20 Ways to Boost Your Protein Intake at Every Meal | appencode.com

20 Ways to Boost Your Protein Intake at Every Meal

You don’t have to be a pro athlete to want to get more protein in your diet. No matter your activity level, protein serves all sorts of important purposes in your body, from repairing damaged tissues to creating critical hormones and enzymes. Research even shows that protein is the most satiating macronutrient, which might be why eating more of it has been linked to better weight management. Plus, the older we get, the higher our daily protein needs. In short, we could all benefit from getting enough.

Think you’re falling short in the protein department and wanna bump up your intake? There are plenty of simple ways to sneak the macro into your meals and snacks — even if you don’t want to dump protein powder into everything you eat. Here are 20 tasty ideas to try throughout the day.

How much protein do you need?

For sedentary adults, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. And if you’re more active, you likely require 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to support your muscles. Elderly adults, on the other hand, should aim for 1.2 and 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight daily, no matter how active they are.

Ways to Boost Protein Intake at Breakfast

Incorporate Protein-Rich Foods Into Your Go-To Breakfast Recipes 

With the right ingredients, even the most carb-heavy breakfasts can get a protein boost. Consider how you might incorporate protein-rich foods into your usual breakfast routine. Add peanut butter to oatmeal, amp up a breakfast burrito with black beans or eggs, or blend silken tofu into a smoothie. 

Add Protein Supplements or Powders to Breakfast Meals

Plenty of breakfast foods are ideal for adding protein powder. Sprinkle a scoop into muffin batter, oatmeal, or smoothies.

The 16 Best Protein Powders for Every Health Goal, Tested and Reviewed

Choose High-Protein Breakfast Options When Eating Out

On busy mornings, a run through the drive-thru is sometimes inevitable. When dining out for the first meal of the day, try focusing your menu selections on high-protein choices like egg sandwiches or bean wraps. Just be sure to check the rest of an item’s nutrition info, if possible. Often, fast food choices that are high in protein are also high in saturated fat and sodium.

Add Collagen to Hot Drinks 

Collagen powders not only dissolve easily into hot drinks like coffee or tea, but they pack around 15-20 grams of protein per serving, depending on the serving size. Toss a scoop into your morning brew for a no-brainer protein upgrade.

The Best Collagen Powders of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Swap Regular Yogurt for Greek

Because of the straining method used to make Greek yogurt, it has almost twice as much protein as traditional yogurt. So why not swap one for the other? Top yours with nuts or nut butter for an extra protein boost.

Ways to Boost Protein Intake at Lunch

Eat Protein First 

At lunchtime, it might be tempting to dig into a bag of chips or crackers before you start on protein choices. But it’s best to zero in first on the highest-protein part of your meal. This way, you’re more likely to fill up on this satiating macro than low-quality carbs. 

Make the Most of Leftovers

Since dinner tends to be the highest-protein meal of the day, why not extend its effects to tomorrow’s lunch? Make a little extra dinner so you can reap its high-protein benefits the next day.

Picture a High-Protein Plate

In the USDA’s MyPlate dietary guidance (a handy visual for what a healthy, balanced meal looks like), protein covers just under a quarter of the plate. Grains, which also contain protein, comprise just over a quarter. As you prep lunches, keep this image in mind. It’ll help you ensure your mid-day meal provides enough protein.

12 Quick, Delicious Chicken Recipes for Lunch

Ways to Boost Protein Intake at Dinner

Plan Meals Around Protein 

Besides being an excellent way to save time and money, meal planning allows you to get serious about including more protein at dinnertime. When you sit down to plan out the week, start by deciding which protein will anchor each dinner. 

Opt for High-Protein Sides

Main dishes typically provide the most protein on your plate — but that doesn’t mean sides can’t also add to your mealtime total. Multiple side dishes offer protein galore. Refried beans, for example, can add this macro to Mexican dinners, quinoa makes a protein-rich side for meats, and a dollop of Greek yogurt adds protein to creamy sauces. 

22 Mexican Dish Recipes You’ll Want to Try Immediately

Choose the Right Meats

Leaner cuts of meat typically offer more protein than fattier ones. Eye of round roast, top sirloin, and sirloin tip steak are some of the leanest, highest-protein cuts of beef, while skinless chicken or turkey are lean, high-protein poultry choices.

Ways to Boost Protein Intake for Snacks

Prep Your Own Protein Snacks 

Home-making your own high-protein snacks gives you full control over your preferred ingredients and flavors. In the interest of time, try making large-batch snacks you can freeze, such as DIY protein balls or bars. Then, during the week, pull them out when mid-day hunger strikes.

You can do the same with shelf-stable snacks, too. Make a trail mix with nuts and seeds or roast some chickpeas with your favorite seasonings. Then portion them into zip-top bags for easy snacking.

These 5-Ingredient Peanut Butter Protein Balls Taste Like a Reese’s Cup

Choose Minimally Processed Store-Bought Snacks

Store-bought protein snacks may offer upwards of 20 grams per serving, but beware: some are processed to the hilt. For your health, try to purchase protein-rich snacks that are less processed. Look for bars, balls, jerky, or nuts with short ingredient lists and few additives. 

These Dietitian-Approved High-Protein Snacks Will Keep You from Getting Hangry

Pair a Carb Snack With Protein

Think fast: what protein could you pair with your typical carb-based snack? If your usual afternoon nosh is a handful of pretzels, try dipping them in peanut butter. Or if you enjoy berries in the middle of the day, consider stirring them into yogurt. 

Get Your Smoothie On

For high-protein snacking, there’s no more versatile option than a smoothie. Beginning with a base of Greek yogurt or silken tofu (plus some fruit for color and flavor), the sky’s the limit for other protein-rich additions. Pop some nut butter, oats, protein powder, or soy milk into the mix and get blending!

Tips for Increasing Protein Intake Throughout the Day

Consider Various Protein Sources 

It’s not just meat that offers plenty of protein. Remember that dozens of foods, like beans, nuts, fish, eggs, nuts, soy, and whole grains contain high amounts. 

Spread Protein Evenly Throughout the Day

Rather than focusing only on an epic-protein dinner, spread your intake throughout the day. Most people can strive for 20 to 30 grams per meal to meet their needs.

Read Food Labels

The only way to know how much protein you’re getting from individual foods is to check labels. Be a savvy label reader so you can calculate your grams per day. 

Make Higher-Protein Substitutions

Throughout your day’s eating, every little bit of protein helps! Try making high-protein substitutions in your cooking, even on a small scale. On Taco Tuesday, for example, tacos can get a protein upgrade by substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream, and beans make a higher-protein side than rice. 

The Ultimate List of High-Protein Foods

Prep Large-Batch Protein Foods

Make busy weekdays a bit simpler by prepping a large batch of something high in protein on the weekend. Fill the slow cooker with chicken, prep a batch of beans, or hard-boil a dozen eggs. When things get hectic, you’ll have already put in the effort for high-protein meals and snacks.  

The Bottom Line

Protein probably won’t find its way into your diet without a bit of thoughtful planning. Get intentional with these 20 options for adding this all-important macro.

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