I hear it all the time, ”I have trouble adding more protein to my diet and I don’t know how to fix it. Even if I don’t hear someone say it, I recognize it by looking at what their nutrition looks like. Personally, I think it’s the easiest thing to do, you just have to be aware of what the protein sources are and then find a way to implement them into your meals. I eat the same thing every day but I don’t eat the same protein source twice a day, that just goes to show that you can vary your intake. It doesn’t have to be boring either, you can make your meals as simple, complicated and tastefull as you like. You don’t have to eat the same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner to get the appropriate amount of protein in.
Get to know your food
From a quiz I put on Instagram the other day, it became obvious that a lot of people confuse protein sources for fat sources and vice versa. Obviously, we know that chicken is a protein source, but what about salmon? Although it contains a lot of good fats, the protein content is higher which makes it a protein source. How about almonds or cashew nuts? They contain a decent amount of protein, but fat is the most dominant macronutrient* which makes it a fat source. So, the first step in adding more protein to your nutrition is being able to identify what high protein sources are and look like. So here is a list for you.
- meat/poultry – beef, turkey, pork, chicken, duck, steak, wild game (venison, bison etc.)
- non-meat: eggs, salmon, cod, tuna (any white and fatty fish)
- other: rolled oats, dairy products like yoghurt, cottage cheese, milk etc., (vegan) protein powder
- vegetarian/vegan sources: different beans, lentils, tofu, soy-based products, tempeh, vegetarian meat replacement products, vegetables like:
|Corn (18 g protein!)||Rapini|
*Macronutrient = Nutrients the body requires in large quantities. The Nutrients are protein, carbs and fat.
Not just a protein source
You want to make sure that a lot of your protein intake comes from ”lean protein” sources. This simply means protein sources that don’t come with any or very few ”extra” nutrients. For example, chicken is a great lean protein source because it doesn’t contain a lot (if any) carbs or fat. On the other side, pork or beef usually come with a little bit more fat. In order for beef or pork to be labeled as ”lean” it has to be at least 92% lean. More protein sources with a little bit more fat include: whole eggs, cheese, nuts and you might have guessed it FATTY fish.
We can also look at protein sources that contain more carbs like: dairy products and different kind of beans. If you’re already getting enough carbohydrates in, you might want to reduce the amount to leave some room for sources like milk, yoghurt and/or beans. The same things goes for the protein sources that come with a little bit more fat of course. Other protein sources like these include: any vegetable (this varies to degree), lentils and rolled oats.
So, what does it look like to add more protein to your daily nutrition in real life?
How to add more protein in
First, let’s start by making protein a priority during every single meal.
It doesn’t have to be the main ingredient or dominate your plate, but while you’re deciding what to eat, protein should be the first thing that is included. Plan your meals around your protein source.
Second, let’s make sure we add-in as many true protein sources as we can. By now we understand that a lot of ”protein” sources actually include more than just protein. Incorporating foods like chicken and eggs will leave more room to add in different foods.
My third tip, choose vegetables that contain a lot of protein per serving. We all eat vegetables throughout the day, we might as well include the veggies that are high in protein. (view the list above).
Tip 4, meal prep your protein sources. If you don’t like to meal prep, don’t like to cook or live a hectic lifestyle, meal prepping your protein sources are a highly effective way of staying on top of your intake. For most people, cooking protein sources (like chicken, tofu and beef) take up most of their time in the kitchen, making a big batch on a Sunday will save you a lot of stress, time and inconvenience during the week. Think about how easy it would be to make a healthy/high protein burrito for yourself. You have your chicken/beef done, warm up your tortilla, cut up your veggies, mix it all in, add some spices/sauce and you’re done.
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