Protein is an essential component of our diet as it has many functional roles in the body. Social media might make you think that protein is mainly needed for building muscle mass, however, ultimately, we need protein to build new cells in the body. This is how we grow muscle, skin, bone and hair cells (just to name a few). Protein is also responsible for speeding up chemical reactions in your body, like digesting food and moving oxygen through your blood. It also plays a critical role in your immune system.
The bottom line is that without protein, your body couldn’t do what it’s supposed to!
WHAT FOODS CONTAIN PROTEIN?
Here are some common high protein foods.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN DO I NEED?
An average, healthy adult requires roughly 1g of protein per kg of body weight per day. Meaning someone weighing 70kg needs around 70g of protein per day. Active people might need even more, say around 1.5g of protein per kg of body weight.
The key goal to keep in mind when it comes to protein intake is to try and spread it evenly throughout the day. This will help boost protein absorption throughout the day. Aim to include some protein-rich foods at all meals and snacks.
5 TIPS TO INCREASE YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE
- Pump up protein at breakfast
Starting your day with a high protein breakfast sets the tone for a day of healthy eating. Not only does a protein-rich morning meal regulate blood sugar levels and keep you satiated for longer, but it also boosts your metabolic rate. Opt for protein-packed breakfast options such as eggs, dairy products (e.g., yogurt, milk, cheese), fish (e.g. smoked salmon), or a nutritious protein shake. These choices will provide you with sustained energy to tackle the day ahead.
2. Eat protein-packed snacks
Choosing protein-rich snacks can help curb hunger between meals and prevent overeating during lunch or dinner. Keep convenient and healthy protein snacks on hand, such as yoghurt, hard-boiled eggs, mixed nuts, or protein bars. These portable options make it easy to stay on track with your protein goals while satisfying your taste buds.
3. Prep protein foods ahead of time
Meal preparation is a powerful strategy for maintaining a balanced diet and it’s especially helpful for increasing your protein intake. Spend some time each week pre-cooking protein sources like grilled chicken, turkey, boiled eggs or lean beef. Portion them out and store them in the refrigerator for quick and easy additions to salads, wraps, or stir-fries.
4. Stock your kitchen with no cook protein foods
On busy days when cooking seems daunting, having a selection of no-cook protein options in your pantry can be a lifesaver. Keep foods like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, edamame, nuts, seeds, nut butter, canned legumes, and canned tuna or salmon readily available. These items can be combined to create delicious and nutritious meals or snacks in a matter of minutes.
5. Consider a protein powder
While whole foods should be the foundation of your protein intake, protein powder can be a convenient supplement. It’s particularly useful for providing an extra protein boost after workouts, aiding muscle repair and recovery. Protein smoothies can be a great way to bump up your protein intake for the day!