When you’re trying to eat healthier or to lose weight, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to add protein to your diet. I know some of you aren’t quite sure about what a good quality protein is and how to add it into each meal, so I’m sharing 5 simple ways to add protein to your diet (and a list of the good stuff) that helps me.
5 simple ways to add protein to your diet
1.Add a good source of protein to each meal: every single meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) should always include a healthy (lean, non processed) protein (see list below). Protein will help you stay full longer and it builds and repairs tissue. I batch cook this recipe for Homemade Chicken Strips, then I freeze them. They are super quick to reheat and you can chop them into a salad, fill a wrap or snack on them.
2.Include protein fortified foods: if you’re a cereal lover, you can buy an assortment of cereal type foods that have a higher protein content than regular types. Brands are now adding extra protein to their flakes and bars. This is a good choice for the kids when they refuse to eat eggs or yogurt in the morning..
3.Protein powder drinks: adding a scoop of good quality protein powder to your smoothie can really boost your protein intake. Although, food is always the best way to get your nutrition, protein powder does have an important role when you can’t get enough otherwise. Keep in mind, kids have different needs and whipping up a batch of these Healthy Strawberry Smoothies will provide your littles with enough protein (without powder).
4.Eggs: keep hard-boiled eggs handy for snacks. They are the perfect whole food with lots of good protein and easy to pack up for lunches. I’m a fan of eggs for lunch and dinner too. Try an omelette with a salad for dinner. There’s so many delicious ways to serve up eggs.
5.Replace the dips: when you’re serving raw veggies as a snack, do away with the high fat dips and replace them with a protein replacement. Try different varieties of hummus (I love the red pepper flavour!) or make your own dip using plain Greek yogurt (add a little dill, garlic powder). If you’re a nut butter lover, try apples dipped in almond butter.
So now that you know 5 simple ways to add protein to your diet, you may be wondering what is good to eat for protein. I believe that whole food protein should always be first choice, unless you’re stuck and can’t get the whole option.
Here’s the good stuff:
- Lean meats: chicken, beef, turkey and fish (that means one ingredient on the label).
- Greek yogurt: used in smoothies, parfaits or for making dips or recipes.
- Cheese: such as cottage cheese is higher in protein than some cheeses.
- Eggs: snacks, recipes (pancakes, salads),anywhere, anytime.
- Quinoa: yes, it’s a complete protein and can be used in place of any grain.
- Nuts and nut butter: the non-sugar type is best.
- Beans: baking beans, pinto beans, kidney beans.
- Tofu (soy): vegan sources of protein
And here’s the bad stuff:
Not all protein is created equal. Don’t kid yourself if you’re filling your plate with processed meats and thinking it’s healthy. The following is a list of processed protein that should be avoided or used very sparingly. They are full of chemicals, fats and fillers. Meaning you don’t get enough nutrients from them and they contribute to health problems if eaten too often.
- Processed meats: bacon, sausages, wieners, ham, smoked meats, jerky, salami, pepperoni, corned beef, canned meats and luncheon meat (deli slices).
- Processed cheese: slices or from a jar. It’s not cheese, it’s sodium and fillers. Stick to the real stuff.
- Processed vegetarian/vegan foods: there’s plenty of processed “healthier than meat” options so read your labels.
Rule of thumb: eat protein that is a whole food and real. Always read the labels and if there’s anything you have no clue what it is, leave it there.
Vegetarian protein is every bit as healthy as animal protein. You can jazz up a bowl of quinoa with veggies and feta and have a super protein packed meal. Beans are one of the best sources of protein and fiber. Adding them to soups, salads and wraps if you’re not a big fan of them helps you lean into it.
If you’re a newbie and are a little lost about what you fill your grocery cart with, then I have something just for you! Download and print this quick reference guide.
That’s a beginner’s guide to adding protein to your diet. If you have any questions, please drop them in the comment section below and I’ll be happy to help you out.
Do you have any ideas you can add to getting protein into your diet? I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment below.