6 High Protein Low-Calorie Meal Prep Ideas (+Instructions) 

Written By: Paul

High Protein Low-Calorie Meal Prep Ideas

Did your doctor tell you it’s time to cut back on your calories while keeping your protein levels high, and you aren’t sure what to do? If so, you’re not alone: many Americans are switching to this diet to improve their heart health and get back into shape. Unfortunately, planning this diet can be very hard. 

Thankfully, we’re here to break through your confusion, give you a better understanding of this diet type, and make this process much smoother. In this article, we’ll check several low-calorie, high-protein diets, discuss their benefits, and provide protein-rich meal prep tips to improve your experience.

Benefits of High Protein, Low-Calorie Meals

Mixing the best low-calorie meal ideas (with high protein) into your diet can provide a diverse array of unique benefits to your life that make them impossible to ignore. Eating more protein can help your fitness journey and transform your body uniquely. It’s a long and challenging journey, but sticking to it is more than worth it for the benefits you’ll receive!

Boosts Metabolism 

Your metabolism dictates how well you digest and synthesize food into energy. A slower metabolism makes it harder to lose weight and stay in shape. However, studies have found that low-calorie, high-protein diets can increase metabolism and boost energy. 

In a 2018 review, it was found that higher protein levels naturally boosted exercise-related and resting metabolic rates. As a result, you would burn more calories even when sitting still. That’s because protein requires more calories to digest due to its uniquely dense structure.

Increases Meal Satisfaction 

Have you ever eaten a large meal and found yourself unsatisfied? That’s an unfortunate problem caused by low-quality and unhealthy ingredients. However, a 2020 study found that a low-calorie and high-protein diet could increase satisfaction and reduce appetite. 

This effect occurs because protein reduces ghrelin levels in your body. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone or the chemical that triggers your desire to eat. Lower levels will naturally increase your fullness after meals and reduce your appetite for hours after eating.

Builds Muscle Mass 

Did you know that building muscles can help you maintain a healthy weight? That’s because muscle mass naturally burns more calories even while resting. Thankfully, protein can help you naturally increase your muscle mass and improve your weight loss journey. 

Reducing your calories and eating more protein won’t increase your muscle mass. It only helps fuel your lifting exercises and makes them more effective. You’ll still need to schedule regular cardiovascular and strength routines to transform your body how you want.

Decreases Weight 

Protein provides many benefits that help stimulate weight loss and keep you healthier. We already discussed how it reduces appetite and builds muscle mass. Those important reactions are just part of the equation because high-protein diets can help minimize metabolism loss in low-calorie diets.

For example, a study from 2020 found that high protein levels help keep your metabolism running smoothly when you reduce calorie intake. Typically, your metabolism slows down when you eat less as a natural protection against starving. However, protein keeps it running at a high level. 

Enhances Healing Speed

Have you ever been on an incredible health journey only to see it entirely derailed by a severe athletic injury? If so, you’re not alone. This problem impacts many people, particularly those who have been out of shape for a long time. Thankfully, a high-protein diet can help your body heal more quickly.

Protein provides various vitamins and minerals, particularly amino acids, that speed healing and help your body recover. It works not only on muscles but on tendons and ligaments. The exact increase in speed will vary depending on your body’s natural recovery time and injury severity.

Reduces Aging Risks 

As we age, it’s natural for our bodies to start wearing down and losing mass. Unfortunately, muscle mass typically decreases far faster than fat and other tissues. However, a high-protein and low-fat diet may help reduce muscle loss during aging and help you stay stronger and healthier.

Furthermore, protein helps support bone health and minimize fracture risks. This benefit is critical for older adults because bones often lose density and become brittle as we age. Thankfully, protein also helps to improve bone health and will minimize your risk of severe injury.

6 Healthy High Protein Low-calorie Meal Prep Ideas

These healthy meal prep recipes focus on healthy ingredients that make your protein-rich meal prep healthy and tasty. These include beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, lean meats, fish, dairy products, and soy foods. These low-calorie meal prep ideas discuss prep time, cook time, dietary restrictions, protein content, calorie count, and necessary ingredients. In this way, you should feel comfortable preparing these tasty meals.

