Eating enough protein is crucial in both maintaining and building muscle mass.
A dietitian who follows a high-protein diet shared three easy dinner recipes with Insider.
She said wild-caught salmon and firm tofu are go-to ingredients for quick meals.
Getting in all of your macronutrients is important, but eating a high-protein diet in particular can help you build muscle, stay energized, and even lose weight.
Protein helps to support muscle mass, said Jordan Hill, a registered dietitian and sports dietetics specialist working with Top Nutrition Coaching, a network of dietitians. Eating an adequate amount is important whether you want to build muscle, maintain it, or lose weight. The more muscle we have, the higher our metabolic rate, which means we burn calories more efficiently, she said.
On average, women should aim for a minimum of 45g of protein per day, and men should aim for 55g, according to the British Heart Foundation. But, if you're looking to build muscle mass, studies have found consuming 0.7 g of protein per pound of body weight is the ideal amount, which is more than the average guidelines.
Hill, who follows a high-protein diet shared three dinners she makes when she's low on time. (She previously shared her easy go-to breakfasts with Insider.)
Wild-caught salmon with potatoes and broccoli
One of Hill's current favorite dinners is wild-caught salmon with baked potatoes and vegetables. And she said it's a fast meal that comes together in just 20 minutes.
A serving of 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of wild salmon contains 19.8 grams of protein, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
To make the salmon, she heats olive oil in a pan on the stovetop over medium and sautées the fish. She said only a small amount of oil, a healthy fat, is needed because salmon is already a higher-fat food.
"While I'm cooking it, I'll put a little bit of salt on each side of it and some lemon juice. Sometimes I might use a certain herb or spice," she said.
While the fish cooks, Hill usually cooks up some cut-up potatoes and vegetables, typically broccoli or asparagus, in an oven set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. She coats them lightly with avocado oil before roasting because it has a higher smoke or burning point than other oils, she said.
Roasted tofu with brown rice and sautéed vegetables
Another go-to dinner for Hill is a bowl of roasted tofu with brown rice and sautéed vegetables.
To make this dish, she first slices a block of firm tofu into bite-size pieces, then marinates them in a mixture of olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper for 30 minutes.
Then, she arranges the tofu on a foil-lined baking sheet, transfers them to an oven heated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and cooks until the tofu is crispy on the outside.
Firm tofu is a good source of plant-based protein, that provides 17.3 grams per 3-ounce serving. She often pairs this with some simple sautéed vegetables — spinach, asparagus, and mushrooms are go-tos for her — which she cooks with a splash of olive oil in a pan, on the stovetop, over medium heat.
Hill said she mixes up which herbs and spices she uses depending on what vibe she is going for, she said.
"Another quick and easy one that I find myself making a lot is tacos because you just need one to two pans to cook everything that you need," Hill said.
To make this dinner she uses either ground beef or turkey for her protein, which she browns in a skillet with a little olive oil. She typically sprinkles some store-bought taco seasoning on the meat.
In a second pan, Hill sautées some vegetables with olive oil, usually bell pepper, onion, and mushroom, and adds some canned beans and corn.
Finally, Hill strains the vegetable mix to remove any liquid before placing it in a tortilla along with the meat.
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