Protein is an essential part of a balanced diet and has so many benefits. People often do not get enough protein on a daily basis and opt for foods high in carbohydrates and fats instead. If you are trying to lose weight or build muscle in the gym, a high-protein diet is essential for getting the most out of your workouts and seeing progress. However, there are plenty of creative ways you can up your protein intake without adding an excessive amount of meat into your meals. Here are some easy ways to add more protein to your everyday diet.
Opt For Plain Greek Yogurt Instead Of Regular Yogurt
Yogurt is one of the most vegetarian protein rich foods out there. However, regular yogurt, especially flavored yogurt, has a ton of extra ingredients that is not necessary and takes away some of that protein. Plain, unflavored Greek yogurt does not contain all of that sugar and is packed with around 20 grams of protein per serving. If you don’t like the slightly bitter taste of plain Greek yogurt, you can always add fruit, honey or granola to help add some healthy sugars to your protein packed Greek yogurt.
Choose Eggs Over Cereal
Cereal is a staple for most people’s morning routine. However, many cereals contain a ton of unnecessary sugar, fats and carbohydrates. Instead of reaching for your Frosted Flakes or Cinnamon Toast Crunch each morning, try scrambling up some eggs. Eggs are incredibly nutritious, packed with 7 grams of protein in only 70 calories per egg. Additionally, you can pair your eggs with additional vegetables or meats to help boost your morning vitamin and protein intake.
Add A Handful Of Nuts To Your Salad
Salads are known for being incredibly nutritious and typically low in calories, depending on what ingredients you include. If you want a simple way to add a bit of protein to your plant-based salad, try adding a handful of nuts, such as almonds or pecans. Not only does this add an additional flavor to your salad, but one serving of almonds contains 6 grams of protein, while a serving of pecans contain 3 grams of protein. Adding a few of these to the top of your salad will add a pinch of protein to your daily intake.
Choose Chickpea or Black Bean Pasta
If you are a huge pasta fan but want to find ways to increase your protein intake, opting for chickpea or black bean pasta is an excellent compromise. Both pastas have a very similar taste and texture to regular pasta, and with the right sauces and ingredients paired with it, it can be the perfect substitution. Black bean pasta can have up to 14 grams of protein per serving, while chickpea pasta has 13 grams of protein per serving. If you pair this pasta with vegetables and other high protein ingredients, you’ll create a perfect healthy balanced meal.
Add Lentils To Your Soup
Lentils are one of the most protein heavy plant based foods out there. Instead of adding in noodles or rice to your soup, try incorporating lentils to help make a bit more of a protein punch. You can also add lentil based pasta if you still want that pasta look and texture in your soup. One serving of lentils contains around 17 grams of protein, making them one of the best add-ins for any soup that you might be making.
Add Beans To Anything
If you’re looking to add a punch of protein to your salad, burrito or soup, throwing in a few black or pinto beans is an excellent way to do just that. Beans are incredibly nutritious and packed with vitamins and protein. Black beans pack 7 grams of protein per serving, while pinto beans provide you with 15 grams per serving. While beans might have a fairly bland flavor on their own, if you pair them with the right spices and herbs, they can compliment many comfort foods.
Choose Quinoa Over Rice Or Pasta
Just like with the black bean and chickpea pastas, there are more options you can choose from other than regular pasta to get your grains in while also adding a bit more protein to your diet. Quinoa is one of the healthiest grains out there and is often categorized as a superfood. Quinoa is packed with 4 grams of protein and is 72 percent water. This grain fits well in salads, bowls, burritos, soup, and so much more, making it the perfect substitute for regular, carb-heavy pasta.
Add Protein Powder To Your Recipes
One of the sneakier ways to add protein into your diet is by adding in some extra protein powder. This can be done with breakfast sweets, such as pancakes and waffles. It can also be added into smoothies, muffins, or anything you bake. Depending on which protein powder you use, you can add up to 25 grams of protein per serving. You can also add different flavored protein powders to help add or enhance the flavor of whatever food you’re making.
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 don’t 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.
There are many simple changes you can make to help you reach your daily protein intake goals, many of which can be just simple substitutions or additions to what you’re already eating. Hopefully this list of easy adjustments and changes can help you find fun and creative ways to increase your daily protein intake.
Lara Hill is a senior Public Relations major at Emerson College from Groton, Massachusetts. She has contributed to several college publications, holding multiple editing positions and focusing mainly on sports journalism. When she is not in class or writing, she loves to sail, watch sports with her friends and family, sing with her sisters, and play with her dog, Cassie.