1. Pan-Seared Shrimp

Pan-Seared Shrimp
  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 Minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions: Low Calorie, Gluten, and Sodium: Nut-, Soy-, and Egg-Free.
  • Protein Content: 24.6 Grams
  • Calorie Count: 215
  • Ingredients:
    • Pound medium-sized shrimp
    • 4 tablespoons butter
    • 3 minced garlic gloves
    • Quarter teaspoon salt
    • Quarter teaspoon paprika
    • Eighth teaspoon black pepper
    • Eighth teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • Tablespoon squeezed lemon juice
    • Tablespoon fresh minced parsley
  • Brief Cooking Instructions: Mix all spices in a bowl, sprinkle shrimp with herbs, cook shrimp in a heated skillet, top with lemon juice and chopped parsley

The Full Story

Pan-seared shrimp is a fantastic meal with a dense protein level and surprisingly low calories. The Short Order Cook suggests that this meal is done in 15 minutes and pairs well with sides like rice, couscous, asparagus, and broccoli. Follow these steps for this protein-rich meal prep idea:

  1. Combine the black pepper, salt, paprika, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl 
  2. Rinse your shrimp carefully and make sure they’re fully deveined before cooking 
  3. Layer the shrimp evenly on a paper towel and pat dry to keep them clean 
  4. Sprinkle the spice blend over the shrimp evenly on both sides, turning to get the best results 
  5. Add butter to a warmed skillet (on medium heat) and wait for it to melt
  6. Stir in garlic before the butter fully browns, and keep it moving to avoid burning 
  7. Layer the shrimp evenly in the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side 
  8. Sprinkle with lemon juice and let it simmer briefly before removing 
  9. Place the shrimp on a fresh platter while preparing other side dishes 
  10. Top the shrimp with fresh parsley and serve with your preferred side

2. Air Fryer Salmon

Airfryer Salmon
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 7 Minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions: Low Gluten and Sodium: Egg-, Nut-, Soy-, and Seafood-Free.
  • Protein Content: 26 grams
  • Calorie Count: 287
  • Ingredients:
    • A salmon filet for each serving
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or coconut amino acids for gluten-free meal)
    • Half tablespoon apple cider vinegar 
    • Tablespoon honey
    • Teaspoon onion powder
    • Teaspoon garlic powder
    • Teaspoon sesame seeds 
  • Brief Cooking Instructions: Mix the sauces in a small bowl, drizzle the sauce on each side of the filet evenly, let the flavor soak, cook in an air fryer before serving

The Full Story

The best low-calorie meal ideas often utilize healthy cooking methods to produce mouthwatering dishes. For example, this air-fried salmon (suggested by All Nutrition) is just one of the healthy meal prep recipes low in calories and high in protein. Follow these steps to prepare this rewarding dish:

  1. Mix all your sauce ingredients in a small bowl and let sit briefly to settle 
  2. Place your cleaned and deboned salmon filets on a paper towel with the face-up
  3. Pour your sauce over the salmon filets, making sure to cover them evenly
  4. Let the filets sit for 5-10 minutes so that the sauce thoroughly soaks into the meat 
  5. Preheat the air fier to 400 degrees Fahrenheit while the fish soaks 
  6. Spray the air fryer with olive oil to keep the fish from getting burned on its surface 
  7. Put the fish skin-side down in the frier and pour over a little more sauce 
  8. Fry the fish at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for seven minutes or until done 
  9. Remove the fish carefully and let them cool for a few minutes before eating 
  10. Serve with brown rice, mashed potatoes, asparagus, or other healthy side

