How To Get More Protein In Your Diet
How to get more protein in your diet is always a common frustration for people looking to eat healthy balanced meals. Carbohydrates and fats are typically easier for us to consume, but most of us run short on the appropriate amount of protein our bodies need. After all, protein is one of the most important elements of every cell in the body. They are the building blocks of life and the body needs protein to repair and maintain itself. It is a necessary component for growing bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein and your body uses it to build and repair tissues, make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein also burns more slowly than carbohydrates, so this will help prevent blood sugar spikes and decrease hunger throughout the day.
Since we need protein to keep us healthy, it should be included in each meal. I recommend eating 4-6 smaller meals a day that are balanced between protein, carbohydrates, and fat. The right balance between these macronutrients will ensure a healthy and well-rounded diet. This way of eating means you never go hungry and won’t find yourself having to deal with cravings in-between meals.
Here are some examples of how to get more protein in your diet and ways you can balance them with other foods for meal and snack ideas.
Protein powder- Adding protein powder is one of the simplest and most convenient ways to boost the protein content to your diet. You can drink a protein shake any time of the day. Mix it with water, milk, or a dairy alternative like almond milk or coconut milk. Stir a strawberry-flavored protein into your plain yogurt and add a few berries for fiber. One of my favorites is adding it in my morning oatmeal. I take plain oats, add the amount of water desired and microwave it for about 1 minute. Take it out and add in a scoop of chocolate protein of choice and a tablespoon of natural peanut butter and cook for another 30 seconds. Voila! Darn near a no-bake cookie! If you’re lactose intolerant, vegan, or just trying to limit dairy consumption, there are great plant-based proteins available that are dairy-free. Try an egg white, hemp, rice, or pea protein; stay away from soy protein!
Meat, fish, poultry- Enjoy a mixed green salad topped with grilled or baked chicken breast, a fillet of baked fish, or sirloin steak. If you’re in a pinch, throw on canned light tuna or white chicken. Ground lean turkey contains 26 grams of protein per serving. Turkey burgers are not only delicious but easy to make. Throw together an easy shrimp stir fry with brown rice, broccoli, mushrooms and water chestnuts. Have whole grain pasta and add lean ground beef, venison, or ground turkey breast to make a hearty meat sauce. Other good sources are wild salmon, grilled pork tenderloin, and turkey meatballs.
Eggs- Eggs are a great, inexpensive source of protein. At 4 grams per serving (6 grams if you include the yolk), you can fry or scramble several for breakfast. You can also use egg beaters and creative an omelet with nitrite-free turkey, low fat cheese and any vegetables such as broccoli, onion, and peppers. Hard boil some eggs for topping on salads or as a midday snack with a piece of fruit and raw nuts.
Dairy- It’s really hard to recommend pasteurized dairy products, especially milk, for many reasons that I won’t get into detail this article. In brief, pasteurization negatively affects milk. It changes the physical structure of milk proteins, like casein, as well as the shape of the amino acid to one that your body can’t digest properly. The useful bacteria found naturally in milk are also destroyed, while the micronutrients and vitamins are significantly reduced. Pasteurization also destroys the calcium and vitamin C in raw milk and supports the growth of harmful bacteria. Buying organic milk may seem safer to steer clear from leached hormones and antibiotics that most cows are given, but the problem is, it’s still pasteurized. A healthy alternative is raw, unpasteurized milk. Raw milk may be hard to find from a local farmer, so if you don’t have access to it, I recommend limiting your milk consumption and switching to an alternative milk such as almond, coconut, rice, or hemp milk.
If you digest dairy just fine, low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese is a great protein source. At 14 grams per serving, you can mix it with some fresh chunked pineapple, put it on top of a salad, or just eat straight from the container! Most Greek yogurt contains a whopping 15-24 per serving. Make a great-tasting fruit parfait made with non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt, fresh berries, and chopped almonds or walnuts. By sprinkling some nuts over the top, it will add a small amount of extra protein and a healthy source of fat.
Legumes/beans- These little guys are not only a great source of protein, but also fiber to keep you full longer. Pour chickpeas (Garbanzo beans) over a salad or puree them to make fresh hummus to dip sliced vegetables in. Make veggie patties from lentils or black beans. Cook a lentil soup or chili with kidney beans. Have a Mexican night and warm up a corn tortilla filled with black beans, lettuce, tomato, and grilled peppers. Make a taco salad minus the grease-drenched shell. Have a bowl or mixed greens and veggies, seasoned lean beef, black beans and go light on the cheese.
Nuts/seeds- Various nuts and seeds are called your “healthy fats” but also contain some valuable protein. Although healthy fats are important in balancing a diet, keep in mind they are calorie dense, meaning the calories can add up quickly. Always check the labels and practice portion control. Some ideas would be to make a homemade trail mix with a low-sugar, high-fiber cereal, raisins, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, almonds and walnuts. Smear almond butter instead of peanut butter on an apple or banana. Almond butter has fewer calories, less saturated fat, and more fiber, protein, and calcium than peanut butter. Throw some crushed pecans on top of your baked sweet potato with a dash of cinnamon and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.
No soy! Soybeans are one of the most sprayed crops. Their high content of pesticides increases your ever-increasing toxic load. For more information on other dangers of unfermented soy, you can read another one of my articles entitled 3 Health Foods Gone Bad.
Eating a well-balanced diet is essential for not only good health, but also the fat burning process. Having plenty of complete protein is important for your body’s many needs, so really try to incorporate more of these foods into your daily diet. In return, you will find your energy level to increase, hunger and cravings will cease, and you will look and feel healthier.