The Power of Protein
It’s easy to understand the excitement. Protein is an important component of every cell in the body.
Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.
Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it.
Vitamins and minerals, which are needed in only small quantities, are called “micronutrients.”
But unlike fat and carbohydrates, the body does not store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply.
High-Protein Diets: Do They Work?
So you may assume the solution is to eat protein all day long. Not so fast, say nutritionists.
The truth is, we need less total protein that you might think. But we could all benefit from getting more protein from better food sources.
Top Ways To Add Protein To Your Day and Diet
1. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is the unsung hero protein source.
Packed full of slow digesting casein protein, it’s perfect for either a late night snack when you want some slow-acting aminos or combined with meals when you know your next one isn’t for a while.
Unlike whey protein, casein is slowly released and digested and helps you feel fuller longer.
If you’re into stir-fry or burrito bowls, swap out your rice or noodles for quinoa, says Keri Gans, R.D.N., author of The Small Change Diet.
Half of a cup of these grain-like seeds will get you 4 grams of protein and nearly 3 grams of fiber—that’s compared to only 2 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of fiber you’d get from regular white rice.
Lastly, we can’t close this topic without mentioning eggs. Eggs are considered by many to be the perfect protein food.
Full of vitamins and minerals, and not to mention a complete source of protein, they are void of carbs and easy to prepare.
Add them hardboiled to salads, scrambled on whole wheat bread with an avocado, or scrambled in rice.
Eggs are also easy to transport.
Hard boiled eggs alone make a great protein-rich snack by supplying 6 grams of the stuff.
4. Choose Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a versatile, high-protein food.
A 240-gram (8-oz) serving provides 17–20 grams of protein, depending on the brand. This is about twice the amount in traditional yogurt.
Greek yogurt is made by removing whey and other liquids to produce a richer, creamier yogurt.
Research shows Greek yogurt increases the release of the gut hormones GLP-1 and PYY, which reduce hunger and make you feel full.
In addition, it contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been shown to promote fat loss in some studies.
Greek yogurt has a tangy flavor that goes well with berries or chopped fruit. It can also be used as a substitute for sour cream in dips, sauces and other recipes.
5. Milk and soy milk
but not almond or rice milk, which have very little protein, can replace other liquids called for in recipes and boost the protein.
Depending on the recipe, milk can often stand in for broth, juice or wine in lots of dishes.
Make your oatmeal with milk instead of water, and you’ll get an extra 7 to 10 grams of protein. Also, give soups a creamy protein boost by substituting milk for part of the broth or water.
beans are a good source of protein and can be added either whole or mashed to foods like soups, stews, casseroles, pasta sauces, curries, salads or guacamole.
Hummus can be used as a spread for sandwiches or wraps to add some extra protein, or it can be thinned down with a little water and used as a salad dressing.
Mild tasting white beans can even be added to protein shakes. Their flavor is hardly noticeable and beans add a thick, creamy texture.
tofuhas such a mild flavor that it can be sneaked into a lot of dishes for a protein boost. You can add it to protein shakes, or blend it until smooth and add to sauces, casseroles, eggs and pasta dishes.
Or, use it as a base for a healthy dip for veggies.
You can also cut firm tofu into cubes and add to salads, soups and stir-fries.
8. Whey Protein
One of the most popular supplements on the market, it doesn’t take a genius to appreciate the versatility, convenience, and effectiveness of whey protein. As a quick-acting/digesting protein source, it’s ideal for pre and/or post workout nutrition when you need to start the rebuilding process as soon as possible.
Not only can you add it to smoothies, you can also add a scoop or two to oatmeal, whole wheat pancakes, or even fat-free, sugar-free pudding.
Just a quick note about flavor: Be careful when adding it to other foods when choosing a specific taste. Some brands have strong flavors, so opt for natural vanilla or unflavored kinds.
One serving, or one leveled scoop, of whey will normally provide around 20 to 30 grams of protein depending on the manufacturer. Also, be careful about additives, ingredients, carbohydrate counts, and fat counts.
9. Get your fill of fish from cans or pouches
Salmon is nature’s heart medicine, but you don’t have to cook up a fillet to get more of it into your diet.
Canned salmon is a smart choice not only for convenience but for health; that’s because most canned salmon in the United States is wild-caught fish versus farmed fish (and therefore may contain fewer contaminants).
An added bonus to eating salmon: Researchers recently found that people who had the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood were 53 percent less likely to report feeling mildly or moderately depressed.
10. Pick up pork chops or a lean pork loin
These young green soybeans, in or out of their shell, are wonderful as snacks; just steam them and add a little salt.
You can also add them to soups and salads. Soy has more protein, by volume, than beef, and virtually none of the saturated fat.
11. Eat Lean Jerky
Lean jerky is a convenient way to get more protein into your diet.
However, it’s important to choose a healthy type.
Many types of jerky contain sugar, preservatives and various questionable ingredients. They’re also frequently made from lower-quality meat.
Some jerky and “snack sticks” come from grass-fed beef, bison and other free-range animals. Choosing jerky from grass-fed animals will provide better-quality meat with higher amounts of healthy omega-3 fats (36).
Lean jerkies or snack sticks contain about 7 grams of protein per 28 grams (1 oz).
They can often be stored for several months without refrigeration and are ideal for travel.