10 Simple Ways to Increase Your Protein Intake
Increasing your protein intake is something that most people could benefit from, there isn’t really an upper limit to how much protein that you can eat, so long as you stay within your calorie target you’ll be fine. But most experts agree that at least 1g of protein per kg of bodyweight is ideal, if you are thinking about getting into bodybuilding or are trying to get better at a sport then you might want even more (2g of protein per kg body weight).
But getting your protein intake up can be surprisingly difficult if you’ve never consciously done it before. In this article we are going to look at ten ways that you can easily increase your daily protein intake.
Tip #1. Increase Protein at Breakfast and Lunch
Most people tend to have the majority of their protein at dinner time, this is how it has been since our grandparents ate. Breakfast and lunch tend to be very low protein, if you start to concentrate on increasing protein at breakfast you’ll find your daily protein increase dramatically (same with lunch).
Tip #2. Drink Casein Protein Before Bed
There are two reasons why you should consider drinking a Casein protein shake before bed. 1) It will increase your protein for the day as a single serving can contain between 20-25g. 2) Studies have shown that Casein protein is effective at repairing and rebuilding muscle fibres after a workout, particularly when taken pre-bed.
Tip #3. Have a Post Workout Protein Shake
You might have heard about the anabolic window, and while it does exist it isn’t as short as the 30-60 minute time period that some bodybuilders will have you believe. The idea is that you need to take protein after a workout to help your muscles grow, without protein they will shrivel up and die. This is not exactly true (the time frame can be influenced by a lot of things but seems to last around 4-8 hours) but it is still a great time to take a protein shake.
The reason? It’s habit forming. If you take a 25g protein shake after every workout and you workout out 4 times per week that’s 100g extra protein per week. We are more likely to succeed in a task that is easy to repeat and habit forming, so get into this one quickly.
Additional to your protein shake, supplementing with a post-workout recovery drink will not only improve recovery, hydration, endurance, and more but most importantly will improve the uptake your body has of protein and increase protein production allowing your body to utilize protein and build the maximum amount of muscle possible.
Tip #4. Replace Low Protein Snacks With High Protein Snacks
If you find that you are eating a lot of snacks during the day then instead of removing them completely (something that never works long term) you could attempt to find snacks that are higher in protein. Replacing your low protein candy bar with a protein bar (which you can find on any supplement website) is a great step forward.
Tip #5. Buy Frozen Meat in Bulk
Buying frozen is still looked down upon by many people and it is unclear why this is, you don’t damage food by freezing it nor do you make it unhealthier. In fact frozen vegetables are more healthy than non frozen because they are fresher. They were frozen immediately after being picked which prevents them from degrading.
Frozen meat is usually cheaper to buy and provided you have a big enough freezer you can store a lot of it, so wait for your local grocery shop to have a deal on. Alternatively, this also works with fresh meat. Buy a lot of it when it’s on deal and then store it for the future. This way you can increase protein easily without breaking the bank.
Tip #6. Track Your Calories
If you don’t know how much protein you are already eating then how do you know when you’re not eating enough? Also, how can you tell if you’re eating more than you were. Tracking calories is an easy way to measure how much protein you are eating and to help you plan out how to eat more. It is also a great way to minimize the bad foods that you may be consuming throughout the day. Find an online calculator and get tracking.
Tip #7. Make Your Own Protein Desserts
There are many ways to add protein to baked goods such as flapjacks, brownies, muffins, and yoghurts. You can find a lot of recipes online and while not all of them are healthy they are a great replacement for non-healthy desserts.
Tip #8. Read Food Labels
Because we are all now aware of the importance of protein, the marketing companies have also become aware of using protein to sell their products. These days you’ll see the words “a source of protein” on a lot of food and drink itmes. But before you buy them, actually check 1) how much protein is actually in a serving (0.1g is still technically a source of protein) and 2) how much fat and carbohydrates there are.
Peanut butter is a great example of this because technically it is quite high in protein, but if you look at the label it is a lot higher in fat (protein is 4 cals per gram fat is 9 cals). So a 100g serving of peanut butter contains 100 calories worth of protein and 450 calories worth of fat. So it is more of a fat source than a protein source.
Tip #9. Add Lentils and Beans to your Meals
Not everyone eats meat, and even meat eaters could benefit from some non-meat and non-dairy protein sources. Beans and lentils are full of vitamins and minerals but are also quite high in protein. Adding them to meals such as chilli or curries is an excellent way to boost your protein.
Tip #10. Try Some of the High Protein Alternative Foods
As we mentioned earlier, the food and drink industry has woken up to the public’s new interest in protein. Because of this they are constantly inventing new higher-protein versions of regular food. There’s high protein bread, high protein water, high protein cheese, and many more.
There’s nothing wrong with these products (though sometimes adding protein can affect the consistency) and can be an easy way to increase your daily protein while not making too many changes to your diet.