15 easy ways to add more protein to your day | plmubl.com

15 easy ways to add more protein to your day

Wondering how to add more protein to your diet? We’ve got you. It’s not exactly a secret that protein is kind of a big deal: It’s literally the building block for your body, since it contains chains of amino acids that support everything from your muscles and immune system to your skin and hair.

What you might not realise, though, is that you can’t simply pound down one protein-rich meal and call it a day. Spacing it out is going to be the better choice, says Nicole Addison, RD, of Nourished by Nic. There are a couple reasons for this: For one, protein breaks down slower than some other nutrients, so including protein at every meal will make sure you aren’t leaving the table hungry. Going this route also encourages more stable blood sugar, which contributes greatly to sustaining energy levels all day long.

Experts generally recommend 15 to 20 grams per meal, but let’s be real—for some (looking at you, breakfast) that can be difficult to achieve. So we’ve compiled a whole list of ways to work toward eating just a little bit more throughout the day, so you don’t have to depend on one dish, like dinner, to get you to your total.

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1. Use some creative tricks to beef up your oatmeal

Eating enough protein at breakfast is especially important because it sets your body up for better blood sugar regulation throughout the day says Rhyan Geiger, RDN, dietitian and founder of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian. But lots of morning staples actually fall short on the nutrient—and oatmeal in particular tends to be a little lacking. Fortunately, it’s easy to boost the protein in a bowl of oats, because the grain’s neutral flavour makes it amenable to all kinds of ingredients.

You could whisk in an egg white or two while cooking to give a fluffy, meringue-like texture and a few extra grams of the oh so important macronutrient. Or you could simply cook it with milk instead of water; if you use just over 200ml, that’s eight extra grams right there. Even using a can of beans with the breakfast classic won’t greatly alter the classic taste you already know and love, but it will make sure it satisfies you until lunch. Both white beans and chickpeas have neutral flavours that meld well with oats, and mashing them up beforehand will make their texture almost completely unnoticeable.

2. Take avocado toast to the next level

Yes, it’s quick and easy to make, but if you eat it alone, it doesn’t deliver quite enough protein to keep the rumbles at bay, Geiger says. That’s why, when she’s mashing everything up, she likes to add other protein-rich ingredients to guarantee her needs are met. Some of her favourites include edamame, white beans, and green peas, all of which are shelf-stable or freezer-friendly and can easily boost avocado toast’s protein count by at least a few extra grams.

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To add a tangy, rich taste to the smooth avocado, you can also throw a scoop of cottage cheese in with it when you’re mixing it all up, Addison says. If you add just half a cup, that’s 11 grams more of protein—plus some more creaminess to boot.

3. Add a dollop of yogurt to your scrambled eggs

Eggs on their own have a decent amount of protein—roughly six grams in each—but you might not quite get the satisfaction you need from only eating one or two, says Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, of Street Smart Nutrition. A quick fix for scrambled eggs? Add a few spoonfuls of yogurt while you whisk for one or two more grams of protein. That might not seem like a lot, but lots of little additions will tally up in a big way at the end of the day. Bonus: The extra ingredient will also make the curds fluffier and more flavourful.

4. Keep protein-rich seeds on hand

Seeds are such a practical source of protein: They’re small and easy to store, shelf stable, and don’t add a huge burst of flavour, so you can pretty much put them on anything, Addison says. Not to mention, they’re also rich in fibre and healthy fats, two other nutrients that contribute to satiety. In particular, she’s a big fan of hemp seeds because they contain a little more than three grams of protein per one tablespoon, and they’ll give an irresistible crunch to anything from breakfast cereal to pasta. Pumpkin, chia, and sunflower seeds all also deliver the goods and taste great on tons of things like soups, salads, and more.

5. Put an egg on it

And by “it,” we mean pretty much anything. Throwing a quick fried or hard-boiled egg—that’s six grams of protein—on top of a salad, soup, rice bowl pasta, or pretty much anything else you can think of will tip the scale with little to no extra effort, Harbstreet says. You can buy the premade hard-boiled ones in the store, meal-prep a whole batch so you can grab and go, or fry up your own in just two to three minutes or so.

6. Try a different drink

One of the easiest ways to add more protein to your diet is to rethink what you drink, says Harbstreet. Of course there’s nothing wrong with water, but swapping H2O for a cup of a dairy-based beverage like milk or kefir, or even fortified nut milks, will give you between eight and nine extra grams of the stuff in one fell swoop.

