We all know that getting enough protein is important for our health. Protein is necessary for many key functions of the body, from repairing muscles to catalyzing biochemical reactions and forming structural components of nearly every type of cell in the body.
There is also evidence to suggest that eating more protein helps people stay fuller for longer, potentially supporting weight loss by controlling appetite.
For these reasons, many people are interested in how to increase protein intake.
So, what are some tips for how to eat more protein?
In this article, we will provide some tips for how to get more protein or how to add more protein to your diet.
Let’s get started!
How to Increase Protein Intake
Here are some tips for how to add more protein to your diet:
#1: Prioritize Protein
It probably sounds like a no-brainer, but if you are looking into how to get more protein, the first thing you should do is set your daily intention on eating more proteins. This involves prioritizing proteins at every meal.
Eating your protein-based food first at a meal, rather than leaving it to the end, can help ensure that you don’t fill up on starches before getting to the nutritious protein component.
Studies suggest that protein helps you feel full and satisfied due to its ability to increase the production of a hormone called peptide YY.Additionally, evidence suggests that a high-protein diet may support weight loss by decreasing the production of the “hunger hormone“ ghrelin and boosting metabolic rate.
Furthermore, evidence suggests that the order of foods that you eat in a meal can affect your blood sugar levels.
When protein-rich foods and vegetables are consumed before starchy carbohydrates, blood sugar levels and resultant insulin secretion remain much more stable than when the same foods are eaten in the reverse order, with protein finishing the meal.
Therefore, starting your meal with protein will not only help ensure that you actually eat enough protein at the meal and don’t fill up on carbohydrates first but also that your blood sugar and insulin levels may be better regulated.
#2: Swap Cereal for Eggs
Breakfast cereal, toast, bagels, and even oatmeal are all quite high in carbohydrates and relatively low in proteins. One way to increase protein intake is to swap these popular carbohydrate-rich breakfasts for a high-protein breakfast consisting of eggs.
Studies have found that people who consume eggs for breakfast instead of breakfast cereal stay full or for longer after the meal, and an egg breakfast may even decrease caloric intake at subsequent meals.
You can prepare eggs in many different ways, such as scrambled, soft- or hard-boiled, poached, fried, or in a healthy omelet with vegetables.
A breakfast of three large eggs will provide about 19 grams of protein. If you have concerns about cholesterol, you can eat one or two whole eggs and supplement the rest with egg whites. You’ll get even more protein per calorie.
#3: Change Up Your Cereal
If you don’t want to give up your breakfast cereal, change the way that you eat it to add more protein to your diet. Instead of having a large bowl of cereal with a small amount of milk poured over the top, have a cup of Greek yogurt topped with your favorite cereal.
Alternatively, add sources of protein to your cereal, such as almonds, flaxseed or Chia seeds, or a tablespoon of peanut butter. An ounce of almonds, for example, provides 6 grams of protein.
#4: Make Protein Pancakes
One good way to add protein to your diet is to adjust your pancake recipe. You can make protein pancakes using egg whites, bananas, and protein powder.
#5: Blend Up a Protein Shake
When most people are thinking about how to increase protein intake, the first thing they think about is drinking protein shakes.
Making smoothies or protein shakes with protein powder is a great way to get a sizable dose of protein, along with other nutritious foods such as fruits and vegetables, depending on the protein shake recipe that you use.
Having a protein shake for breakfast or as a post-workout snack can help you replace lower-protein foods with something that still tastes good, is more satisfying, and adds protein to your diet.
Particularly if you have been making smoothies using fruit juice, you can also swap out the juice for milk or Greek yogurt to further increase the protein content.
There are many different types of protein powder to choose from, but many studies suggest that whey protein powder may be the best in terms of curbing appetite.
#6: Eat Low-Sodium Jerky
It used to be that the only types of meat jerky available were extremely processed products loaded with sodium, artificial colors, and preservatives.
There are now many organic, low sodium, healthy turkey, beef, and bison jerky. These lean jerky snacks are packed with protein and low in calories.
Jerky derived from grass-fed animals will also provide some healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It is also a complete source of protein, often providing 9 to 18 grams of protein per serving. If you follow a plant-based diet, there are even some soy- and seitan-based vegan jerkies.
