How To Incorporate More Protein In Your Diet
When I was younger, I always thought that protein was the macronutrient that gave you giant muscles and was the most important thing, on par with weights, to bodybuilders. I can definitely say that I was wrong about bodybuilders, but while I was right about protein being vital to building muscle mass, there are so many other benefits of protein.
Protein is an important component when it comes to your bones, muscles, skin, and blood, and there are plenty of studies that show that protein does even more than just that. Eating the right kinds of protein has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. On the other hand, highly-processed meat and red meat has been found to increase the risk of cancer in addition to both heart disease and diabetes.
The important thing here is to focus on how to incorporate the right kinds of protein in your diet. Some diets focus on a large protein intake compared to carbohydrates and fats, while others rely on protein taking up a smaller percentage of daily consumption. However, regardless of diets, it has been shown that as a whole most people do not consume enough protein.
I would definitely suggest researching how many grams of protein is optimal for your diet depending on weight and activity level. The internet is sadly saturated with these calculators, but trying out a few will help you come to a general consensus.
Below are some helpful tips on how to incorporate the right kinds of protein in your diet:
Roast Your Chickpeas
If chickpeas aren't a staple in your pantry, now is the perfect time to introduce them - just make sure to rinse them once you take them out of the can. I have always been an avid fan of adding new ingredients to salads, which is how I first came across them. However, once I tried roasting them, I liked them even more!
Roasting chickpeas is actually fairly easy to do - minus peeling off the outer skins - and you have free range on how to spice them up and incorporate them. You can add spices such as paprika, cayenne pepper, chili powder, or cajun seasoning to add some kick or leave them plain. You can probably also try making them sweet as well with some cinnamon and sugar.
Half a cup of chickpeas has around 19 grams of protein, so it's a great addition! You can use these as a snack, add them to a salad, or even put them in tacos! The options are limitless when it comes to this simple legume, so go crazy.
2. Switch To Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has slowly but surely become one of my favorite foods to eat for breakfast or even as a snack during the day. Compared to other types of yogurt, a single serving of greek yogurt has about 19 grams of protein - which is shamelessly coming straight from the label on my favorite Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt.
The best thing about greek yogurt not being super sweet is that you can add other ingredients to make it sweet and even more exciting! I love adding fresh berries or bananas to mine with a small amount of granola for some crunch. Play around with other toppings such as mango, cacao nibs, goji berries, and honey.
If you want a different way to eat your yogurt, try adding some greek yogurt into your smoothies. When doing this, you can get away with adding less milk and having a thicker consistency! You can also try putting yogurt on a sheet with fruits and seeds and freezing it for a cool snack later on.
3. Find a Good Protein Powder
Okay, so I know this sounds like the most obvious tip ever, but I'm not talking about just adding protein powder to shakes or smoothies. There are so many other recipes that you can add protein powder to that you probably already eat, which makes it a great addition!
Try adding protein powder to your oats on the stovetop. You can experiment with different flavors or go plain, but I would definitely recommend using the stove for these oats because the powder does not mix very well when microwaved.
There are plenty of recipes for making energy bites that use protein powder, or if you're planning on baking just add some powder to your cookie mix! Additionally, you can add protein powder to any pancake mix or muffins - and honestly if you needed an excuse to go crazy making pancakes or cookies then this is it.
4. Consider Quinoa Over Rice
Now I would never tell you to stop eating rice or other tasty carbohydrates, but it is helpful to look at some alternatives to incorporate into your diet every now and then. It may take some getting used to, but quinoa can taste just as great as rice in your meals. Quinoa has about twice the amount of protein than white rice, and because it is so full of protein and fiber, it will also do a great job in keeping you full.
I'm still trying to figure out my own favorite quinoa dishes, but so far I've been loving it with chicken and veggies. There are also a lot of recipes out there on how to make quinoa burgers as an alternative to meat for anyone who wants a high-protein meatless patty for your next barbecue.
Adding quinoa to salads is another great way to make them more filling, and there are even some breakfast options as well! You can try your hand at quinoa porridge or make some sort of breakfast bowl of quinoa, eggs, sweet potato, and whatever else you want to throw in!
5. Oats And Nut Butters
Here we have some of my favorite breakfast staples. You've probably heard plenty of other people raving about oatmeal, but ever since I started making my own I promise I could eat it almost every day. A full cup of oats contains about 10 grams of protein, which is great to start off your morning with.
I love putting in a variety of ingredients in my oatmeal such as berries, other fruits, almond butter, cacao powder, chia seeds, goji berries, and so much more! If you don't like warm oats, try making overnight oats, which are especially helpful to make the night before if you need a quick and easy breakfast the next day.
Additionally, nut butters go amazingly with so many different meals. You can put them on toast with some banana, in your smoothie, or pair it with your oatmeal for an even heartier dish. Two tablespoons of almond butter (my favorite) equates to about 6 grams of protein. You can also eat nut butters with apples or bananas as a snack during the day, which will fill you with both fiber and protein - making it the perfect combination!