Protein is one of the dietary components that play a significant role in growth and repair of the body.
When it comes to weight loss, increasing dietary protein is a reliable strategy. (Read How Proteins Help In Weight loss)
Here is how proteins help in weight loss:
• It boosts metabolism.
• It builds muscle mass.
• It reduces appetite.
• It preserves muscle mass during weight loss.
The amount of protein to be consumed for weight loss is somewhere is around 0.8-1.2 g per kg body weight. This would be around 40-50g for average people.
Researchers however comment that people eating more than this amount have lower incidence of certain diseases such as heart risk.
To meet the daily protein requirements, depending on the diet you consume, there should be a good blend of animal or plant protein and dairy protein.
If you are finding it difficult to meet the recommended daily protein intake or if you want to boost your current consumption we have got a list options involving dietary changes or just a change or addition of ingredients to regular cooking.
25 Easy Ways To Increase Protein Intake To Lose Weight
Here is a list of possible changes you could make to your diet to increase your daily protein intake.
1. Add a portion of protein to every meal
This might sound a tough one, but yes it is extremely important to have a balanced diet.
And if you want to gain some muscle and speed up weight loss, protein is something you can’t miss out on.
30% of your calories should come from protein and the recommended intake is around 50 grams.
Research studies recommend a range of 0.8-1.2g/kg per day for weight loss and maintenance.
Around 20-30g of protein with every meal should suffice. That would mean 1 small egg (38g) for breakfast giving you 54 calories and 5g protein.
1 ounce of ground sirloin beef would mean 60 calories and 7g protein that can be enjoyed with your main meals.
It is advisable to consume protein first as it promotes satiety and that aids in weight loss.
Eating more protein would mean eating less carbs which again is great for weight loss. Eating protein increases secretion of satiety hormones.
Apart from curbing appetite, high protein meals preserve muscle mass during weight loss. Spacing out your protein intake over 2-3 meals is beneficial for weight control.
What does this mean? Consume 20-30g of protein with every meal or divide the intake over 2-3 meals a day.
2. Bring on some lean meat
Meat is identified as one of the prime sources of protein( that does not discredit vegetarian protein sources!).
However when it comes to meat and weight loss, go for leaner cuts of meat.
1 serving (3 oz) of ground sirloin beef provides 23g protein and 182 calories. Pork loin is an inexpensive lean meat offers 203 calories and 23g protein in a 3oz serving.
2 pieces of chicken tenderloin offer 19g protein and could toss them to salads and or make kebabs.
Add pieces of chopped cooked meat to vegetables, casseroles, soups, salads, omelettes etc. You could also use meat preparations as stuffing for baked potatoes.
What does this mean? Protein content: 18-25g per serving of 3oz Go for lean cuts of meat such as ground sirloin beef, pork loin and chicken tenderloin. Add it to low calorie food items such as soups and salads.
3. Bring in some seafood
2-3 servings of seafood are recommended every week. Salmon, trout, black cod, anchovies are not only good source of protein but also provide essential omega 3 fatty acids.
Dietary fish is identified as an important component of weight loss diet and improves metabolic health.
Shrimps and mussels are also healthy seafood sources of protein. 1 ounce serving of salmon or trout combined with salads is an excellent option or you can combine seafood with rice or stuffing for baked potatoes. Canned fish can also be included in salads.
What does this mean? Protein content:20-25g per serving (3oz) Fishes like salmon, trout, sardines are good sources of omega 3 fatty acids and combining them with carb dishes like rice or salads is advised, since they will increase satiety effect of these food items.
4. Indulge in eggs
A simple way of boosting your protein intake is eating eggs for breakfast. Most breakfast options such as toast, bagel, cereals are high in carbohydrates.
You could replace these with eggs. 2 small eggs provide 54 calories and 10g protein. 1 ounce of scrambled eggs provides 3 g protein.
A study conducted at St. Louis University compared the effect of egg breakfast to bagel breakfast on weight loss.
Egg breakfast brought about 61% greater reduction in BMI, 65% greater weight loss and 16% greater reduction in body fat.
This was when egg breakfast was combined with low calorie diet.
Also egg breakfast curbs appetite better than equal calorie bagel breakfast. Not only in breakfast, you can include eggs in your cooking.
Add boiled eggs to salads, casseroles and meats. Beat eggs into mashed potatoes, sauces and vegetables. Include egg yolks in pancakes, custards, puddings and milkshakes. Opt for deviled eggs.
