Why is protein in your diet so important? How do I incorporate it into each meal? How do I know if I am getting enough? These are all important questions you need to be asking yourself! If you want to lose weight, build muscle, or just simply maintain. Protein is the single most important macronutrient that builds and maintains body tissue. Pretty important, huh? That’s why I am listing 13 sources of protein everyone should have in their kitchen.
Protein is described in the dictionary as: any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds that consist of large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids and are an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, collagen, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies.
We’ve all heard that to build muscle, you especially need protein in your diet. It’s important to grow, repair & maintain. When you are weight training, you are essentially breaking down your muscle, so you need protein to help repair and grow them. How do you know how much protein you need in a day or per meal? An easy way to help figure that out is to take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2 to figure out your weight in kilograms. Next you take that weight x .8(not very active) x 1.3(active or pregnant), and x 1.8(very active). All of this depends how much exercise you get. Myself, I like to try to get 25-30 grams of protein per meal or nearing 100 grams a day. I consider myself between active and very active. If I am not weight training or doing a h.i.i.t workout, I am almost always getting in some form of cardio on my off days. Having 3 children, definitely is a great motivator to stay active! There seriously is minimal time in my day to just sit and relax.
After weight training, you always see people drinking a shake, why is this? There is such a thing called the “anabolic window of opportunity”. It is a period of time, after your workout that protein synthesis is at its peak. Which means=building muscle. I like getting in another 20-30 grams of protein with in an hour after my workout. So mixing up a protein shake or eating a protein bar like these, are quick and easy. I love this Vega plant-based protein, and the Garden of Life plant protein in chocolate, the best. In the picture is what my husband uses: True Nutrition Protein(souly because I was out of mine) He drinks whey protein, but I like plant protein. I really like how plant protein doesn’t bloat me, like whey protein does. I honestly switched one day because every time I drank whey protein, it would give me heartburn, so I tried plant protein once and have loved it ever since! I use the vanilla in a lot of protein bites that I make, and it tastes delicious mixed with any fruit. I love the chocolate by itself or mixed with peanut butter for an extra dose of protein! Protein bites are an easy way to get in a little extra protein for a mid-morning or afternoon snack!(plus kids always love them, too) Below are some delicious recipes that will have you drooling from my pinterest board: “Protein Bites & Fat Bombs”
It’s just not feasible everyday to walk around with a notepad & pen to keep track of how much protein you’ve gotten in with each meal. A great app that I use is “Myfitness Pal“. Its free and you can log whether you’ve had 1/2 cup, or 1 cup or by oz., etc. of each food. Most food is already in the app, so it recognizes what you type in and the nutritional breakdown(caloric content, fat, sodium, carbs, & proteins). The only thing I wish is that …………I had designed this app! Its genius!!!! If you routinely eat the same things each week, the great thing is that the app remembers your brand once you put it in the system(if it isn’t already in their to begin with). It’s also an awesome app if you’re looking to lose weight. You can set it to the amount of daily calories your body needs to lose weight by putting in your height/weight measurements and then tracks each meal to let you know where you are at throughout the day.
13 Sources of Protein
everyone should have in their kitchen
- Cottage Cheese– excellent source of protein that you can eat by itself, or with your favorite fruit. 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains 27 grams of protein. Not bad ehh?
- Chia Seeds– A little secret about chia seeds is not only is it high in amino acids & omega-3 as well as a ton of other benefits, but it has 20% protein by weight. 1 Tablespoon contains 3 g of protein. I love mixing these in with protein bites, greek yogurt and even salads! I could probably write a blog post on chia seeds alone, because they have so many benefits. Another big one is that they help stabilize blood sugars! Be sure to check some great options out here:
- Protein Powder– I talk about it in every other post it feels like, but that’s because it’s an incredible way to boost up your protein amount in your daily diet. On average, 1 scoop of protein powder(in any given brand) is between 18-22 grams of protein. You can simply mix a scoop with milk or water with a little bit of ice and blend it with a hand-held emersion blender, or the other popular option I use (as mentioned above) is in my protein bites pinterest board here.
