One of the most common questions that we are asked is, “How can I get more protein?” and sometimes when we look at their protein intake, we are shocked. Many people are simply not getting enough protein. Read David’s article, “Protein Supplements” to discover how much protein you need every day. Regardless of the type of diet that you eat, you must get a full profile of amino acids. If you prefer to get your protein from plant sources, some of the commonly available sources for plant based, complete protein are soy, buckwheat and quinoa.
Without enough protein you may develop skin, hair and nail problems. You are at an increased risk for broken bones and infections and the infections may be more severe. You may have trouble controlling your appetite and overeat trying to get the nutrients that you need. Low protein intake is also associated with fatty liver disease and may slow growth in children. If you are interested in building more fat-burning muscle, you must eat enough protein to build it and without enough protein you may be more prone to fluid retention. (1) For serious health enthusiasts, especially strength trainers and body builders, less muscle and more fluid retention are not what we want. Get your protein.
A significant hindrance to adequate protein intake is convenience. Unfortunately, as David wrote in his recent article, Quit Shunning the Fat! , beginning in 1976, Americans have shied away from fats and erroneously added way too many simple carbs into our diet. As a result, there are thousands of quick, convenient, carbohydrate based convenience foods and Americans are quite likely to reach for those in a time crunch. With a little thought, you can break that habit and add protein to your day, a little at a time.
Nuts are an excellent source of quick protein. If portion control is a problem, buy pre-packaged, individual servings of your favorites. One ounce of almonds provides 6 grams of protein for 164 calories, 14 grams of healthy fat and only 2.6 grams of Net Carbs (6.1-3.5 grams of fiber). You can carry them with you anywhere. Just be careful to avoid those with added sugars. There are some that sound wonderful but if you read the label, you will find sugar. I stick with the ones that are roasted with sea salt alone.
Eggs are often overlooked for being the rich protein source that they are. People shunned eggs for years, believing that they were unhealthy. Modern science has debunked that myth. You can boil them the night before and store them in the fridge or even whisk up a couple in the morning. Nothing is any faster than a scrambled egg. They contain 6 grams of protein each for a paltry 78 calories. They are quite the nutrition bargain.
String cheese is everywhere these days. Apparently people are eating a lot of it if you look at the abundant supply in the grocery stores. One piece of Frigo Cheeseheads String Cheese has 6 grams of protein and 80 calories. I like to pair this with an apple so that the fiber in the apple binds with the protein in the cheese and it keeps me from being hungry a long time.
Tuna is so convenient these days! The portable foil packs are the ultimate solution to “What’s for lunch?” I carry those packs in my backpack all the time, “Just In Case”. Add mayo, an apple and some dill relish if you like, for a nutritionally dense lunch that will satisfy you for hours. If you like sweet pickle relish, just add a little Splenda or whatever 0 sugar sweetener you like to the relish. It works. One of these packs has 70 calories and a whopping 17 grams of protein. I usually eat two for a protein punch!
Full Fat PLAIN Greek Yogurt is a wonderful source of protein and fat-burning calcium. One cup of Cabot Greek Yogurt contains 310 calories and 16 grams of protein. I usually add to that protein with nuts. I like to add 0 sugar sweetener, nuts and Saigon cinnamon. It tastes like a Maple Nut Sundae. You can add whatever you like to this yogurt. The full-fat yogurt does not have that sour milk taste that is associated with yogurt. It’s neutral, so you can make it taste like whatever you like. I have been known to add Lemonade Flavor Crystal Light for a “Lemon Pie”. Experiment with whatever flavor combinations that appeal to you. Sometimes I add peanut butter powder and sweetener for a peanut butter pie. Explore!
Jerky is a great source of protein. Just be careful to avoid the ones with added sugars. It’s very high in protein, coming in at 9 grams per ounce. If you have trouble finding a 0 sugar variety, it’s pretty easy to make your own. David has published an excellent recipe for homemade jerky right here.
Pumpkin Seeds are one of my favorite foods. I like the kernels, no husks or shells for me please. One ounce has 180 calories and 11 grams of protein. Sometimes I add these to my yogurt instead of nuts.
I make protein shakes with unsweetened protein and 0 sugar sweetener and other add-ins. That is an option that you might like to explore. Choose whatever protein that appeals to you. I don’t like whey but you very well may like it a lot. It’s a rich source of good protein. I like pea or soy protein. Men, and some women with special health concerns, should avoid soy. Since it boosts estrogen, ask your doctor before using soy protein.
As you can see, there are many tasty options to sneak a little extra protein into your day. Meat, poultry, fish and seafood will always be your richest sources, but when those may not be readily available or convenient, reach for one of these or get creative! Read labels and seek out foods that you like that are rich in protein. You will be stronger for it.