Protein. The literal building block of muscles. Yet, it’s so much more than that. Protein, one of the body’s three macronutrients, is required for many of your body’s physiological and metabolic processes including:
- Cellular and tissue repair
- Muscle growth
- Nutrient Transport
Due to its importance, it’s necessary to get a sufficient amount daily. How much is sufficient? Well, the RDA would tell you 0.8g per kilogram of body weight (0.4/1.1 lbs). However, that’s for a sedentary population and is what’s needed for normal, basic function.
If you are an athlete of any kind, it is recommended that you should increase your protein to 1.4-2.2g/kg (.7-1.1g/lb)1. This higher intake is necessary to support your body’s system and repair your muscles from your training’s added stress.
This can be a lot more than some are used to eating. Below are 6 easy changes you can make in your daily life to ensure adequate protein intake.
IMPROVE YOUR MILK GAME
Milk. It Does Your Body Good. Perhaps the only ad campaign that didn’t lie to you was the dairy campaign. I would even say milk does your body great. Making milk a daily part of your diet is a must due it’s numerous health benefits.
However, what we are concerned about is its protein value.
Milk delivers 8-12 grams of high-quality protein every serving. Whole milk, fat-free, lactose-free; It doesn’t matter. The great thing about milk’s protein content is that it remains the same no matter the form.
If you’re vegan, soy milk is a good alternative as it contains all essential amino acids; Or you can find some other protein-enriched, plant-based milk.
Now, just replace your beverage at meals with a glass of milk. Or, take a swig if you’re hungry for a little snack.
CHANGE UP YOUR BREAKFAST
I love breakfast. I’m a guy who will eat breakfast for every meal of the day. However, most people’s breakfast sucks when it comes to protein intake. Pancakes, cereal, bagels; the American breakfast is heavy on carbs, light on protein.
If you miss out on protein in an entire meal, you’re going to need to make that up throughout the day. Therefore, be decisive in your food choices. Some protein-filled options to work into your morning meal include:
*Oatmeal instead of cereal- Oatmeal can have up to 8g of protein per serving. Make with some milk, add some nuts, and you can easily hit 20 grams total
- An omelet- 1 egg has 6-7 grams of protein. A 2 or 3-egg omelet filled with some meat could get you above 30 grams.
- Greek yogurt- I love greek yogurt. Great for gut health, and it is very high in protein. Depending on the brand, 1 serving can hold 14-20 grams.
- Make a breakfast sandwich with some Canadian bacon and cheese.
And I’m sure you’ll wash it all down with your milk.
MAKE IT A HABIT
Proper nutrition takes some discipline. Make a conscious decision that you are going to eat some protein every 3-4 hours. Preferably at least 20-25 grams each serving. This will benefit you two-fold.
The first is that being on a schedule will ensure you increase your daily protein intake. If you are eating protein 4-5 times a day, you’ll definitely have a better chance at eating enough.
The second is that eating protein every 3-4 hours has been found to keep your body in an anabolic state. In a study by Areta et al (2013), 3 food timing protocols were tested; eating eight times a day, four times a day, or twice. Even though equal amounts of total protein was consumed in all three protocols, eating protein 4 times a day was superior in terms of increased muscle protein synthesis compared to the other two2.
Don’t think these need to be elaborate meals. I always keep lunch meat in my fridge, and if I’m busy, I just grab some and eat it—Delicious, simple, and effective. Being in a rush is not an excuse to not meet your protein needs.
NIGHT TIME SNACK
Make protein a part of your bed-time routine by consuming some 30 minutes before bed. Besides adding to your overall intake, research on pre-bedtime protein consumption has shown that consuming 30-40g pre-sleep can elevate protein synthesis and aide in recovery during sleep time3. The vast majority of studies have been performed utilizing protein powder, preferably a slow-digesting protein like casein.
This brings us to the next tip...
START USING A PROTEIN POWDER
Increasing your protein intake would be much easier if you started using a protein powder. This is one of the reasons why protein powder exists; it’s an easy, convenient, and low-caloric way to increase your protein intake. Don’t look at protein powder as if it’s not real food or any other negative connotations you may have.
Protein powder comes from the same sources as our food. For example, the most common type of protein powder, whey, is milk-derived. Furthermore, protein powder is actually more effective than “food” in protein synthesis, as it’s easier for your body to digest and absorb the amino acids.
Protein powder is usually used as a post-workout meal. However, you can really use it whenever you need, perhaps a snack or meal replacement when you’re on the go. Just remember to not entirely rely on powder for your protein intake, and you’re good to go.
We recommend PNP Grass-Fed Whey Protein isolate & Colostrum. It is a high filtered, cold-pressed protein that comes from grass-fed cows in the US and delivers 25 grams of protein per serving. Plus, each serving contains 5 grams of bovine colostrum to support post-workout recovery, immune system strength, and gut health
MAKE BETTER FOOD CHOICES
You may want to increase your protein, but perhaps you just don’t know what to eat. Here I’ll list some high protein foods to include in your diet, either as a snack or part of a whole meal.
1) Any kind of animal product: Beef, Poultry, Pork, Seafood… it’s all packed with protein and is your best choice. You can easily add some to a salad, pasta, or sandwich to up your intake. One of my favorite snacks is some good ol’ jerky.
2) Dairy Products: We already mentioned milk, but other dairy product works as well; My favorite dairy-based snacks are greek yogurt, string cheese, and cottage cheese. Plus, these generally come in packaging, making them easy to bring with you so you can always have a healthy protein-packed snack on you.
3) Nuts: Almonds, cashews, walnuts; they’re all excellent sources of protein. Or you can use some nut butter to add on fruit or make a classic PB&J sandwich. Just be careful as nuts are high-caloric.
DON'T FALL SHORT
Don’t let something like not eating enough protein affect your overall health and performance. It may take some time to adjust to changes in your daily habits, but once you dial it in, it’s easy. It all comes down to increasing your feeding frequency and choosing better food sources. Now, get your protein in!
1) Campbell, Bill, et al. “International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: Protein and Exercise.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 4, no. 1, 2007, p. 8., doi:10.1186/1550-2783-4-8.
2) Areta, J. L., Burke, L. M., Ross, M. L., Camera, D. M., West, D. W., Broad, E. M., . . . Coffey, V. G. (2013). Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. The Journal of Physiology, 591(9), 2319-2331. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2012.244897
3) Kerksick, C., Harvey, T., Stout, J., Campbell, B., Wilborn, C., Kreider, R., . . . Antonio, J. (2008). Erratum to: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: Nutrient timing. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(1). doi:10.1186/1550-2783-5-18