Looking to increase your protein intake and power up your meals? Then you’ve landed on the right post! Whether you're following a keto diet or just fueling your fitness goals, increasing your daily protein will help you feel fueled until your next meal. In this article, we'll explore easy tips and food hacks to help you incorporate more protein into your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and even desserts. But, before we dive into the specifics, let's start by understanding how much protein you need.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO YOU NEED?
Determining the ideal protein intake for your specific needs is unfortunately not black and white. While there are many calculators on the web that will help you decipher your protein range, researchers are finding that they may not be as accurate as we once thought for those athletic individuals involved in regular fitness routines.
As a general rule of thumb, you can use these guidelines to help guestimate your protein needs:
For healthy adults:
0.8 to 1.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day
*Based on Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
For a 150 pound female, this would be around 55 to 68 grams of protein per day.
For active adults:
1.4 to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day
*Based on maintaining protein balance in athletes
For a 150 pound female, this would be around 95 to 123 grams of protein per day.
Keep in mind though that protein needs vary depending on lifestage, age, as well as health conditions (for example, post-surgery or when in need of wound repair, protein needs may increase.)
Now that you have some general protein goals in mind, let's explore some simple hacks to increase your protein intake throughout the day.
Protein at breakfast is a great way to start the day. Don’t sleep on these hearty breakfast hacks:
The Almighty Egg: Eggs are one of the most versatile breakfast options. One large egg contains approximately 6 grams of protein and is a great canvas to add other protein foods and fiber filled veggies too. Sauté lean meats like turkey sausage with mushrooms, onions, and spinach for a hearty omelet to start the day.
High-Protein Yogurt: Swap your regular yogurt for high-protein yogurt options like Greek yogurt or :ratio Protein Dairy Snacks. With 25g of protein per container, :ratio Protein Dairy Snacks contain 4x the amount traditional yogurt Add some fresh berries and granola to your yogurt to feel fueled well into your next meal.
Protein Smoothies: With a combination of your favorite fruits, 1 serving of protein powder, peanut butter, greens and a source of liquid (such as milk or an unsweetened plant based beverage) for a quick and refreshing breakfast on the go. Depending on the protein powder and ingredients you incorporate, a protein smoothie may provide 20 to 40 grams of protein in one convenient serving.
LUNCHTIME = LEAN TIME
When it comes to lunch, incorporating protein into your meal is essential for feeling full and satisfied until dinner. Consider these tips for your next midday meal:
Lean Protein Sources: If you’re a fan of meat, opt for leaner options like chicken breast, turkey, lean beef, or fish as the main component of your lunch. A 3-ounce serving of cooked chicken breast contains approximately 25 to 30 grams of protein.
Plant-Based Protein: If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, include plant-based protein sources such as legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas) and tofu to meet your protein needs. A 1/2 cup serving of cooked lentils provides around 9 grams of protein, while 3 ounces of firm tofu typically contains about 8 grams of protein.
Power Up Your Salad: Enhance your lunchtime salad with protein toppings like grilled chicken, boiled eggs or a sprinkle of nuts and seeds. A 3-ounce serving of grilled chicken breast contributes around 25 to 30 grams of protein, and a large, hard-boiled egg provides approximately 6 grams of protein.
HIGH-PROTEIN DINNER HACKS
Dinner is an opportunity to create a satisfying and protein focused meal that keeps you feeling fueled until breakfast the next day. Try these swaps for your next evening meal:
Grains and Pulses: Grains like quinoa, bulgur or farro provide not only complex carbohydrates but also protein. A 1/2 cup serving of cooked quinoa contains around 4 grams of protein. While grains offer a plant-based source of protein, they tend to be higher in carbs, so plan your grains wisely if you’re counting macros.
Build Around Lean Protein: Whenever possible, power your dinner with lean protein, such as chicken breast, turkey, fish, tofu, tempeh or lean cuts of beef. Salmon contains not only 22 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving but also omega-3 fatty acids, making this protein addition a sensational dinner for any eating plan.
Veggies Are Your Friend: Don't forget to load up on vegetables! Focus on eating a variety of vegetables to truly “eat the rainbow” and reap the benefits of not only fiber but also some protein and other nutrients to your meals. While the protein content varies, a 1/2-cup serving of cooked broccoli can contribute about 2 grams of protein alongside other vitamins and minerals as well (hello calcium!).
Enjoying a sweet treat doesn't have to mean sacrificing your goals. If you’re looking for a protein pick-me-up, try these dessert ideas:
Protein Bars: A quick treat for any occasion, protein bars that are low in sugar and contain at least 10 grams of protein are great for on-the-go situations or in-between meals during a busy day. Next time you need a protein boost, :ratio Vanilla Almond Crunchy Bars pack a whopping 12g of protein.
High-Protein Yogurt Parfait: Grab a :ratio Protein Dairy Snack layer it with fresh fruits, nuts and a drizzle of your favorite nut or seed butter for a creamy dessert with over 25 grams of protein.
Protein Ice Cream: If you like to get creative, try exploring some recipes for homemade protein ice cream using protein powder as your base. Depending on the recipe and serving size, a serving of protein ice cream dessert could add an extra 15 to 30 grams of protein to your day. Just remember to keep an eye on the added sugar sources recipes recommend. Even natural sugars like honey and maple syrup will add additional carbohydrates to your daily macros if you’re watching those closely.
BALANCE IS KEY
Think about the small, simple changes you can make daily in your routine to add a little more protein throughout your day. Whether it’s adding an egg to breakfast, sprinkling some hemp seeds on your salad, or adding canned salmon to your quinoa bowl for dinner, you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to enjoy more protein in your diet.
At the end of the day, amping up your protein doesn’t have to be difficult. Just remember to tune into your unique protein needs based on your body composition, age, and activity level. Working with a registered dietitian nutritionist is great if you don’t know where to start. With a little planning and creativity, you can put the pro in protein one meal at a time.
*Always consult your physician before starting an eating plan that involves regular consumption of high fat foods. See information for calorie, total fat and sat. fat content.