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3 high-protein meals a personal trainer swears by

Eat more protein and produce with these easy recipes that help build muscle and promote weight loss.

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Protein has been getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. The macronutrient is incredibly important for our bodies in so many ways.

"Protein is known for its role in muscle building. Protein is the building block of muscle tissues, so eating enough of it contributes to muscle growth," says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, nutrition editor for TODAY.com. "It also plays a part in structural support within the body, organ and hormone function and appetite control."

If weight loss or building muscle are among your health goals, getting adequate protein in your diet is an important habit.

“Without enough protein in the diet, you may feel hungry all the time and may start to lose lean body mass, which can lower your metabolism and increase your risk of obesity," says Rizzo. "On the flip side, since protein helps keep you full, eating a high-protein diet has been linked to sustained weight loss."

Because protein is so important for weight loss and maintenance, muscle building and repair and speeding up the metabolism, I encourage my clients to eat protein-packed meals throughout the day and make it a priority for myself as well!

But as someone who is constantly on the go, I know the struggle of finding time to make healthy meals, let alone worrying about getting in enough protein. Over time, I have come to rely on these three super-simple meals to fill me up and pack in protein and produce. These are on a regular rotation throughout my week!

Stephanie Mansour
Courtesy Stephanie Mansour

Green smoothie

A fun way to pack protein, fruits and veggies into a quick meal or snack is to blend up a smoothie. If you are on the go or just don’t feel like cooking a full meal, a smoothie is a simple and delicious way to drink up some nutrients!

 Ingredients:

Blend and enjoy!

Chicken salad

The mustard and lemon juice add just the right amount of zest, making this chicken salad stand out from the rest! The cucumber and pickles add a nice crunch, creating a protein-rich snack to keep in the fridge at work or as a full meal wrapped in lettuce cups or served with whole-grain crackers.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts or ½ rotisserie chicken 
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 pickles
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Chop chicken, cucumbers and pickles to the size of your liking. Whisk mustard, olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl. Toss the chicken, cucumbers and pickles in the dressing. (Makes 2 servings.)

Stephanie Mansour
Courtesy Stephanie Mansour

Healthy tuna open-faced sandwich

I love this recipe because it's filled with flavor and is so simple to make. The cucumber, celery and onion add a nice crunch while the apple cider vinegar gives it just the right amount of tart to satisfy your tastebuds.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5-ounce can light tuna
  • 1/4 diced onion
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • Handful of arugula
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, unfiltered 
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • Optional: peppers cut in half

Combine all ingredients (besides arugula) in a bowl. Split into 2 servings. Spoon one serving onto a slice of whole-grain bread and top with arugula. Or, for a lower-carb option with even more crunch, split a bell pepper in half and scoop out the seeds to use as the "bread" slices to make a sandwich. (This is my personal favorite way to enjoy it!)