There are many reasons why a high-protein diet can be desirable. From speeding recovery to aiding muscle growth, protein benefits the body in a wealth of ways. It can also help you to get leaner by warding off hunger and promoting satiety. Every cell in your body needs protein to function optimally, for this nutrient plays a key role in hormone production, muscle repair and athletic performance. It also increases collagen synthesis, leading to stronger bones and joints.
The amount of protein you need on a daily basis depends on your weight, activity level and fitness goals, but many gym-goers aim for 1.5 to 2 grams per kilo of bodyweight. If you’re looking to up your protein intake, the good news is it doesn’t call for grilling a dozen chicken breasts and carrying tupperware tubs everywhere you go. Here are five easy ways to increase your protein consumption and build a better body.
Have protein with every meal
Start by aiming to eat some form of protein with every meal. Fill at least a quarter of your plate with a protein-rich food such as tuna, salmon, chicken, lean meat, eggs or cottage cheese. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, opt for chickpeas, lentils, soy, black beans, tofu and quinoa. Leafy greens also contain protein, but in smaller amounts.
Snack on nuts and seeds
Cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios and nut butter are chock full of protein and healthy fats. They also have a high calorie content though so keep your portions in check. If you’re feeling industrious, you can even make your own nut butter and trail mix. Seeds are another great choice too; a handful of pumpkin seeds for instance has more than 12 grams of protein along with generous quantities of zinc, iron, magnesium, dietary fibre and omega-3s.
Drink protein shakes
Protein shakes are extremely convenient, fuelling your body with easily digestible protein that gets straight to work. For optimum results, choose a quality protein supplement such as Health Whey. In addition to 20 grams of premium protein per serving, it’s rich in amino acids, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D and fibre.
Cut the carbs at breakfast
Another simple way of getting more protein into your diet is to replace breakfast staples with eggs, Greek yoghurt, nuts, low fat cheese, ham and pulses. There are 17 grams of protein in a 170 gram serving of Greek yogurt, so you’ll start the day with your protein levels already topped up. If you’re not a big fan of yoghurt, mix eggs with cheese and vegetables to make a delicious, protein-rich omelette. Alternatively, grab a slice of whole grain toast and serve it with salmon and spinach for a quick high-protein breakfast.
Supercharge your smoothies
Add hemp seeds, flax seeds, ground hazelnuts, almonds or whey protein to your smoothies to increase their protein content. Hemp seeds boast over 31 grams of protein per 100 grams, while the same quantity of flax seeds provides 18 grams of protein and large doses of fibre and essential fats. These foods increase satiety, fuel your muscles and raise your metabolism, so you’ll burn calories around the clock.
By ingesting moderate quantities of protein throughout the day, you’ll easily meet your macros before night falls. Whether you’re a hardcore bodybuilder or a weekend warrior, protein is essential. Make sure you get yours.