10 Easy Ways to Up Your Protein Intake
By Stacey Feintuch
You know protein is important and powerful. But, do you really have any idea what it does for you and why you need it? For nearly every cell in your body, protein supports the strength and growth of ligaments, organs, skin, blood, glands and more. It's been shown to rev up your metabolism and keep you fuller longer.
In the United States, the recommended daily allowance of protein is 46 grams per day for women over 19 years of age.
Does it feel challenging to add more protein to your day? You can only eat so many turkey sandwiches in a week! These ideas will help you easily, seamlessly and healthfully incorporate protein into your diet.
Snack on a hard-boiled egg.
Meaty, creamy and filling, hard-boiled eggs are healthy and convenient. Boil some in advance so you can grab them as needed. Eat them alone, as a sandwich side or a salad topping. Add flavor with herbs, spices and hot sauces.
Spread hummus on your sandwich bread.
Pass on the mayo and cheese and add some hummus to your bread slices. Get protein from the chickpeas in hummus. And its herbs and garlic will give your sandwich some zing, minus the fat. Try our Artichoke Spinach Hummus.
Give quinoa a try.
These grain-like seeds offer protein and fiber. Substitute quinoa for rice or noodles in your burrito bowls or stir-fry. Instead of a beef burger, make one with quinoa and black beans. It will be packed with fiber and anti-inflammatory properties. Or, serve this Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf for dinner.
Go nuts for macadamia nuts.
Craving something sweet? Add some macadamia nuts to your cookie or brownie mix. It will tackle your sugar rush while also giving you a protein punch.
Pick up some pecans.
Pecans boast magnesium, which promotes digestion. Plus, they're filling and loaded with antioxidants and protein. Add them to entrees, salads and desserts. Make this Mixed Greens Salad, which contains toasted pecans.
Munch on edamame.
These are steamed soybeans that are in an unripened form and have more protein than other legumes. Get them fresh or frozen. Add some to a salad to make it more filling. Mix them into a stir-fry. This flavorful, enticing mix of fresh strawberries, white beans and edamame in a light vinaigrette rests on baby spinach and is topped with crumbled feta.
Go for Greek yogurt.
Swap regular yogurt for a Greek variety at breakfast or snack time. The yogurt's tangy flavor goes well with chopped fruit or berries. Or, use it as a substitute for sour cream in sauces and dips. It's made by removing whey and other liquids, creating a creamier and richer yogurt. Regular yogurt, especially flavored varieties, contains hidden sugar and additives. Plain Greek yogurt boasts plenty of protein. Just be sure to opt for ones with little to no sugar. This green smoothie will replenish nutrients and works for breakfast, lunch or a post-workout snack. The healthy fats and protein in the avocado and yogurt will keep you feeling full for hours.
Bake a potato.
Eat one for lunch or as a side with your dinner. Just don't ruin its healthy goodness by topping it with cheese, bacon bits, butter or sour cream. Try substituting plain Greek yogurt for sour cream. You'll barely notice the difference and add protein while reducing calories.
Put peas in your meals.
Peas offer lots of protein. Add them to soups and stews or blend them into dips and hummus. Make this onion, mushroom and pea dish as a side tonight.
Add some almonds to your day.
Almonds are high in fiber, magnesium, heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and protein. Sprinkle some chopped almonds over cottage cheese, oatmeal or yogurt. Toss them into a stir-fry. Go for unsalted and slivered ones to control your sodium intake. They'll give crunch and flavor to your meals. Learn more about the best nuts for weight loss.