Whatever your health and fitness goals, getting more protein is going to be beneficial to you.
Protein helps you build muscle, lean out, maximize your metabolic health, increase energy levels, and much more. Yet a lot of us struggle to reach the recommended daily value of 50 grams of protein per day – a number which, according to some studies, may even be too low.
Increasing protein intake is easier said than done, though. Most of us don’t have the time or energy to carefully craft each meal to ensure a perfect macronutrient intake. That’s why we’re sharing five simple ways to get more protein that anyone can follow.
Why You Should Want to Increase Protein Intake
It’s a big misconception that protein is only for Arnold-wannabe bodybuilders.
Yes, it’s particularly important for athletes. Protein is a key part in the muscle building and repair processes. It’s a key building block for muscle – getting more protein means supplying the body with more of the raw materials it needs to repair torn muscle fibers and build new ones.
Protein is also beneficial for people who want to lose weight, and not necessarily build huge amounts of muscle. It increases satiety, which is the feeling of being full. This basically means you satisfy your appetite faster by eating high-protein foods, which helps you to eat less.
High-protein diets also increase metabolism, and the amount of calories your body burns passively help you lean out and lose weight.
Even if you’re not an athlete and don’t care about the aesthetic benefits, protein is essential for a number of bodily functions, such as energy production, digestion, hormone regulation, and maintaining healthy muscle, joints, skin, hair and bones as you age.
The summary is that anyone can benefit from getting more protein, and rarely ever is there any downside to increasing your protein intake.
5 Simple Ways to Get More Protein
Now let’s look at a few easy methods to get more protein in your everyday diet. These are tips that anyone can follow – whether or not you have the time in your schedule for studious meal planning.
All you need is a little bit of forward planning, and maybe a few minutes each day to ensure your protein intake is hitting healthy levels.
1. Take a Daily Protein Smoothie
Many people top up their daily protein intake with a smoothie. Why? Because it’s such a convenient and versatile way to get protein.
You don’t need to spend hours preparing a smoothie, or follow any specific recipe. All you need is a protein powder, your choice of liquid, and any other ingredients you want to add.
Throw it all in a blender, throw it back, and you’re done in about 5 minutes. Perfect for just before you head off to work in the morning, or as a mid-afternoon supplement.
If you want to keep weight down, you can use a lean protein powder mixed with a low-calorie liquid like coconut water. While if you want to build muscle, you can pack more high-protein ingredients in there, like milk and peanut butter.
You just need to put a few minutes aside each day to prepare your smoothie. With most protein powders supplying 20-30 grams of protein per serving, this small step can provide you with almost half the recommended daily value in one go.
2. Keep High-Protein Snacks Close By
If you’re a compulsive snacker (no shame in this!), make a small step to switch your regular snacks for healthy, high-protein alternatives.
If you don’t necessarily plan on what you’re going to snack on, make a conscious effort to have high-protein snacks close by. That way, they’ll always be the most convenient option.
Nuts and seeds, trail mix, greek yogurt, edamame beans, canned fish, and boiled eggs are all great-tasting, affordable snacks that are rich in protein.
3. Eat Leaner Cuts of Meat
You don’t need to go too far in terms of meal planning and counting every single macro. But switching up the cuts of meat you have in your main meals can go a long way to optimizing your protein intake.
In general, lean cuts of meat have a higher protein content than fattier alternatives. This means you can get more protein from the same size serving – and in fact, you can afford to have a slightly larger serving, getting even more protein, since the cut is lower in calories.
Instead of t-bone steak, switch it out for a higher protein alternative like sirloin steak. Instead of chicken thigh, eat chicken breast. A small change can make a big difference over time.
4. Make High-Protein Versions of Your Favorite Foods
Perhaps you have some guilty pleasures that you just can’t bring yourself to drop altogether. Instead of cutting these things out of your diet, substitute them for high-protein, low-calorie versions of the same thing.
For example, let’s say you love pancakes. Many people looking to go high-protein think they need to swap the pancakes for a healthier alternative, like greek yogurt with granola.
However, you could stick with what you love, and make high-protein pancakes. Instead of your regular pancake mix, use something like Naked Cake, a protein pancake mix from Naked Nutrition that contains 22g of protein, and is comparatively lower in carbs and calories.
This goes for many things, especially in baking. Just add some protein when you bake or prepare a meal, and enjoy a high-protein version of what you already love to eat.
5. Eat Your Protein First
Finally, whenever you eat a meal, make sure you prioritize the protein portion first.
As mentioned earlier, protein makes you feel full quicker. That means if you’re trying to pack in extra protein on your plate, if you leave it to the end, you’ll often end up running out of appetite before you get to the end.
Make it a point to get your protein first, before the satiety hits. Eat your chicken breast first, then move on to the potatoes and gravy. That way, you’ll make sure you always get your full serving of protein, even if you can’t finish the whole plate.
As an added bonus, this will help you lean out and avoid overeating, while still getting the protein you need to build muscle and help your body firing on all cylinders.