40g Protein Meal: 15 Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

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Below, I’ve created a list of 15 different meal ideas that all include 40 grams of protein.

These meals are simple to create, yet utilize high-protein ingredients, such as larger cuts of meat, seeds, grains, and dairy products.

As a nutritionist, I’m here to guide you in meeting your protein goal. Let’s get started!

Want to learn more about meal planning? Check out our complete guide on How To Create A Bodybuilding Diet.

Can You Consume 40g of Protein in a Meal?

Eating 40 grams of protein in one meal is a great way to hit your daily protein goal. You can do it either at one or at multiple meals during the day.

With that said, there has been discussion on how much protein is optimal for the body to digest and assimilate in one sitting.

Some research suggests that eating over 25-30 grams of protein in one sitting is unnecessary, as the body cannot utilize more than this in order to facilitate protein synthesis (building and repairing muscle tissue).

However, any extra protein you eat in one sitting won’t do any harm as long as you are within your protein and calorie requirements for the day. In fact, any extra protein that your body does not use for protein synthesis will likely be converted to energy.

How To Get 40g of Protein Per Meal? 6 Tips

6 tips how to get 40g of protein per meal

If you are looking to increase your protein intake to 40 grams per meal, here are a few tips to help you achieve your goal:

1. Eat Larger Cuts of Meat, Poultry, and Fish

If your goal is to hit 40 grams of protein in one meal, you’ll want to focus on eating larger cuts of meat, poultry, and fish products. Even increasing your normal portion by one or two ounces can have a significant impact on the protein content of that meal.

For example, if you were to eat 3 ounces of salmon, you would have a total of 17 grams of protein. However, if you were to increase your portion to 6 ounces, your protein intake would go up to about 34 grams of protein, which is only just shy of the 40-gram goal.

Additionally, certain cuts of animal protein have a higher protein content per ounce. These are great choices when you have a high-protein target.

Compare sirloin steak for example, which has around 8 grams of protein per ounce, with cod, which has around 5 grams of protein per ounce.

Choosing cuts of meat, poultry, and fish with higher quantities of protein per ounce will help you to meet your protein target in your meal.

2. Include Egg Whites When Cooking Your Eggs

Eggs are a fantastic source of protein to utilize in your meals. However, they also come with a decent amount of fat. If you are trying to hit your protein goal in your meal with eggs, you are going to end up consuming a lot of fat.

In this situation, utilizing egg whites can help you hit your protein target.

Egg whites contain protein (one large egg white has almost 4 grams of protein) but do not come with the fat that is typically found in an egg yolk.

For this reason, they are a great addition to a morning omelet that allow you to increase the amount of protein in your meal without increasing your fat intake.

3. Utilize High-Protein Nuts and Seeds in Your Meals

Nuts and seeds are a great way to boost the protein content of your meal, being that they pack a good amount of protein and are easy to add to nearly any dish.

There are so many different types of nuts and seeds, which allows you to use them in a variety of ways.

For example, adding seeds such as chia and flax seeds to your smoothie or yogurt bowl will allow you to boost the protein content along with the fiber and micronutrient content (vitamins and minerals) of your meal.

Adding 1 ounce of chia seeds will add nearly 5 grams of protein to your meal!

In addition to this, nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts and cashews are a great way to add protein to things like salads and stir-fries. Adding 1 ounce of almonds to your salad would increase your protein intake by an impressive 6 grams.

You can also utilize nut and seed butter such as almond butter, peanut butter, sunflower seed butter and tahini in order to boost protein intake.

However, keep in mind that nuts also come with a high amount of fat, so if you are minding your fat intake, you won’t want to go overboard on your nut and seed consumption.

4. Include High-Protein Dairy in Your Diet

One of the easiest ways to increase your protein intake is to make sure you are choosing dairy products that contain a large amount of protein.

While basically all dairy products contain some protein, specific dairy products contain significantly more protein than others.

For example, if you normally eat 1 cup of regular yogurt as a snack during your day, swapping this out for the exact same amount of Greek yogurt would increase your protein intake at that meal by an impressive 11.5 grams.

5. Take Advantage of Higher-Protein Grains and Legumes

Believe it or not, the types of grains that you include in your diet can have a large impact on your overall protein intake for the day.

More specifically, it is the most optimal to focus on consuming whole grain, higher protein grains as opposed to refined grains.

A clear example of this would be to examine the difference in protein between whole wheat bread and white bread. Two slices of white bread contains only 2.2 grams of protein, while two slices of whole wheat bread contains 7.2 grams of protein.

This small change will make a difference of 5 grams of protein in your meal.

