Protein can be the hardest macronutrient to hit on a consistent and daily basis. However, protein is essential for everyday function, weight loss, muscle building, and overall health. You know that protein is the answer to keeping you fuller for longer, speeding up your metabolism, and helping you build, rebuild, and repair muscle mass, but you might not know the answer on how to get more protein into your diet. That’s where we come in - we’re going to help you understand how to get more protein in your diet in a few clever, easy, and manageable ways on a daily basis. Shall we?
How Much Protein Do You Need?
Well, it depends on a few factors. The most important is your activity level. The most basic recommendation for protein intake is 0.8 grams per kilogram (that’s about 0.36 grams per pound) of body weight in untrained, generally healthy adults. However, this marker is only to prevent a protein deficiency, which isn’t exactly an optimal intake to support people who are looking to increase strength, lose weight, or live a more vibrant and active lifestyle.
For basic muscle protein synthesis (the muscle-building process) to occur in individuals who perform high-intensity training (HIIT), functional fitness, or high-intensity functional training (HIFT), intake rises to about 1.4-2.0 g/kg (that’s about 0.63-0.9 g/lb) of body mass. [R]
High-intensity training protocols such as HIFT or HIIT can become catabolic when your body does not have the necessary amounts of muscle fuel, a.k.a amino acids, to help maintain a positive amino acid balance. In order to maintain and build muscle mass, your body needs essential amino acids, intra, and post-workout, to optimize your gains and recovery. This is why people supplement with branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and drink protein shakes post-workout.
To take it a step further, it’s important to note that while preventing deficiency and ensuring a baseline muscle protein synthesis is good, you may need even more protein on a daily basis for optimal functioning, including metabolism, satiety, weight management, performance, and positive immune function. [R] Adequate intake isn’t necessarily optimal intake when it comes to protein.
RELATED ARTICLE: How To Optimize Muscle Protein Synthesis
MINIMUM DAILY PROTEIN REQUIREMENTS
How To Calculate Protein Intake
The following calculation for protein intake on a daily basis is an estimate. It’s important to note that this is an estimate and a guess. If you’re looking to dial in your exact protein intake for optimal results, functioning, and performance, we highly recommend working with 1:1 with a nutrition coach from The Swole Kitchen to eliminate the guesswork.
Here’s what you will need to know before calculating your protein intake:
- How many calories do you eat in a day (roughly, we’ll use 2300 calories for example)
- Determine your ideal ratio of protein, carbs, and fat (we’ll use 50% carbs, 25% protein, 25% fat for example)
- Multiply your daily calories by your percentages
- Divide your calorie totals by its calorie-per-gram number
How to calculate protein intake based on 2,300 calories per day
Protein: 2,300 x 0.25 = 575 calories from protein
How to calculate protein intake into grams
Protein (4 calories per gram): 575 divided by 4 = 143.75g protein per day
RELATED ARTICLE: The Ultimate Guide To Understanding Macronutrients
1. How To Get More Protein In Diet - Eat Protein At Every Meal
Eating protein at every meal not only makes it easier to hit your daily intake number consistently, but you’ll experience a decrease of the hunger hormone ghrelin, keeping you full and satisfied all throughout the day. [R]
By balancing your blood sugar and insulin levels and keeping them from the crazy high and low roller coaster that sugary, simple carbohydrates send you on after a meal. [R] You’ll also be able to increase your body’s metabolic rate after your meal and even while you sleep. [R]
RELATED ARTICLE: How To Naturally Increase Your Insulin Sensitivity
2. How To Get More Protein In Diet - Eat Protein First
When you sit down to eat your food, eat the protein source first, then the vegetables, and starches for last. In a study posted by the American Diabetes Foundation, researches found that when people with type II diabetes ate protein and vegetables before high-carb foods during a meal their blood sugar and insulin levels rose significantly less than when the order was switched up. [R]
A person who is insulin sensitive only needs a small amount of blood glucose to keep their body within the normal range. A person who is insulin resistant, however, needs a much larger amount of insulin to keep his or her blood glucose level within the normal range. The higher your blood glucose level, the more your body is encouraged to store body fat. Carbohydrates have the biggest dietary impact on blood sugar levels and insulin, but there is a difference between good carbs and bad carbs.
RELATED ARTICLE Complex Vs Simple Carbohydrates
One of the best ways to discover which carbohydrates contribute to increased insulin levels is by referring to the glycemic index (GI). The carbohydrates you want to eat are the ones that have a low score (out of 100) because they don’t cause a rapid rise in glucose.
Additionally, when protein enters the stomach before other macronutrients during a meal, the production of PYY (a gut hormone that is secreted by the lower small intestine), it acts as an ‘ideal brake’ causing a sense of fullness and satiety. [R]
3. How To Get More Protein In Diet - Supplement With A Powder
You can easily get more protein from your diet through food sources such as eggs, chicken, beef, fish, beans, milk, cheese, nuts, and whole grains. However, if you’re wanting to increase your protein intake to meet your fitness goals and optimize body composition, protein powder is extremely effective and efficient.
