Protein is an essential component of a balanced diet. Consuming an adequate amount of protein will lead to faster recovery, more energy, and better performance. Lean meats are the most popular source of protein we think of, but the same old chicken or fish dinners can get boring. Try these tips to mix things up and sneak more protein into your diet!
1. Let’s get this one out of the way first, because it’s absolutely the fastest, most convenient, and easiest way to massively boost your high-quality protein intake. The Lean Body RTD (ready-to-drink) product line packs in 40 grams of fortified whey concentrate protein (and no sugar!) in just 17 ounces. It’s smooth to drink (not too thick) and can be used as a coffee creamer, oatmeal mix, drank straight or easily sipped throughout the day. These RTDs can go anywhere, and can be tossed in a purse, briefcase, backpack or gym bag and are available at a moment’s notice. They taste great with no aftertaste. Check out the flavors from chocolate to chocolate mint, vanilla, banana, strawberry, salted caramel, and there’s also a plant based RTD protein formula that vegans will love. It just doesn’t get any better than that, and it’s the single best – and easiest – way to pump up your protein intake. The other tips below will help, but this one knocks is out of the park. Nuff said.
2. Stir an egg white (or two) into your oatmeal
With almost 7 grams of protein per ¼ cup, egg whites are one the best complete protein sources (meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids). Not only will adding them to your oatmeal sneak in some extra protein, it will also add more volume, making your breakfast a bit more satisfying.
3. Replace pasta with quinoa or amaranth
These seeds are often classified and cooked like grains. With 8-9 grams of protein per cooked cup, these pseudo-grains are amazing plant-based sources of protein.
Use them in place of pasta in any recipe, or eat them as a hot breakfast cereal with your favorite toppings in place of oatmeal!
4. Replace sour cream with Greek-style yogurt
Using a plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt in place of that dollop of sour cream on your baked potato can add 5-8 grams of complete protein to your plate.
5. Get creative with cottage cheese
Low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese packs in 28 grams of complete protein per cup! Make a sweet treat by stirring in a little stevia and topping it with fruit, scoop it onto your salad for a creamy dressing, or substitute it for half of your milk in your favorite pancake recipe.
6. Snack on nuts
Almonds top the charts with 6 grams of protein per ounce, but cashews take a close second with 5 grams of per ounce. If you want to get creative, blend them into a smoothie, toss them on your salad, or bake with nut flour!
7. Toss in some seeds
Per ounce, chia seeds have 4 grams of protein, sunflower seeds contain 5 grams, and hemp seeds take the lead with 10 grams! Toss these superfoods into your salad, smoothies, or yogurt.
8. Use powdered peanut protein
With 10 grams of protein in just ¼ cup, powdered peanuts are the best way to get your peanut butter fix.
Mix it with water or your favorite nut milk to make a peanut butter substitute, sprinkle it on your oatmeal or yogurt, add it to your smoothies, or bake with it!
9. Substitute with avocado
Instead of butter or oil, use avocado! Spread it on toast to keep things simple, or use it in place of oil in recipes.
To use in any recipe, replace half the oil or butter with pureed avocado. Half an avocado has about 2-3 grams of protein and a fourth of the fat and calories of butter.
10. Replace rice with nutrient-dense grains
Spelt contains 11 grams of protein per cup, kamut and teff contain 10 grams per cup, and sorghum contains 9 grams per cup. In other words, these grains contain double the amount of protein as white or brown rice! Cook them in a rice cooker or on the stove top, just as you would rice!
11. Cook with artichoke
One medium-sized artichoke contains about 5 grams of protein! Steam or grill fresh artichoke to add a flavorful side to any meal, or buy jarred or frozen artichoke hearts to add to any soup recipe.
12. Add spirulina to your smoothies
This natural “algae” is one of the most potent protein sources available with 16 grams per ounce! Not to mention it’s a great source of antioxidants, B-vitamins, iron, calcium, and other nutrients. Add it to your fruit smoothies or protein shakes.
13. Season with nutritional yeast
One ounce of this flakey seasoning contains a whopping 14 grams of protein! Nutritional yeast has a cheesy flavor and can be used to season anything from scrambled eggs, salad, or pesto.
It’s also an amazing source of B vitamins, doubling as a perfect vegan alternative for cheese.
14. Add legumes to your favorite recipes
Throw a handful of green peas (8 grams of protein per cup) or edamame (12 grams per cup) into a soup or salad for a fresh flavor.
15. Bake with legumes instead
Use chickpeas, which have 12 grams of protein per cup. Or use black beans, which have 15 grams of protein per cup, to make brownies like this.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to add or increase great sources of protein to your meals. With all of these options available to you, there is a great opportunity to get creative! Add protein to your meals, snaks, and shakes — is easier now that you know how.
Reference: US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. <https://www.ars.usda.gov/nea/bhnrc/ndl>.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.