What does this mean?Protein content: 6g for 1 large egg (50g) Opt for 2 small eggs for breakfast instead of bagel. Add boiled eggs to salads or casseroles or beat eggs into sauces and vegetable preparations.
5. Innovate with milk
Milk is a great source of dairy protein. Apart from its protein content, the calcium in milk also boosts weight loss.
Milk consumption helps curb appetite thereby facilitating reduced intake and weight loss. Use milk while preparing hot cereals, cocoa etc.
Include cream in soups or while preparing sauces for vegetables or other dishes. You could also included powdered milk in casseroles, cream soups, meat loaf, puddings etc.
Try to swap regular beverages with milk and consume at least 1 cup of milk a day. Milk spiced with turmeric and cinnamon is a great elixir for health.
What does this mean? Protein intake: 8g protein for 1 cup (244g) Aim for 1 cup of milk a day. Include milk in your cooking like cream soups or sauces.
6. Snack on yogurt
Yogurt again a great source of dairy protein and calcium is a great option for snack. However look out for added sugars in the yogurt.
Greek yogurt is highly recommended for its a rich and creamier since whey and other liquids are removed. 100g of Greek yogurt provides 10g protein and 11% of your daily calcium intake and 13% of vitamin D intake.
The increased amount of protein in Greek yogurt compared to lower protein snacks is found to curb appetite and support weight loss.
You can consume fruits and cereals with yogurt, sandwich it between biscuits or crackers and include it in milkshakes. You can use it to prepare dips and sauces.
What does this mean? Protein content: 10g protein per 100g serving Snack on Greek yogurt and combine it with fruits, cereals or biscuits. Sneak it in your dips and sauces.
7. Don’t shy away from cheese
Cheese and weight loss- the equation doesn’t seem to be balanced.
However to meet the recommended 1 cup of dairy a day you can have 1 ounce serving of cheese a day.
1 ounce serving of parmesan cheese provides 11g protein and 122 calories.
Goat’s cheese contains 6g protein and 103 calories. 1 ounce serving of low fat mozzarella cheese contains 8g protein and only 78 calories.
You can add cheese to noodles, soups, casseroles, sandwiches etc. You could also use cottage cheese to stuff fruits, vegetables and pasta shells.
What does this mean? Protein content: 3-11g per ounce serving Keeping the calories in mind you could include cheese in your diet. Go for high protein cheese such as parmesan, romano, low fat mozzarella and low fat goat cheese.
8. Whip up a protein shake
Smoothies for breakfast are worth looking forward too but are generally not rich in protein.
Here are a few ingredients that you could add to your smoothie and raise its protein quotient.
1 scoop of protein powder such as whey or those made from soy, brown rice or pea protein should provide 20-50g of protein a day.
Other options including blending silken tofu, adding nut butters, adding oats, chia seeds and flaxseeds.
What does this mean? Protein content: above 20g per serving depending on ingredients
Elevate protein content of breakfast smoothies by adding a scoop of protein powder or adding chia seeds, flaxseeds, oats or nut butters.
9. Opt for high protein grains
Whole grains provide more protein per carbohydrate. Rice bran provides 13.4g/100g and wheat germ 23.2g/100g.
Triticale provides 13.1g/100g, spelt 5.5g/100g, kamut 5.7g/100g, amaranth 3.8g/100g and teff 3.9g/100g. Whole wheat pasta provides 7.5g protein per cup while Japanese soba noodles provide 5.8g protein per cup.
Opt for whole grain products.
The fibre content of whole grains aids in weight loss. These grains combined with animal protein can aid in designing complete protein dishes that meet your daily protein requirements.
What does this mean? Protein content: 3-25g per 100g depending on choice of grain
Certain grains provide more protein per carbohydrate than others. Include such whole grains in your diet such as triticale, quinoa, spelt, teff, amaranth. Opt for whole grain products.
10. Replace rice with quinoa
Quinoa is another plant based protein source which you should not miss out on.
Unlike other grains, quinoa is rich in amino acids that most grains are deficient in and hence are considered as incomplete protein sources.
Also quinoa is low in fat content and provides heart healthy fats. It is a great source of antioxidants, vitamin E and minerals.
1 cup of cooked quinoa (185g) provides 8g protein but 222 calories.
Instead of rice preparations you could eat quinoa. Opt for noodles made from quinoa and you can use quinoa flour while baking.
You can have quinoa as breakfast porridge. You can include quinoa sprouts in salads.
What does this mean? Protein content: 8g per 1 cup (185g) of cooked quinoa Quinoa is a great plant based protein. Swap rice with quinoa; use quinoa flour for baking and combine quinoa and fruits for breakfast porridge.
