I often hear when people learn to manage their macronutrients that it is too hard to get enough protein. This is strange to me because I can easily blow my protein budget out of the water if I’m not careful. So I wrote this article to help you with some ideas on how to get your protein in.
When putting meals together, pick your proteins for the day, or better yet, for the week first and prep them over the weekend so they are easy to access during your busy week. Then build your carbs and fat from there to get to the number you need for the day, you can do this because carbs and fats are easier to come by then protein on the go.
Here are some examples to help you get your protein:
Yogurt is a great snack or meal but pick your yogurt carefully, not just yogurt but greek yogurt, and then not just greek yogurt but high protein greek yogurt. Fage Plain and Costco’s Kirkland Nonfat Plain Yogurt have between 20-24 grams of protein per serving and not a lot of carbohydrates but some. Other greek yogurts have around 10g of protein and if you choose a flavored yogurt be sure you count the carbohydrates!
There is always egg whites. You can either cook them into an omelet or do it the bodybuilder way and drink them.(… like Jimmy… gross). They taste a lot better if you blend in something else with flavor or other texture if you choose to drink them. You can also bump up the protein in your yogurt or shakes by adding protein powder which is around 20-30g per serving. Just mix it in and you have a very protein-rich meal. Three egg whites have about 15 grams of protein. Add in protein powder and you’ve got 35-40 gram of protein.
Adding in a protein bar or drink as a snack or post-workout snack will help you meet that daily protein number and is extremely convenient. Watch the calories in the protein bars! The protein bars I really like have about 200 calories per bar depending on the flavor. Jimmy’s protein bars are about 400 calories (more than an entire meal for me!) It doesn’t take long to eat a protein bar, so think about how much it will fill you up and if it will help curb hunger. My daily protein bar is my sweet treat for the day. However, if I’m getting ready for a meet and cutting calories to make weight, it is one of the first things I change in my meal plan. I feel much more full and satisfied longer eating meat or eggs.
Another go-to snack is beef or turkey jerky. I have to be careful with jerky. The serving size is an ounce and I can rarely eat just an ounce. Again, one has to account for a few carbs and fat but turkey jerky is packed with protein at around 11g per ounce and very easily to keep with you all the time.
Fish is another source of good protein. Depending on which species of fish, it can also be a good source of fat.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, getting enough protein is going to be really tough. While legumes have many benefits because they provide micronutrients and a good amount of fiber, you can get a better protein-to-carbohydrate ratio with meat. Most legumes contain 30% to 35% protein. This isn’t bad. However, because legumes contain about 70% carbohydrates, you will reach the limit of your daily carb budget before you can get enough protein into your body. Plant-based protein bars and protein powder will definitely help make up the gap if you can find one that tastes good and works for your body.
You absolutely need protein whether it be animal-based or plant-based to build muscle. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn. So that protein number isn’t arbitrary, it is important. Read nutrition labels on the food you eat or look it up on the internet to get a general idea of nutrient values. Look for foods that have at least an equal to high protein-to-carbohydrate ratio and your protein macros become more attainable.
If you still have trouble reaching your protein goals after reading this article feel free to reach out to us here