33 Low-Calorie High Protein Meals

If you’re looking for low-calorie, high-protein meals that are delicious and satiating, this collection is for you! I look at who can benefit from consuming fewer calories while upping the protein, give you some tips on how to create macro-friendly meals and share some of my favourite recipes. All recipes are over 20 grams with about 500 or fewer calories per serve.


Low-Calorie High Protein Meals

The popularity of protein-rich diets is well-deserved, offering significant benefits backed by science. Increasing protein intake can be advantageous for many, despite protein deficiency not being widespread in the Western world.

Protein, a key macronutrient along with fats and carbohydrates, is unique for its low calorie density and high satiety. This makes it ideal for creating satisfying, low-calorie meal plans.

Incorporating more protein into your diet can help with various goals, from weight loss and muscle building to increased energy and improved body composition. Embracing a diet rich in protein and low in calories can significantly impact your health and fitness.


Low-Calorie, High-Protein Meals: Who Benefits

These meals are great for those seeking better health, particularly for weight loss.

While the mantra “calories in, calories out” may sound familiar, not all calories are equal. For example, a 500-calorie meal composed of rice, potatoes, and broccoli might leave you hungry within an hour or two. Over time, this can lead to increased calorie consumption, hampering weight loss efforts.

By incorporating a substantial portion of protein into your meals along with carbohydrates and healthy fats, you can expect to curb hunger and subsequent cravings, ensuring a stable or decreased calorie intake over time.

Low-calorie, high-protein meals are beneficial for weight loss seekers, fitness enthusiasts, and those building muscle mass. They’re also ideal for body recomposition, boosting metabolism, and stabilizing blood sugar levels, making them suitable for people with diabetes or metabolic syndrome. Additionally, they help older adults maintain muscle mass and strength and are great for anyone wanting to feel fuller longer, aiding in appetite control.

How To Increase Protein While Keeping Calories Low

When it comes to changing your diet, I like to share a personal philosophy – it’s all about adopting an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity one. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the idea of cutting calories, which can be demotivating, I encourage you to consider adding more protein to your meals. 

I’ve found that increasing protein not only boosts the feeling of fullness but also naturally leads to consuming fewer calorie-dense foods. Here are a few strategies that can be really helpful.

Embrace Volume Eating 

If you find it challenging to combat hunger while eating fewer calories, understanding the concept of “volume eating” can be a game-changer, both mentally and physically. To start, it’s essential to develop a fondness for low-calorie, high-volume foods, primarily fruits and vegetables. These non-starchy gems not only pack fewer calories but also offer a plethora of health benefits.

Portion with Care

When plating your meals, keep this in mind: a serving of protein should be about the size of your palm. If you prefer precise measurements, a standard portion of protein typically falls in the range of 4-6 ounces, taking into account the leanness of the cut and your specific dietary goals.

Boost Your Fibre Intake

When it comes to low-calorie eating, it’s essential to emphasize fibre-rich foods, with fruits and vegetables taking centre stage. A significant reason behind their effectiveness is their high fibre content. 

Much like protein, fibre is an exceptionally satiating component of your diet. These foods have the ability to keep you feeling full for extended periods, enhance your digestive processes, and promote a gradual release of simple sugars into the bloodstream, resulting in more consistent and stable energy levels.

Make Smart Carbohydrate Choices

Carbohydrates, often unfairly maligned, are essential for most diets and should be included in almost every meal. The trick is choosing satisfying carbs that match your calorie needs and goals. Consider potatoes, for example; they’re not only low in calories but also incredibly satisfying. Instead of cutting carbs entirely, it’s more beneficial to select health-conscious, fulfilling options that balance well with high-protein meals.

Choose Protein Wisely

Choosing great protein sources is straightforward. For omnivores, options like meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy are key, while plant-based sources include legumes, tofu and soy products.

For low-calorie, high-protein meals, lean choices such as skinless chicken breast, turkey, lean beef, low-fat dairy, eggs, and white fish are ideal. Remember, while fatty meats and full-fat dairy are protein-rich, they’re higher in calories due to fat content. Lean proteins are more calorie-efficient for your nutritional goals.

Make smart substitutions

To eat healthier, try simple swaps: choose lean meats, low-sugar sauces, skim dairy (although I love my full-fat options so much more!), smaller carb portions, and alternatives like chickpea pasta or shirataki noodles.

