You want to be your strongest, leanest most muscular ever YOU! Ideally you want to achieve this in time for that beach holiday your other half just announced she’d booked. She’s already drinking Slimming Tea like It’s going out of fashion. You on the other hand are wise and smart. You know it’s weights you need to be lifting to effectively burn more calories and torch the fat, so you’ve increased your reps and your load and stocked up on the gold old protein powder. Great. Trouble is, you’re still harbouring a bit of, well, let’s kindly call it a “paunch” as there’s no way it could currently be described as a six pack. It’s definitely more the shape of a small keg!
We all know that abs start in the kitchen but quite frankly, that’s the one room in your house that sees the least action. Meal prep on a Sunday – nah – you’d rather be down the pub with the boys discussing how terrible your team performed again this weekend. Like seriously, when are they ever going to get round to sacking their manager?
You also know that the key to stripping fat and building lean muscle mass or indeed any kind of muscle mass as you might prefer the “hench” look is of course protein and LOTS of it. Steaming 5 chicken breasts and boiling up a bag of broccoli every Sunday evening though just isn’t your style, but you are going to have to do a bit of planning ahead and you need food that’s tasty, nutritious and packs a full powered protein punch that will keep you full for the rest of the afternoon, especially if you have managed to squeeze in a quick lunchtime gym blast.
We’ve got some recommendations for you that will have you easily getting your fill of protein without breaking the bank and your 45 mins lunchtime curfew by having to pop into the nearest steakhouse every lunchtime for a Steak and Eggs. That is a great option by the way though. Good old steak and eggs is protein heaven.
Getting plenty of protein into your diet really isn’t as hard as you think especially if you love mackerel, sardines, tuna, salmon, chicken, turkey, beef, ham, eggs, yoghurt, cheese, beans, chickpeas and grains! The list goes on but you get the idea. Make any one of those the firm base of your meal and you are going to torch that fat and help feed and increase the recovery time to your muscles post workout. With less than 15 minutes pre time too, you can easily rustle up a tasty treat.
1. It’s a Wrap
Really easy to prepare at home and can be eaten on the go plus there are also plenty of shop bought versions you can grab. A wholemeal tortilla wrap packed with tuna and avocado is tasty and will stick your protein requirement or what about filling it instead with chicken and some swiss chard? Even better still, you could just ditch the tortilla completely and make your protein wraps with lettuce leaves. You’ll be surprised just how tasty tuna literally wrapped in lettuce really is and its full of omega 3 too.
2. Grab some grains
You can get some great bags of mixed grains these days that can be eaten both hot or cold if you don’t have access to a microwave. Something like quinoa makes a fantastic base for a high powered protein bowl. Eat with a lovely big piece of salmon and just simply drizzle with some olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Tasty as heck and literally no prep time involved. At this rate you might even be able to squeeze in a cheeky little 30 mins weight training session.
3. Protein pots
Again, quick and easy to rustle up at home so that you can eat cold on the go the next day and you’ll also find many of the high street chains have jumped on the protein pot band wagon. Boil up a couple of eggs, grab some spinach leaves, a small tin of tuna, some green beans and a tomato and literally chop it all up and pop it in a handy portable pot ready to have on the go at lunchtime. There are loads of variations on this idea that you can rustle up – all you need is just a bit of imagination and a couple old container!
4. Souper Dooper
Soup can be another great quick and easy lunchtime idea that can be quickly rustled up and you don’t have to eat all soups hot either. Something like a spicy Mexican style bean based soup with plenty of extra added shredded chicken tastes delicious and is full of powerful antioxidants as well as protein to fuel your workout later. Stocking up on good fresh soups if you don’t have time to prepare your own is a great idea and you can literally load them with extra protein like turkey and chicken to increase your protein hit.
5. It’s all Greek to me
If you have a hankering for something a little sweeter than a great option is to grab a pot of natural Greek yoghurt which is packed with twice as much protein as a regular yoghurt. Add some fresh berries, blueberries are particularly good for you and categorised as a superfood no less for the ultimate sweet but satisfying midday snack that will still deliver the protein load you are searching for. Add some mixed chopped nuts too or sprinkle on some chia seeds and you are really going to be high on flavour and protein load.
6. Shake it Baby
Can’t get enough of the old protein shakes when you are looking to build muscle or improve your squat. They’re such an easy and convenient way to get some extra protein into your diet if you’re already on your second chicken breast of the day and you quite frankly can’t face a third! Look for a brand that has a high % gram of protein as some are quite frankly filled with anything but protein. If you have the time and a blender to hand (or you’ve got yourself organised in the morning) whizz one up with an extra banana and some oats too and that will keep you much fuller for longer and give you an extra protein hit.
Super easy to eat on the run and also packed with a protein hit, how about a few generous dollops of hummus with plenty of crudités. Chop up carrots, celery or grab some gorgeous tasty snow peas for a really healthy on to the go snack that has literally zero prep involved. If you’re really lazy you can even buy your veggies already prepped so all you have to do is get to dipping.
8. Just say cheese
I don’t know about you but I love good old cheese platter. How about packing your own mini cheese board with whole grain crackers or even some rice cakes? Add a few almonds too and you’re ticking both your fibre and protein boxes for the day.
9. Roasted chickpeas
Not just the key component in your favourite hummus, chickpeas also make a great healthy high protein lunch roasted and toasted with a pinch of olive oil, salt and pepper and for a real zing, try sprinkling some cayenne pepper on them too. Pop a batch into a container and take with you so that you can grab a handful whenever you feel the hunger taking hold. Add them to a salad along with some turkey for a more fulfilling and tasty lunchtime treat.
10. Prawn power
If you’ve had your fill of tuna and turkey and can’t face the idea of yet another protein shake and quite frankly you’ve nibbled enough nuts and trail mix to turn into a squirrel, then how about getting your protein from some juicy prawns? Prawns are a great easy addition to a lunch box and they don’t require much preparation either. Toss them into a salad, add them to a packet of rice or cous cous or you could just stuff them into a wholemeal pitta bread with plenty of lettuce and tomato. Or you could go classic and mix up some mayo and ketchup to prepare your own thousand island dressing and make yourself an old fashioned prawn cocktail.
Remember that muscles are not built on exercise alone and if you are working out and increasing both your sessions, reps and loads, you are going to need even more protein than usual to fuel your recovery. Get adventurous and don’t just grab the nearest sandwich packed with chicken. There are so many tasty and well balanced options you can fill up your daily lunch box with that don’t require hours slaving away in the kitchen the night before. Sure, a bit of planning and preparation goes a long way but it needn’t be a chore getting the protein into your diet that you need.