30+ Delicious Recipes High in Protein and Low in Calories

recipes high in protein and low in calories main header image

Striking the right balance of calories and protein in your meals can have many advantages to your health and lifestyle. This post discusses what an “ideal” amount of protein should be for each meal, and includes over 30 delicious recipes high in protein and low in calories. 

While calorie restriction can help with weight management, meals high in protein promote a feeling of fullness with the potential to reduce mindless snacking. What is considered “low calorie” is subjective, but for this post each serving contains about 400 calories or less and at least 20 grams of protein.

Benefits of High Protein, Low Calorie Meals

Consuming meals high in protein but lower in calories is a good strategy for weight management. It is well-known that monitoring our caloric intake has multiple benefits, while protein assists with meal satiety and satisfaction by helping to keep us full for a longer period of time. 

When calories are restricted, ensuring meals are high in protein helps to prevent the loss of lean muscle mass- which increases our basal metabolic rate (1). Current recommendations suggest consuming a minimum of 0.8 g/kg/day of protein, and even higher for those physically active with goals to build muscle.

Research has shown that distributing the amount of protein throughout the day can assist with muscle protein synthesis, digestion and absorption (2, 3). This is also a more practical way for adults to achieve a higher total protein intake (4). Therefore, aim for meals with about 20-30 grams of protein. 

Further, the International Journal of Exercise Science published an article which concluded that dietary protein may have a protective affect against against fat gain and might be the key macronutrient in promoting changes in body composition (5). 

Recipes High In Protein and Low In Calories

Ideally, a recipe high in protein and low in calories should contain about 400 calories with 20-30 grams of protein. Below are 30+ recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner with some keto-friendly, dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian options.

Macronutrient breakdown is just an estimation, and individual variations in ingredients and preparation can lead to slight discrepancies. 

1. High Protein Kodiak Cake Waffles; 309 calories, 31g protein

High Protein Waflle Recipes high in protein and low in calories

It can be difficult to consume a high protein breakfast, even with the addition of eggs. These High Protein Kodiak Cake Waffles from The Sweet Simple Things will definitely keep you full until lunch time. 

Make a large batch and store in the fridge for 3-4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months! A great recipe for picky kids as well. 

2. Dairy-Free Baked Protein Oatmeal; 290 calories, 25g protein (Fit As a Mama Bear)

Another protein-packed breakfast is this Dairy-Free Baked Protein Oatmeal, which can be prepped the night before and cooked the day of. 

More breakfast ideas:
Pumpkin Protein Shake (Fit Mama Real Food); 359 calories, 30g protein
Berry Cheesecake Overnight Oats; 387 calories, 37g protein

3. Turkey, Corn and Black Bean Chili; 389 calories, 31 grams protein

Turkey Chili recipes high in protein low in calories

Chili makes for a quick and easy meal – perfect for a lazy Sunday or busy weeknight! This Turkey, Corn and Black Bean Chili from Life As a Strawberry provides all the cozy comfort in less than 30 minutes. 

More chili recipes:
— Mexican Chili; 400 calories, 25 grams of protein
Killer 3 Bean Vegan Chili with White Beans (Instant Pot) from Avocado Skillet; 350 calories, 26 grams of protein
— Creamy Crockpot White Chicken Chili (Begin with Balance); 336 calories, 34g protein

4. Pan Seared Mexican Fish; 224 calories, 32g protein

Baked Fish recipes high in protein low in calories

This Pan Seared Mexican Fish takes only 15 minutes to make. Pair it with a side of rice and a can of corn for additional veggies. 

5. Haddock Baked In Foil; 391 calories, 29g protein (Next in Lime)

Looking for an easy meal with quick clean up? Try this healthy Haddock Baked In Foil recipe. No pans required!

6. Chicken with Herbs de Provence; 355 calories, 25g protein (Through the Fibro Fog)

Creamy Chicken Tarragon recipes high in protein low in calories

With just a few ingredients, you can whip up this creamy Chicken with Herbs de Provence recipe. Serve with a side of cauliflower rice for a more well-balanced meal while still being lower in calories.

Also try:
Ricotta Stuffed Chicken (The Dizzy Cook); 354 calories, 50g protein
Easy Bruschetta Chicken (Ann’s Entitled Life); 270 calories, 38g protein

7. Creamy Tarragon Chicken; 373 calories, 28g protein (Through the Fibro Fog)

Another creamy chicken recipe, this Creamy Tarragon Chicken feels very indulgent but is quite simple to make. Add a side of veggies and keep it low-carb, or serve over rice to make the most out of that sauce.

8. Chicken Tortilla Soup; 400 calories, 37g protein (Beyond Mere Sustenance)

If you love chicken tortilla soup, this copycat Panera Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe is gluten-free and ready in less than 30 minutes. 

9. Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry; 263 calories, 29g protein (Dinner at the Zoo)

recipes high in protein low in calories

Packed with antioxidants from the broccoli and carrots, this Honey Garlic Chicken Stir Fry is a great addition to a healthier lifestyle. With room for additional calories, this recipe could be served over rice or quinoa. 

10. Chicken Zucchini Boats; 348 calories, 32g protein (Sprinkled with Balance)

recipes high in protein low in calories

For a lower carb option, these tasty Chicken Zucchini Boats are filled with a ground chicken and marinara mixture and topped with mozzarella. 

11. Instant Pot Salsa Chicken; 304 calories, 33g protein (Mom Foodie)

recipes high in protein low in calories

It doesn’t get more simple than an instant pot meal! This Instant Pot Salsa Chicken is so quick and easy, ideal for a busy night. Gluten-free and keto friendly

12. Ground Chicken Stuffed Peppers; 250 calories, 25g protein

With the addition of veggies and rice, these cheesy Ground Chicken Stuffed Peppers (One Wholesome Life) make for a well-balanced meal high in protein. 

