Protein is an essential macronutrient and an inevitable part of our diet. Protein makes up the building blocks of our organs, muscles, skin, and hormones. We need to grow, maintain and repair tissues. Studies indicate that eating protein can help lose weight and belly fat while increasing muscle mass and strength. Adequate protein intake is also associated with a reduced risk of metabolic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
As per health authorities, a sedentary person requires at least 0.8-1 gram of protein per kg body weight per day. However, it may increase with an increase in physical activity.
If you feel that meeting your daily protein need is a challenge, here are some quick and easy tips to overcome that.
Add nuts and nut butter to your diet.
Nuts are incredibly healthy. You can start your day with a handful of nuts like soaked almonds or walnuts. Peanut butter toast is an excellent option to satisfy mid-day meal cravings. One can also add nuts to salads, smoothies and shakes. Nut and nut butter are rich in proteins, good fats like MUFA, omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients like zinc, selenium, magnesium, niacin and calcium. One serving of peanut butter provides approx. 7-9 grams of proteins with significantly fewer carbs.
Include protein-rich food in every meal.
Instead of consuming a single protein-dense meal, split it across all the meals. Time taken by protein-rich foods to digest is longer than carbs and fats, and one may find a massive portion of protein difficult to digest at one go. Hence, it is better to divide and incorporate protein-rich foods in all meals, including snacks. It will help increase the intake with better absorption.
Have more curd/yoghurt.
Homemade curd or yoghurt are packed with proteins, calcium, and other nutrients. They are also rich in probiotics – good bacteria and vital for healthy gut functioning, immune health, digestion, and absorption. You can add chopped nuts and fruits in plain Greek yoghurt for a quick healthy snack.
Try protein shakes.
Protein shakes are a healthful and convenient way to deliver good-quality proteins to the body. Many protein powders are available with high protein content and an impressive amino acid profile. Whey protein is the most studied protein powder and is known to provide numerous health benefits. However, vegans or lactose intolerants can choose plant-based protein powders that are equally beneficial.
Prefer eggs over cereal.
If you have a habit of having breakfast cereal in the morning, try replacing that with eggs. Eggs are a complete protein source of high biological value. You can enjoy eggs in any form like boil, omelette or scramble as per your choice. Moreover, during breakfast, the intake of eggs has been shown to provide fullness and keep you satiated for long.
Add lentils and sprouts to your soups.
Adding lentils, seeds, sprouts to your salads and soups is a great way to enrich these dishes with protein. Adding lentils thickens the soup without impacting the taste and increases your protein intake. You can add sprouted legumes of green moong, black chana, lobia, rajma, horse gram, green peas or any legume. Adding sprouts is a simple, effortless and effective way to improve the amino acid profile of your meals.
Try legumes and lentils dosa.
If you are a dosa fan, replace rice or suji with legumes or lentil powder. You can add some chopped greens, onion, capsicum, green chillies and garlic to enhance the nutritional value.
Munch on roasted chickpeas and edamame.
Chickpeas and edamame are nutritious, plant-based, protein-rich foods. Just a handful of these roasted snacks are excellent whenever you feel like nibbling in-between meals.
Replace Mayonnaise with Hummus.
Hummus is made from chickpeas; it is full of proteins, vitamins and minerals. You can replace fattening mayonnaise with hummus as a spread to give a healthy twist to your homemade burgers, wraps and sandwiches.
Indulge in tofu or cottage cheese anytime.
Cottage cheese and tofu are very high in protein. Full-fat cottage cheese is a good source of CLA that promotes fat loss and improves body composition. Tofu is made from soybean – a complete plant-based protein suitable for all, including vegans. Tofu contains no cholesterol but has a high iron and calcium content. A small portion of tofu or cottage cheese makes a great snack between meals and can be added to salads or smoothies to bump up their protein contents.
To conclude, protein is a necessary macronutrient, and we must ensure that our diets do not lack it. Follow these simple tips to enjoy a protein-rich diet linked with numerous health benefits.