Protein is a vital nutrient for growth and development. It is the fundamental component of all living matter. Every individual needs protein equivalent in grams to his or her body weight in kilos. This means that if you are a woman weighing 58 kg, you must try to get at least 50 to 60 grams of protein daily. Remember: protein does not get stored in the body like fat does. Therefore, excess protein is eliminated by the kidneys. The fact that all animals are made of protein tissues shows that readily available form of protein is only obtained through non vegetarian food. So, the easy ways to get more protein is to eat food that has ‘lived, walked or swum’. That being said, there are many good quality proteins available for vegans and vegetarians today. In this guide, we will consider ways in which everyone can get more protein:
1. Understand protein sizes and quantities
When a recipe calls for an ounce of meat, and states the number of grams of proteins it contains, do use the following comparative chart to understand how much of it is needed:
- 1 ounce of meat = 1 small matchbox
- 3 ounces of meat = 1 deck of cards
2. Seek quality over quantity
An easy way to get highest protein foods does not mean eating large quantity of food but eating the right quantity of ‘high quality’ of protein. As already stated, animal protein is more readily available and also easily digested as compared to plant protein. Plant sources also contain protein but their higher fiber content makes this protein harder to digest. Also, the main issue with plant protein is that you need to eat tons of eat to get the requisite amount of protein.
3. Red meat- to eat or not to eat?
Red meat has gotten the bad rap over the decades. Many experts believe that it can cause cancer and that it is harder to digest which leads to heart disease and other health issues. However, people who exercise adequately must not be afraid of choosing red meat. If you are concerned about cholesterol and hormones fed to the cows, you could choose lean or extra lean organic, red meat. Red meat has tons of vitamin B12 which is needed for formulating red blood cells. This vitamin is not as easily available in fish and chicken. So vegetarians and vegans must ensure eating B12 supplements to get this vital nutrient.
4. Need variety? Choose chicken and turkey
Chicken and turkey contain tons of tyrosine amino acid which boost the dopamine levels in the brain and make you alert. Chicken and turkey can be cooked in several ways, and you can make burgers, meat loaf, meatballs etc from them. Always cut off the skin and fat before using chicken and turkey for protein. This is because; the skin contains excess fat which tends to increase bad cholesterol levels.
5. Eat fish but do not go overboard
Fish has omega 3 essential fatty acids but there is concern about mercury levels in fish. Avoid fish like shark, mackerel, swordfish and tilefish which are particularly contaminated with mercury.
6. Beans, beans, beans, green, red and brown
Beans are packed with as much protein as 2 ounces of lean sirloin but without the fat. A cup of beans can give you a whopping 17 grams of protein with just 0.75 grams of fat. The best varieties of beans to eat in order to get more protein include: Chickpeas, kidney beans, garbanzo beans and legumes.
Quinoa (Kee-nwa) is one of the easy ways to get more proteins in case you are vegan or vegetarian. It has great flavor and is a versatile ingredient that can be used in several recipes. It also contains healthy fats, minerals and vitamins. In short it is a superfood containing highest amount of protein and other nutrients needed for healthy body. You can cook quinoa just like you cook rice: add it to boiling water for 14-18 minutes until the germ separates.
8. Take protein powders
Protein powders are excellent means of consuming protein. They are especially recommended for people looking for ways to improve athletic performance or build muscles. Protein powders can be used for making great tasting smoothies and breakfast drinks. These can be taken by people recovering from debilitating diseases, including cancer, to regain strength. Vegetarians and vegans can also consume protein powders when looking for easy ways to get more protein. You can choose from the following:
- Whey protein-It is the most common and readily available protein supplement. It is cheaper compared to most other types of protein powders.
- Pea powders– This is the best way for vegans to get protein as it comes from plant sources.
- Hemp– This is also vegan. It contains omega-3 essential fatty acids.
- Soy protein– This is a great source of protein but it has a strong nutty flavor which many people do not like. It also does not dissolve readily and could cause lumps in the food. This could cause gastric bloating and indigestion in people sensitive to soy.
To add protein powders to your food or beverages check the label and add the requisite amount of scoops needed to get you your daily intake of protein. (Most powders give 15-20g of proteins per scoop). You can also add protein powders in your baking recipes.
9. Add cheese to your dishes
Cheese is packed with calcium but many people are unaware of its protein content. Grate some hard cheese and add to yours soups, sauces and casseroles. Melt it on your burgers and sandwiches. Cottage and ricotta cheese also make excellent desserts.
10. Use milk in your recipes
Milk and soya milk substitutes can be added to recipes as they have high protein content. You can add milk in place of water in soups, curries, stews, gravies, pasta sauces etc. If you are lactose intolerant, you could add nut milks like almond milk, rice milk etc to get more protein. You can also add dry milk powder to milkshakes, eggnog, casseroles, meatloaf, muffins, custards, puddings and so on.
11. Eat eggs
Eggs are superfoods containing high amounts of protein. Add chopped boiled eggs to salads, sandwiches and rice dishes. Make a rich custard with eggs, milk and milk powder. Add egg whites to quiches, pancakes etc.
12. Sprinkle seeds and nuts
Seeds like sesame seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds are excellent sources of omega 3 essential fatty acids as well as protein. Sprinkle them in your bread dough, on your cereals, in smoothies, milkshakes etc. Also add nuts like almonds, walnuts and cashew nuts to your puddings, oatmeal, bran, or whole wheat cereals.
13. Foods having high protein content
Here is a list of foods having high amounts of protein in grams:
- 4 oz hamburger or soy burger- 28 g
- 4 oz fish or 1cup tempeh- 28 g
- 3 oz chicken/turkey or meatless burger- 21 g
- 6 oz Greek Yogurt- 12 g
- 8 oz milk/soy milk- 8 g
- 1 egg or ¼ cup egg substitute – 7 g
- ¼ cup almonds or ¼ cup sunflower seeds-6 g
Make sure you also balance these foods with the right amounts of carbohydrates and fats so that the protein you eat is used up for developing muscles and strength. We hope these easy ways to get more protein help you.