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Home/Blog/How to Eat More Protein: 15 Easy Ways

How to Eat More Protein: 15 Easy Ways

By Ethan Boldt

July 28, 2023

How to eat more protein

Many of us understand why protein is important (if not, see below) and may even know how much they need (again, see below), but how to eat more protein can be a challenge and even a mystery.

Why? One, while carbohydrates and fats are easy to come by, as any food diary will quickly tell you, getting protein sources can be more complicated … and pricey. Second, high-protein foods tend to be more calorie-dense, so some folks just decide to only have that three ounce portion even when a six ounce portion might set them up better for the day.

Fortunately, we’re here to help solve this problem. Here are 15 easy ways to get protein into your day, including adding protein to your drinks, coffee and snacks.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

How much protein do I need?” is a very common question. The answer depends on you and your goals.

If your goal is to maintain general health, mobility and well-being as you age, then, for most people, consuming about 50 percent of your body weight in grams of protein per day is about what you want.

Want to maintain or get to a healthy weight? Then you’re looking for the right fat-burning foods. In this case, it can be a good idea to focus on having a substantial amount of protein, as protein has been shown to be satiating and can help with appetite control.

Having about 0.75 grams of protein a day per pound of body weight can help to replace some of the extra carbohydrates and sugar in your diet, by contributing to you feeling fuller overall.

If you’re trying to gain muscle and strength, take your weight and eat roughly that many grams of protein per day. Simple, right? Well, wait to you try it … you’ll find it’s a challenge to get there.

Easy Ways to Eat More Protein

In other words, you need to know about some easy ways to eat more protein without obsessing too much or breaking the bank. Here goes …

1. Plot out your week with more protein foods

Unlike carbs and fats, proteins aren’t usually sitting around the house. If they’re meats and cheeses, they need to be fresh, for example. So make sure you’ve shopped and are prepared for a protein-filled week with protein foods like lean, grass-fed red meat, free-range chicken breast, wild-caught fish, select cheeses and more.

2. Have protein supplements ready to go

Same deal. Protein powders are one of the easiest ways to consume protein. There are now many types available, tailored to those who prefer animal-derived or plant-derived sources.

Collagen, bone broth, whey and casein are four popular animal-derived proteins. Mixed plant proteins (such as Ancient Nutrition’s Plant Protein), brown rice, pea and hemp are quality vegan protein powders.

Of course, the easiest way to consume a protein powder is mix with water, and you’ve got 20 or so grams of protein. Even better, dress it up with as a dark chocolate protein smoothie or a collagen peach smoothie.

3. Treat each drink as a protein opportunity

Coffee, breakfast smoothie, post-workout shake, even that afternoon lemonade … these can all easily have protein in them. Try our collagen coffee, pina colada smoothie and strawberry lemonade.

4. At meal time, eat your protein first

Too often at mealtimes, we scarf the bread, the toast and other high glycemic foods before we get to the protein. Instead, start eating the protein first, such as eggs, grilled chicken breast or tempeh.

Why? Well, having the protein first supports normal blood sugar as well as insulin levels. It also increases a gut hormone that help make you full, plus it lowers levels of your hunger hormone (ghrelin) and even boosts your metabolic rate after eating.

5. Make sure each meal supplies adequate protein

Now that you know how much protein you need, try to get at least 25 percent or more of that daily total at each meal — otherwise you’ll be playing catchup and with protein, that’s a loser’s game. Again, make sure you’re preparing good protein foods or adding a protein supplement to hit your levels.

6. Get protein in before and after your workouts

An hour or so before your workout, it’s a great idea to have a balanced macronutrient (roughly even amounts of carbs, fat and protein) snack — or a full macronutrient meal a couple of hours before. It’ll help provide adequate workout energy.

What to eat after a workout? A mix of carbs and protein is perfect for muscle recovery. While carbs replenish your muscle glycogen stores and restore their energy, protein (made up of amino acids) actually promotes the natural replenishing of muscle fibers that are typically and normally broken down during exercise.

7. With meats, go leaner and larger

Leaner cuts of meat and leaner fish tend to be higher in protein, lower in fat and lower in calories. Consider it a win-win-win. Because they’re not loaded with fat, you can also have a larger portion to get more protein.

For example, three ounces of salmon (which has more fat) has 20 grams of protein and 177 calories while six ounces of leaner cod has 30 grams of protein and only 140 calories. Three ounces of T-bone steak has 21 grams of protein and 210 calories while five ounces of flank steak has 39 (!) grams of protein and 273 calories.

8. Eat the right kind of cheese

Cheese can be calorie-dense, so too many people avoid it. But it can be surprisingly protein-rich and not crazy calorific.

Some of the best choices are feta cheese (11 protein grams in a half-cup) in salad, goat cheddar cheese (9 protein grams in 1.5 ounces) in sandwiches and cottage cheese (12.5 grams of protein in a half-cup — and okay, not a typical cheese!) as a snack with some fruit.

9. Ditch the grain-loaded breakfasts

Too many of us default to cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, with nary enough protein grams anywhere. Instead, embrace egg whites, protein powders and even lean breakfast meats (like chicken) to get enough protein to start the day.

Alternatively, simply make some breakfast baked goods with plenty of protein, such as oatmeal breakfast cookies (20 grams of protein per serving), double chocolate collagen donuts (12 grams of protein per donut) and Paleo protein pancakes (with 37 grams of protein per serving).

10. Embrace the almond

Nuts are good for you but the almond is the king protein nut, boasting 6 grams of protein for a 1-ounce serving (around 23 almonds). Chop it up and put on top of your oatmeal and salad. Have it as a snack, too.

11. Go Greek for yogurt

Yogurt is a good probiotic food but the best yogurt for protein is Greek yogurt, as long as you can tolerate dairy. Depending on the particular brand, one cup of Greek yogurt can contain between 17 and 24 grams of protein, the equivalent to eating about three to four eggs.

Have it in a fruit parfait or with chopped fruit and granola. Go with 2 percent Greek yogurt for an even better ratio of protein to fat and calories.

12. Make snack time also protein time

The mid-morning and/or afternoon snack often becomes a donut/cookie stop. Change that by making a protein snack such as matcha protein bars (10 grams of protein per bar) or protein banana bread (10 grams of protein per slice). Or go with fun protein snacks like almonds and beef jerky.

13. Try these high-protein vegan foods and powders

Are you a plant-based eater or vegan? Don’t worry, you can still hit your protein goals. To achieve them, you’ll most likely need to embrace the different plant proteins on the market.

Plant Protein+ contains 15 grams of protein per serving while pea protein usually has 30 grams of protein. These proteins tend to digest more slowly, too, and keep you feeling full longer.

For plant-based protein foods, try tempeh, spirulina, natto, nutritional yeast and pumpkin seeds.

14. Replace plain starches with whole grains and legumes

Ditch the white breads, plain pastas and white rice and go with protein-rich legumes and whole grains like amaranth, quinoa, black beans, lentils, chickpeas and buckwheat. For bread, go with Ezekiel sprouted bread.

15. Don’t forget protein at dessert time

Close your day strong with some protein in your dessert as well rather than just having sugar and fat (and many calories). It can be hard to find high-protein desserts, so you’re advised to make up your own. Try our salted caramel ice cream (19 grams of protein per serving) and lemon cheesecake bars (7 grams of protein per bar).

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