Proteins are the building blocks of our bodies, and you need them more than other nutrients. Well, at least when trying to build muscle and maintain a healthy weight. But protein intake can be tricky, especially when you have little time to spare. Taking too little can be harmful as you will not have enough fuel to help your muscles recover. Too much may not be as adverse as sugar or fat, but it can be money and food waste.
Your ultimate goal is to ensure you have enough to keep you going and growing without going overboard. Whether you are trying to increase your muscle mass or maintain a healthy weight, here are five ways to improve your protein intake in a day.
1. Cut Down on Your Carbs
Carbohydrates give you energy faster, and many people go for it most of the time. For instance, after a strenuous workout, people may opt for tea, coke, or some noodles for a faster recovery. These foods give you readily available sugars (simple carbs) with calories to keep you energized. However, they do not provide protein and long-term energy. You will soon feel empty when the blood sugar drops.
When eating foods rich in carbs, you may have little space to consume proteins. As such, you will be on the deficit side. Try to reduce the carbohydrates and add the plate with more protein-rich foods, like lean meats, eggs, soy and dairy products. Sustainable protein like soy helps you grow healthy while keeping the environment safe. Also, proteins provide energy for a longer span.
2. Snack on Nuts
Everyone loves biting on something while going through that mid-morning or late-afternoon slump. However, snacking on unhealthy foods can lead to unwanted weight gain and fatigue within no time. Instead of candy, cookies, and chips, try a handful of nuts. Almonds, peanuts, pistachios, and cashews are excellent for this purpose as they carry healthy fats and proteins. You will also find some essential minerals like magnesium, zinc, and iron in them.
For those who like sweetness in their snacks, you can always add dried fruits to your nut mix for a healthy combination. This snack is filling and will also give you all the necessary proteins. For drinks, try soy milk, which has about the same protein as cow milk – with all the amino acids.
3. Eggs for Breakfast
Most people often forget proteins in their breakfast. Cereals, bread, and oatmeal are excellent but do not provide enough proteins. To make up for the deficit, you can opt for eggs to give you that. They are also rich in other essential vitamins, including B-12 and Vitamin D. Egg yolk is a source of iron, and its fatty acids are the beneficial building blocks of hormones.
Another advantage of adding eggs to your breakfast is that they make you full more than bread. You can go for hours without feeling hungry. Try substitutes like tofu if you are allergic, but add some healthy fats like olive oil.
4. Include Lean Meats
Red meat is a source of iron and proteins. Beef also contains more B vitamins and zinc than other foods. Adding it to your diet means you will have proteins and a healthy metabolism. Plus, you can get selenium, which is beneficial against cancer. Red meat can replace most diets, but you should also take other cuts of meat, such as pork and chicken.
However, when purchasing meat, ensure you order from a grass-fed, organically-raised farm. This way, you will be sure that the animal did not receive hormones or antibiotics. Also, naturally raised animals will have more benefits for your body. You can also buy whole chickens and cut them yourself to save some cash. Avoid canned meats, fatty products, and processed foods if possible.
5. Embrace Cheese, Yogurt, and Dairy Products
Cheese has one of the best combinations of proteins, minerals, and vitamins to give you enough energy. It is also an excellent source of calcium, which plays a role in various body functions. When selecting cheese for your diet, go for the low-fat versions, such as Swiss and goat milk cheese. Also, try to consume whole milk yogurt instead of processed ones.
Other dairy products like milk, kefir, and buttermilk are excellent sources of proteins. They also have several vitamins and minerals that make them an essential part of a diet. Cream and sour milk are also beneficial sources of protein with vitamin A, calcium, and phosphorus. Dairy products also improve the digestive system since they contain probiotics.
Proteins are essential in the diet for various functions. They help you grow stronger, improve your metabolism, reduce fat, and maintain your muscles. The best way to get enough proteins is by including healthy sources in your meals. Start with a protein-rich, healthy breakfast, and you will not consume calorie-rich and sugary snacks throughout the day. Add lean meats, nuts, dairy, and eggs to most meals. All these will give you enough proteins with no adverse effects. But ensure that you get enough carbohydrates and fats to prevent nutritional imbalances.