You Probably Aren’t Eating Enough Of The Mighty Macronutrient But Here’s How To Fix It
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Having to balancing classes, jobs, clubs and a social life, college students often forget about maintaining healthy eating habits. I try to eat foods that make me feel good and sustain me throughout the day, and eating enough protein is key. Its an important macronutrient for everyone, not only athletes trying to bulk up. According to Kris Gunnars, a nutrition researcher for Healthline, a higher protein intake reduces hunger levels and promotes stronger bones and muscles, faster metabolism, lower blood pressure, and higher energy levels.
Here are eight tips and tricks that Ive found helpful to increase your protein intake.
Easy Ways To Get More Plant
You likely already know the importance of protein in a balanced diet. It plays a vital role in everything from building muscle to maintaining a healthy weight.
When it comes to dietary advice, protein is typically a central part of the discussion, but an important part of the subject thats often overlooked is that fact that animals arent the only source of this essential nutrient.
Yes, quality protein can come from plant sources, and according to Dr. Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, R.D., nutrition consultant and co-founder of Bazilians Health in San Diego, plant proteins have an incredible amount of value to offer and they fit into all different types of diets.
We caught up with Bazilian to find out the truth about plant-based proteins and how to effectively and easily incorporate them into a well-balanced plan for healthy eating.
The Active Times: In your opinion, what are some of the biggest misconceptions about plant-based proteins? Dr. Wendy Bazilian: In general, people still tend to be confused about what plant-proteins are, whether theyre high quality and how to consume them. Many people associate plant-proteins with a vegetarian diet or think they are for people who are vegetarian or vegan and thus who “dont eat meat,” instead of as a good option to incorporate into anyones diet .
- In grains lysine is the limiting AA
- In legumes methionine is the limiting AA
- In nuts and most seeds lysine is the limiting AA
Examples representing different classic combos:
The Right Amount Of Protein For You
How much protein should you eat every day? Thats a good question. The Australian Dietary guidelines recommend that you eat 23 serves every day from the protein group.
But a more exact measure of your daily protein requirement depends on your weight, age and height. As a rough guide:
- women need 0.75 grams per kilogram
- men need 0.84 grams per kilogram .
And if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or over 70 years old, you need around 1 gram per kilogram. Protein requirements for children and teenagers change as they grow. You can find more detailed information by age and gender by visiting the Nutrient Reference Values page about protein.
For more information about how much lean red meat and poultry to include in your diet, visit BHCs Meat and poultry page .
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Pack In Protein With Peanut Butter Powder
Peanut butter is one of my favorite snacks. When Im stressing out about my classes late at night, youll find me eating peanut butter by the spoonful straight from the jar. I recently discovered the wonders of peanut butter powder it has about 8 grams per serving. Ill be honest, it doesnt taste the same, but a quarter cup of this powder contains about twice the protein of a serving of normal peanut butter. I mix it with equal parts water or almond milk and a little bit of honey to spread on toast with slices of banana. It also makes a great smoothie with bananas, cocoa powder, and almond milk.
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 To Incorporate Protein Shakes Into A Healthy Diet
While protein shakes are a great addition to your diet they are just one piece of the puzzle! Make sure you are getting a variety of nutrients in through a balance of fruit, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. Heres an example meal plan that includes a protein shake:
- Breakfast: I have been hooked on oatmeal for breakfast lately! So many different ways to enjoy this yummy breakfast.
- Lunch: I typically have a salad for lunch its always a mixture of lots of vegetables, protein and healthy fats.
- Snack: Protein shake make a protein shake for an energy boost to get over the afternoon slump. Youll get energy and feel satisfied until dinner.
- Dinner: Take your pick when it comes to dinner options! Again, make sure theres a mixture of vegetables, protein and fat.
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.
First Get Enough Calories
In this age of Instagram influencers who act like they survive on diets of kale salads and green juice, its easy to assume thats the epitome of health. Not true, says Phillips.
If we arent meeting basic energy and calorie needs it doesnt matter what we eat after that because our body will be in this state of starvation, which increases inflammation, Phillips explains.
