How to add more protein to your diet (without turning into a Meatosaur)
For me, one of the keys to low carb success has been increasing the protein and fat content in my daily diet. Fat’s an easy one to cover, but how do we add more protein into our diets without becoming a total Carnivore? Here’s some quick tips from me on how I’ve added more protein to my diet, feel fuller and actually consume less calories!
Tip 1: Protein with every meal
Research shows we should be consuming a minimum of 20–30 grams of protein at each meal. It doesn’t mean you need to turn into a ‘Meatosaur’. Eggs, almonds, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds and broccoli are your friends too.
Tip 2: Cheese for a snack
Most traditional snack foods are very low in protein and high in carbs (chips, pretzels, crackers, muesli bars etc…) A 28-gram serving of tortilla chips has 137 calories but only 2 grams of protein. The same amount of cheddar cheese contains 7 grams of protein, along with 20 fewer calories and 4 times as much calcium. Plus the higher fat content helps you feel fuller. Why wouldn’t you?
Tip 3: Deli meats
These can be super handy and fast when you need an immediate savoury protein hit, HOWEVER, some preserved meats are loaded with chemicals. Choose consciously. Read the back of packets and like a good hairdresser, once you find one that works for you, never let them go……..
Tip 4: Eggs are the new cereal
Have you ever had cereal for breakfast and noticed by 11 a.m. you’re starving? Replacing cereal with eggs boosts your protein consumption, helps you feel more full and as a result you end up eating fewer calories. Eggs and bacon are now my ‘diet food’. #heaven Just make sure you choose a good quality bacon that’s nitrate free.
Tip 5: Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt contains twice as much protein as traditional yogurt and can be eaten alone or added to other foods. PLEASE read the list of ingredients however. Some Greek Yogurt is loaded with hidden sugars and I would recommend you keep away from flavoured yogurt for the very same reason. Instead opt for natural and add your own flavours. My favourite indulgence is a bowl of yogurt, some chopped walnuts, a sprinkle of Stevia and some Vanilla essence….Mix it through and devour!
Tip 6: Almonds All Day
Almonds are my BFF. They’re high in a number of nutrients and can boost the protein content of a meal or snack. They’re also really versatile! Dry fry them and add them into a salad to replace croutons! Chop them and add them pretty much on top of everything. Sprinkle them on a friend who’s boring you and witness the transformation! (I’m kidding…..but Almonds really are great.)
Tip 7: Turn your salad from drab to fab!
Topping your salad with poultry, cheese, fish or legumes will help you meet your protein needs and stay full and satisfied. When I go somewhere like Pita Pit, I get the garden salad with Japanese Mayo and one of the plant based protein options. OR I take it home and sprinkle my favourite chopped nuts on top. MMMMMMM
Tip 8: Protein Shakes
They’re fast and easy and if you’re rushing in the morning, can get you out the door quicker! I’m not a fan of most protein powders as they taste a little funny to me and I choose to keep away from processed foods as much as possible! To add more protein, consider using cottage cheese and chia seeds! Remember to add vanilla essence as cottage cheese can have a strong flavour, and you can add a hit of berries. Reduce the calories by replacing dairy milk with almond milk. Check out my recipe here.
Tip 9: Cottage cheese OH YES
Cottage cheese is a tasty food that’s also very high in protein. A one-cup (225-gram) serving contains 25 grams of protein and just 220 calories. End of story.
Tip 10: The magic of peanut butter
I learnt from Masterchef Ray McVinnie that when you add peanut butter to a piece of grainy toast, you create a ‘Complete Protein’. Most vegetables contain a little protein but lack the essential amino acids that you need in your body to make all the goodness happen. Combine 2 together and you have the perfect combination of amino acids which is called a ‘Complete Protein’. While I don’t eat grainy toast, it did encourage me to think about adding peanut butter wherever I can so if I’m making a smoothie, you can guarantee there’s a helping of that nutty goodness blended into it.
Grains and legumes work well together, as do nuts and seeds! Here’s an example.
Grains and legumes:
- Black beans and rice
- Pasta and peas
- Whole wheat bread and peanut butter
- Bean soup and crackers
Nuts and seeds plus legumes:
- Roasted nuts, seeds, and peanuts
- Hummus (chickpeas and tahini)
- Lentils and almonds
Of course, being a low carber, some of these combination are not on my menu, however finding what works for you is the important first step.
Finally: Eat Your Protein First
Eating protein first at meals can help you feel full and keep blood sugar and insulin levels from rising too high. You’re also less likely to have cravings.