When it comes to nutrition, most people don’t have any issues taking in enough carbohydrates or fats in their diet. In fact, consuming a surplus from those two macronutrients is what causes people to gain weight. In this article, I want to help you add more protein to your daily nutrition so that you can not only potentially add some quality lean muscle mass, but you can also help burn more calories since protein has a greater thermic effect by nature due to it needing more energy to break down into a usable form by the body.
Here’s the catch, I’m going to lay out some UNUSUAL ways to add more protein to your daily nutrition plan. Of course, you could easily take in more whole foods such as chicken, eggs, and lean cuts of meat, but what fun is that? Ok, honestly, I’d consume more of those because I’m boring, but you can only consume so much before just looking at it makes you feel ill. So, here are some things you may not have thought about when it comes to increasing your protein intake.
1. Nuts and Seeds
Snacking can sometimes be difficult because people are used to consuming things like pretzels, chips, crackers, and other “vending machine” type products. Grabbing a handful of nuts or seeds is a great way to add more protein to your daily recommended intake while also taking in healthy fats.
Consider Brazilian nuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds to name a few. There is a caveat, however, and that is you need to eat them in their natural form. That means don’t purchase the ones that are flavored or honey-roasted (etc.).
2. Cottage Cheese
The second way for you to add more protein to your daily nutrition plan is to add cottage cheese into your nightly snack rotation. Cottage cheese is a good source of slow-digesting protein and can help you stay in an anabolic state even while asleep. The casein in the cottage cheese will slowly break down over several hours – supplying your muscles with the amino acids they need to properly recover from intense workouts.
3. Greek Yogurt
Many people eat Greek yogurt as a healthy snack option, but did you know you can use it to replace many ingredients in the foods we eat? For instance, if you have a recipe that calls for sour cream, buttermilk, mayonnaise, cream cheese, or even cottage cheese, you can substitute Greek yogurt in its place. This helps lower the overall calories, decreases the fat content, and helps you add more protein to the food.
It should go without saying but, you want to purchase the plain Greek yogurt – not the flavored or with fruit added. That will increase the sugars and carbohydrates and, in most cases, defeat the purpose of making the substitution.
If you’ve ever gone out to eat and decided to hit up a sushi restaurant, you’ve probably seen people consuming things that look like string beans. Those little green veggies are called edamame. Essentially, edamame is immature soybeans that are still in the pod. You may find them served with salt on top as well as without.
These green vegetables are a plant-based protein and can help you add more protein to your daily intake. These can be a side dish to just about any meal you put on your table. Even better, eat them as a healthy snack at night when you’re craving something salty.
5. Adding Protein Powder or RTD to Food
Right now, you’ve probably thought I lost my mind – and you may be right! However, when you see how simple it is to add more protein to your daily nutrition plan with this strategy you may just think I’m a genius. Here are a few of my favorite strategies…
The first way to add more protein to your daily intake is to add vanilla protein powder to your cereal. Yes, it’s that simple. Pour your milk into a bowl, add your vanilla protein powder, mix everything together, and then finish it off by adding your favorite cereal on top. You’ll never even know there was protein added.
Another way to do this is to simply use a vanilla RTD protein shake as a replacement to your milk (something like a vanilla Muscle Milk RTD). Dump your cereal in a bowl and then top if with your favorite vanilla RTD protein shake.
The next way you can add more protein to your daily intake is by adding protein powder to any of your baked goods. No one said you can’t have some treats, so why not make them healthier by adding protein? It’s a win-win.
Additionally, you can add any flavored protein powder to things like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt (like we mentioned above) to further increase the protein content as well as flavoring them.
Last, why not skip the creamer in your coffee and add a French vanilla or even a mocha-flavored protein powder in its place? Now you have a flavored and sweetened coffee without all of the extra sugars and fat.