How to Eat More Protein Every Day: 8 Easy Ways
Getting enough protein in your diet isn’t always easy. The average person needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, which amounts to around 58 grams per day for a 160-pound person. And if you’re working out regularly, you’ll need even more than that — athletes need about 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, depending on training. Luckily, there are a few simple swaps you can make to increase your protein intake without overhauling your entire diet. Here’s how to eat more protein every day — no complicated macro tracking necessary.
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1. Include Protein In Your Snacks
Think of snacks as an opportunity to fit in more protein. This can actually be quite simple — it just takes a little planning to make sure you have some healthy snacks on hand when you get hungry. Here are a few easy snack ideas that provide protein:
- hard-boiled eggs
- cottage cheese with fruit
- hummus and veggies
- an apple and nut butter
- roasted chickpeas
2. Swap Legume-Based Pasta for Regular Pasta
“Pasta” is practically synonymous with “carbs,” but legume-based pastas can offer up more protein than you’ll find in regular wheat pasta. Banza Chickpea Pasta, for example, provides 14 grams of protein per serving (2 ounces of dry pasta), compared to around 9 grams of protein in the same amount of regular pasta. “Chickpea pasta is also rich in fiber,” says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, virtual plant-based performance nutritionist.
3. Drink Your Proteins
Keeping protein powder on hand is an easy way to add more protein to your diet. There are tons of options available, from whey protein to plant-based protein sources like pea, soy, pumpkin, chia and flax. One to try: Openfit’s Plant-Based Protein Shake, which provides 20 grams of pea protein per serving, along with 7 grams of fiber. Mix it into this peanut butter banana protein shake recipe for a quick and easy breakfast.
4. Use Higher-Protein Whole Grains
Whole grains provide carbohydrates and fiber, of course, but certain grains can also help you reach your protein goals for the day. Here are a few to try:
- Teff (10 grams per cup, cooked)
- Spelt (11 grams per cup, cooked)
- Amaranth (9 grams per cup, cooked)
- Kamut (10 grams per cup, cooked)
- Quinoa (8 grams per cup, cooked)
By comparison, brown rice and oatmeal have 5 grams of protein per cup. (Both are still healthy options — they just provide less protein per serving.) These whole grain sources of protein can be added to salads or buddha bowls, used in place of rice for stir fry recipes, and added to soups, stews, and veggie chili, Sass says.
5. Use Soy-Based or Pea-Based Milk Alternatives
Dairy-free milk alternatives are a great option if you’re following a plant-based diet, or if you have a lactose allergy or intolerance. But not all milk alternatives provide as much protein as dairy does. A cup of skim milk has 8 grams of protein, but oat milk has 3 grams and almond milk has just one gram. Soy milk, on the other hand, has about 7 grams of protein per cup, and pea milk provides about 8 grams of protein per cup.
6. Think Beyond a Smoothie
Adding protein powder to your smoothie is an obvious play, but there are so many other ways to sneak it in. “At breakfast, you can add it to oatmeal, overnight oats, or acai bowls, blend into pancake batter, breakfast cookies and other baked goods, or incorporate into energy balls,” suggests Sass. Unflavored protein powder can also be used in savory dishes like soups, salad dressings, or bread recipes.
7. Eat the Entire Egg
Did you know that about half of the protein found in a whole egg comes from the egg yolk? Yolks sometimes get a bad rap, but in moderation, they can definitely be part of a balanced diet. Bonus: Many of the nutrients in eggs are in the yolk, including choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
8. Make Friends With Beans and Pulses
“Beans and their pulse counterparts — lentils, peas, and chickpeas — may be the most underrated superfoods on the planet,” Sass says. They’re one of the best lean protein sources out there — lentils, black beans, and chickpeas all provide 16 grams of protein per cup. Pulses are also an excellent source of fiber per cup and provide nutrients like folate, potassium, and iron.