We all know it’s important to eat enough protein. Never run out of ideas again with this simple how-to!
Protein isn’t just important for building and repairing a healthy body. It’s also very filling, providing the most satiety per calorie of all the macronutrients. Aim to eat around 1 gram protein per 1 pound body weight, spreading your intake throughout the day and eating some protein at every meal and snack. If you track calories, remember that protein is 4 calories per gram of protein.
Sources of protein
Meat eaters, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans alike can all eat plenty of protein.
Eggs: Eggs (whites and yolks) are an incredible source of protein. In fact, eggs are considered the only complete protein, with all the amino acids present. Think outside the egg-box and don’t always go for hen's eggs.
Dairy: All dairy is a decent source of protein, but choose Greek yoghurt (which has been strained so the protein percentage is higher), quark, Skyr, fromage frais or cottage cheese for the highest amount of protein per serving.
Poultry and white meat: Chicken, turkey, pork and other white meat is a good source of protein and tends to be very lean.
Fish: White fish, oily fish, cold water fish and ocean fish are all great sources of protein. Oily fish has a higher amount of fat, but it is very healthy omega 3 fatty acids, so don’t shy away.
Seafood: Shellfish and other seafood is another great source of protein and tends to be practically zero fat too.
Red meat: Beef, game, wild and exotic meats are all great sources of protein and rich in iron, too. If you are concerned about dietary fat, choose leaner cuts, leaner mince, or try alternatives like venison or bison.
Lentils, pulses and beans: All pulses, beans and lentils are great sources of protein and a useful source for those who choose not to eat meat. Meat eaters can also use these ingredients to ring the changes (and save on their food shopping). Beans, lentils and pulses are versatile, packed with fibre, and are great store-cupboard items.
Tofu and Quorn: These types of products are high in protein and very versatile, lending themselves well to all kinds of recipes and main meals.
Protein powder: Whey protein powder, as well as other forms like pea protein, rice protein, hemp protein and casein, are powdered forms of protein which make a very convenient protein source. There’s nothing special about them, but they are convenient and quick to make. If you prefer real food for your protein sources, that’s fine too.
Trace protein: Don’t forget that small amounts of the macronutrient protein is found in loads of other foods, too. You don’t have to eat a 'protein’ food to get protein into your diet. Green vegetables and grains are two great examples of this.
Your protein shopping list
Here’s what a protein-rich shopping list might look like:
Real Greek yoghurt or Skyr
A large pot of plain, low fat cottage cheese
A small pot of flavoured cottage cheese (fruit, or savoury)
Lentils (red, green, yellow)
Tinned beans (kidney beans, chickpeas, butter beans etc)
Tinned tuna, mackerel and sardines
Fresh salmon or trout
A bag of prawns for the freezer
A large box of “happy hen” eggs
A small box of duck eggs
A carton of liquid egg whites
Easy ways to eat more protein
An omelette with mushroom and spinach, using whole eggs or a combination of whole eggs and liquid egg whites to maximise volume whilst reducing a little fat
Poached eggs on toast
Leftovers from dinner!
A wrap with grilled chicken and vegetables
Home-made chicken and lentil soup
A large tuna salad with all your favourite veggies, plus some rinsed tinned beans or pulses
A big vegetable stir fry with prawns, fish or white meat
Homemade beef mince burgers
Homemade chilli served with a dollop of fromage frais or Greek yoghurt
A pot of Greek yoghurt with berries and some nuts
A small tub of cottage cheese with raw vegetables for dipping
A couple of hard-boiled eggs
A smoothies made of protein powder, frozen berries, banana and a handful of ice
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