Opt for low-carb tortillas, use Greek yogurt instead of cream, measure cooking oils, and air fry instead of deep frying. Consistently applying these changes is key.

Aiming for 80% adherence to these habits is more sustainable for long-term fat loss or body recomposition than striving for short-term perfection.


33 Low-Calorie High Protein Meals 

A high-protein, low-calorie meal will be defined here as 20 or more grams of protein with 500 or fewer calroies per serving which is a good rule of thumb. For plant-based meals, that number is a little less although you can increase protein by increasing the serving size.

One-Pan Chicken And Veggies Skillet
When preparing this recipe for 3-4 portions, this is a simple one-pan dinner that will fill you up on protein, fibre, and a satisfying serving of starch from sweet potatoes. You can swap out chicken thighs for chicken breasts to keep calories even lower and protein even higher.
Calories: 483
Protein: 36 grams
Get the recipe here
Homemade Beef Burgers With Garlic Kale & Sweet Potatoes
A nutritious dinner of homemade beef burger patties, garlic kale and sweet potatoes is a family-friendly meal. Paleo, gluten-free, Whole30.
Calories: 518
Protein: 44.5 grams
Get the recipe here
Whole30 dinner of beef burgers with garlic kale and sweet potatoes
Asian Chicken Salad With Sesame Ginger Dressing
Looking for a quick and easy dinner option that doesn't require cooking? Try this Asian chicken salad with wombok cabbage, ginger garlic dressing and crunchy fried noodles.
Calories: 420
Protein: 29 grams
Get the recipe here
Wombok Salad With Chicken & Asian Dressing
Stuffed Chicken Breast from The Big Man’s World
Starting off with whole chicken breast is a great way to hit your protein goal. With the creamy dairy-based filling, you rack up quite a few additional grams. To make a meal, serve with a side of roasted broccoli and potatoes.
Calories per chicken breast: 327
Protein: 33 grams
Get the recipe here
Stuffed Chicken Breast
Chicken Parmesan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes from The Heathful Blondie
These creamy, cheeses, and protein-packed sweet potatoes have the perfect blend of macros to keep you satisfied while also curbing all your cravings. The recipe uses mozzarella which is a great part-skim, low-calorie dairy choice.
Calories: 488
Protein: 25 grams
Get the recipe here
Sheet Pan Chicken Meatballs With Coconut Curry Sauce
Veggies are abundant in this recipe. Sheet pan meals are simple to make which makes eating more protein, well, simpler! The nutrition facts below include one cup of cooked rice to serve the meal with. From Ambitious Kitchen.
Calories: 500
Protein: 31 grams
Get the recipe here
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes With Spanish Tuna & Peppers
You will love these stuffed sweet potatoes with delicious, Spanish-inspired tuna empanada filling. Meal prep-friendly recipe, gluten-free, paleo & Whole30.
Calories: 433
Protein: 28 gras
Get the recipe here
Tuna Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Easy High Protein Lasagna from Kim’s Cravings
This lasagna serves up six hearty portions with some smart swaps like using turkey in place of beef and cottage cheese in place of ricotta. Serve with a big side salad or a plate of cooked veggies.
Calories: 273
Protein: 27 grams
Get the recipe here
Garlic Chicken Soup With Vegetables
Healthy, delicious garlic chicken soup recipe that is quick and easy to make. Made with shredded rotisserie chicken and green vegetables.
Calories: 457
Protein: 29 g
Get the recipe here
Cajun Meatball Stew from Oh Snap Macros
Making meatballs is a good swap for beef to increase protein. Cajun flavours and veggies cooked into the base keep this meal light but hearty, and it’s perfect for meal prep or the freezer.
Calories: 286
Protein: 21 grams
Get the recipe here
Cajun Meatball Stew
Protein Pizza from Eating Bird Food
Pizza as it is is surprisingly high in protein, but it’s often quite high in calories too. This recipe helps you focus on the good ingredients without skimping on any cheesy delight that you expect.
Calories: 396
Protein: 30 grams
Get the recipe here
Protein Pizza
Roast Pork Tenderloin With Orange Maple Glaze
Pork tenderloin is a budget-friendly protein choice and a fairly lean cut of pork. Adding a sweet and savoury sauce brings out a tender and moist final result, perfect for pairing with loads of veggies for a filling meal.
Calories: 365
Protein: 30 grams
Get the recipe here
Roast Pork Tenderloin With Orange Maple Glaze
Mediterranean Balsamic Pork Loin Skillet From Cotter Crunch
When you're aiming for a high-protein, low-calorie option, opt for pork loin or pork chops. Infused with the richness of balsamic vinegar and Mediterranean flavors, this one-pan recipe provides all the essential ingredients for a delicious and hassle-free dinner.
Calories: 309
Protein: 26 grams
Get the recipe here
Lemongrass Cauliflower Shrimp Fried ‘Rice’
