If you’re trying to lose weight, stay energized, or build muscle mass you need to keep your protein intake high. But eating chicken all day can seem like a chore. Instead of rocking just chicken and rice, use these tips on how to increase protein intake!
While most people know that protein helps repair and build muscle, it’s a little less known that it’s responsible for a lot of other things in the body also.
As a Certified Nutrition Coach, protein is actually a key factor in:
- Your immune system
- Weight loss
- Body composition (toning and muscle growth) in general
- How full you feel
- How much energy you have
Protein has a hand in almost every action in your body, so it would be silly not to acknowledge your protein consumption.
How Much Protein Should I Eat Per Day?
Though the allotted official amount is 50 grams of protein per day, many of us in the sports world know that that amount is just far too low.
When this number came up, it was based on how much protein we need to survive.. not thrive.
My recommendation for clients is to have everyone eat one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.
This may seem like a lot when you’re not used to it. However, once you see what protein can DO, most clients make it a priority.
Quick science lesson: protein is unique in the fact that is contains essential and non-essential amino acids.
Non-essential amino acids are ones that our body can make. But the essential amino acids have to come in from food every day.
Likewise, our bodies can only store so much protein. This means that we need to take in amino acids daily to keep ourselves topped up. Think of a sink full of water.. without a plug. To keep it full you need to keep running the water lesson.
How To Increase Protein Intake
Now that you know you need it, how do you go about getting more into your diet?
Though protein powder is a great and convenient choice, it’s not the only choice. Most people use protein powder simply because it’s easy way to amp up protein intake. Likewise, protein shakes are simple to run out the door with.
However, the tips below can help immensely.
Make Protein The FIRST Choice
Work your meals around the protein, not the other way around. Not only does this increase your protein intake, but it also helps you keep your calorie intake in check because protein keeps you so much more full!
For example: instead of rocking cereal for breakfast, try eggs or one of the high-protein foods from the list below.
Start with the protein and then add on.
Choose Animal Proteins
Animal protein simply gives you the best bang for your buck. These foods are higher in protein per serving and so they make an easy way to increase.
Try to get in 20-40 grams of animal protein at each of your bigger meals.
Up Your Portion Sizes
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel or eat 7 times a day to boost your protein intake. Instead, just amp up the proteins you’re already consuming.
Go For Big Proteins
While almost every food will have some protein, it’s really hard to get to one gram per pound with low-quality proteins.
For example: cheese has protein in it (about 8 grams per serving). But it’s also high in fat (9 calories per gram). So, increasing your intake of cheese just to get the protein intake is going to result in a lot more calories.
On the other hand, a serving of fish has 22 grams of protein and is not as high in fats or carbs.
If you want to increase your protein intake without calories, you’ll need to put some thought into what you eat.
Swap For Higher Protein Options
Instead of regular yogurt, try Greek yogurt. Add some cottage cheese to your fruit smoothie. Snack on hard-boiled eggs.
This comes back to making protein the first choice and not an add-on.
Befriend Collagen Powder
Collagen is one of the purest sources of protein and it’s an easy add-in to just about everything.
Collagen is by far one of the easiest ways to sky-rocket your protein without experiencing some of the bloat or digestive troubles protein powders can cause.
Check out the best collagen recipes here.
Increase The Little Things
As I mentioned, almost every food contains protein. However, some just have a higher protein intake than others.
When you want to eat more protein, start by getting high-quality protein in at your big meals.
Then, aim to increase your protein intake with some plant-based protein throughout the day. Some great sources are:
- Nuts and seeds (chia seeds have 17 grams of protein per 100 grams!!)
- Quality pepperettes (check the back!)
- Nutritional yeast (also the best way to give a cheesy flavor to anything dairy-free!)
- Swap traditional pasta with quinoa or lentil pasta
It’s difficult to hit over 100 grams per day with just vegetarian sources but using them to bump you up is a great way to amp up protein intake without protein powder.
The Best High Protein Foods
The best way to eat more protein is with foods that are really high in protein. Below is a list of high-protein foods that should make up the bulk of your meals if you’re trying to up your protein consumption.
Remember, adding a slice or two of deli meat to your salad isn’t going to do the trick. To increase your protein intake, you need to make protein the first part of the meal.
- Poultry (chicken, turkey breast, etc)
- Beef in all forms
- Fish (salmon, tuna)
- Greek yogurt: even some vegan Greek yogurts are great nowadays
- Collagen powder
- Eggs, eggs, eggs
- Cottage cheese (only if you tolerate dairy)
- Tempeh or tofu (if you’re not opposed to soy)
Use the high protein foods above frequently in your days. Though most people will use meat for dinner, these protein-packed foods work well in snacks too!
Get creative and focus on protein being a priority.
Frequently Asked Questions About Getting More Protein into Your Diet
What foods are highest in protein?
Beef, chicken, and salmon tend to be the highest in protein for their serving size.
How does eating more protein help with weight loss?
Protein takes longer to digest so you actually burn calories when you eat it. On top of that, because it’s so filling, when you eat more protein you tend to not eat as much overall because you’re more full than normal. This helps reduce overall caloric intake which leads to weight loss.