insulin will help you to maximize muscle protein synthesis post workout.  Timing this carb intake around you workouts can really help to reduce soreness and improve recovery from a hard session in the gym.

Assuming your fat intake is already around that 25% to 30% of total daily intake range, and that you are consuming one gram of protein per pound of body weight, I would then work towards maxing out your carbohydrate intake.

For muscle gain for myself as 180 pound male:

  • 180 grams of carbs = 720 calories
  • 80 grams of fat = 720 calories
  • Current carbs are 240 grams = 960 calories.

Now I just need to add 250 calories, which would be 63 grams of carbs.   Add this as 30 grams of intra-workout carbs and 33 grams of carbs at dinner and you are officially on the gain train!

High Protein Lunch Recipes

Now that you’ve had a quick macro 101, let’s get into these high protein lunch ideas!

Protein Bowls

These lunch bowls are great for high protein meals.

Burrito Bowl

This burrito bowl is my go-to for lunch meal prep. A tasty lunch that is dependable.

  • 4-6 ounces of Cooked 90:10 Ground Beef or swap with black beans if looking for a meat free meal
  • 2-3 tbsp of salsa – I love homemade pineapple but your favorite store bought red or green salsa is great!
  • 1 cup Pre-Cooked White Rice or Cauliflower Rice if on a cut
  • ½ cup of Bell peppers – Raw or grilled fajita style
  • A Touch of Sour Cream
  • Top with a few tortilla chips if you’re feeling festive

A simple go-to with tons of flavor.  For me, I’ll put the rice in the bottom of the bowl, sprinkle in my bell peppers, ground beef on top.  Microwave for 3-4 minutes. Once out of the microwave, top with salsa and a touch of sour cream if needing to bump up the fat content.

For work, I’ll put all the ingredients in a glass meal prep container except the dairy and just pop it in the microwave at work.  Good to Go!

Burrito Bowl Macro Breakdown (white rice)

  • Protein = 37
  • Fat = 23
  • Carbs = 86

Quick Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Bowl

Marinated and grilled chicken thighs are the best!  This is a great summertime recipe that 

  • 4-6 ounces Marinated and grilled chicken thighs
  • ½ cup of your favorite hummus
  • ½ cup raw carrots (I use my own fermented carrots)
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite Green Goddess dressing
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice
  • Drizzle with lemon juice

This one doesn’t even need to be reheated!  If you want to reheat your quinoa and chicken, then go for it.  Otherwise, top your quinoa with the marinated and grilled chicken, hummus and carrots on the side.  Drizzle the green goddess and finish with squeezing the juice from half of a lemon over everything.  Simple, light, and fresh.

Quick Mediterranean Grilled Chicken (quinoa)

  • Protein = 49
  • Fat = 32
  • Carbs = 49

Vegan Lentil Bolognese

This vegan option is focused on convenience.  While this recipe tastes like it took hours, a premade sauce keeps the effort low and the convenience high on this delicious lunch option.  Prep in bulk for lunch all week long.

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Saute onions and carrots until onions are translucent.  Toss in the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add sauce, tempeh, and lentils, cover with lid, and simmer on low for 10 minutes.  You may want to add small amounts of water or vegetable stock as needed to keep from drying out.  Stir in some fresh herbs like basil or oregano if you have any on hand.

Turn off heat, add pasta, and toss in sauce.  This recipe is great to multiply by 2 or even 4 times to pack lunches for the week.

Vegan Lentil Bolognese Marco Breakdown:

  • Protein = 37
  • Fat = 23
  • Carbs = 86

High Protein Lunch Wraps And sandwiches

Quick Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Wrap

This is great with the leftovers from making the Mediterranean bowl from above.  Almost the same, just thrown in a delicious wrap!