And if you’re making a smoothie, you’ll definitely want to give your base a little extra consideration. If you normally add oat milk, try a dairy-free alternative with more protein like soy milk instead.

7. Add lentils to your ground beef

Addison loves adding lentils to any recipes that include ground meat because they mimic its taste and texture—and help her eat more fibre at the same time. You don’t even have to cut the amount of meat in your recipe. Just add a cup of lentils to the mix, and enjoy the extra benefits. She recommends trying this trick anywhere you’d normally only use ground beef, so in things like pasta bolognese, shepherd’s pie, and even meatballs.

8. Don’t sleep on tinned fish

In case you haven’t already heard, tinned fish is on the upswing. Yes, it’s thanks in part to its image makeover—so many trendy TikToks—but also to the fact that it’s finally being recognised as an excellent source of protein. Harbstreet says she’s been recommending it to clients for years as a way to infuse everything from salads to pasta with that much more protein. A three-ounce can of tuna, for instance, will pack in 22 more grams.

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And the nice thing is, because canned fish is shelf-stable, you can pack it with you for on-the-go meal-making. Don’t have time to grill a piece of chicken for your salad lunch? Take a can of salmon or tuna (or whatever you prefer) and add it to your meal right at your desk, she says.

9. When in doubt, sprinkle on the cheese

There’s never a wrong reason to finish your meal with cheese, but the protein add you’ll get is a particularly solid one. All it takes is a few more sprinkles of Parmesan than normal to your pasta or an extra cube of cheddar to add one to four more grams of protein to a salad.

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10. Fill your freezer with precooked meats

If you struggle to use up things like chicken and beef before they go bad, you’re not alone. Harbstreet says it’s much easier to be able to rely on animal proteins if they don’t have a ticking clock attached to them, which is why she recommends opting for frozen versions instead. Even more convenient? If they’re already pre-cooked. That way, you literally just have to warm them up to enjoy—no need to worry about whether or not your chicken is fully cooked. Throw a few slices into a stir-fry, pasta sauce, or soup and enjoy in no extra time.

11. Keep a bag of peas in the freezer for fried rice and beyond

You probably already have one in there, but chances are, it’s been neglected in the back for way too long. Well, put it to good use, because half a cup of these little green guys offers about four extra grams of protein, Geiger says. Adding them to fried rice is classic, but they’ll also be right at home in creamy pasta dishes and even salads.

12. Swap mayo for yogurt or cottage cheese (or both)

Mayonnaise is one of the most beloved ways to add moisture and creaminess to sandwiches and salad dressings. But Addison says you’ll get roughly the same effect and a few more grams of protein by using an alternative like yogurt or cottage cheese instead. If you wouldn’t dream of skipping mayo, consider combining it with one of those two higher protein options to get a little more oomph from your sauce.

13. Eat cookies with milk—or another dairy-based treat

While you definitely don’t have to add protein to a dessert for it to be worth enjoying, it definitely doesn’t hurt if you do. One super-easy way to do this? Eat your cookies alongside a dairy-based addition. That could be milk, but Addison recommends a side of Greek yogurt for something a little more exciting (and surprising). She likes to drizzle it with honey and cinnamon and dip her cookies right in, but you could even crush the cookies directly into the mix for a decadent parfait.

14. Make a cheesecake with silken tofu

As a vegan, Geiger is always on the lookout to recreate classic desserts in a plant-based way. Silken tofu helps her achieve an uncanny dairy-free cheesecake recipe, and this substitute also happens to deliver a not-so-insignificant amount of protein. All in all, adding one block of the stuff will leave you with a cake with 20 grams of protein total, equalling out to about a couple grams of the stuff in each slice—and that doesn’t even include any protein you might be getting from nuts in the crust.

15. Bake with a different kind of flour

Making a dessert richer in protein is as simple as swapping traditional flour for a higher-protein alternative in baked goods, like almond or cashew flour, Harbstreet says. When using this approach, try to find recipes that already instruct you to use an alternative flour. Making a one-to-one swap in a recipe that doesn’t might mess with the texture and appearance of the final product, and the last thing you want is a cake that doesn’t rise. For an even bigger boost, add some peanut butter powder too, which will bring some nuance, PB goodness, and even more protein to your baked goods.

This feature originally appeared on SELF.

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