This recipe cleverly substitutes cauliflower for traditional rice, helping to maintain a low calorie count while ensuring a satisfying meal. Furthermore, prawns are not only remarkably low in calories but also stand out as one of the most protein-rich foods available. The nutritional information below is based on making this recipe for one.
Calories: 500
Protein: 32 grams
Get the recipe here
cauliflower shrimp fried rice in a skillet with a spatula
Buffalo Tuna Melt Stuffed Peppers from Ambitious Kitchen
Tuna is a versatile and convenient protein source that you can easily store as a shelf-stable option. Elevate your tuna game beyond the typical sandwiches or salads by trying these high-protein stuffed peppers for a more intriguing meal.
Calories per two halves: 328
Protein: 44 grams
Get the recipe here
Buffalo Tuna Melt Stuffed Peppers
Fish Taco Bowls With Cilantro Lime Rice from Dishing Out Health
This meal template is a good one to keep handy. A rice bowl with tons of raw and cooked veggies, some beans for some sneaky extra protein (and fibre), and your favourite fish served with flavorful garnishes is a super satisfying combination.
Calories: 465
Protein: 25 grams
Get the recipe here
Fish Taco Bowls With Cilantro Lime Rice
Quick and Healthy Fish Tacos from Gimme Delicious
Swap the bowl for tortillas and still keep your meal light and high in protein. White fish like cod is exceptionally filling and you can be pretty liberal with the serving size.
Calories: 309
Protein: 29 grams
Get the recipe here
Mexican Ground Beef Skillet from Fit Foodie Finds
Opt for lean ground beef when preparing this recipe to maintain a balance of low calories and high protein content. If you prefer, you can also substitute beef with chicken or turkey for a leaner meat option. Enhance the dish with your preferred carbohydrate accompaniments, such as tortilla chips, rice, or potatoes, to suit your taste.
Calories: 379
Protein: 27 grams
Get the recipe here
Mexican Ground Beef Skillet
Crying Tiger Beef and Rice Noodle Salad Bowl
This meal features sliced tender beef atop a bed of veggies and noodles to bulk this meal up with flavourful sauce to cook the meat in and use as a dressing.
Calories (cooked for 3 serves): 350
Protein: 21 grams
Get the recipe here
Crying Tiger Beef Rice Noodle Salad
Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole from Lauren Fit Foodie
Casseroles tend to be high in protein with emphasis on meat and cheese. This one keeps volume high with spaghetti squash as a low-carb base.
Calories: 264
Protein: 20 grams
Get the recipe here
Lightened Up Beef Stroganoff from Lilie Eats and Tells
Creamy sauces aren’t known for being particularly low in calories but some smart swaps make this one perfect. Pair with your favourite pasta, rice, or cauliflower rice to serve.
Calories: 316
Protein: 39 grams
Get the recipe here
Beef Chili from Haute and Healthy Living
The slow cooker is an option for this recipe so set it and forget it. Chili is an excellent way to hit your protein goals, traditionally combining key players such as lean beef, beans, and dairy to top it off with.
Calories: 384
Protein: 36 grams
Get the recipe here
Sausage and Cheese Egg Bake from Hungry Happens
Breakfast is a great time to start making headway toward your daily protein goal. Eggs, cottage cheese, and sausage baked into a single slice means every serving is jam-packed with the good stuff. Pro tip: swap out fatty sausage for turkey sausage to reduce calories and increase protein.
Calories: 383
Protein: 23
Get the recipe here
Sausage and Cheese Egg Bake
Pizza Frittata With Pepperoni And Veggies from Eat The Gains
This egg dish satisfies the pizza craving without the wait time for delivery. This frittata is suitable for any time of the day and even slices like the pie you’ve been craving.
Calories: 246
Protein: 18 grams
Get the recipe here
Savoury Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowls from Fox Loves Lemons
Cottage cheese serves as a superb high-protein foundation, often associated with desserts. However, in this recipe, it takes center stage with the addition of smoked salmon and eggs, creating a satisfying morning meal. This versatile template can be adapted with various vegetables, meats, or fish for your culinary creativity.
Calories: 337
Protein: 36 grams
Get the recipe here
Tomato Cottage Cheese Pasta from Feel Good Foodie
Adding cottage cheese to your homemade pasta sauce adds so much protein! Pair this with chickpea pasta to get even more bang for your buck, and add meat or a vegan meat substitute for beef or chicken to round things out.
Calories: 393
Protein: 18 grams
Get the recipe here
Tomato Cottage Cheese Pasta
Spiced Sweet Potato Egg Bake
This meal is perfectly suitable for breakfast or dinner combining eggs and sweet potatoes for a healthier version of your favourite greasy spoon delicacy. The nutrition information below is for half the recipe.
Calories: 458
Protein: 21 grams
Get the recipe here
Spiced Sweet Potato Egg Bake