  • 4-6 ounces Marinated and grilled chicken thighs
  • ¼ cup of your favorite hummus
  • ¼ cup sliced red cabbage(I use my own fermented red cabbage)
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite tzatziki
  • 1 large pita wrap
  • Drizzle of lemon juice

Lay pita flat.  Spread tzatziki on one half of the pita and hummus on the other.  Lay in sliced strips of grilled chicken thighs, red cabbage, and drizzle lemon juice.  You can try to wrap this thing tight, or prep the wrap on parchment on top of tin foil.  You can then fold the wrap and roll in the paper/tin foil, slice in half, and store until ready to eat. Doesn’t have to be served cold, but definitely doesn’t have to be reheated either!

Quick Mediterranean Grilled Chicken Wrap Macro Breakdown:

  • Protein = 51
  • Fat = 27
  • Carbs = 51

Cuban Wrap

A delicious meal that is a certified classic.

  • 4 ounces cooked and shredded pork loin
  • 2 ounces sliced deli ham
  • 1 tbsp course ground dijon mustard
  • 1 slice swiss cheese
  • 1 dill pickle sliced lengthwise
  • 1 Cuban sandwich loaf

The day before making sandwiches, heat oil in a dutch oven or large pan and preheat the over to 350 degrees fahrenheit.  You can salt the meat while the pan is heating.  Sear the meat over high heat until a golden crust is formed.  Once the crust has formed, filp the loin, place a lid on the dutch oven, and slide the pan into the oven.  Let roast for 3 hours.

Once the meat has cooked for 3 hours it should shred with the ease.  Let the meat rest for 6 to 8 minutes, and shred.  Place in the fridge over night.


Seared pork loin
Shredded Pork Loin

Making the Cuban

On sandwich day, slice Cuban loaf and lightly toast in a pan.  Once toasted, spread mustard and set aside.

Sear 4 ounces per sandwich of cooked pork loin over medium heat, about 3 to 5 minutes until parts of the meat are turning crispy.  You can add the ham to the same pan at this point, letting the ham slices brown just slightly.

Place the cooked pork on the bun.  Flip the ham and top with Swiss cheese.  Safely move the ham and cheese from the pan to on top of the pork.  Place sliced pickle on top of the cheese.  

If you have a panini press, these sandwiches are great on the press.  If you do not have a panini you can add the whole sandwich back to the pan, press bread firmly to smush just a bit.  After the bread starts to toast a little on the outside, flip and repeat until the other side of bread starts to brown.


Toasting Bread
Pork Loin and Honey Baked Ham in a Carbon Steel Pan
High Protein Cuban Sandwich

You can eat immediately or wrap in parchment and tin foil to serve another day.

Admittedly, pork loin can be a bit dry when shredded and reheated.  If you can afford the fat and want the full flavor, swap the pork loin for pork butt.

Cuban Wrap Macro Breakdown:

  • Protein = 51
  • Fat = 18
  • Carbs = 5

high Protein Lunch Smoothies

These high protein recipes will help you reach your goals with minimal effort.

Greek Berry Goodness

This protein packed smoothie allows you a fantastic flavor profile while having total control of your macros.  Want less fat? Limit the almond butter and choose non-fat Greek yogurt.  Less carbs?  Take out the oatmeal.

And oh, oatmeal makes for an incredible mouth feel if you’ve never tried it out.

  • 1 cup mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup full fat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 cup almond (or regular) milk

Toss all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  After 30-45 seconds, pause the blender to scrape the sides and incorporate any chunks that may have got stuck to the side and then blend for another 30-45 seconds.

Greek Berry Goodness Macro Breakdown:

  • Protein = 29
  • Fat = 25
  • Carbs = 52

Smoothie: Tropical Mango Whey

High Protein Pineapple Mango Whey Smoothie

A refreshing summer treat.  This smoothie can cool you down while helping you hit your macros.

  • ½ cup mango (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup pineapple (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 cup almond (or regular) milk
  • If using fresh fruits, add a few ice cubes

Toss all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  After 30-45 seconds, pause the blender to scrape the sides and incorporate any chunks that may have got stuck to the side and then blend for another 30-45 seconds.