- Eggs– There’s 8 grams of protein in a jumbo egg(why buy large eggs when you can get an extra gram of protein in the bigger size). Eggs can be boiled, baked or fried. You can use them in salads, by themselves for an easy snack, or boiled & sliced(which is one of my favorites) with some salt & pepper for breakfast. Put them in chicken or turkey salad for a delicious lunch! Ok…….I officially just got hungry!
- Chicken-Probably one of the most well-known sources of protein. But if you are like me, it can be easy to get burnt out on eating chicken all the time, but you can get creative in just about every way possible! Just 4 oz of chicken contains 36 grams of protein. Visit my pinterest board “Eating Clean“, that you can find tons of chicken recipes that I have saved & made
- Peanut Butter– Our go to brand is Skippy Natural, but I know everyone has their own favorite. For 2 tbsp of peanut butter there are 7 grams of protein. This, of course is a great option for protein as long as you don’t have any nut allergies! There’s literally thousands of recipes that include peanut butter in them, but going back to the protein bites, there’s many that contain peanut butter, so you get a boost of extra protein in them. Again, visit my pinterest board here for some great recipes!
- Cheese– I just might like cheese a bit too much, you guys! Hey, at least I am honest! 1 slice of cheddar cheese or 1 oz. has 7 grams of protein. You can literally top any food with cheese. Need some extra flavor, add some cheese. Kid’s wont eat something, add some cheese. Cheerios need some extra flavor, add some cheese(ok….I might be kidding on this one). Just don’t add it too much to every meal because it can back the plumbing up if you know what I mean……(wink)
- Greek Yogurt– Not just any yogurt, but specifically greek yogurt! If you look at the labels on yogurt, there’s a lot of sugar in them and some protein, but plain greek yogurt has less sugar and a lot more protein in it! Buy plain, not Vanilla, again, because there’s more sugar in the vanilla and you can simply add in a small amount of vanilla flavoring to the plain if you really need that flavor. My go-to breakfast, favorite one of all time is mixing 1 cup of greek yogurt, 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, sprinkle some sliced almonds and some cinnamon, then mix it all up and enjoy the deliciousness! You can even add in your favorite berries! 1 cup of full fat greek yogurt( Cabot and Fage are great brands) has a whopping 18-22 grams of protein.
- Quaker Oats Oatmeal-protein– Another popular option I like to eat for breakfast pre-workout is a packet of this. I like the cranberry-almond flavor. 1 packet contains 7 grams of protein. It does have quite a bit of carbs at 27 grams per packet, but this is a great pre-workout food as I mentioned! Mix with water or milk for a little bit extra protein
- Salmon– For .5 oz of salmon it boasts a whopping 40 grams of protein. HOLY COW!!!! Salmon is one of those foods that I know is absolutely amazing for you, but it’s just hard to fall in love with the taste. I sort of have to force myself to eat it. Terryaki or honey mustard does give it a bitter flavor on a grilled or baked filet. I’ve only mentioned this 100 times in this post, but there’s some great recipes on Pinterest for ways to prepare salmon.
- Turkey Burger-4 oz of turkey burger contains 22 grams of protein. You can pretty much substitute any recipe calling for (beef) burger, with turkey burger. I do find that it tends to be a bit dryer, only because there’s not much fat in it. I love making zucchini lasanga with it, taco salads and stuffed bell peppers! I really am getting so hungry as I type this post…….I’m salivating!
- Almonds-Again as long as you aren’t allergic to nuts 1 cup of almonds contains 20 grams of protein. I love sliced almonds in my salads, also mentioned above, in my greek yogurt, protein bites, and this drool-worthy recipe(Paleo Cauliflower-Hamburger Casserole)
- Milk-As long as you aren’t lactose intolerant, milk is a long-time popular choice for protein in your diet. 1 cup of 2% has 8 grams of protein in it. I don’t think I need to list what all you can do with milk. I have the utmost faith that my reader’s are pretty smart!!!
I think I’ve given you a great list of options that you can stock your kitchen with, now go on…….with your amazing self and see what mouth-watering, protein-packed, recipes you can put together! Thanks for reading!