In addition to this, including high-protein beans and legumes in your diet is a great way to consume your protein from a plant-based source, which will also come accompanied with a good amount of fiber.

One cup of chickpeas alone contains 22 grams of protein, along with an astonishing 12.8 grams of fiber.

6. Include Protein Powders in Your Diet

One of the most obvious ways to easily increase your protein intake at one meal is to utilize a high-quality protein powder.

Protein powders are easy to digest and typically very high in protein, with the average scoop of whey protein isolate containing around 25 grams of protein.

Protein powders are also extremely versatile and can be used alone as a shake or in meals such as smoothies, oatmeal and yogurt bowls, protein pancakes, and other baked goods. 

If you are plant-based and do not wish to consume a protein powder in the form of dairy, you can obtain many different types of high-quality plant-based protein powders that will help you to reach your goal.

40g Protein Meals: 15 Examples

Here are the best meals that contain 40g of protein. If you’re looking for more meal and recipe inspiration, check out our full meal plan category.

1. Overnight Protein Oats

overnight protein oats - 40.4 grams of protein

While oatmeal on its own does not have a high protein content, this meal can contain a substantial amount of protein when it is mixed with the right ingredients.

In particular, utilizing protein powder in your overnight oats is a great way to give your breakfast a protein boost.

If you mix all of these ingredients together in a mason jar and allow the mixture to sit overnight in the refrigerator, the oats will soak in the liquid from the milk along with all of the flavor from the protein powder.

This makes it an easy grab and go meal in the morning that you can enjoy cold.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • ½ cup oats – 5 grams
  • 1 scoop of protein powder – 26 grams
  • 1 cup almond milk – 1 gram
  • 1 tbsp almond butter – 3.4 grams
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds – 4 grams
  • ½ cup berries such as strawberries or blueberries – 1 gram

TOTAL:  40.4 grams of protein

2. Sausage, Egg, and Egg White Scramble with Toast

sausage, egg, and egg white scramble with toast - 41.5 grams of protein

The typical savory breakfast spread is not only the ideal morning comfort meal, but it can provide a generous amount of your daily protein intake as well.

In particular, utilizing egg whites and opting for whole wheat bread for your toast will help to boost the protein content of this meal.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • 3 cooked sausage links – 10 grams
  • 2 whole eggs, scrambled – 12 grams
  • 3 egg whites, scrambled – 9 grams
  • 1.2 oz 2% cheddar cheese – 3.5 grams
  • 2 slices whole wheat toast – 7 grams

TOTAL:  41.5 grams of protein

3. Protein and Fruit Smoothie

protein and fruit smoothie - 39 grams of protein

Mixing up a smoothie with a combination of protein powder, high-protein dairy, fruit, and a healthy fat source such as peanut butter is a great way to hit your protein target while also getting in a balanced meal full of micronutrients, antioxidants, and fiber.

You can change up the flavor of your smoothie simply by changing the types of fruit and the flavor of protein powder you use. This particular smoothie would have a pina colada flavor due to the combination of creamy dairy, banana, and pineapple.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • 1 scoop of protein powder – 26 grams
  • 1 frozen banana – 1 gram
  • 1 cup of pineapple – 1 gram
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt – 6 grams
  • 1 cup coconut milk – 5 grams

TOTAL:  39 grams of protein

4. Cottage Cheese Bowl

cottage cheese bowl - 41 grams of protein

The combination of cottage cheese, fruit, and nuts can provide a delicious snack that is packed with protein. This makes it a great option when you are trying to hit higher protein targets at every meal in your day.

Cottage cheese contains some of the highest amounts of protein out of all dairy products, making it a great choice when you are trying to hit 40 grams of protein in one meal.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • 1 cup 1% cottage cheese – 28 grams
  • 1 cup of blueberries – 1 gram
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds – 4 grams
  • 1.5 oz cashews – 8 grams

TOTAL:  41 grams of protein

5. Greek Yogurt and Granola

greek yogurt and granola - 40 grams of protein

The combination of a protein-rich Greek yogurt and high-protein granola makes it so easy to hit your 40-gram protein goal.

Not only that, but this is another situation where you can utilize a tasty protein powder in order to boost the protein content and the flavor of your meal.

Since most granola also contains a significant amount of fat, it would be best to stick to a Greek yogurt that is lower in fat. This is especially important if you also include peanut butter with this meal.

This way you will ensure that you are eating a balanced amount of carbs, fat, and protein.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • 1 Tbsp peanut butter – 4 grams
  • 1 Tbsp Chia seeds – 2 grams

TOTAL:  40 grams of protein

6. Ham and Cheese Sandwich with Chicken Soup

ham and cheese sandwich with chicken soup - 39.5 grams of protein

The combination of chicken, rice, and vegetables (which are all common ingredients in chicken soup) is a commonly consumed meal in the world of bodybuilding since it contains the perfect mix of protein, carbs, and fiber.

