We have all read or heard about the amazing benefits of protein, but how many of us are actually getting enough?
The nutrition habits of today have long since changed. We are now creatures of convenience that are over-exposed to low-cost and low-nutrition, high-fat and high-sugar processed foods. This often means that many of us are left with nutritional deficiencies that act as a catalyst for several health problems.
What happens if you don’t eat enough protein?
We know that protein is essential for the creation and maintenance of every cell in our body. The regulation of our hormones, building and repairing of our bones, muscles, cartilage and skin, as well as providing us with an optimized immune system. But what actually happens if you don’t get enough of this super-macronutrient?
- You are prone to losing weight from muscle instead of excess fat
- You can consistently feel sluggish and fatigued
- You feel rundown or catch colds easily
- Your hair and nails are brittle
- You are prone to stress fractures and injuries
- You take longer to recover
- You struggle to regulate your mood
- Your body composition is off
This list of things that a low-protein diet can cause is not exhaustive but it paints a clear picture of why you should ensure that you eat enough protein daily!
How much protein do I need?
The current DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is around 0.8g of protein per 1kg of bodyweight. This is considered the minimum you need to prevent you from being labeled deficient. However, for a relatively active adult, this only equates to around 10% of their total daily calories (1). This figure is low and doesn’t take into account your age, muscle mass, current health, lifestyle and goals.
A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found diets that contained between 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight showed greater fat loss and muscle growth and muscle preservation than low protein diets (2).
6 Ways that you can increase your protein intake
1. Know your go-to protein sources
Knowing what you are eating is probably one of our most important tips when it comes to altering anything in your diet. Not only are we creatures of convenience, we are also creatures of habit. Creating a list of go-to protein sources will give you a massive head-start in changing your diet for the better.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Meat & Fish
Nuts & Seeds
2. Eat protein first and at every meal
Making protein a priority at every meal is one of the easiest ways to ensure you get close to hitting your intake needs. The protein you eat during a meal also prevents your post-meal blood sugar from spiking too high (3). High blood sugar leads to high insulin, increased fat storage and weight gain.
3. Add high protein toppings to your meals
This is one of the best protein-increasing hacks out there. Adding high protein toppings to our meals helps to keep meals interesting, keeps us feeling satisfied, and adds both flavor and texture. In addition, it is an easy way to squeeze in an extr
a 10-15grams of protein per day!
Try some of these toppings for your next meal:
Protein per serving:
Chia Seeds – 4.7g
Pumpkin Seeds – 5g
Sunflower Seeds – 6g
Almonds – 6g
Walnuts – 4g
4. Try higher protein substitutes
There are several food substitutes that will provide you with similar textures but a little extra protein. These food swaps are a great way to amp up your intake and keep your meals interesting.
Experiment with some of these food swaps:
- White rice to Quinoa
- White bread to Multi-grain bread
- Oat/Almond Milk to Soy Milk
- Plain Yogurt to Greek Yogurt
- Soft Cheese to Cottage Cheese
5. Choose higher protein snack options
If you love snacks (a bit like us) then including some high-protein options is a must!
This will help you switch out any bad habits of constantly snacking on low-nutritional foods and help you make more conscious choices by helping you feel fuller, lowering your cravings and giving you more sustained energy.
High protein snacks include:
- Boiled Eggs
- Canned Tuna with Cucumber
- Women’s Best Protein Bars
- Vegetable sticks with Peanut Butter or Hummus
- Mixed Nuts & Seeds
- Roasted Chickpeas
6. Add a protein shake
Protein shakes are one of our go-to options for easily and quickly increasing our protein intake. There are plenty of protein powder options, including; whey, egg, hemp, soy and pea. However, whey protein is one of the most studied and our choice favorite. On average one scoop (28g) of whey powder provides about 17grams of protein.
Women’s Best Iso Whey provides 25g of protein in just one scoop (30g).
Give this high Protein Smoothie Recipe a try:
8 Ounces – Plant Milk (Almond, Coconut, Soy)
1 scoop Women’s Best Iso Whey Chocolate
2 tbsp Peanut Butter (or alternative nut butter)
Add water to adjust thickness
We know firsthand how difficult it can be to keep track of your diet while life happens all around you. So, if there is only one tip you can take away from this article, it would be to know what your go-to protein sources are and ensure that you are able to include as many of them daily.
Remember, you are on a long-term health journey, and even making just one small change makes a huge impact later on down the line.
Have an awesome day!
Mike & Viv aka Mr and Mrs Muscle x Loved this article?
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1. How much protein do you need every day? (2022). Harvard Health Publishing. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-much-protein-do-you-need-every-day-201506188096 2. Leidy, H.J., Clifton, P.M., Astrup, A., Wycherley, T.P., Westerterp-Plantenga, M.S., Luscombe-Marsh, N.D., Woods, S.C. and Mattes, R.D. (2015). The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 101(6), pp.1320S1329S. 3. Mary C Gannon, Frank Q Nuttall, Asad Saeed, Kelly Jordan, Heidi Hoover, An increase in dietary protein improves the blood glucose response in persons with type 2 diabetes, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 78, Issue 4, October 2003, Pages 734–741, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/78.4.734