The most important part when deciding on what protein powder to buy is making sure it’s transparent, proprietary-blend free, and third-party tested. Make sure the manufacturer discloses the amounts of each ingredient and does not use a blend, so you know exactly what and how much of each ingredient you’re getting.
Plant protein vs animal protein, which one is better? Well, a large body of evidence shows that animal protein sources provide better amino acid delivery, digestibility, and protein content than plant protein sources. This is especially important for athletes, as getting the vital amino acids after training is crucial to initiate the muscle rebuilding process. However, if you live a vegan, or vegetarian lifestyle, getting an adequate amount of protein from multiple plant protein sources will ensure that you get the amino acids you need for optimal health and wellness.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: Whey Protein Isolate (animal protein)
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: PLANTPRO5 (vegan protein)
4. How To Get More Protein In Diet - Eat High Protein Snacks
Another great way to get more protein into your daily diet is by eating snacks that have protein in them. Sure, you could snack on rice cakes and celery, but if you’re missing out on protein, chances are you’re going to get hungry and be less satisfied than if you did. Here are some high protein snack ideas for you:
5. How To Get More Protein In Diet - Drink Smoothies With Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is proven to reduce hunger, increase fullness, and delay subsequent eating as compared to consuming other foods that are lower in protein and nutrients. But the science goes deeper than just ‘keeping you full’. Greek yogurt, in addition to other high protein foods such as grass-fed beef and other dairy products, contains naturally produced chemicals called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) [R].
These supergroups are found in the fatty acid linoleic acid linked directly to the reduction of body fat and long-term weight management and health. Boom! Not only does Greek yogurt fight obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis, the CLA found in Greek Yogurt promotes weight loss and maintaining insulin resistance, as well [R].
Smoothies are such a great go-to because you can pack them full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients without feeling like you’re ‘eating healthy’. We suggest putting vegetables, frozen fruit, and some sort of protein in your blender and mixing it up. Greek yogurt makes a great addition to any smoothie because it increases the amount of protein while adding a creamy texture.
6. How To Get More Protein In Diet - Supplement with Collagen
Collagen is commonly referred to as the glue that holds your body together and your body naturally produces collagen from certain vitamins and minerals from the food you eat. However, Collagen production naturally declines as you age [R].
The word Collagen itself is derived from the Greek word kollla which means “glue”. Collagen is a structural protein engrained within the connective tissue of animals and humans, specifically found in the cartilage, tendons, muscles, and bones. Collagen peptides have a unique mixture of amino acids, with a rather abundant amount of glycine, hydroxyproline, proline, and alanine. These peptides are important signal molecules in the rebuilding of connective tissues and musculoskeletal structures.
While collagen powder definitely shouldn’t replace your post-workout protein shake (read more about that here), it’s a great addition to just about any food or drink and is a wonderful way to replenish your body. Add it to your morning coffee or latte as a creamer, pancakes, and banana muffins just to name a few.
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: Swolverine’s Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder (Unflavored)
RELATED ARTICLE: The Ultimate Guide To Collagen - Benefits, Uses, & Side Effects
Can You Eat Too Much Protein?
A good rule of thumb for life - too much of anything can be bad for you, including protein. If you find yourself overeating protein, chances are that the extra will be converted into either sugar or body fat. That being said, protein isn’t as easily converted into these two substances as compared to carbohydrates or fat. This is because of what’s called the thermic effect of food. Meaning the amount of energy required to digest, absorb, transport, and store protein are quite a bit higher than that of carbs and fat.
To put some numbers to this for better understanding, nearly 30% of protein’s energy goes toward digestion, absorption, and assimilation. Comparatively speaking, for carbohydrates that are only 8% and nearly 3% of the energy from fat performs the same processes within the human body.
Worried about eating too much protein? Then take the guesswork out and have a coach from The Swole Kitchen do the work for you by finding out your optimal daily protein intake for your lifestyle and your goals.
Is Protein Bad For Your Kidneys?
You might have heard somewhere along your journey that a high protein intake harms the kidneys. It’s important to note that this is a myth. In generally healthy people, normal protein intake poses little to no health risk at all.
In fact, it’s been shown in studies that even a fairly high protein intake (we’re talking up to 2.8 g/kg [1.2 g/lb]) doesn’t appear to impair kidney status and renal function in people with healthy, functioning kidneys. [R] In addition to animal protein sources, it’s also noted that plant proteins are also especially safe for the kidneys. [R]
RECOMMENDED PRODUCT: PLANTPRO5 (Vegan protein w/ 21g protein per scoop)
How To Get More Protein In Your Diet: Takeaway
If you're having a hard time hitting your protein goal, eating protein at every meal and stuffing some high protein snacks in between those meals can ramp up your protein intake faster than you think. Most high protein snacks have between 15-20g of protein per serving. Just adding in an extra scoop of protein to your greek yogurt post-workout shake, will pack a punch with over 50g of protein in one meal. Protein is key to helping you optimize body composition, increase strength, and buidl more muscle. Getting enough protein can be challenging, but you'll be glad that you did.
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