#7: Swap Out Mayo for Hummus
If you use mayonnaise on your sandwiches or burgers, swap it out for hummus. Hummus is made from garbanzo beans and tahini and provides a decent amount of protein and fiber, whereas mayonnaise is only a source of fat.
You will also get some nice flavor from the hummus while still enjoying the creaminess and moisture of the condiment.
#8: Eat Cottage Cheese
If you don’t like eggs, cottage cheese can be a great alternative high-protein breakfast. It also works well as a lunch or a snack because it can be seasoned or “doctored up“ in various ways to change the flavor profile.
For example, you can make a sweet cottage cheese breakfast with a little bit of cinnamon, honey, banana, or other fresh fruit. You can make a savory cottage cheese lunch or snack with chives and slivered almonds.
Cottage cheese can also be added to smoothies or even swirled into oatmeal or overnight oats to add more protein. One cup provides about 23 grams of protein, and studies show it can be as filling as eggs.
#9: Add Cheese to Your Snacks
It’s common to grab snacks like pretzels, chips, and crackers, but these carb-heavy snacks offer very little protein. For example, a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of pretzels provides about 2 grams of protein and 110 calories.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of cheddar cheese provides just five more calories but a full 7 grams of protein, plus a significant percentage of your daily value of calcium.
Therefore, if you are looking for how to get more protein at snack time, either swap out your usual snack of pretzels, crackers, or chips for cheese entirely, or you can have some of both.
Low-moisture mozzarella string cheese, individual cheeses that come wrapped in wax, or just plain slices of cheddar cheese, or your other favorite type of cheese, can be a fantastic snack.
If you do not like to eat plain cheese, you can also have a low-carb cheese snack by pairing it with sliced tomatoes or avocado. Another good option for enjoying cheese as part of a healthy snack is to have cheddar cheese with apple slices.
One important thing to note is that some people have concerns about the potential for cheese to increase cholesterol levels, but studies suggest that cheese may actually improve heart health.
#10: Use Nutritional Yeast
Unlike the yeast used in making bread or beer, nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. It has an umami flavor that resembles Parmesan cheese, making it a great vegan cheese substitute in dishes like pasta, mashed potatoes, or even on popcorn as a seasoning.
Not only is nutritional yeast a complete source of protein, but just half an ounce (16 grams) provides 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.
#11: Snack On Edamame
Edamame is a popular appetizer or snack in Japanese cuisine. These green soybeans can be enjoyed as a high-protein snack eaten plain or with a little bit of salt, or you can sprinkle them on salads to add protein to your meal.
One cup (155 grams) of edamame provides nearly 19 grams of protein. This nutritious legume is also high in an antioxidant known as kaempferol, which has been shown to reduce blood sugar and possibly support weight loss.
You can find edamame in the fresh or frozen section of most grocery stores.
#12: Go for Whole Grains
Wherever possible, the grains that you eat in your diet should be whole grains rather than refined grains.
Whole grains provide much more proteins and retain many of the essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They also provide a more stable release of blood sugar because they are digested more slowly and can help you feel fuller for longer.
Protein-rich whole grains include quinoa, amaranth, whole wheat, and teff.
#13: Increase Your Protein Portions
Having a balanced diet, or a balanced plate at every meal, has its benefits, as each food group provides different essential nutrients.
However, if you are looking for how to eat more protein, one simple way to do so is to focus on increasing your portion sizes of lean proteins at each meal and cutting back on carbohydrates and/or fats.
Additionally, choosing leaner sources of proteins will increase the grams of protein provided without increasing the number of calories (and likely decreasing calories). For example, instead of having 80/20 beef for a burger, opt for 90/10 beef. You will be getting more protein, less fat, and fewer calories.
Alternatively, if you are eating a dish such as a stir fry, for example, add more of the protein source— tofu, chicken, shrimp, etc.— and scale back on the rice or other grains to add more proteins to your diet.
Try to get 20-25 grams of protein per meal, and varying your protein sources will help prevent you from getting tired of the same foods.
If you would like to add some protein shakes to your diet as a great way of how to get more protein daily, check out our very own Protein Shake Recipes.