If you’re looking for ways to increase your protein consumption without breaking the bank (or stuffing yourself with pounds of chicken), here are five simple ways you can make it happen.
Getting more protein in your diet is great for everything from muscle recovery (especially important for the athletic crowd) to just feeling more satisfied and less hungry during the day. Here’s how to easily incorporate more protein into your diet with plenty of flavor and variety.
Greek Yogurt Is King
When it comes to protein-rich foods, nothing beats good old Greek yogurt. Naturally low in calories, carbohydrates, and fat, its protein count usually falls in the 15 to 20 grams-per-cup range. This is also how much you’d get from three or four ounces of chicken, or four or five ounces of salmon. There are a lot of different brands on the market, so make sure you check the label and choose the one with the least amount of additives, sugars, and other hidden ingredients.
Greek yogurt is incredibly easy to include in a variety of meals. It can cream up any soup, sauce, or dip, as well as absorb all the spices and flavors. Add in some garlic, lemon, dill, or shredded cucumber to make a traditional Greek tzatziki. Layer it with granola and berries to make the perfect breakfast parfait or add it to your creamy mushroom soup to make it even creamier. It’s also a perfect base for a green smoothie or an excellent dip for your quesadillas.
Eggs are packed with protein—depending on their size, they can contain anywhere from five to seven grams each! Low in calories and versatile, egg hacks can help you increase your protein quickly.
To start with the obvious, just add one or two more eggs to your scramble or frittatas. Same goes for quiches or egg muffins, which can be as awesome on their own as they are as a side dish. You can also make a delicious egg salad, Ottolenghi’s famous (and super-simple) cauliflower cake, or a variety of gluten-free breads and cookies.
Eggs are healthy, affordable, and really easy to experiment with, so get creative! It can definitely yield a ton of new, delicious, and—most importantly—high-protein meals.
Swap Your Rice for Quinoa
Another easy way to get more protein is to swap out your rice, couscous, and other grains for quinoa. One cup of quinoa packs eight grams of protein—double what you find in rice. It also contains high amounts of magnesium, fiber, iron, copper, and B vitamins.
Quinoa is also a great option for people who have Celiac or Crohn’s disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or any other stomach issues as it’s easier to digest. Plus, it doesn’t contain any gluten or other known allergens.
The more you work with it, the sooner you’ll discover how it can enrich any dish, and how you can manipulate it to get different textures, from crispy to fluffy.
Before you cook with quinoa, always be sure to wash it thoroughly and rinse more times than you think necessary. Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin, which can make it taste like soap and turn everything quite bitter. Even if you buy a package that claims it’s been “prewashed” give the seeds an additional rinse.
Spice Things Up with Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, and flax and pumpkin seeds are all naturally rich in protein. Adding them to your meal is an easy way to increase your protein intake for the day.
A good way to incorporate nuts and seeds is to make your own granola. This will ensure you only get the ingredients you want, as the majority of prepackaged granola contains more dried fruit and sugar than nuts and seeds.
You can also chop and sprinkle nuts or seeds on top of a salad for some extra crunch, toast them to spice up your stir-fry, or use them instead of crackers to finish off your soup.
There are also numerous gluten-free and refined sugar-free cookies and cakes to satisfy your sweet tooth, while nourishing you with dozens of vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and (of course) protein!
Gone are the days when you had to mix your protein powder and down it before it reached your tongue so you (hopefully) wouldn’t taste it.
Thanks to social media, protein powders are now extremely delicious as brands are now using better ingredients, exciting flavors, and functional superfoods. You can find everything from grass-fed beef and egg protein powders, to vegan options made from pea, hemp, rice, soy, and even pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Mixing it with water or milk still is the fastest way to get in those additional 15 to 25 grams of protein. However, you can also use it in cookies, bliss balls, muffins, pancakes, and waffles that actually taste good!
You can also find a lot of delicious protein products at the grocery store that are ideal for eating on the go or when you’re traveling.
Many foods are naturally rich in protein, and they’re not all expensive or difficult to digest. Use these simple foods to create some fast, delicious high-protein meals.