You’re on a mission to get trim. You want to reduce your body fat and cut back on carbs, but you still need enough energy to work up a sweat at the gym. Not only is protein essential for fueling your day, but it’s also needed to repair and build tissues, making it the number one nutrient for recovery. If you’re hitting the treadmill, high protein salads could be the perfect meal to enjoy at lunch or dinner.
When made with the right nutritious ingredients, they can be extremely filling too. Compared to carbs, protein takes much longer to break down in your body, meaning you can stave of those cravings and enjoy longer-lasting energy for a better, fuller, faster workout. Whether you consume your protein before or after the gym, you’ll reap the benefits.
Here are 5 high protein salad recipes to inspire your healthy meal plan:
1. Chicken and avocado salad
We all know that white meat is a top source of protein. That’s why so many gym-goers and bodybuilders load up on chicken and turkey at lunchtime and dinner time. If it’s lean protein you’re after, stick with breast instead of leg and don’t eat the skin. A 100g serving of cooked chicken or turkey breast (without the skin) has around 30g of protein, helping to build and repair bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Don’t forget to add the avocado though. A salad made with this savoury fruit also gives you a good source of healthy fats, as well as vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. The creamy texture goes so well with plain chicken meat, adding flavour and much needed moisture. If you hate dry chicken, avocado is the perfect pairing. And for even more of a protein boost, skip the mayo and use natural Greek yoghurt. It’s another ingredient that packs the protein power to keep you going.
2. Cod and mango salad
Cod is an excellent source of protein. Most white-fleshed fish are protein-packed while also being super lean for fat loss! A 100g serving provides less than 3g of fat with around 25g of protein - and also has less than 130 calories. So it you’re trying to watch your waistline but need to make sure you have enough energy to dominate your spin class, fish is a fantastic option. And yes, seafood can be used in salads too. In the winter, you can even heat up your fish to create a warm salad dish - the perfect comfort food on a cold day.
Using a sweet, tropical and juicy fruit like mango as an accompaniment to your fish will add oodles of flavour. Toss together lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes with chunks of mango, then add in the zest and juice of lime and plenty of coriander for that extra punch. Sprinkle with some chilli flakes and just a touch of sea salt to season your cod.
Fish is also very convenient for busy working professionals as it can be kept in the freezer and moved to the fridge when you’re ready to defrost. Perfect for prepping your salads for the office or for rustling up a post-gym meal at night.
3. Broccoli salad with honey-mustard dressing
If you’re looking for tasty high protein salads that are meat-free, pick a low calorie veggie like broccoli and combine with high protein ingredients like fat-free Greek yoghurt for the perfect dressing. One of our favourites to take to work is a broccoli and honey-mustard salad - and it’s completely mayo free.
To make the dressing, mix together the yoghurt, some honey and a dollop of mustard. For more workout power, throw in protein vegetables like peas, Lima beans, spinach, sweetcorn and asparagus spears. If you’re adding asparagus, skip the boil. Instead, get a vegetable peeler and create thin shavings instead. This will add an exciting texture to your plate.
There’s around 2.8g of protein per every 100g of broccoli, but there’s also fibre for a healthy gut, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate (vitamin B9), potassium, manganese and iron. Cooked or raw,soft or crunchy, broccoli is healthy and delicious. High in antioxidants, broccoli is an all-round good guy, one that keeps your entire body healthy by healing wounds and fighting free radicals.
4. Israeli bean and couscous salad
This is one of the best high protein salad recipes for vegans. There’s absolutely no meat or animal-based products in this delicious salad, yet it’s loaded with energy to keep you going all day. Beans and legumes tend to be low in fat, high in fibre and excellent for protein too, so use as many varieties as you can in your meal plan.
This yummy lunchtime or dinnertime treat is also a massive flavour bomb, with the sweetness and juiciness of tomato, the kick of garlic and onion, the sweet and sourness of balsamic, and the punch of fresh basil.
Make this mouth-watering salad using Israeli couscous, pinto beans and kidney beans, as well as the ingredients mentioned above. Some chopped chives can add even more flavour, and serving with lettuce leaves gives a dimension of healthy freshness. If you’re looking for a low-fat cheese option, sprinkle a little feta on top.
5. Lean Beef and Courgette Noodle Salad
Red meat can also be a great source of protein for the gym, but just make sure you are buying the leanest cuts. Beef is a great salad topper, especially when you’re experimenting with Asian flavours like sweet chilli and lime.
At the supermarket, look for less than 10g of fat per every 100 grams of beef and switch your egg or wheat noodles for a courgette instead. A spiralizer is a handy tool for transforming just about any raw vegetable into a yummy, crunchy, healthy noodle alternative. But if you don’t have one, a knife or vegetable peeler can be used. Tossing in some coriander is a must, and a dash of soy sauce, mirin or rice wine vinegar can create a delicious yin and yang effect.
An Asian beef and courgette noodle salad is both filling and satisfying, making great for dinner with friends.