Protein provides so many benefits. It increases satiety (that "I'm full" feeling) and decreases hunger, helping you to not overeat. Protein is used to make essential enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. It is also a building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
As a holistic health coach and personal trainer, I'm often asked how to increase protein intake during the day. Why? For ALL of the reasons above–it helps us achieve that feel good feeling! It helps our bodies and minds do a lot more than curb snack attacks and increase muscle mass. So, here are my top three favorite ways to add protein daily.
1. Start with Protein
When you plan your meal or snack, always start with a healthy protein, then surround it with the rest of your meal. Doing this will ensure you max out all of the benefits of protein and lessen the chances of not getting enough–and it makes it easier to remember. Some healthy protein choices are fish/seafood, lean meats (pork tenderloin, white poultry (skinless), legumes (beans, peas, & lentils), nuts, seeds, whole grains (quinoa, whole wheat pasta, wild rice, oatmeal), egg whites, tofu, some dairy (milk, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese), protein powders, and plenty of plants! I love to start my day off with my high-protein oatmeal recipe.
TIP: Weigh or measure your proteins after cooking to make sure you have enough of the recommended serving.
2. Eat More Plants
When you think protein, think plants, and surround your main protein with them. Many plants and vegetables have high protein levels and include nutrients that other high-protein foods do not. Such as fiber that keeps you full and supports your healthy gut (see 5 Ways to Support Gut Health), as well as antioxidants and polyphenols. Topping this list are soybean-based foods. They have more protein than most plants with 10-19 grams per 3.5 ounces1. To include them try adding tofu, tempeh (a probiotic also!), soybean sprouts, or edamame (immature soybeans) to a salad, stir fry, or quinoa bowl. Other great plant-based, high-protein foods are beans (lentils, chickpeas, large white beans, split peas, pinto beans), ancient grains (spelt, teff, barley, sorghum, farro), seeds (hempseed, chia, flaxseed, pumpkin), nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts), and leafy green vegetables (spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale).
TIP: Always have a healthy snack available when you are away from home or traveling. Here is my favorite protein bar recipe I often take with me on the go.
3. Add Protein Powder
An easy and quick way to increase daily protein is to add protein powder to your day but, make sure it is clean by reading the nutrition label. Many powders use marketing tricks or contain hidden ingredients, such as added sugars, artificial sweeteners, or unnatural preservatives. These additives can create bloating, discomfort, cramps, or other issues. Most of which can be avoided by using a clean, plant-based protein powder. Pea protein powder is one of the best because it is a complete plant protein, containing all nine essential amino acids our bodies need. My go-to pea protein powder is definitely Nuzest®. It is 100% vegan, easy to digest, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, low-carb, free of brown rice, and low in allergens. It is one of the only powders my sensitive stomach can handle and what I use in my protein hot chocolate recipe. The good news is that as an ambassador, I get to offer you a discount on Nuzest products! Enter my promo code ERICAJADE15 during checkout on Nuzest.com to receive an 15% OFF your order. Or click here to shop their site.
TIP: Add the Just Natural Unflavored Nuzest protein powder to recipes for added protein without altering the recipe's flavors.
PROTEIN BOOST: Try adding high-quality collagen peptides–in addition to pea protein–to boost your protein even more. Find my favorites on my Amazon page, Erica Jade's Top Picks.