As well, ham is a lean protein source that you may enjoy if you’re getting tired of lean beef or egg whites.

This meal is minimally processed, making it more likely to have a lighter impact on your digestive system.

When you are choosing what type of rice you want to eat on a high protein diet, opt for wild rice, as it has the highest protein content out of all the types of rice.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • 3 oz sliced ham – 11 grams
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread – 7 grams
  • 2 oz 2% cheddar cheese – 14 grams
  • 3 slices of tomato – 0.5 grams
  • 1 tbsp mustard – 1 gram
  • 1 cup of chicken noodle soup – 6 grams

TOTAL:  39.5 grams of protein

7. Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

spaghetti and meat sauce - 41.8 grams of protein

When you prepare spaghetti with a high-protein meat sauce and a whole wheat spaghetti noodle, it greatly increases the amount of protein that you will get in your pasta dish.

If you wish to add more protein to any pasta dish, adding a cheese like parmesan is a great addition, as cheese is quite high in protein.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • 4 oz lean ground beef – 25 grams
  • 1.5 cup whole wheat spaghetti noodles – 10.5 grams
  • ½ cup marinara sauce – 2.5 grams
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese – 3.8 grams

TOTAL:  41.8 grams of protein

8. Salmon with Wild Rice and Broccoli

salmon with wild rice and broccoli - 40.57 grams of protein

This meal is not only extremely high in protein, but it is also very nutritious and provides a ton of crucial micronutrients and fiber in the form of simple whole foods.

When you have a high protein target, wild rice is extremely helpful being that it has the highest protein content out of all the different strains of rice. The next best rice that you could choose is brown rice, which contains about 5 grams of protein per 1 cup.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • 5.5 oz salmon filet – 31 grams
  • 1 cup wild rice – 7 grams
  • 1 cup broccoli – 2.57 grams

TOTAL:  40.57 grams of protein

9. Shrimp Alfredo

shrimp alfredo - 41 grams of protein

Shrimp alfredo can be such a fast and easy meal to make when you are stuck for ideas for a high-protein meal.

As long as you keep frozen shrimp in your freezer and whole wheat pasta and alfredo sauce in your pantry, you can make this meal at the drop of a hat.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • 4 oz shrimp – 27 grams
  • 1 cup whole wheat fettuccine noodles – 7 grams
  • ¼ cup alfredo sauce – 7 grams

TOTAL:  41 grams of protein

10. Tofu and Chickpea Stir-fry

tofu and chickpea stir-fry - 41.2 grams of protein

If you want to hit your 40 gram protein target on a plant based diet, then this is the meal for you. The combination of tofu and chickpeas is a great way to pack a ton of protein into one meal, without the use of any animal products.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • 5 oz firm tofu – 11 grams
  • 1 cup chickpeas – 22 grams
  • 1 cup broccoli – 2.57 grams
  • 3 large mushrooms, chopped – 1.8 grams
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped – 1.2 grams
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce – 2.6 grams

TOTAL:  41.2 grams of protein

11. Hard-Boiled Eggs on Toast

hard-boiled eggs on toast - 40 grams of protein

Another great way to enjoy your eggs is to hard boil them and serve them on high-protein toasted bread.

Adding a slice of Canadian bacon to this meal, either served with the toast or on the side, helps to top off the protein content in this meal in order to reach the 40-gram target.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

TOTAL:  40 grams of protein

12. High-Protein Chicken Wrap

high-protein chicken wrap - 40 grams of protein

If you have a goal to hit 40 grams of protein, making your wrap with a higher protein flatbread will be the best way to go.

Filling that wrap with a high-protein animal protein like chicken breast and a serving of cheese makes this meal a great go-to when you are aiming to eat a high amount of protein in one meal.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

TOTAL:  40 grams of protein

13. Steak and Loaded Baby Potatoes with Asparagus

steak and loaded baby potatoes with asparagus - 40.9 grams of protein

While the main source of protein in this meal is the sirloin steak at 31 grams for a 4-ounce serving, the protein in the loaded baby potatoes and the asparagus is significant enough to bring the protein content up to the 40-gram target.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • 4 oz sirloin steak – 31 grams
  • 4 oz baby potatoes – 2.2 grams
  • 1 tbsp shredded cheese – 2 grams
  • 1 tbsp butter – 0 grams
  • 1 tbsp bacon bits – 2.2
  • 7 asparagus spears – 3.5 grams

TOTAL:  40.9 grams of protein

14. Tuna Sandwich

tuna sandwich - 40.5 grams of protein

A tuna salad is a great high protein meal since the tuna salad mixture contains 2 great sources of protein: tuna and an egg.

