Restricting yourself when it comes to what you eat can be challenging, but what about when you’re looking for high-protein, low-carb recipes? The whole purpose of following this type of meal plan is that by reducing your carb intake, your insulin level is supposed to go down. Some say that as a result, this will eventually cause your body to ramp up its production of the hormone glucagon, which works to burn your stored fat.
In theory, this all sounds pretty great, but when it actually comes to what you’re supposed to eat, it can be a bit confusing. Which proteins are best to keep full when you’re cutting carbs? As with any new type of eating plan, it just takes a little research and planning. And don’t worry, because we’ve mapped out breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for you that are all protein-packed but still low in carbs.
Below find the top high-protein, low-carb recipes to bookmark—we swear you’ll be going back for seconds.
Baked Eggs in Stuffed Peppers
Just one large egg has about six grams of protein—wow—making these baked eggs in sweet bell peppers the ultimate breakfast. Butternut squash hash with feta makes a pretty great stuffing, especially when you top it with some tasty marinara sauce. Done and done.
Scrambled Tofu Breakfast Burrito
When we first saw breakfast burrito, we figured there had to be eggs in it. But that’s not the case: Grilled tofu, a few potato hash browns, avocado, kale, and roasted peppers make up the filling. A pico de gallo or salsa of your choice is perfect drizzled over the top. And don’t worry: Half a cup of tofu has more than 10 grams of protein in it.
Blueberry Muffin Granola and Greek Yogurt Breakfast Bowl
For all of you out there like me who are constantly craving a Dunkin' Donuts blueberry muffin with sugar on top, this healthier recipe is for you. If you don’t go too crazy on the granola, it’s not too carb-heavy. All you need to do is add some goodness to your plain Greek yogurt with banana, blueberries, lemon zest, nuts, seeds, and sliced avocados. Then, put some homemade (or your favorite store-bought) granola over the top. As an FYI, Greek yogurt packs way more protein than regular yogurt.
Salmon Niçoise Salad With Dijon Vinaigrette
We like the idea of a fancy salad that’s much more than greens and some dressing. This particular recipe calls for Atlantic salmon, so the protein is totally there, especially when it’s paired with some hard-boiled eggs. Green beans, Campari tomatoes, and kalamata olives round out the dish (just don’t add too many fingerling potatoes).
Healthy Harvest Chicken Soup
Chicken breast is an excellent source of protein, so we like it as the base of a soup. It’s combined with a ton of veggies like butternut squash, carrots, kale, and sweet potato to add flavor to the broth. The trick to giving it real richness? Stirring in some brown butter right before serving.
Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats
I saw a co-worker bring something similar to these stuffed zucchini boats to work for lunch one day, and let me say, I was jealous. Instead of high-carb taco or enchilada shells, carved-out zucchini squash serves as the ultimate “bowl” for a Mexican-style ground turkey filling. It’s also great that you can make them as spicy or as mild as you like—they’ll please even the pickiest of palettes.
Sheet Pan Cuban Chicken With Citrus Avocado Salsa
Oh, how we love a one-pan wonder. Chicken breasts get doctored up with fresh orange and lime juice along with some seasonings. Throw on all of your favorite sliced veggies, and let them cook all at once. While it’s baking, whip up a blood-orange salsa to serve as an update to a traditional dipping sauce.
Roasted Lemon Butter Garlic Shrimp
Did you know that shrimp provide almost as much protein as chicken? Now, go ahead and cook this entire dinner (veggies and all) in 15 minutes flat. Sautéed lemon shrimp isn’t out of the ordinary, but it tastes even better and is twice as easy to make when it’s grilled up with asparagus spears on a sheet pan. Worth noting: Keep frozen shrimp on hand to make this meal on a moment’s notice.
Pesto Asparagus Noodles
We’ve seen all sorts of “noodles,” even sweet potato noodles, but asparagus noodles? This was a first even for us. The veggie serves its purpose here because it’s one of the 10 vegetables that are the highest in protein. Now, to take the taste up several notches, drizzle with pesto sauce and add bacon and pecorino cheese to finish. You can always toss in some shrimp or chicken for added protein, but trust us, it’s just as delectable without.
Instant Pot Broccoli Cheddar and Zucchini Soup
So this has two winning ingredients. Both the broccoli and zucchini in this soup are on the list for being the best low-carb vegetables, but they are also high in protein too. And to make things even better, this soup is also created in an Instant Pot, so it's healthy and easy to make too.
Detox Cauliflower Salad
If you're a fan of rice but don't want the carbs, this cauliflower version is the perfect replacement. It also has chickpeas, which are high in protein (these are a little higher in carbs, so sprinkle to your desire) and avocado for all that omega-3 goodness.
30-Minute Caprese Chicken Recipe
According to Healthline, a skinless, cooked chicken breast that weighs around 172 grams contains 54 grams of protein. That's incredible considering, on average, a 50-year-old woman who weighs 140 pounds woman and who is sedentary (doesn’t exercise) would need around 53 grams of protein a day, or technically one skinless chicken breast. This recipe should keep the whole family in check for their protein levels.
Pan-Seared Citrus Shrimp Recipe
We told you earlier how much protein shrimp has, so this pan-seared dish is the perfect high-protein, low-carb dish. It also looks incredibly healthy and delicious.
Brussels Sprouts Breakfast Hash for Dinner
Brussels sprouts only seem to come out twice a year at Thanksgiving and around the holiday, but this mighty green vegetable deserves a bigger spot on your weekly dinner menu. Why? Well, it is high in protein for a green vegetable and just one serving has enough vitamin C and K for the whole day. This delicious hash has brussels sprouts and an egg on top so you're packed with protein and all the other nutrients your body needs.
This post was originally published on January 26, 2018, and has since been updated.