13. Shrimp Fajitas; 183 calories, 24g protein (Dinner at the Zoo)

Flavor-packed Shrimp Fajitas in just 5 steps. Serve with tortillas, rice or a 1/2 cup of quinoa, which adds an additional 115 calories, 4g protein, and 3g fiber.

Also try:
Quick and Easy Beef Fajitas (Fit Mama Real Food); 374 calories, 27g protein
Cilantro Lime Chicken Fajitas (Simple Living Recipes); 261 calories, 34g protein

14. Easy Sticky Tofu; 356 calories, 20g protein (Salt and Spoon)

It can be challenging to meet the recommended protein intake if you’re following a plant-based diet. For a high-protein, vegetarian option – try this Easy Sticky Tofu (Salt and Spoon) recipe. Make sure to include a side of vegetables or fruit!

15. Air-Fryer Tortilla Pizza; 231 calories, 26g protein (Like Hot Keto)

Air Fryer Pizza recipes high in protein low in calories

A keto-friendly, Air-Fryer Tortilla Pizza recipe using homemade, high-protein tortillas. The tortillas can be used to make other dishes like enchiladas, chimichangas, and quesadilla! Plenty of room to include 1-2 veggies with this meal for the additional calories and nutrients.  

16. Creamy Garlic Spaghetti Squash; 317 calories, 28g protein

adding the spaghetti squash to the pan for chicken alfredo spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash can be the perfect vessel for a low calorie, high protein meal – especially if you learn to cook it properly. This Creamy Garlic Spaghetti Squash is decadent in flavor but low carb and packed with vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. Plus, you can eat a large portion for a lot less calories than pasta. 

Other spaghetti squash recipes:
Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash; 350 calories, 25g protein
Chicken Alfredo Spaghetti Squash; 339 calories, 43g protein

17. Butternut Squash Cottage Cheese Pasta; 376 calories, 20g protein

A birds-eye view of the butternut squash pasta sauce with rotini noodles main header image.

Add cottage cheese to your pasta sauce for additional protein and a creamy texture. Try this Butternut Squash Cottage Cheese Pasta for a unique take on pasta sauce.

18. High Protein Spaghetti Bolognese; 327 calories, 29g protein (Low Carb Simplified)

This High Protein Spaghetti Bolognese is another take on adding cottage cheese to your pasta sauce! It’s also super simple. The recipe uses Palmini Angel Hair noodles which makes it very low in carbs and keto-friendly. Serve with a side of veggies!

19. Pork and Cabbage Stir Fry; 246 calories, 27.6g protein (Deb’s Daily Dish)

Another recipe high in protein and low in calories is this Asian-inspired Pork and Cabbage Stir Fry. This would be delicious served over rice, cauliflower rice, or noodles. 

Also try:
Ground Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry (Sprinkled with Balance); 328 calories, 26g protein

20. Yuk Sung; 331 calories, 31g protein (The Cinnamon Jar)

Yuk Sang Recipe High In Protein and Low in Calories

Yuk Sung is a classic Chinese dish with a ground meat filling, wrapped in crisp lettuce leaves. Eat it as is for a lighter meal, or serve with 1/2 cup of rice or noodles. 

21. Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Soup; 207 calories, 28g protein

Cabbage Soup Recipe High in Protein and Low in Calories

This Slow Cooker Cabbage Roll Soup from The Short Order Cook is a healthy, easy, low-carb option to add to your meal rotation. You could even have two servings as it is lower in calories – or use regular rice instead of cauliflower rice.

22. Beef Masala; 346 calories, 29g protein (Worldly Treat)

Beef Masala is a comforting stew packed with bold Indian flavors. Serve over rice and consider adding more vegetables to this dish to elevate the nutritional profile. 

23. Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad; 398 calories, 30g protein

Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad from Christina’s Cucina is a simple yet tasty recipe with 7 grams of fiber. This protein packed dish could also work well as a low calorie, high protein meal prep idea for easy lunches.

24. Korean Inspired Turkey Bowls; 385 calories, 25g protein

Korean Ground Turkey Bowl Recipe

Power bowls are one of my favorite ways to build a healthy, high protein meal. Add this delicious Korean-Inspired Ground Turkey Bowl from Begin with Balance to your meal plan for the week. 

25. Spicy Salmon Sushi Bake; 261 calories, 25g protein (The Rice Chick)

sushi bake recipe low in calories and high in protein

When you want sushi but don’t have the time to roll each one, try something more convenient like this Spicy Salmon Sushi Bake. Delicious, healthy, and simple!

26. BBQ Ranch Salad; 387 calories, 34g protein (Chew Out Loud)

BBQ Chicken Salad high protein low calorie meals

Last but not least, salads are easily customizable and often make for lower calorie, high protein meals. Try this nutrient-dense BBQ Ranch Salad. It’s easy to make a large batch and prep some lunches for the week.

Other salad recipes:
Chinese Chicken Salad; 347 calories, 20g protein

Want More Resources About Protein?

Interested in more high protein recipes and resources? Read these related posts below (there’s also many more). If you’re a a mom looking to prioritize her health, feel free to sign up for my newsletter for infrequent updates from Moderately Messy RD. 

18 High Protein Meal Prep Recipes
Low Calorie, High Protein Meal Prep
How to Get 100 Grams of Protein Per Day
100 Grams of Protein Meal Plans
High Protein Breakfast Recipes Without Eggs

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