On top of that, putting your tuna salad mixture between 2 slices of high-protein bread easily allows this meal to hit the 40-gram target.

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • 3.5 oz canned tuna – 24 grams
  • 2 slices Dave’s Killer Powerseed Bread – 10 grams
  • 1 hard-boiled egg – 6 grams
  • 2 tbsp low fat mayo – 0.2 grams
  • ¼ cup chopped celery – 0.3 grams
  • Lemon juice, salt, and pepper – N/A

TOTAL:  40.5 grams of protein

15. Bison Burger

bison burger - 38.5 grams of protein

This bison burger meal contains a whopping 38.5 grams of protein, falling short of the 40-gram target by only 1.5 grams.

If you wanted to boost the protein content of this meal any more, you could make a larger burger patty, add more cheese, or even add a fried egg on top of your burger (yum!).

Ingredients and Protein Macros:

  • 5 oz bison burger patty – 26 grams
  • 1 hamburger bun – 4 grams
  • 1 2% cheddar cheese slice – 7 grams
  • 1 tbsp mustard – 1 gram
  • 3 slices of tomato – 0.5 grams

TOTAL:  38.5 grams of protein

Who Should Be Eating 40g Protein Meals?

The decision of whether or not you should eat 40 grams of protein at one meal will depend primarily on factors such as what your current goals are in regard to your protein intake and how many meals you aim to consume in a day.

You could decide to consume 40 grams of protein per meal if you had a daily protein goal of 120 grams and only wanted to consume 3 meals per day. This would allow you to meet your protein requirements without having to consume multiple smaller meals in a day.

Similarly, if your protein requirement was much higher, say 200 grams a day, then you could meet this requirement by eating 40 grams of protein per meal for a total of 5 meals per day.

You would then want to make sure you had breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks that consisted of 40 grams of protein each.

For Sedentary Adults

The general protein requirement for an average sedentary adult is about 71 grams of protein for a male and 61 grams for a female.

Even if someone does not have an active lifestyle, they could still have one meal throughout their day that contained 40 grams of protein.

For Bodybuilders

For a bodybuilder, the recommended protein intake is about 1 gram per pound of bodyweight.

If we were to look at a 240-pound male bodybuilder who needed to consume 240 grams of protein per day, we could conclude that he could meet his requirements by eating 6 meals per day that each contained 40 grams of protein.

For Other Athletes

Individuals who are not bodybuilders but are still highly active should consume 0.5-0.9 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.

For someone who weighs 180 pounds, this equals 90-162 grams of protein per day. That individual could have anywhere from 1-4 meals per day that each have 40g of protein. 

More High-Protein Meals


Schoenfeld BJ, Aragon AA. How much protein can the body use in a single meal for muscle-building? Implications for daily protein distribution. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018 Feb 27;15:10. doi: 10.1186/s12970-018-0215-1. PMID: 29497353; PMCID: PMC5828430.

Pesta, D. H., & Samuel, V. T. (2014). A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutrition & metabolism, 11(1), 53. https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-7075-11-53

Helms, E.R., Aragon, A.A. & Fitschen, P.J. Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 11, 20 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-11-20

de Falco, B., Amato, M. & Lanzotti, V. Chia seeds products: an overview. Phytochem Rev 16, 745–760 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11101-017-9511-7

Stuetz, W., Schlörmann, W., & Glei, M. (2017). B-vitamins, carotenoids and α-/γ-tocopherol in raw and roasted nuts. Food Chemistry, 221, 222-227. ISSN 0308-8146. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.10.065.

Mamta, Misra, K., Dhillon, G.S., Brar, S.K., Verma, M. (2014). Antioxidants. In: Brar, S., Dhillon, G., Soccol, C. (eds) Biotransformation of Waste Biomass into High Value Biochemicals. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-8005-1_6

Vasanthi, H. R., Mukherjee, S., & Das, D. K. (2009). Potential Health Benefits of Broccoli: A Chemico-Biological Overview. Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, 9(6), 749-759. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2174/138955709788452685

Górska-Warsewicz H, Laskowski W, Kulykovets O, Kudlińska-Chylak A, Czeczotko M, Rejman K. Food Products as Sources of Protein and Amino Acids-The Case of Poland. Nutrients. 2018 Dec 13;10(12):1977. doi: 10.3390/nu10121977. PMID: 30551657; PMCID: PMC6315330.

About The Author

Colby Roy

Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.

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