What I Eat in a Day and Why: Muscle Building Edition

I’m a firm believer in the power of food as more than just sustenance—food brings joy. When it comes to muscle building meals, the classics like chicken and rice or tilapia and asparagus are popular for a reason, most importantly, the high protein content. But let's admit—they’re a bit dull. However, research has consistently shown the importance of eating a high protein diet when trying to build muscle. Recent findings suggest that for muscle growth, one should aim for around 30g of protein per meal, and .8g of protein per pound of body weight each day. My philosophy around a healthy diet is that it needs to be sustainable. Luckily, you can support your fitness goals, build muscle, and nourish your body all while eating exciting and flavorful meals. Here’s a snapshot of what I eat on a random day, prioritizing protein, nutritious ingredients, and taste! 

Disclaimer: This day of eating is just for inspiration, not comparison. No two bodies have the same needs and what works for me may not work for everybody.

21g protein

The most important meal of the day! I always reach for a sweet breakfast, yogurt bowls and chia pudding have been my two favorites lately. Today, I had chia pudding topped with papaya, honey, and cinnamon. 

For the perfect thick and creamy chia pudding: mix ½ cup vanilla greek yogurt, ½ milk, 2 tbsp chia seeds and shake vigorously (I mean really shake it). Then, let the chia pudding sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning, add your favorite fruits and toppings and enjoy.

9g protein

Diet culture has demonized snacks and I’m here to tell you that it is completely normal and healthy to snack in between meals. Today, I had 2 rice cakes with my favorite powdered peanut butter, banana, honey, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.

51g protein

Sandwiches are the perfect balanced lunch. They’re ready in minutes, customizable, and include all of the essential food groups: carbs, protein, veggies, and fat. I am a HUGE fan of open-faced sandwiches. There’s more room for all the flavorful toppings and you can pack on a ton of protein. Today, I had some toasted gut healthy sourdough, fresh tomato bruschetta, shredded rotisserie chicken breast, mozzarella cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

43g protein

protein pasta

For me, pasta with meat sauce is the ultimate comfort food. Let this be your reminder that your favorite childhood meals can absolutely fit into a healthy and high protein diet. 

15g protein

protein dessert key lime pie yogurt with granola

I have a major sweet tooth. Every single day, without fail, I treat myself to something sweet after dinner. Today, I had one of my favorite balanced desserts: Ezekiel cereal, Key Lime Pie yogurt, Cocowhip, and honey. It reminds me of key lime pie and it’s ready in 2 minutes! Ezekiel cereal is one of my favorites because it’s packed with whole grains, protein, and it’s SUPER crunchy. Plus, there's some research that whole grains can help aid sleep. 

Even though desserts may not always be nutrient dense or high in protein, they still have a place in a healthy diet. Balance is key. A healthy and sustainable diet includes all the foods that you love, with no restrictions. 

Natalia Daraie author of the article, girl in a dress

Natalia Daraie

Natalia is a Psychological & Brain Sciences major at UCSB. She is passionate about all things wellness. As a member of the Girl Gains club, she loves exploring different avenues of fitness, including nutrition, lifting, pilates, and relaxing walks outdoors. She's a big fan of matcha lattes, listening to podcasts, and can often be found scrolling through Pinterest for new meal ideas.

Instagram: @nataliadaraie Tiktok: @nataliasdar


  • georgina said:

    I found Natalia’s high-protein day of eating on Girl Gains really motivating! It’s inspiring to see how others incorporate protein into their daily meals. Personally, I’ve been enjoying Kodiak Cakes’ protein-packed products (https://kodiakcakes.com) as a convenient way to add protein to my diet. Their mixes and snacks are delicious and versatile, making it easy to maintain a balanced and nutritious eating plan. If you’re looking for tasty ways to increase your protein intake throughout the day, I highly recommend exploring their offerings!

    June 18, 2024

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