Vegetarian

High-Protein Veggie Wrap
A healthy veggie wrap made with lentils, edamame and sun-dried tomatoes wrapped in a high-protein tortilla along with creamy hummus.
Calories (per wrap): 380
Protein: 20 grams
Get the recipe here
Veggie Wrap with healthy high-protein filling of lentils, edamame beans and hummus with lots of vegetables.
Kimchi Fried Rice With Tempeh from The First Mess
Tempeh, a complete plant protein, is a fantastic choice for boosting protein intake in vegetarian and vegan diets. This stir-fry is brimming with zesty kimchi flavors, wholesome complex carbohydrates, and tender broccoli, making it a satisfying and nutritious meal option.
Calories: 465
Protein: 22 grams
Get the recipe here
Kimchi Fried Rice With Tempeh
Greek Tofu Bowls from Skinnytaste
Tofu shines as a protein-packed and flavorful ingredient when it's expertly crisped up and combined with the classic textures and aromas of Greek cuisine. This uncomplicated bowl recipe is a perfect addition to your meal prep routine.
Calories: 485
Protein: 32 grams
Get the recipe here
Falafel Bowls from A Paige of Positivity
Chickpeas and rice are a great combination to get your complete plant protein on without any meat substitutes. Add more protein to these falafel bowls with a Greek yoghurt-based tzatziki.
Calories: 297
Protein: 14 grams
Get the recipe here
Protein Overnight Oats from The Foodie Physician
Protein powder and Greek yoghurt are a powerful protein-packed combo for breakfast. You can make these oat pots the night before and customise flavours based on your favourite toppings and add-ins.
Calories: 383
Protein: 38 grams
Get the recipe here
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie from The Simple Veganista
This hearty vegetarian meal is the perfect choice to satisfy your cravings and keep you full. It combines hearty potatoes, a variety of vegetables, and protein-rich lentils to curb your hunger.
Calories: 467
Protein: 22 grams
Get the recipe here
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Irena Macri
By Irena Macri

About the author: Hi, I’m Irena Macri. I share delicious recipes that I have cooked and loved. I am a published cookbook author, have been food blogging for over 10 years and have a Diploma in Nutrition. You will find many healthy recipes as well as my favourite comfort food. More about me here | Subscribe to my newsletter and freebies

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Comments

7 Comments
  1. I’ve been trying out a high protein diet and struggle to come up with recipes that aren’t boring. This list is amazing and I can’t wait to try all of them- especially the High-Protein Veggie Wrap!

  2. I’m so glad I found this page! I needed to change my diet and these recipes are just what I needed! Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. I’m prioritizing my protein intake this year so all of these recipes come in handy and they all look delicious. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. This is incredibly helpful! It’s great to see such a diverse range of options catering to different tastes while focusing on health and nutrition. The balance of low-calorie content with high protein in each meal is perfect for anyone looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle without sacrificing flavor. This collection is a fantastic resource for meal planning, offering plenty of inspiration for nutritious and satisfying dishes.

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