In my last blog I covered some of the reasons why it is super important to get enough protein in your diet. Your mood, your hormones, your energy levels, your skin, digestive system, muscles… to name just a few things …depend on it.
I talked about the rough rule of thumb to know if you are getting enough – 1 gram of protein for every 1 kg of your body weight. So a 70kg person needs AT LEAST 70 grams of protein a day.
We also covered that fact that the weight of the food itself is not the amount of protein it contains e.g. 100 grams of chicken breast does not have 100 grams of protein, it’s got around 30 grams.
MANY OF YOU SHARED HOW HARD IT IS TO EAT ENOUGH PROTEIN - ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN!
So – I wanted to share with you some of my top tips for increasing your protein intake without increasing your stress levels.
Please note: these are all just my honest personal recommendations, there's no sponsored posts here :-)
(1) Pimp up your meals with protein
Ask yourself ‘where’s the decent protein source in this meal’?
And if you aren’t sure, think about adding some beans or chickpeas. One of my favourite things to do is add half a can of butter beans (about 120g) to a soup (10 grams of protein). Other beans work well too – edamame beans pack in a huge 13 grams of protein in just half a can, or black beans 7 grams.
You can also do this with salads of any type. Sometimes I use protein to add extra crunch to my salads. You can rinse a can of chickpeas, pop on a baking tray with a little olive oil and salt (and paprika if you like it) and pop in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Roasted chickpeas make a much more nutritious choice for some crunch in your salad than croutons.
I’m also a huge fan of adding seeds to meals – I do this with soups, salads, chillis and even curries (although not if my other half is eating the curry too, that’s one step too far for him). There aren’t many meals that a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds (3 grams of protein) or sesame seeds (2 grams) can’t pimp up for the better.
(2) Want a snack? Think protein
Swap out crisps for toasted seeds and nuts. Add houmous to your crackers or as a dip for some veggies. Pop a few almonds or peanut butter with your apple.
These are a particular favourite of mine, Clearspring Tamari Roasted Pumpkin Seeds https://www.clearspring.co.uk/products/snack-organic-tamari-roasted-pumpkin-seeds and can be found on Ocado, Amazon or direct from Clearspring.
You can also make your own version by spreading out pumpkin seeds on parchment paper on a baking tray, covering in tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) and popping in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Once cooled they store in a jar well for at least 2 weeks (although I’m not sure I could prove that as they don’t last that long in this house).
(3) Find higher protein versions of your favourite foods
For instance, not all yoghurt’s are equal in the protein department. This Biotiful kefir protein yoghurt has a whopping 30 grams of protein per pot https://biotifulguthealth.com/products/kefir-protein-original/ This compares to the 10 grams of protein most natural yoghurts have in the same serving size.
You can swap out your pasta and rice for versions that pack much more of a protein punch. For example, you can get various types of pasta made from lentils and chickpeas.
Here’s just a few of my favourites:
Waitrose LoveLife Red Lentil Pasta – 22g protein per serving
Mr Organic Red Lentil Rice – 26g protein per serving
Mr Organic Chickpea Rice – 22g protein per serving
Your standard serving of basmati rice has only 3 grams of protein, while a serving of penne 6 grams, so you can see what a difference these swaps can make.
I've also recently discovered this cereal swap - perfect for the kids in the household. Swap their cheerios for this and I bet they will feel more full for longer https://eatsurreal.co.uk/
I do have a referral code for Surreal - no benefit to me but it gets you 50% off your first order https://eatsurreal.co.uk/a/refer-a-friend/redeem/ruthseymour/8072
(4) Protein powder isn’t just for body builders
Protein powders that you add to smoothies or soups can be a very acquired taste. They can also be full of ingredients you really don’t want to have in your daily diet.
Unfortunately I’ve yet to find a high street brand protein powder that tastes nice or is not full of rubbish.
For me, the trick is to get an unflavoured, good quality protein powder and blend it well with some nutrient-dense ingredients.
My particular favourite is this Organic Whey Isolate from the Organic Protein Company https://theorganicproteincompany.co.uk/products/organic-whey-protein-isolate
A serving of this packs a solid 22 grams of protein. If you mix this with around 200 ml milk of your choice, a portion of fruit, and a portion or two of vegetables you can start your day with a nutrient-dense breakfast that really does keep you full until lunch.
My top tip for making a good protein powder smoothie is to use a frozen version of one of the ingredients e.g. frozen raspberries. Or add half an avocado, or half a banana – all of these things make for a smoother smoothie. Just go careful on the amount of fruit as you don’t want too much sugar first thing in the morning.
Here’s a couple of my favourite protein-smoothie recipes:
The sneaky 'green'…. 200ml almond milk (I like the Plenish brand) & the protein powder, a kiwi, half a pear, some frozen cauliflower rice and two large handfuls of baby spinach
Or my ‘black-forest’ smoothie….. 200ml almond milk & the protein powder, 70g frozen cherries, some frozen cauliflower rice, 2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder and sometimes a tiny bit of maple syrup.
I hope I’ve given you some good ideas here, but I’m always keen to find more protein hacks so please do send them my way if you’ve found any good ideas or products yourself.
If you’d like to talk about how I might be able to help you address any health concerns using personalised nutrition and lifestyle please get in touch, details on my contact page.