11. Blend in oats
Oats are whole grain cereals that are cherished as a breakfast item in Europe and North America.
They have multiple health benefits such as lowering blood sugar, cholesterol and are also good for weight loss.
1 ounce serving of oats provides 5g protein for 109 calories. Oats are rich in dietary fibre such as beta glucan and also excellent source of nutrients.
Apart from oatmeal or oats porridge as breakfast, you can use oat groats for stuffing and sprinkle oat bran on cereals.
You can snack on oatmeal cookies and even prepare granola from oats. You can include oat flour in baking and also blend in oats in shakes and smoothies.
What does this mean? Protein content: 5g protein per 1oz serving Oats are a good source of protein and great for weight loss. You can use oat flour in baking and blend it in smoothies or sprinkle oat bran on cereals. Snack on oatmeal cookies or granola made from oats.
12. Choose high protein veggies
Vegetables are low calorie food items and great in fibre, vitamins, minerals and natural plant antioxidants. And yes they are the health foods that we keep running away from.
If you choose your veggies right, you will realise that some of them provide better protein than others.
1 cup chopped broccoli provides 3g protein, 84 g serving of cooked artichoke provides 2g protein.
1 cup (180g) serving of spinach provides 5g protein and 1 cup (67g) of kale packs 2g protein.
1 cup of peas provide 8g protein and 100 g of asparagus provide 2.2g protein.
Apart from these there are beans, soy, legumes and lentils that provide better amounts of protein and have been discussed individually.
Combing these veggies with animal protein during meals can help in meeting daily protein goals or may be even more than that.
What does this mean? Protein content: 3-15g per 1 cup serving depending on choice of vegetable
Including vegetable sources of protein in diet such as broccoli, beans, legumes, spinach, peas can boost your daily protein intake.
13. Eat more beans
Most individuals don’t eat beans on a regular basis or treat it as a side dish unless one is following a vegetarian diet.
Beans are rich in protein, low on fats and serve as excellent source of dietary fibre and nutrients.
In fact a study published in Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics proves that a high fibre bean rich diet is as good as a low carbohydrate diet for weight loss and obesity.
1 cup of cooked soybeans offers 26 g protein and they are the beans with highest amount of protein.
Other beans that are good source of proteins are: navy beans, black beans, pinto beans, white beans, kidney beans, lima beans and chickpeas.
1 cup serving provides 15-17 gram of protein meeting around 20-30% of your daily protein requirement.
Use beans to prepare a dip or add it to soups, casseroles, pasta or grain dishes. You can blend them into curry and sauce preparations.
What does this mean? Protein content: 15-30g per 100g depending on choice of beans
Beans, apart from providing protein, offer dietary fibre and nutrients. Some protein rich beans include navy beans, black beans, pinto beans, soybeans and kidney beans etc.
14. Go soy
Soy bean is hailed as a great vegetarian source of protein but there is a quite bit of a debate on whether its estrogen content is healthy or not.
100g of cooked soybean provides 12g protein.
They are also an excellent source of dietary fibre and essential fatty acids. Edamame is a preparation of immature soybeans and 1 cup edamame provides 17g protein.
1 cup soymilk provides 8g protein and is low in saturated fat.
Tofu made from soybean curds is a fermented food and ½ cup firm tofu provides 10g protein. It is free from cholesterol and is an excellent source of calcium and protein.
Consuming tofu is associated with reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, age related brain disorders and osteoporosis.
Firm tofu can be grilled or stir fried with vegetables while silken tofu can be included in puddings, dips or added to smoothies.
What does this means? Protein content: 8-20g protein per serving depending on choice of soy product Soy products are complete plant protein. You can include 1 oz serving of cooked soybean or edamame or you could opt for silken tofu and blend into soups, puddings, dips etc.
15. Love lentils
Lentils are a part of the legume family and may be whole or split.
They are rich in dietary fibre and good for heart and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Lentils vary in color- yellow, red, green, black.
They have the second highest ratio of protein per calorie of any legume.
1 cup cooked lentils provides approx 17g protein. You can make lentil soup or combine it with noodles or include them in salads.
What does this mean? Protein content:15-20g per cup serving based on choice of lentil
Lentils are easy to cook, heart friendly protein sources that you consume as soup or include in salads, rice and noodle preparations.
16. Sprinkle some nuts and seeds
Nuts are a rich source of dietary fibres and fats but if used wisely can aid in weight loss. (Read 5 Nuts That Help In Weight Loss)
Nuts aid in controlling appetite and serve as an excellent source of nutrients.