She recommends thinking about why you want to change your diet to incorporate more plant proteins. Is it because you want to be a little healthier? Be more environmentally friendly? Or because you think it will help you change your physical appearance?
Some ways to up your calorie intake if youre eating mostly plants is to increase your intake of fats by eating things like avocados or adding some mayonnaise, dressing or oils to your sandwiches and salads.
You can also eat more healthy carbs like whole grains, starchy vegetables and legumes.
And, perhaps mostly importantly, honor your feelings of hunger. If youre hungry, eat, and listen to what kind of food your body is telling you it wants.
Switching to a plant-based diet might mean you get hungry more often. Instead of feeling annoyed or worrying, respect your body by responding to hunger with the only thing that makes hunger go away: food, Phillips says.
Add Greek Yogurt Or Protein Powder To Smoothies
Smoothies are usually made with just fruit and they can leave you hungry an hour later. Adding some Greek yogurt and/or protein powder, really pumps up the protein to keep you full. It also helps make them creamy and you can experiment with different flavors!
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Why Protein Is So Important
While there are many reasons protein is essential to the individual diet, the primary reason is its fundamental importance to human biology. The human body does not contain a single cell absent of protein it is in every cell. The chain of amino acids is evident in every part of the human body, and it plays a vital role in cellular repair. Additionally, protein is crucial throughout childhood development and plays significant roles during pregnancy and other bodily processes.
Beyond the standard necessity of the macronutrient, protein also helps to build and restore tissue, specifically muscle tissues. Therefore, if you are athletic or attempting to create a leaner physique, a protein-heavy diet is key.
Cook Chicken The Right Way
Ever needed to force down dry, tasteless chicken just to eat enough protein? I cook chicken breasts by either pounding them or cutting them in half to make them thinner. I pat them dry with a paper towel and season with garlic salt, pepper, oregano and whatever other spices Im in the mood for. I sear the chicken breasts over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes on each side. Then, I reduce the heat to low and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness. The key to juicy chicken is letting it rest for at least ten minutes after removing it from the heat this lets the juices reabsorb instead of running out.
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Keep Red Lentils Handy
Grace Wong, RD, has a favorite protein player: red lentils! I always keep some red lentils in my pantry to throw into soups, stews, and curries for extra protein and fiber, she says. It takes 15 to 25 minutes to cook them, and they go well with almost every soup recipe I have. Speaking of fiber, here are 30 ways to sneak in fiber without even trying.
Include A High Protein Food With Every Meal
When it comes to protein, its not just the total amount you take in every day that matters. Getting enough at each meal is also important.
Several researchers recommend consuming a minimum of 2030 grams of protein at each meal.
Studies show that this amount promotes fullness and preserves muscle mass better than smaller amounts eaten throughout the day .
Examples of foods high in protein include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes, and soy products like tofu or tempeh.
You can also select foods from this list of delicious high protein foods to make sure you meet your needs at every meal.
Include a high protein food at each meal to get what you need to feel full and maintain muscle mass.
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Dip Your Snacks Into Hummus
If you love to dunk your snacks in any sort of dip, perhaps give hummus a try to add a bit more protein into your diet. While most people use dips such as ranch dressing, onion dip, blue cheese or spinach dip, these are filled with unhealthy fats that dont add much nutritional value. Instead, opt for dipping your chips or carrot sticks in hummus, which is made from protein rich chickpeas. One serving of hummus contains almost 8 grams of protein in only 160 calories, making it the perfect dip to help you reach your protein intake goals.
The Dangers Of A High Protein Diet
Most Australians eat far more protein than they need. And there are some dangers associated with eating a high protein diet:
- Some protein-rich foods may increase your risk of heart disease, as they are high in cholesterol-raising saturated fat.
- It is also thought that a diet high in red meat particularly deli meats such as ham, bacon and salami may increase your risk of bowel cancer.
- High protein diets often restrict your carbohydrate intake. And this can mean we miss out on important vitamins and minerals, and lead to problems associated with not getting enough fibre .
- And if you drastically reduce your carbohydrate intake, your body will go into a state called ketosis, meaning it burns fat for energy rather than carbohydrate. While that sounds appealing, it often leads to side effects like moodiness, bad breath, difficulty concentrating, and low blood sugar levels. Your body may also start to convert protein into carbohydrates to feed the brain, and in the long term may also put you at risk of conditions like heart and kidney disease.
