How to Eat More Protein: 9 Tips and Hacks

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How to Eat More Protein | What are the benefits of eating protein? How much protein should you eat? How do I incorporate this macronutrient into breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks? If you're looking for easy ways to boost your protein intake so you feel full and satiated in an effort to curb your eating and lose weight, this post is for you! You'll learn the best food sources of protein - including plant-based protein options! - and tips for meeting your protein targets on the daily.

Protein is an incredibly important part of a healthy diet, so much so that you should be eating it at every meal of the day. Protein provides you with long-term energy, builds lean muscle, and fills you up, helping you maintain a healthy weight. It boosts your metabolism, improves your skin and helps regulate your hormones. Getting the right amount of protein each day ensures your health is in check. If you’re wondering how to eat more protein, we’ve rounded up 9 helpful tips and hacks.

What Is Protein?

Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage and skin. Every cell in the body contains protein and the basic structure of protein is a chain of amino acids. Your body uses amino acids to build and repair muscles and bones, as well as to make hormones and enzymes. They’re also used as an energy source.

Some amino acids can be made by your body – there are 11 of these and they’re known as non-essential amino acids. There are 9 amino acids that your body can’t make, and these are known as essential amino acids.

Animal products like chicken, fish or dairy products are considered complete proteins because they contain all of the essential amino acids. Plant proteins, including beans, lentils and nuts, are considered incomplete proteins, because they usually lack at least one of the essential amino acids.

Why Is Protein So Important?

  1. Responsible for growth and maintenance of tissues
  2. Reduces appetite and hunger levels by making you feel more full with less food
  3. Increases muscle mass and strength
  4. Reduces cravings and late night snacking
  5. Helps your body maintain a proper fluid balance
  6. Transports nutrients throughout your body
  7. Boosts metabolism and increases fat burning
  8. Lowers your blood pressure, as well as bad cholesterol and triglycerides
  9. Helps manage weight and maintain weight loss
  10. Helps your body repair itself after injury

How Much Protein Should I Eat?

Between 10% and 35% of your total calories should come from protein. So if you consume 2,000 calories per day, 200 to 700 of those calories should come from protein. This number varies depending on your body composition, health, activity level and type, and your goals. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you include protein in every meal of the day and to consume at least 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal.

How to Eat More Protein: 9 Tips and Hacks

1. Include Protein with Every Meal

First thing’s first. It’s important to include a high source of protein in every meal of the day. As we mention above, it’s recommended to consume at least 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal. This helps to promote fullness and preserves muscle mass. Eggs and full-fat Greek yogurt are great ways to pack protein into your morning meals. For lunch, quinoa and almond butter are good options, as are seeds, which you can add to salads or smoothies. Fish, lean meat, legumes and tofu are high protein foods that make for great dinner options.

2. Eat Your Protein First

When you’re eating your meals, make sure to eat the protein portion first, especially before the starches and carbs. Protein increases the fullness hormone and decreases the hunger hormone, helping you feel satisfied. Eating protein first can also help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels from rising too high after a meal.

3. Eat High Protein Snacks

Protein should also make an appearance when you snack. For many people, our snacks are based on convenience and because of this, they’re often high in sugar, carbs and calories and low in protein and nutrients. Nuts and low-fat cheese are great high protein snacks. Nuts are super easy to carry around for when you get hungry and cheese can be paired with whole wheat crackers, apple slices or tomatoes for a healthy, satisfying snack.

4. Prep Your Protein

The easiest way to ensure you eat protein at every meal is to prep it ahead of time. When you’re meal prepping your dinners for the week ahead, prepare and cook extra portions of protein, like chicken, fish or tofu and keep it stored in the fridge so you can add it to salads or power bowls to bring for lunch during the week.

5. Build Your Meals Around Protein

When you’re thinking about what to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner, start with your protein and build your meal around it. For example, for dinner, first choose whether you’re going to eat chicken, tofu, salmon or shrimp. Then you can add a serving of complex carbs, fibre (vegetables) and healthy fat. This is a great way to build a well-balanced meal with a protein focus.

6. Just Add Beans

Beans are an amazing plant-based source of protein and they’re super easy to add to anything from soups to salads, pastas, tacos, buddha bowls and more. They’re also full of fibre and antioxidants, and eating more beans can help reduce cholesterol, decrease blood sugar levels and increase healthy gut bacteria. Some of the healthiest beans you can eat are chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, soybeans and pinto beans.

7. Make Protein Smoothies

Protein shakes and smoothies are fast and convenient ways to get more protein into your diet. Blend together berries, spinach, milk or water and a scoop of quality protein powder. Alternatively, you could use high protein foods like chia seeds, nut butters, or Greek yogurt. Having a protein smoothie for breakfast can help relieve hunger and prevent mid-morning snacking.

8. Eat Eggs for Breakfast

If you regularly eat sugary cereals or pastries for breakfast, you’re missing out on rich protein sources in the morning. Starting your day with protein ensures you have energy and will help keep you satisfied until lunch. Eggs are one of the best sources of protein and are the perfect breakfast food. Whether you like them scrambled, soft boiled or poached, they’re quick and easy and pack a protein punch!

9. Sprinkle On Chopped Nuts

As we’ve mentioned, nuts are an awesome source of protein, plus they’re so easy to sprinkle onto anything from salads to soups, to yogurt and even sweet treats. Opt for unsalted nuts to control your sodium intake. Nuts are the perfect way to add texture and crunch at any meal of the day.

If you’re looking to up your protein intake, we hope this post has given you some good tips and ideas to get more protein in your life!

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