Nuts have low metabolizable energy- energy or calorie obtained from them is less because they have indigestible fibre.
Including nuts in a weight loss diet leads to greater weight loss.
Among protein rich sources of nuts, almonds top the list. 1 ounce serving of almonds provides 6g protein.
Surprisingly, Black walnuts provide 7 g protein in 1 ounce serving.
1 ounce serving of pistachios provides 6 grams protein and 1 ounce serving of cashews offers around 5 g protein.
Some seeds also provide good amounts of protein.
1 ounce serving of pumpkin seeds provide 8.5 g protein, sunflower seeds provide 5 g, chia seeds offer 4.7 g and flaxseeds offer 5g.
You could sprinkle some nuts over yogurt, salads or oatmeal. Adding chia seeds drinks and smoothies is great.
Sprinkle nuts and seeds on breads, muffins, desserts, waffles and toasts.
You could also blend them with herbs as a sauce for pasta or vegetables.
What does this mean? Protein content: 5-10g per ounce serving based on choice of nuts and seeds Nuts such almonds, black walnuts and pistachio are high in protein. You could snack on them (watch out for the calories) or sprinkle them on various food items such as breads, salads, dips, yogurt or smoothies. You can blend them to prepare sauces and dips.
17. Experiment with nut butters
Nut butters are a wise way of sneaking protein in your diet. Go for homemade nut butters or if opting for the store aisle look for those that have simplest ingredients.
Nut butters are pretty high in calories so you have to be a little careful with them in weight loss.
2tbsp peanut butter provides 8g protein but 188 calories and 16g fat. 2tbsp almond butter provides 7g protein and 196 calories and 18g fat.
Instead of opting for jelly or jam with bread go for nut butters or eat your fruits and waffles with nut butters.
You could also blend them in milk drinks or yogurt. Nut butters can be used as dips for raw veggies.
What does this mean? Protein content: 4-8g per 2 tablespoon serving Nut butters can add 4-8g of protein to your regular diet but remember they are high in calories and fat. They are a great option for spread instead of jelly and jam and can be enjoyed with fruits.
18. Consume protein powder
Protein powder is a simple trick for increasing your protein intake. Whey protein is an excellent option.
Whey is a high quality protein prepared from watery portion of milk that is separated during cheese making.
Whey protein consumption is found to promote muscle gain and simultaneously stimulate fat loss.
1 scoop of whey protein can easily increase your daily intake by 20-50g. Including whey protein in your morning smoothie would be the perfect recipe for weight loss.
Other options for protein powders include powders prepared from soy, egg, brown rice or pea protein. Pea protein powder’s ability to control appetite is comparable to whey.
What does this mean? Protein content: 20-50g protein per scoop serving Include protein powder such as whey or protein powder such as soy, egg, brown rice or pea protein in shakes and smoothies.
19. Toss in the chia
Chia seeds are one of the superfoods of this era whose health benefits are touted throughout the world.
They are calorie dense but the maximum intake is 2 tablespoon so that would not amount to much calories – approx 98.
Chia seeds are excellent source of dietary fibre and omega 3s both of which are useful in weight loss.
They are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin B and minerals.
2 tablespoon of chia seeds provide approximately 2-3g of protein but these are a great way of sneaking protein in your diet.
Chia seeds contain essential amino acids and are a good plant based protein source. They are gluten free too.
You can add chia seeds to lemonade, fruit juices and smoothies. You can sprinkle ground or whole chia seeds to cereals, yogurts and salads.
What does this mean? Protein content: 2-3g per tablespoon Apart from protein content, chia seeds are an excellent source of dietary fibre. Include them in juices and shakes or just sprinkle them over yogurt, salads, cereals etc.
20. Opt for pea soup
Split pea soup or soup made from fresh green peas can serve as a great snack between meals or can be combined with another animal protein source as a full meal.
Pea protein is a high quality protein source rich in amino acid arginine that aids in muscle gains. Pea soup is an excellent source of dietary fibre, low on calories and satiating.
1 cup serving of pea soup provides 8g protein. If you are using a canned version, go for low sodium soup or opt for homemade pea soup.
What does this mean? Protein content: 8g per cup serving Peas are a good source of plant protein and rich in dietary fibre. Pea soup provides 8g protein per cup and can aid in controlling appetite.
21. Sneak in some wheat germ
Wheat germ is the reproductive element of wheat that is separated during milling process. It has low energy density but rich in minerals, vitamins and fiber.
Wheat germ is known to boost immunity and energy levels.
