How to Get More Protein All Day Long
Cramming your daily allotment into a giant steak dinner isn’t the way to go. Try this all-day approach instead.
When it comes to energy-providing macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates, and fat—protein is the one that tends to be painted with the healthiest brush. Protein not only supplies energy, but it also helps build muscle and bones, and provides the base for your body to make enzymes, hormones, and vitamins. That’s why it’s so crucial you get enough of it—and do it in the healthiest way.
There isn’t a one-amount-fits-all rule for protein. To figure out how much you personally need, you have to take into account a lot of factors, like your age, sex, weight, activity level, and whether or not you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. That’s a lot of information! One way to keep track is to aim to have between 10 and 35 percent of your calories come from protein, according to the National Academies of Medicine. Or an easy rule of thumb is to aim for at least 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. Even easier? The Food and Drug Administration says most people can shoot for around 50 grams a day. The bottom line: You have a lot of flexibility.
Unlike carbohydrates or fat, your body doesn't store extra protein. That means you need to eat it every day. While you could meet your daily protein goals by chowing down on a huge steak dinner every night, that’s not the best idea. For one thing, that steak come with a lot of saturated fat (something you need to watch out for if you’re choosing red meat as your source of protein). Plus, eating a balanced diet of all necessary nutrients helps with your overall energy. With that in mind, keep reading for delicious ways to ensure you have some healthy protein every time you eat — none of which involve plain old hard-boiled eggs or grilled chicken breasts.
- West Coast avocado toast: Choose sprouted, seeded bread and you can boost the protein count of everyone’s favorite breakfast to 16 grams a serving.
- Pomegranate berry smoothie: A surprise ingredient (cottage cheese!) adds extra protein to this morning treat.
- Taco Salad: This combo of beans and ground turkey provides 42 grams of lean, delicious protein (and will make all your coworkers jealous).
- Chicken curry soup: This twist on a take-out favorite is packed with flavor and comes together in less than an hour.
- Emergen-C Protein Fuel & Superfoods: This no-blender-shake has 15 grams of organic plant-based protein along with two servings of superfoods and 250 milligrams of vitamin C and comes in delicious flavors like Pomegranate-Mango and Mixed Berry.
- Chocolate peanut butter energy bars: This is another incredibly easy (and tasty) way to get your protein on the go.
- Quick risotto with shrimp, corn, and edamame: Risotto doesn’t have to take all day. This recipe uses lots of neat tricks to come together in just 30 minutes, and is full of protein too.
- Lentil burgers: Did you know lentils are a good source of protein? Use them to make these vegan burgers.
- Strawberry rhubarb quinoa pudding: Quinoa and Greek yogurt help you end the day with one last burst of protein, plus vitamins from the fruit.
- Chocolate raspberry tofu pie: No one will know that protein-rich tofu is the secret ingredient in this crowd-pleasing treat.
Get more great health and wellness stories at EatingWell.com/Strive