Who Might Come Up Short
Most Americans get plenty of protein. People who don’t get enough usually have an overall poor diet. Elderly people and people with cancer may have trouble eating as much protein as they need. Severe malnutrition from lack of protein is called kwashiorkor. It’s more common in developing countries, especially with children, or after a natural disaster.
Try Savory Protein Powder
You can add protein powder to more things than just smoothies! health coach Michelle Gindi says. Ive had great success adding protein powder to my morning pancakes and some granola bars, which is a sneaky and delicious way to get in more protein! Ive even stirred some protein powder into vegetable soup for an all-in-one meal.
How To Get More Protein In Your Diet
Your body can only process so much protein at one time, so its important to spread it throughout the day. Your system is especially primed to process it after exercise, so postrun or postworkout is a great time to prioritize protein for recovery.
Aim for 20 to 30 grams at each meal, Bonci says. You want to be getting some protein in at least every four or five hours. Older athletes, especially women who are in the menopause transition, need to aim for the higher ends of the recommended protein ranges.
As estrogen drops, its harder for women to build and maintain muscle and they need more protein, says Sims, who recommends aiming for 30 grams at each meal and 15 to 20 grams in your snacks, which is in line with research on maintaining muscle with age in general.
Protein comes in two varieties, complete and incomplete. Complete protein sources are those that contain all nine amino acids. You can find complete proteins in:
- Soybean foods like edamame and tofu
Plant sources are usually incomplete sources, meaning theyre missing some amino acids:
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans and other legumes like peas
- Whole grains
The foods we naturally eat in concert, such as beans and rice and peanut butter on bread work together to make a complete protein. Theres no need to stress about combining foods to make a complete protein at every meal.
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Sprinkle On Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is the best-kept secret of the vegetarian and vegan community. One-and-a-half tablespoon of this flaky seasoning contains 8 grams of protein, Nutritional yeast has a cheesy flavor and can be used to season anything from scrambled eggs to salad to pesto, says Mashru. Its also an amazing source of B vitamins, doubling as a perfect vegan alternative for cheese. Here are some complete protein foods that dont contain any meat.
The Health Benefits Of Protein
Protein gives you the energy to get up and goand keep going. While too much protein can be harmful to people with kidney disease, diabetes, and some other conditions, eating the right amount of high-quality protein:
- Keeps your immune system functioning properly, maintains heart health and your respiratory system, and speeds recovery after exercise.
- Is vital to the growth and development of children and for maintaining health in your senior years.
- Can help reduce your risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Can help you think clearly and may improve recall.
- Can improve your mood and boost your resistance to stress, anxiety, and depression.
- May help you maintain a healthy weight by curbing appetite, making you feel full longer, and fueling you with extra energy for exercising.
As well as being imperative to feeling healthy and energetic, protein is also important to the way you look. Eating high-quality protein can help you maintain healthy skin, nails, and hair, build muscle, and maintain lean body mass while dieting.
While most people eating a Western diet get a sufficient quantity of protein each day, many of us are not getting the quality of protein we need.
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How Much Protein Per Meal
It is important to space out the amount of protein you eat at each meal, for maximum benefit, and a study pinpointed exactly how much is best if you are looking to build muscle. A December 2016 article in Clinical Nutrition found that meals with between 30 and 45 grams of protein, eaten several times a day, provide the ideal amount associated with increasing or maintaining lean body mass.
Do you like to snack to night? As it turns out, that may not be a bad thing, if your snack is high in protein. A June 2015 article in the Journal of Nutrition found that men who ate 27.5 grams of protein before bed had increased muscle mass, and improved strength gains, when compared to those who didn’t. If you want a late snack, make sure it is a high-protein snack, like beef jerky or a creamy berry quinoa parfait.
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Struggling To Cook Healthy We’ll Help You Prep
Some say Americans get adequate or even too much protein others argue we could safely eat more than whats recommended .
If youre looking to up your protein intake, that doesn’t necessarily translate to eat more meat. Plus, youre likely aware of ways to add meat-based protein to your diet with beef, chicken, turkey, seafood, etc. Though animal-based protein delivers all of the essential amino acids we need, you can absolutely get sufficient protein from plant-based sources.
