Let's be real - we cannot survive without sufficient protein in our diet. This important macronutrient is responsible for soooo many important processes in our body. It helps regulate your metabolism, hormones, provides energy, keeps your immune system healthy, and is responsible for repairing and building muscle! Whether you have muscle-building goals to achieve, you want to make sure you're getting enough protein in your diet.
Even lifters struggle with getting enough of it in their diet! And you definitely want to make sure you're getting enough because besides helping you achieve your fitness goals, it promotes healing. Besides the obvious of eating animal protein like red meat and poultry, we have 8 clever and creative ways to increase your protein consumption so you can start reaping the benefits of this delicious and important nutrient!
8 easy and clever ways to increase protein intake
Before we dive into your protein-boosting tips, calculate your macros! The International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) recommends basing your daily protein intake on your current body weight. It's suggested to consume 1.4 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, everyone's protein needs are different. Some people want to achieve weight loss, build muscle, or simply want to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle. Calculating your macros will ensure that your activity level, goals, and other important factors are taken into consideration, meaning you'll have a more accurate amount of protein you need to consume.
Once you've calculated your macros, start incorporating these 10 ways to increase the amount of protein you consume!
Eat protein first
Whether you're having breakfast, lunch, or dinner – eat your protein first! Protein is one of the most satiating nutrients, meaning it'll keep you full for longer. So, before you reach for the high carbohydrate side, focus on filling up with protein first. This will help fill you up and ensure that you're eating all of the protein, opposed to only the delicious sides. An added plus is that a few studies have shown that eating protein before carbohydrates could help maintain a healthy blood sugar level, and it was shown to reduce post-meal insulin levels.
Prioritize high-protein snacks
Snack smarter by incorporating a balanced amount of protein, carbs, and fats in your snacks. But if you have muscle-building or weight loss goals, make sure to prioritize high-protein foods. Just as little as 10 grams of protein can make all the difference! But we can't just tell you to eat high-protein snacks without giving you a few suggestions...
- Have a protein shake (or milkshake) – Instead of reaching for a protein bar when you're craving something sweet and high in protein, make your own protein shake or milkshake! Protein powders come in various flavors, so you'll definitely find a flavor you love and be able to switch things up once you want to try something new! Personally, we love blending our 373 Lab Chocolate Cheesecake Whey Protein (made with clean ingredients and contains high protein content) with frozen almond milk cubes for a delicious and nutritious chocolate cheesecake milkshake! You can also add your favorite fruits and veggies for an added nutrient boost! And for those who are following a plant-based diet, there are plenty of good plant protein powders to choose from, if you're not sure what type to get read our guide on >> The Different Types of Protein Powder.
- Prep meat sticks – When you're prepping and cooking your lunch or dinner, cut some pieces and store them in a piece of Tupperware to snack on later! This will make prepping your meals and snacks even easier, and you won't be wasting all your leftovers. Spice it up with some Sriracha, have it with a side of gut-friendly kimchi, or add hummus to it for a few extra grams of protein.
- Make a Greek yogurt parfait – Swap regular yogurt for Greek yogurt and make a tasty parfait for a sweet snack! Greek yogurt is rich in protein, containing up to 18 grams of protein per serving, and it's rich in probiotics and calcium so win-win. Top it with some nuts, chia seeds, and hemp seeds to add a few more grams of protein, remember, every little bit helps!
- Snack on roasted chickpeas – Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant protein that everyone, even meat lovers, should incorporate into their weekly meals and snacks. One way to incorporate them, besides making tasty hummus, is by roasting some with olive oil and sea salt for a crunch, salty snack. This can even replace your usual salty movie snacks and turn them into nutritious one!
- Have some salty edamame handy – Another easy salty snack you can try is edamame! Before you head to work, school, or vacation, pack half a cup of edamame to snack on when you're hungry. This soybean contains a whopping 9 grams of protein per half-cup while also providing you with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids!
Swap regular bread for Ezekiel bread
Healthy eating means eating enough of every macronutrient, including carbs. Luckily, there are various good carbs that contain a good amount of protein for when you're craving a sandwich or avocado toast – like Ezekiel bread! Ezekiel bread is a sprouted bread made from whole grains and legumes which gives each slice 4 grams of protein! Aside, from being high in protein as opposed to other bread varieties, it's also richer in healthy nutrients and fiber.
Add hummus to your sandwiches
Use Ezekiel bread for your sandwiches and use hummus to throw in some tasty extra protein! Instead of using mayonnaise as your spread of choice, use creamy hummus, who knows... You might love it even more! Plus, it's made with flavorful herbs and garlic that will add a tasty twist to your usual boring sandwich.
Sneak in unflavored protein powder
Not a fan of the way protein powder tastes? Get an unflavored protein powder that you can add to your post-workout snacks or use for baking! There are so many ways to incorporate a flavorless protein powder in a way that will mask its strong taste. You can use it in your smoothies, add it to some chia pudding or oatmeal, bake high-protein desserts, and you can even use it to make a stack of delicious pancakes! Having a flavorless protein powder can make all the difference, especially when you're craving something sweet and trying to stay on track with your fitness goals.
Boost your salad with nuts, seeds, or legumes
Besides adding meat, chicken breast, or fish to your salad, add some extra protein by adding some nuts, sprinkling some seeds, or adding a half cup of your favorite beans and legumes! Lentils, black beans, chickpeas, green beans, and more, are packed with an average of 15 grams of protein per cup. Pecans, shaved almonds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are nutrient-dense and contain a good amount of protein. These additions to your salads (and even soups) will give a small, but a much-needed boost to your intake of protein!
Swap pasta and rice for quinoa
Quinoa is an excellent source of plant protein because it contains all essential amino acids, meaning it's a complete protein. It's considered to be a seed, not a grain, that is packed with 8 grams of protein per cup. So, instead of rice or pasta, have a side of quinoa to give your meals an extra protein boost! You don't have to ditch the pasta and rice forever, but if you have certain fitness goals you'd like to achieve, consider swapping these out every once in a while. You can also add quinoa to your soups, salads, or use them in your backing for extra nutritional value!
Eat a potato with dinner
Potatoes are considered a carb due to their high carb content, but they're also a good source of protein! Bake a russet potato to have with your dinner to add an extra 8 grams of protein to your already protein-heavy meal. Just avoid using too many unhealthy toppings if you want to save yourself the calories! Instead, top it with two tablespoons of nutritional yeast! Nutritional yeast is something vegetarians and vegans are probably familiar with, but for those who aren't, it has a yummy cheesy flavor that pairs perfectly with scrambled eggs, and even your baked potato! Two tablespoons will add a delicious extra 8 grams of protein to your meals!
Try these out, track your macros, and you'll start noticing an increase in your protein intake! And if you still need more of a boost to help you achieve the muscle growth you desire, try a protein supplement to help – like 373 Lab Protein Powder! Our Whey Protein Isolate Powder has high protein content and minimum lactose level. And it's made with only the most important, ingredients you need - no unnecessary thickeners, no soy lecithin, no carrageenan - plus an added enzyme blend to help with digestion. All to give you a clean 25 grams of protein per scoop.