How to Incorporate Protein in Your Diet
When people think of protein, they often associate it with body building. While protein plays a crucial role towards changing the size and shape of our muscles, there are lots of other reasons to incorporate protein in your diet. In this post, we discuss the importance of protein in your health, how much you should consume per day, and ways to easily include more protein-rich options into your diet.
Why is protein important?
One of the building blocks of the human body, protein is a fundamental part of a healthy diet. Not only do they help form your muscles, but they make up your hair, nails, and bones.
While protein plays a crucial role in muscle growth and repair, it may also be used as a source of energy. Marathon runners, for example, quickly deplete the energy from carbohydrates and fat reserves, requiring their bodies to turn to protein to keep functioning at a high level.
Additionally, proteins are made up of amino acids, compounds that are responsible for ensuring T cells, B cells, and antibodies in the immune system do their job. This helps to keep your immune system strong, protecting you from any harmful germs that may enter the body.
How much protein should I intake?
Your daily protein intake will depend on your age, weight, and fitness goals. If you want to determine a more personalized amount of protein you should consume, you will have to consider your goals and individual variables.
For best results when trying to gain or preserve muscle while losing body fat, you should aim for roughly 0.8 grams to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. For example, a 140 pound person would need 112 gram to 168 grams of protein per day. For extreme athletes, as much as 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight may be used.
To ensure you are getting enough protein, you will need to keep track of what you eat. One healthy eating habit you can incorporate is to read the nutrition information and write down how many grams of protein you eat in a day. You’d be surprised how challenging it can be to get the recommended amount of protein in your diet without being mindful of it. Thankfully, the list below should help!
5 Ways to Incorporate Protein in Your Diet
1. Include Protein Powder
One of the easiest ways to incorporate protein in your diet is by including protein powder. There are a number of protein powder options available on the market that are made from different sources of protein. While whey and casein protein powders come from milk, there are vegetarian and vegan options made from plant sources, too.
Protein powders come in many flavor varieties, from vanilla and chocolate to berry and other fruity flavors. Some powders are even flavorless, making them ideal for mixing into foods, like mashed potatoes. You can drink the protein powder with water or milk, add it to your smoothies, or even use it in your coffee.
Pro tip: Use protein powder in your baking recipes. You can make protein pancakes, waffles and even add a scoop to your brownies or cake batter to up your daily intake while still enjoying the treats you love.
2. Choose Protein-Packed Snacks
Healthy snacking can make it possible to stay on track with your fitness goals and incorporate more protein in your diet. High-protein snacks are a wonderful alternative to regular baked goods or chips and crackers.
One great snack option are protein bars. Not only do they give you the energy you need to keep your body functioning, but they can also add lots of protein to your day. When choosing a bar, make sure to look for an option with low amounts of added sugars. Otherwise, you can quickly turn this healthy snack into a not-so-healthy option.
There are even protein chips or cookies, too! These snacks help manage your sweet tooth and carb cravings in a way that works for you, not against you. Other protein-packed snacks include:
- Dry roasted edamame or chickpeas
- Cottage cheese
- String cheese
- Greek yogurt
When you incorporate these high protein snacks in your diet, it keeps your body feeling full for longer.
3. Eat Meat and Fish
Meats are good sources of protein that you can use in meals and snacks throughout the day. Lean meats, such as chicken breast and turkey, are ideal options if your fitness goals include losing weight. These tend to be lower in fat and calories, and make it easier to stay within your daily protein count.
Fish is also rich in quality proteins and other nutrients, such as Omega-3’s, and vitamins D and B2, or riboflavin. Seafood provides a good source of calcium and phosphorus, which are both important for strong, healthy bones. Fish are also rich in minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium, each of which are vital to maintaining our body’s natural processes.
4. Eat More Eggs
Eggs are another way to incorporate protein in your diet. In fact, just one hard boiled egg has about six grams of protein! As one of the most versatile foods for recipes, eggs make it easy to increase your protein intake. Scramble, fry, or poach them, add them to a salad, or whip them into an omelette or quiche for much needed protein and a yummy breakfast. Don’t be afraid to get a little egg-streme — it’s worth the whisk!
5. Choose Protein-Rich Veggies
Vegetables that are high in protein can help keep you full while giving your body energy and lots of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables with the most protein per serving include beans and legumes — excluding Professor Copperfield’s Miracle Legumes. Other notable mentions are edamame, lentils, lima beans, and peas. In addition, broccoli, corn, and asparagus can help incorporate protein in your diet as well!
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