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Focus On The Essentials
Protein is made up of essential and non-essential amino acids. A complete protein source is one that contains all nine essential amino acids to support human dietary needs.
Not only does a complete protein contain all essential aminoacids, but it also contains them in perfect proportion in terms of biologicalfunction. Great examples include whey , lean meat, egg whitesand soy.
The Easy Way For Vegans To Get Enough Protein Every Day
As it turns out, I weigh around 140 pounds, so the 83 grams of protein mentioned above is right about what I aim for.
So how do I get my 83 grams of protein per day?
My approach to getting enough protein is very simple:
Make sure you include a decent protein source, even if just a little bit, in every meal or snack.
Mainly, this just keeps you mindful and prevents you from slipping into junk-food-vegan, carbohydrate-only mode.
So what does this mean in terms of actual foods? Try these:
- Adding protein powder to your smoothie.
- Eating a whole-wheat bagel with peanut or almond butter for a snack.
- Including beans in your pasta dishes .
- Lots of lentils.
- Hummus on a whole wheat pita for a snack.
- Putting nuts on your salad or eating them alone as a snack.
- Eating quinoa as part of the main dish or a side.
- Occasionally eating soy products, like tempeh, but dont forget all the high-protein vegan alternatives to soy!
See? No huge numbers here, but mix in a few of them every day, and its no problem at all to get anywhere from 60-100 grams of protein, especially when you count all the other foods you eat that contain smaller amounts of protein. My point here isnt to get you to start counting protein grams throughout the day I certainly dont do that but you can see just how easy it is to get the protein you need.
A few other favorite, high-protein vegan recipes:
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Have A Protein Shake For Breakfast
Many smoothies contain a lot of fruit, vegetables, or juice, but very little protein.
However, a shake or smoothie can be a great breakfast option, especially if you choose nutritious ingredients.
Whey protein powder has been studied the most and seems to have an edge over the others when it comes to helping you feel full (
Heres a basic whey shake recipe:
Whey Protein Shake
- 8 ounces of unsweetened almond milk
- 1 scoop of whey powder
- 1 cup of fresh berries
- stevia or another healthy sweetener, if desired
- 1/2 cup of crushed ice
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Having a protein shake for breakfast helps you start the day off right. Whey may be the best type to use.
Add Pepitas To Your Hummus
Pepitas, also known as roasted pumpkin seeds, are a delicious way to increase your protein intake in hummus . You can whip them in with a food processor, or you can just sprinkle them on top for a crunchy topping. For more awesome toppings to throw on your oatmeal, hummus, and yogurt, scope out these 30 Healthy Toppings for Weight Loss!
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Healthy Ways To Increase Calories And Protein
If you have been instructed to increase the number of calories and the amount of protein in your diet, here are some tips that will help.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.
Protein Requirements Per Day
Do you need 200g protein a day? Harvard Health Publishing says that the minimum amount of protein you should eat a day, or the Recommended Dietary Allowance , is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a quick reference, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36. If you weigh 150 pounds, for example, that would be 54 grams of protein, which is obviously way less than a 200g protein diet. The RDA is just the very minimum you should be eating to not get sick, and depending on your goals and activity level, you will likely need more protein.
According to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, athletes, bodybuilders or those looking to add lean muscle mass need much more protein than this. It recommends that athletes should get 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day. This would mean that if you weigh 220 pounds and are active, then a 200g protein diet is right for you. Most athletes, and those weighing under 220 pounds, won’t need to follow a 200g protein diet however, keep in mind you will still need more than the RDA.
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Will Eating More Protein Help You Get Fit At Home
With the UK in lockdown, many of us are looking for ways to get fit at home, and may consider increasing our protein intake to fuel exercise. Protein powder, a once niche product for bodybuilders, can now be found on supermarket shelves, in shakes, bars, fortified foods, capsules and even sweets. In 2016, a Mintel survey found nearly one in ten Brits had used protein powder in the three months leading up to the study.
BBC Ones The Truth About Getting Fit at Home reveals expert advice on whether we need to boost our protein intake and what to consider before consuming protein shakes and supplements.
Protein Products Are Not For Everyone
Those with pre-existing kidney issues should be mindful of excessive protein intake, as there is an indication it can worsen the disease, says Dr Iqbal. If youre unsure, ask your GP to refer you to a registered dietitian for advice.
The NHS website says theres also evidence that, in the long term, consuming too much protein can lead to an increased risk of osteoporosis.
Protein supplements are not recommended for children due to the lack of research into long-term effects.
To find a suitable trained and qualified sports nutritionist, visit the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register website.
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Will Protein Powder Help You Lose Weight
Protein digestion requires a higher energy expenditure , so can help to reduce appetite, says Dr Aishah Iqbal, a medical doctor, personal trainer and weight-loss coach. However, using protein shakes as meal replacements for weight loss is often very unsustainable will commonly see the weight bounce back once the practice is stopped.
An additional problem is that protein shakes do not have the same nutritional value as food, which makes them unsuitable for meal replacements. They dont have all the vitamins and nutrients that a balanced meal would contain, says Professor Close.
Very High Protein Diets Are Dangerous
Some fad diets promote very high protein intakes of between 200 and 400g per day. This is more than five times the amount recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The protein recommendations in the Guidelines provide enough protein to build and repair muscles, even for body builders and athletes. A very high-protein diet can strain the kidneys and liver. It can also prompt excessive loss of the mineral calcium, which can increase your risk of osteoporosis.
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Ways To Get More Protein Without Eating Meat
There are lots of wholesome ways to increase your protein intake without resorting to meat.
These days, protein seems to be the superstar nutrient and for good reason. Gram for gram, its more satisfying than carbohydrates or fat meaning it keeps you fuller, longer. Protein is also essential for repairing and building muscle and keeps your metabolism humming along.
The daily recommended dietary allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For most adult men and women, that translates to 46 to 56 grams of protein each day. For reference, a 3-ounce, fist-sized hamburger delivers 24 grams of protein.
The High Protein Struggle Frauds
In order to truly understand what constitutes high protein, I want to use our example of nuts to help paint the picture.
I have a female client who is 52, 140lbs, and is maintaining her body weight on 1680 calories.
Her macros are 140g of protein, 56g of fat, and 154g of carbs, which equates to 1680 calories.
1 serving of almonds is 160 calories, 14g fat, 6g carbs, 6g fat. If she were to eat all of her calories in almonds, she would be taking in:
147g fat, 63g carbs, 63g protein.
So if we compare to her original macros above, she is over by 91g fat, and under by 91g carbs and 77g protein.
Do you see the problem here? We have this idea that a food that is categorized as high protein but only 15% of the calories come from protein while almost 79% of the calories come from fat. This is a high-fat food, not a high protein food!
She is going to need much higher sources of protein in order to hit her protein goal for the day.
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Calculating How Much Protein You Need
Choose Brown Rice Or Quinoa Over White Rice
Quinoa packs more protein than white rice.
This is one easy swap you can use often to get more protein in your diet. Both quinoa and brown rice have more protein per serving than white rice and can replace white rice in most meals.
The texture is similar, although quinoa does have a more earthy taste than rice. Each serving of cooked quinoa packs 8 grams of protein per cup, while brown rice contains 5.3 grams per cup — white rice, on the other hand, contains just 4.4 grams of protein per cup.
Quinoa surpasses both white and brown rice in terms of protein, but brown rice still offers more protein than white rice and is a good choice if you don’t enjoy quinoa.
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Top Your Food With Chopped Almonds
Almonds are incredibly healthy.
Theyre high in magnesium, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, yet low in digestible carbs.
Almonds also contain 6 grams of protein in a 1-ounce serving, which makes them a better source of protein than most nuts .
And although a serving of almonds contains around 170 calories, studies have shown that your body absorbs only about 133 of those calories because some of the fat isnt digested .
So sprinkle a few tablespoons of chopped almonds over yogurt, cottage cheese, salads, or oatmeal to increase your protein intake and add a bit of flavor and crunch.
Almonds are high in several nutrients and can boost the protein content of a meal or snack.