Tropical Mango Whey Macro Breakdown:

  • Protein = 37
  • Fat = 21
  • Carbs = 68

Vegan Peach Dream

A vegan summer that is tip-top in the late summer months

  • 1 cup fresh ripe peaches
  • 2 pitted dates
  • ¼ cup oatmeal
  • ½ of an orange fresh squeezed
  • 1 cup almond (or regular) milk
  • A dash of cinnamon
  • 1 scoop vanilla vegan protein
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter

Toss all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  After 30-45 seconds, pause the blender to scrape the sides and incorporate any chunks that may have got stuck to the side and then blend for another 30-45 seconds.

Vanilla Peach Dream Macro Breakdown:

  • Protein = 29
  • Fat = 14
  • Carbs = 63

High Portein Lunch Salads

For those low carb options, a great salad is hard to beat.  Whether you are on the porch on a warm summer evening, or something a little more hearty once winter rolls around, these recipes have got you covered.

Salads are great too, as you can add some fat with a little oil or topping with nuts and seeds.  You can also add plenty of carbs by adding dried fruits like figs and dates.

Bulgogi Beef Salad Topped with Sesame Seeds

A bomb and easy beef recipe that tastes great no matter what it is on.  Make a full meal out of it with rice and veggies, but this summer salad version is crisp and fresh.

  • 6 ounces beef sirloin cut into thin strips
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ¼ cup Korean style BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup mixed salad greens
  • ½ cup fresh mango, cubed
  • ½ small cucumber, sliced
  • 2 radishes, sliced
  • ½ jalapeno, sliced
  • ½ sliced yellow, red, or orange bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

Make the salad first.

Place salad greens in bowl.  Top with fresh mango, cucumber, radishes, and jalapeno.

Heat sesame oil in a pan.  Once heated, sear sirloin, stirring often to keep from sticking.  Once the beef is almost fully cooked, about 4 to 6 minutes, reduce heat and add Korean style bbq sauce.  Stir to fully coat meat, cooking just long enough to know that sauce has been thoroughly heated and  meat is cooked to desired temp.

Bulgogi Beef Salad Macro Breakdown:

  • Protein = 41
  • Fat = 31
  • Carbs = 37

Maple Mustard Salmon

For years, this has been my go-to salmon.  Great for cooler seasons, an impressive flavor profile that satisfies no matter what the occasion.

  • 6 ounces wild caught salmon
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp coarse ground dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup mixed salad greens
  • ½ small cucumber, sliced
  • 2 radishes, sliced
  • ½ sliced yellow, red, or orange bell pepper
  • Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste.

Place greens, cucumber, radish, and bell pepper in your serving bowl. You can mix the dressing now but save for later.  Stir together maple syrup and mustard together in a shallow bowl, then vigorously whisk olive oil while adding slowly until fully incorporated.  Set aside.

While a pan is heating, salt and pepper the salmon.  Once your pan is hot, either add oil to the pan or or spray the salted side of the fish with non-stick cooking spray.  Cook that side down for 4-6 minutes.  Flip to the other side and cook for another 4-6 minutes.  

Once salmon is done cooking, place on the salad, then pour maple mustard dressing over the fish and any exposed areas of vegetables.

Maple Mustard Salmon Macro Breakdown:

  • Protein = 48
  • Fat = 33
  • Carbs = 3

High Protein Lunch On-The-Go

I’ll share a few ideas here and you can make up your own menu!

It is hard to beat a few hard boiled eggs and some dried figs on the go.  4 eggs check in with 25 grams of protein and 19 grams of fat.  Add 2 dried figs and you have 48 grams of carbs.

One easy go to and maybe better for longer periods without refrigeration is your favorite jerky, some trail mix and dried mango.  I’m never afraid to pick up a couple epic bars, 2 apples and 2 bananas before hopping on a long road trip.  It is hard to beat eating real food while on the go and it is more than enough to buy you a few hours while you watch the interstate roll by.

Check out this list of best meal prep containers if you meal prep any of the larger dishes and want to enjoy them on the go!


Hitting those macros has never been easier!  With the know how of how much to consume, you can take these high protein ideas and alter them in almost anyway to meet your macro needs.

What are your favorite high protein lunch ideas?  I would love to hear them!

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