- A high protein diet may also adversely affect your kidney function if you have kidney disease.
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Sprinkle Pumpkin Seeds Over Your Salads Or Oatmeal
“Eating a handful of pumpkin seeds each day will provide you with the recommended daily nutrients such as proteins, amino acids, minerals, fibers, vitamins, and complex carbs,” Harju-Westman explained. These seeds can be roasted for 30 minutes and added into your lunch salad or sprinkled onto your morning oats, she said.
How To Make The Switch
Along with slowly incorporating more plant proteins into your diet, Phillips has other tips.
Dont go cold turkey and cut out all meat entirely, especially if youre someone who eats a lot of meat.
If you eat meat every day and you try to stop altogether, its going to feel really stressful, Phillips says.
If it feels stressful, youre more likely to give up. Instead, be strategic with how often you eat plant proteins versus meat proteins. Try doing Meatless Monday, which is a popular eating pattern that, you guessed it, involves going meatless every Monday.
If you start small, like focusing on plant proteins one day a week, and then build up to two or three times a week, youre more likely to establish long-term habits.
Another thing to keep in mind is how processed your plant proteins are. If youre regularly eating things like veggie burgers and alternative meat options, thats going to be less sustainable than eating whole foods that have been minimally processed. Processing food takes energy and resources and often involves side ingredients like corn, Phillips says, which aren’t grown in a sustainable way.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is try out different plant proteins and different ways of incorporating them into your diet and find out what works best for you.
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Where Does Protein Come From
Protein is found in your food and in your body. Your body breaks down protein into amino acids. Your body uses the amino acids to build, repair and maintain your body. Protein can be from animal or plant sources. Amino acids are either:
Essential amino acids need to come from your food. Nonessential amino acids are made by your body from the foods you have eaten. Conditional amino acids are the ones you rely on when you are ill or injured.
Okay Im In Whats My First Step
Make your next meal a bean-based one! Adding beans and more plants to your diet has a whole host of protective effects for the heart, brain and bodynot to mention the earth and your budget. And remember, you dont have to give up animal protein to enjoy plant-protein they can co-exist beautifully in your diet together!
Protein Powder Oatmeal Overnight Oats And Yogurt
Each of these variations of sneaky protein powder snacks work similarly. Swirl in some of your favorite flavored or unflavored protein powder into your oatmeal, overnight oats, or yogurt to boost the protein content of each.
While oatmeal and yogurt already have a decent amount of protein and fiber in them, a scoop of protein powder can make them even more satisfying and long-lasting between meals.
The Benefits Of Eating A High
What kind of benefits are you looking at when you start your day with a protein-packed meal? For starters, protein is filling. As your body breaks down protein into amino acids, one of these amino acids triggers an increase in levels of the gut hormone peptide YY. This hormone then sends a signal to the brain that you’ve eaten your fill, enhancing satiety as well as promoting weight loss.
That’s not all. Protein also slows down the body’s absorption of carbohydrates, which helps keep blood sugar levels even-keeled. Not only does this reduce hunger, but it also wards off fat storage to help you get toned.
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Do I Need To Take Vitamin And Mineral Supplements
No, unless your doctor tells you differently. Your vitamin and mineral needs when you have cancer are the same as when you were healthy.
A regular dose multivitamin-mineral supplement may help if you cannot eat a variety of foods. Your doctor or dietitian may recommend a multivitamin-mineral supplement.
Big doses of vitamins and minerals can be harmful and are usually not recommended. Talk to your doctor, dietitian, or pharmacist about any vitamin and mineral supplements you are taking.
Eat Proteins Before Carbs
In this study, participants ate two identical meals on two separate days but changed the order in which they ate the proteins and carbs.
The researchers found that the participants glucose and post-meal insulin levels were lower when they had eaten the proteins first.
Research shows that protein has a satiating effect on appetite, helping people to feel fuller for longer. This is, in part, because protein decreases levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin.
A found that consuming 2530 g of protein at every meal can help regulate the appetite and facilitate weight management.
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