If you’re eating to build muscle, protein is king, which is why we’ve got recipes for three delicious, muscle-building high-protein meals below – Mediterranean-style stuffed lamb loin, herb-crusted pork tenderloin and roast beef.

But we’re duty bound to tell you that just because protein is the muscle-building monarch, it doesn’t mean simply eating as much as possible. There’s a limit to how much dietary protein your body can use at a time, which is around 30g, and you also need to pair it with just enough carbs to avoid breaking down muscle protein while repairing damaged tissue to stimulate new growth. More specifically, that means complex carbs to help restore glycogen levels and shuttle protein quickly and efficiently to depleted muscle cells.

Timing is crucial, too. Studies show that getting about 20g of protein and 20g of carbs an hour before and after training (based on 45 minutes of resistance training and moderate cardio, four days a week) is the perfect formula for improving your body composition. So how do you put it all together? After the recipes, you’ll find a sample three-day nutrition plan, which you can adapt to create your own long-term muscle-building meal plan, featuring these high-protein meals, of course.

Mediterranean-Style Stuffed Lamb Loin

Ingredients (Makes 6 servings)

  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 30g spinach leaves, shredded
  • Handful of fresh basil, shredded
  • 75g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 900g boneless lamb loin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste 

To make

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. In a medium-sized skillet, heat 1tbsp of the oil over medium heat and cook thee onion and garlic for about three minutes. Add the spinach and basil, then cook until the spinach wilts, about two minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the feta , then set aside.
  2. Trim the fat from the lamb and slice halfway through the meat, down the centre lengthwise. Cover with clingfilm. With a meat mallet (or a rolling pin or heavy pan), pound the lamb to 2.5cm thickness. Place the filling down the middle of the meat, then roll and tie with cooking string at 5cm intervals. Brush with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the lamb in a roasting pan, then roast in the oven to until done to your preference (65°C for medium rare, 70°C for medium and 75°F for well done). Cover with foil and let the lamb rest for ten minutes before carving. 

Nutrition per serving: 360 calories, 45g protein, 19g fat, 2g carbs

Herb-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

  • 680g boneless pork tenderloin
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 1tsp dried rosemary
  • 2tbsp coarsely chopped fresh parsley

To make

  1. Preheat oven to 200˚C/gas 6 and place rack on the middle shelf.
  2. Trim off the fat and silver skin from the pork, pat dry with a paper towel and pierce all over with a fork. Rub with 1tbsp olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary and parsley in a bowl. Rub into pork until evenly coated.
  4. Heat the remaining 1tbsp oil over medium-high heat in a large oven-safe pan (cast-iron or a Dutch oven). Add the pork and brown on all sides, about six minutes.
  5. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes, turning halfway through, or until the centre of the pork registers 65°C on a meat thermometer. Transfer to a cutting board and rest for five to ten minutes, then serve.

Nutrition per serving: 310 calories, 45g protein, 13g fat, 1g carbs

Roast Beef

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

  • 1.15kg centre-cut beef tenderloin
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

To make

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Rub the beef with the oil and at least 2tsp each salt and pepper.
  2. Place in a roasting pan and cook for 30 to 45 minutes, turning halfway through, until done to your preference.
  3. Remove from oven, cover with foil and rest for ten minutes before serving.

Nutrition per serving: 409 calories, 55g protein, 20g fat, 0g carbs

RECOMMENDED: 6 Recipe Ideas For Roast Beef Leftovers

High-Protein Meal Plan

Who is this meal plan for?

It’s, very specifically, for a 35-year-old active man who weighs 79kg and is 1.78m tall. Adjust as required for your circumstances.

Recommended Baseline Macros

  • Calories 2,600-2,800
  • Protein 1.7g/kg bodyweight = 135g protein daily, 27g per meal (20% of total calories)
  • Carbohydrates 357–385g (55% of total calories)
  • Fat 72–77g (25% of total calories)

Day 1

Breakfast

Porridge (made with 65g dry oats) topped with 1tbsp raisins and 110g blueberries
2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites (hard-boiled, scrambled or omelette – cook with 1tsp olive oil) topped with ¼ avocado

RECOMMENDED: Upgrade Breakfast With These Healthy Porridge Recipes

Morning snack

160g low-fat cottage cheese topped with 1tbsp slivered almonds
1 medium apple

Lunch

100-120g grilled chicken topped with 80g hummus
1 whole baked sweet potato topped with 2tsp whipped butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon
2 portions of non-starchy veg (asparagus, peppers, spinach)

Afternoon snack

1 whole banana with 2tbsp natural nut butter (or whole almonds or walnuts)

RECOMMENDED: Low-Calorie Snacks

Workout

500ml water

Dinner

Herb-crusted pork tenderloin
200g couscous
Serving of fresh green veg (broccoli, kale)
Fresh salad greens with 2tbsp vinaigrette dressing

Day 2

Breakfast

1 wholemeal muffin or bagel topped with 2tbsp natural peanut butter 1 whole banana
250ml skimmed milk

Morning snack

50g carrot sticks with 80g hummus
2 hard-boiled eggs

Lunch

115g salmon cooked with fresh herbs and citrus
100g wholegrain pasta or brown rice
Serving of fresh green veg

RECOMMENDED: The Simplest Grilled Salmon Recipe Imaginable

Afternoon snack

Smoothie made with 170g low-fat yogurt, 115g frozen berries and 10g protein powder

Workout

500ml water

Dinner

Roast beef
1 whole baked sweet potato
2 servings of non-starchy veg (sautéed kale, red peppers, snap peas)

Day 3

Breakfast

Smoothie made with 170g Greek yogurt , 150g mixed berries, 1 whole banana, 50g spinach or 70g kale, 20g protein powder and 250ml unsweetened coconut water

Morning snack

2 hard-boiled eggs
1 low-sugar cereal bar
30g mixed nuts

Lunch

100g turkey burger on a wholemeal bun topped with 70g kimchi and ¼ avocado
100g black rice
2 servings of raw veg (carrots, peppers, celery)

Afternoon snack

85g turkey breast rolled up with 30g provolone or manchego cheese
1 medium apple

Workout

500ml water

Dinner

Mediterranean-style stuffed lamb loin
150g farro mixed with sautéed onions
Tomatoes dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper