You may have heard many things about the benefits of protein, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Protein is good for you and an important part of our bodies’ make-up – it’s found in our muscles, hair, skin cells and more which makes it vital for staying healthy. A good, healthy diet should include ample protein, which can be difficult if you’re unsure of good protein sources. After learning why protein is good for you, be sure to make it a regular part of your daily meals and see the difference it can make to you.
Why protein is good for you
Protein is important in order for our bodies to function. Alongside carbohydrates and fat, protein is a ‘macronutrient’, which means that it needs to form a large part of what we eat. Not only does protein help to make muscles strong and repair them when they’re damaged (either through exercise or injury), it is important for making hormones and other chemicals. Unlike fats and carbohydrates however, protein is not stored in the body, making a regular intake necessary. Many people wishing to lose weight or gain muscle will opt for a low-carbohydrate and high protein diet, whilst good portions of protein can also help you feel fuller for longer and stop you craving sugary or fatty foods.
5 Ways to Get More Protein in Your Diet
Protein is available in more food sources than you think, but if you’re unsure of the best way to include it in your diet, try the following tips to make sure you get enough.
1. Change your breakfast
Breakfast is known for being the most important meal of the day, and if you skip it – you could be missing out on a vital portion of your daily protein intake, whilst also being susceptible to those mid-morning cravings. Eggs are packed with protein and make a tasty, filling breakfast. Whether you like them poached, scrambled or fried (with healthy oils of course), having eggs for breakfast can help you get that important protein hit first thing in the morning. Yoghurt is another great source of protein, so if you’re a fan of cereal-based breakfasts, try eating some granola topped with yoghurt to ensure you get your fix.
2. Swap your snacks
Snacking is inevitable, especially if you’re actively looking to eat healthier. Snacking on the right foods however is important. Rather than reaching for the crisps or chocolate bars, make the switch to nuts instead. Almonds contain good fats as well as a rich supply of protein – making them a good choice to tide you over between meals.
3. Bulk up your foods
Protein is found in many beans and pulses, including black beans, lentils and kidney beans. Adding them to curries, pasta dishes, soups and salads can help to bulk up your meals without the calorie intake, which can make you feel fuller as well as ensuring you get many of your five-a-day in one go. Beans and pulses are also great for vegetarian and vegan diets to ensure you get plenty of protein.
4. Eat more salmon
Salmon is a food which is low in calories, but high in omega 3s, vitamin D and of course, protein. It is recommended that we eat three portions of fish a week, and salmon has many different recipe options which make it a versatile and tasty part of your diet.
5. Build your meals around a protein source
‘Meat and two veg’ isn’t far off the ideal diet. Basing your meals around a fist-sized portion of lean protein such as chicken, steak or turkey is a good way to measure out your portions, and you can add your carbohydrate and vegetable sources to that. There are many different creative combinations you can try to cook up curries, stir fries and pasta dishes that have the right amount of protein in them.
If you’re interested in eating better for sport or exercise or would like to improve your nutrition, you can find some excellent resources with NHS Choices. If you’re concerned about your weight or you’d like some advice on eating better for your health, don’t be scared to book an appointment with your GP who will gladly give you the advice you need to improve your health through diet.