3. Feta & Roasted Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken Breast

Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken Breast
  • Prep Time: 25 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 Minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions: Low Calorie and Sodium: Nut-, Egg-, Gluten-, and Soy-Free
  • Protein Content: 24 Grams
  • Calorie Count: 179
  • Ingredients:
    • Half cup feta cheese
    • Half cup chopped roasted red bell peppers
    • Half cup chopped fresh spinach
    • Quarter cup pitted and quartered olives 
    • Tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    • 2 minced garlic gloves 
    • 4 eight-ounce skinless and boneless chicken breasts
    • Quarter teaspoon salt
    • Half teaspoon pepper
    • Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • Tablespoon lemon juice
  • Brief Cooking Instructions: Preheat oven, combine feta, peppers, spinach, olives, basil, parsley, and garlic, stuff chicken breasts with this mix and grill in an oven-safe skillet before baking

The Full Story 

EatingWell suggested these delicious stuffed chicken breasts, including Mediterranean ingredients and cooking techniques. They should take no more than an hour to eat and provide a low-calorie meal with a high protein content. Follow these steps to prepare this dish:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix the feta, peppers, spinach, basil, garlic, parsley, and olives in a bowl while you wait
  3. Cut slits through each chicken breast and make a little pocket 
  4. Add one-third cup of the feta mix into the pockets, stuffing them deeply 
  5. Seal each pocket with wooden toothpicks and cover with salt and pepper
  6. Cook chicken breasts evenly for two minutes in an oven-safe skillet
  7. Bake the chicken breasts for 35 minutes in the oven
  8. Remove the chicken when the interior temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit
  9. Sprinkle with lemon juice and remove the toothpicks before serving

4. Mediterranean Chicken Wrap

Mediterranean Chicken Wrap
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 Minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions: Low Gluten and Sodium: Nut-, Dairy-, Soy-, and Seafood-Free.
  • Protein Content: 27.4 Grams
  • Calorie Count: 381
  • Ingredients:
    • 2 1/4 ripe tomatoes
    • Small English cucumber 
    • Glove minced garlic
    • Half diced red onion 
    • Half cup Kalamata olives
    • Half cup feta cheese
    • Quarter cup fresh basil
    • Quarter cup extra-virgin olive oil 
    • Tablespoon red wine vinegar
    • One-pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 2 tablespoons paprika
    • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
    • Teaspoon ground coriander
    • Quarter teaspoon dry mustard
    • Quarter teaspoon garlic powder
    • Pinch ground cinnamon
    • 4 spinach tortilla wraps
    • To taste: salt and pepper
  • Brief Cooking Instructions: Toss veggies with salt, mix with garlic, onion, olives, feta, and basil, drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, toss, saute spiced chicken breasts, spoon all ingredients into tortillas

The Full Story

Are you looking for a great on-the-go hand protein-rich meal prep idea? This low-calorie meal idea (suggested by Side Chef) is a healthy meal prep recipe that uses delicious vegetables, spicy chicken, and a tasty spinach tortilla to produce a meal you won’t forget. Follow these steps to make this dish:

  1. Dice the tomatoes and drain in a colander while you slice the cucumber lengthwise 
  2. Remove the cucumber seeds, dice the halves, and add to the colander 
  3. Sprinkle this veggie mix with salt and let it sit for 10 minutes while you work
  4. Toss this mix with garlic, red onions, olives, feta, and basil to create a delicious salad
  5. Drizzle the salad with the olive oil and red wine vinegar, tossing it to mix it evenly 
  6. Cover this mixture with ground pepper and salt to taste before covering 
  7. Flatten your chicken breasts to about one-half inch thickness
  8. Mix the paprika, cumin, coriander, dry mustard, garlic powder, and cinnamon in a bowl 
  9. Add salt and black pepper to this mix and coat the chicken breast with it
  10. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan on a medium-high heat 
  11. Cook the chicken breasts evenly on each side and let them cool before slicing
  12. Thinly slice the chicken breasts before spooning the salad and slices into the tortillas
  13. Roll the tortilla up into a burrito shape tightly to keep ingredients from spilling
  14. Cut in half and serve with your favorite side, such as carrots or crackers