¼ cup wheat germ packs about 104 calories and 7g protein.
You can sprinkle 1-2 tablespoon of wheat germ in cereals or in smoothies. Another option is replacing 20-25% of baking flour with wheat germ.
Replace bread crumb with wheat germ or use it as a topping over fruits, desserts or yogurt.
What does this mean? Protein content: 7g per ¼ cup of wheat germ Wheat germ provides high amount protein per calorie and can be easily included in variety of dishes such as soups, smoothies, cereals, desserts to improve their protein content.
22. Use Hummus as a spread
Hummus is a famous Middle Eastern dish. It is a creamy spread like dish made from mashed chick peas.
It is a good source of plant protein since it contains chickpeas and it also has the goodness of olive oil.
Hummus combined with pita bread or other grain dish can serve as complete protein. 100g of hummus provides 8g protein.
Hummus also provides heart healthy fats and contains tahini which provides antioxidants, good fats and minerals.
You can use hummus as a spread or dip. It can be mixed with broth or water to make a salad dressing. Combining it with raw veggies makes a nutritious rich food.
What does this mean? Protein content: 8g per 100g Hummus is a protein rich dish that can be used as a sauce, spread, salad dressing or dip instead of conventional options.
23. Include some mushrooms
Edible mushrooms are a part of staple diet for some cultures.
Mushrooms have a high protein content say 20-30% of dry matter.
They contain all amino acids that are essential for human nutrition.
In fact mushroom protein is intermediate between meat and vegetable protein. Agaricus bisporus, a type of mushroom has edible amino acid value comparable to that of egg protein.
Mushrooms are low in fat say 2-8% of dry weight. 100g of shitake mushrooms provide only 34 calories and 2.2g protein, 100g of morel mushroom offer 3.1g protein for 31 calories and 100g white mushroom provide 3.1g protein for 22 calories.
You can sauté mushrooms with onion and garlic and serve as a side dish or topping over animal protein.
You can also include them in soups and pasta. You can grill mushrooms and add them to sandwiches or add mushroom slices to omelettes and salads.
Stuffed, baked mushrooms are a delicious option.
What does this mean? Protein content: 2-3g per 100g Edible mushrooms offer high protein per calorie and are a complete source of protein comparable to meat protein. You can sauté or grill mushrooms and use them as toppings, add them to salads, omelettes, soups, pasta etc.
24. Snack on sprouts
Sprouts are very nutritious.
The process of sprouting increases the level of enzymes in the seeds that increase digestibility. It also increases the amount of protein.
Popular sprouts include alfalfa, mung beans, wheat, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, broccoli sprouts, brussel sprouts, pumpkin, mustard etc.
1 cup brussel sprouts provides 3g protein, ½ cup soybean sprouts provide 5g protein and alfalfa 1 cup serving provides 1.3g protein.
They are low calorie foods rich in minerals and vitamins and can be included in salads or you could boil them and add your favourite spices and sauces and enjoy them as a snack.
Clean the sprouts well and preferably boil them prior to consumption.
What does this mean? Protein content: 1-5g per 1 cup serving Sprouts are very nutritive but are not generally enjoyed as a main dish. However you can include them in salads or layer them in sandwiches and burgers.
25. Go for protein supplements
Various protein supplements are available in the market in the form of protein powder.
They are generally whey, casein or egg protein, hemp protein or pea protein. These are generally the last resort unless you are into serious muscle gain.
Protein bars are also available but you have to watch out for the added sugar content.
Protein tablets are an alternative to protein powder recommended to athletes and bodybuilders. One beneficial protein supplement is spirulina. It is a blue green algae and a vegan source of protein.
It has many health benefits such as detoxifying heavy metal poisoning, boosting immunity, fighting infections etc.
It provides 65-70% protein per dry weight. Before taking protein supplements consult a doctor or nutritionist to clarify safety concerns.
What does this mean? Protein content:20-60g depending on choice of supplement Protein supplements are concentrated versions of protein available in the form of protein powder, protein tablets and nutritional supplements. Spirulina is a good nutritional supplement that boosts protein intake. Protein supplements are advised only if you are really falling short of time to prepare a meal or if you are into serious bulking. Consult a nutritionist or doctor prior to taking protein supplements.
Protein is the king of nutrients.
Apart from consuming regular animal or plant protein sources you could do some simple changes use oat flour partially while baking, sprinkle wheat germ in cereals, add chia seeds to drinks, opt for protein rich grains etc.
When making these choices watch out for the calories as in the case of nut butters. Stay healthy!