Pack Your Lunch With Protein
Want to beat the afternoon slump? Eat a protein-rich lunch. It helps keep your blood sugar steady, so you won’t have an energy spike and crash. Plus, research shows that protein keeps you full and satisfied, which means you may be less likely to overeat. Aim for 25 to 30 grams of protein at your midday meal.
Turkey sandwiches are a lunchtime staple, and for good reason: Four slices of the deli meat deliver 9 grams of protein. Look for a low-sodium version. Spread whole-wheat bread with whole-grain mustard. Top with turkey, cranberries and spinach.
It isn’t just an appetizer at Japanese restaurants. You can find these soybeans in the frozen section of many supermarkets. They’re high in protein (8 grams in a half-cup), fiber and iron. Mix shelled edamame into a salad with black beans, corn, diced bell pepper, and chopped red onion. Toss with lime juice and olive oil.
Nuts and Crackers
Lunch on the run? It doesn’t get much easier than nuts. Pick peanuts, walnuts, almonds, or pistachios, and you’ll get at least 4 grams of protein per handful. Plus, they serve up fiber, vitamins, and heart-healthy fats. For a full meal, pair them with whole-wheat crackers and a piece of fruit.
Yogurt, Fruit, and Veggie Smoothie
No time to sit down for a meal? Sip a smoothie on the go. For protein, add a half-cup of Greek yogurt. Then blend with your favorite fruits and veggies. Try banana and spinach with strawberries or cherries. To make it a chocolaty treat, add a scoop of unsweetened cocoa powder.
Lean ground beef serves up protein, iron, and energy-boosting B vitamins. Turn last night’s leftovers into a satisfying lunch: Add salsa to beef crumbles. Pack some avocado in a separate container. Wrap shells in aluminum foil. When it’s time to eat, reheat the meat and put the tacos together.
These whole grains are actually tiny seeds, and they’re high in protein. One cup has 8 grams and a bonus of 5 grams of fiber. For a tasty lunch bowl, top quinoa with roasted veggies, diced chicken, and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds or slivered almonds. Drizzle with your favorite dressing. You can have this one warm or cold.
Greek Yogurt Parfait
Not all yogurts are created equal. Thick Greek yogurt packs in more protein than the regular kind: 1 cup delivers 23 grams. Layer the creamy stuff with fresh fruit like berries or banana slices. You can sprinkle on a handful of nuts or chia seeds if you have them — about 2 tablespoons of those will give you an extra 5 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber.
Hummus and Pita
Made from chickpeas, this creamy Middle Eastern dip adds flavor to egg and tuna salads. Swap it for the usual mayo to save 272 calories and 35 grams of fat per quarter-cup. And you’ll gain an extra 4 grams each of protein and fiber. If you don’t want to dip, wrap some hummus with lettuce and tomato in a whole-wheat pita, or use it as a salad dressing.
With around 7 grams of protein per half-cup, beans give soups more staying power — research shows that eating beans can help you feel full. Add chickpeas to a veggie stew or white beans to a tomato or chicken soup. You can make your own by simmering beans with broth, onions, carrots, and celery until soft.
Avocado Toast With Eggs
Eggs aren’t just for breakfast: With 6 grams of protein each, there’s reason to get cracking at lunch, too. For a quick meal, mash half an avocado with olive oil and lime juice, and spread onto two slices of whole-grain toast. Top each with a fried egg. Research shows that eating avocados at lunch fends off hunger throughout the afternoon, but they’re high in calories, so make this an occasional treat. .
Spinach Salad With Chicken
Upgrade a plain salad with this dark leafy green. It adds vitamins, minerals, and protein (1 gram per cup). Toss some with sliced strawberries, avocado, and balsamic vinaigrette. For extra protein, top with slices of grilled chicken and slivered almonds.