5. Cottage Cheese Omelet

Cottage Cheese Omelet
  • Prep Time: 3 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 Minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions: Low calorie, gluten, and sodium. Nut-, Seafood-, and Soy-Free.
  • Protein Content: 20 Grams
  • Calorie Count: 250 
  • Ingredients:
    • 2 large eggs
    • Tablespoon whole or 2% milk
    • Eighth teaspoon salt 
    • Pinch ground black pepper
    • Half tablespoon butter
    • Cup baby spinach
    • 3 tablespoons cottage cheese
  • Brief Cooking Instructions: Mix eggs, salt, and pepper in a bowl, whisk these ingredients, cook spinach in a frying pain, pour in egg mix, cook eggs, add cottage cheese when done, fold to serve

The Full Story 

If you’re looking for a great and easy protein-rich meal prep for breakfast, try out this omelet from The Kitchn! Like other low-calorie meal ideas, it focuses on healthy protein from low-fat and delicious sources. Follow these steps to make healthy meal prep recipes or vary your omelet however you like:

  1. Place your eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and whisk until frothy 
  2. Melt the butter in a nonstick frying pan on medium heat and tilt it to spread the butter evenly
  3. Add the spinach to the pan and cook until its wilted (about 30 seconds or so)
  4. Pour in your egg mix and tilt the pain to carefully coat the whole bottom with the eggs
  5. Push the cooked eggs from the edges towards the center to evenly cook the mix
  6. Cook the eggs in this way until the edges are firm and the center is slightly wet 
  7. Take the pain from the heat and carefully add cottage cheese to half of the eggs 
  8. Fold the eggs evenly into an omelet shape and press on the edges to seal it carefully 
  9. Top with any extra ingredients you may enjoy, such as hot sauce, ketchup, or others

6. Yogurt With Strawberries

Yogurt With Strawberries
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 Minutes
  • Dietary Restrictions: Low calorie, gluten, and sodium. Nut-, Seafood-, and Soy-Free.
  • Protein Content: 20 Grams
  • Calorie Count: 332
  • Ingredients:
    • Tablespoon olive oil
    • Half tablespoon pure maple syrup
    • Half cup buckwheat groats
    • Quarter teaspoon ground cinnamon 
    • Third cup sliced almonds
    • Pound strawberries
    • 3 cups Greek Yogurt
    • To taste: salt
  • Brief Cooking Instructions: Whisk oil, maple syrup, and salt in a bowl, cooking groats on medium heat, pour groats and toast into the bowl, stir in cinnamon and almond, bake, and serve over yogurt and berries

The Full Story 

Your protein-rich meal prep doesn’t have to focus on low-calorie meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Instead, you can try healthy meal prep recipes like yogurt with strawberries (provided by Prevention) for a delicious and low-calorie after-dinner dessert. Follow these steps to prepare it: 

  1. Heat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and line a small baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Mix the oil, maple syrup, and salt in a bowl evenly and set aside while you work 
  3. Heat cast-iron skillet on medium heat until the surface is ready for cooking 
  4. Add groats and toast it while tossing it frequently to ensure that it cooks evenly 
  5. Remove groats after they’re brown (1-2 minutes) and add them to the mixing bowl
  6. Stir in cinnamon and almonds and spread this mix on the prepared baking sheet
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes and stir the mixture halfway through your cooking time 
  8. Toss berries with maple syrup and salt while you wait for the mix to bake 
  9. Remove the baked mix and let sit for 10 minutes while you prepare the yogurt
  10. Pour yogurt and berries into serving bowls and top with the baked groats 
  11. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container for up to 10 days

Final Words 

Using these protein-rich meal prep ideas should help you lose weight, improve your heart health, and live a healthier life. These and other low-calorie meal ideas are good for your life, are tasty, and can be shared with friends, family members, and other loved ones. 

Are you interested in using these healthy meal prep recipes to improve your health and fitness plan? Try them out, experiment with their prep methods, and adapt them however you see fit! Let us know what kind of tweaks you’ve made to these ideas to showcase your culinary creativity.

Hi, I'm Paul. Welcome to my website! I, along with my cronies, are leveraging our years of working in the food industry to review meal and drink delivery services. We review. You eat happily ever after.



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