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20 High-Protein Lunch Ideas to Avoid the Afternoon Slump

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By April Dupee

It’s 3pm, you’re sitting at your desk, and a wave of tiredness comes over you. With sleepy eyes, you reach for the nearest snack or latte in hopes that it helps power you through the rest of the day. Sound familiar?

We’ve all been there, but there’s a solution: a high-protein lunch. Most Americans don’t have a problem getting enough protein, but we tend to consume most of it at dinner, not so much in the afternoon. 

RELATED: 10 High-Protein Breakfast Recipes to Power Your Mornings

That’s not the best move, because incorporating protein into your lunch keeps you full for longer and prevents blood sugar spikes so you don’t crash later in the day.

If you need some high-protein lunch ideas, we’ve got you covered with these exciting, easy recipes filled with healthy lean animal and plant-based proteins. From salads to soups to burgers, you’ll find tasty high-protein recipes that will keep you fueled all day long.

  • Mediterranean Turkey Pita

    Tired of the same old turkey sandwich? Pair a protein-rich turkey with pickled red onions, roasted red peppers, and tzatziki sauce for a flavorful and nutritious Mediterranean-style pita.

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  • Tuna and Chickpea Salad

    This tuna and chickpea salad packs serious protein. Add beets, red pepper, red wine vinegar, and olive oil dressing for an extra boost of fresh flavor and nutrients.

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  • Quick Cobb Salad

    The cobb salad has it all. Turkey and ham bring the protein, avocados pack in satiating healthy fats, and fresh veggies provide filling gut-friendly fiber. Trust, you won’t go hungry with this one.

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  • Tex-Mex Black Bean Soup

    Easy, flavorful, and protein-packed, this soup recipe is a busy-day necessity. Pre-made and protein-rich black bean soup combines well with chicken, veggies, fresh cilantro, and lime. Fan-favorite avocado adds healthy fats for extra staying power.

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  • Simple Grilled Chicken Salad

    Grilled chicken is an easy lean protein that can be added to just about any salad. We paired it with romaine, carrots, cucumber, red onion, goat cheese, and a raspberry vinaigrette for a simple yet totally delicious lunch you’ll be making day after day.

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  • Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry

    Get cozy with this hearty curry made with protein-rich chickpeas and chicken. Warming spices and cauliflower add an extra dose of nutrients to keep you energized.

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  • Chicken Mushroom Burgers

    Combine everybody’s favorite lean protein with iron-rich spinach and savory mushrooms. Top with avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and mustard tahini for a lunch that will make all your coworkers jealous.

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  • Three Bean Chili

    Ground beef, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans—the protein is off the charts in this hearty three-bean chili. Meal prep a big batch and have a warm and satisfying meal ready to eat throughout the week.

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  • Steak Salad

    Guess what? Steak can still be a part of a healthy diet when it’s paired with greens and fiber-rich veggies. This steak salad is a filling protein-packed lunch you’ll definitely want to add to your routine.

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  • Southwest Salad

    Spice up your salad routine and satisfy your taco craving with this southwest salad. Just mix spicy chicken with Tex-Mex ingredients like corn, red onion, tomatoes, and cheddar.

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  • White Bean Soup with Spicy Chorizo

    Mix nutrient-dense veggies—like kale, butternut squash, and garlic—with chicken sausage and white beans for a hearty soup that’s both filling and nourishing.

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  • Tuna Salad

    Upgrade your tuna salad with our simple and delicious tuna salad recipe. Vinegar and lemon replace mayo, while onions, celery, capers, and feta add fresh salty flavor. Tuna not only packs in tons of satisfying protein (about 26 grams per can), but it also provides hard-to-get nutrients like niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, and selenium.

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  • Roasted Chicken Lettuce Wraps

    Break the cycle of sandwiches and salads with these roasted chicken lettuce wraps. Romaine packed with vitamins A, K, and C is topped with roasted chicken, bell peppers, mozzarella, and gut-friendly kimchi for a light (yet filling!) lunch.

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  • Smoked Salmon Sandwich

    Here’s a healthier version of your go-to cream cheese and lox bagel: Replace the bagel with sprouted grain bread, and swap cream cheese for protein-rich cottage cheese. Tasty smoked salmon provides both protein and heart-healthy omega-3s.

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  • Jalapeno Vegan Burrito

    If this lunch can power Venus Williams through tough workouts, then it can definitely get you through your workday. Williams’ burrito recipe is loaded with plant-based protein thanks to black beans and brown rice. Plus, Mexican favorites like guacamole, salsa, red pepper, and onion mean you’ll look forward to it all morning.

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  • Deviled Egg Salad Cups

    Don’t overlook egg salad when you can make it with protein-rich Greek yogurt and flavorful veggies like celery, radish, and scallions. Throw it on lettuce for an easy, protein-rich lunch.

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  • Alaska Sablefish Salad Over Greens

    Have you tried Sablefish yet? Also known as black cod, this fish is particularly high in omega-3s and tastes amazing on top of Mediterranean favorites like olive oil, tomatoes, and dark, leafy greens.

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  • Homemade Chicken Soup

    Warm up with soul-soothing chicken noodle soup that not only provides protein but also contributes immune-boosting antioxidants and vitamins thanks to sweet potatoes and kale.

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  • Tofu Salad

    Save this one for you next Meatless Monday. Tofu, which packs 11 grams of protein per serving, soaks up Keri’s crowd-pleasing lemon dressing, while cabbage and carrots add a healthy crunch.

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  • Curry Carrot Turkey Burgers

    Get ready for the best turkey burgers you’ve ever had. Spices like curry powder, cumin, turmeric, and ginger add antioxidants and unbeatable flavor to lean turkey. Top them with avocado, jalapeño, and red onion, then try not to drool.  

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