How to Eat More Protein

When I decided it was time to get serious again about losing the vacation weight and getting back on track, I struggled. I was hungry all the time. If you missed the post I wrote addressing hunger, check it out: Always Hungry? Here’s Why. I knew I needed to make some changes to my diet — not just getting back to my normal calorie range and reducing the amount of sugar I eat. I needed to eat more protein.

I was poking around online trying to figure out how to change my diet and came across this article: 12 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein. A brief breakdown: You’re Always Hungry, You’re Cutting Calories, You’re Lifting Heavy Things, You’re Engaged in Chronic Cardio, You’ve Got Achy Joints, You’re Experiencing Chronic Stress. Those were the ones that spoke to me. Yep, yep, yep. While I’m not necessarily lifting heavy, I am trying to get back into the weight lifting routine. I am hungry a lot, I AM cutting my calories to lose the weight, and damn I’m always achy…

The answer: I need more protein.

Which I already knew. Eating healthy fats and good proteins are what will fill you up. Sure, you get hungry and grab a bagel or chips or other junk thinking it will curb the hunger but those empty calories and carby things don’t go the distance. At least not for me.

I’ve definitely got the dinner down. We eat a protein with a vegetable and a salad or quinoa. That’s a pretty typical dinner. We rotate between chicken breasts, salmon, shrimp, ground turkey, boneless pork chops, and steak. I don’t really need help sneaking in more protein at dinner, it’s the other meals.

veggie-protein

A typical breakfast for me has been eggs and gluten free toast. It works well for me. But lately I’ve tried to mix things up to see if I can get more mileage out of that breakfast. One example: when I was doing food prep for the week, I browned some spicy pork sausage to use for the week. For breakfast that week I scrambled two eggs and mixed in some of the pork sausage and topped it with avocado. It was a great breakfast! Tasty and filling and I wasn’t starving by the time my usual morning break came around.

One thing I decided to change: add egg whites. Two scrambled eggs are about 140 calories. Adding some egg whites only adds about 15-20 calories to that but it bulks up the scramble. Perfect. Adding veggies to the scramble is also a smart move. The vegetables add bulk in healthy ways. Some of my favorites that are higher in protein are spinach, kale and broccoli. Yum! Doing a Frittata/Quiche type dish for the week is a faster way to do breakfast and pack it with lots of high protein things. (Maybe I need to start doing these muffins for breakfast again.)

eggs

Back when Michael and I were doing the slow carb diet, we ate a TON of beans. You can get the food list here: Slow Carb Food List. Not really paleo-friendly, but I liked aspects of the slow-carb diet. Eating beans filled you up like you wouldn’t believe. Soybeans (edamame) are the highest protein but I am not a huge fan of eating soy so I try to limit that. Navy Beans have 15.8 grams of protein per serving; black beans have 15.2 grams; pinto beans have 14 grams per serving. Beans are really versatile, too. You can add them to eggs, burritos, wraps, salads, pretty much anything.

What about snacks? I think that’s where I need to get more protein. Typically I eat an apple for a morning snack. I am trying to add string cheese to that because the combination seems to be much more filling than either of those on their own. Here are some other ideas I came up with:

Peanut Butter with celery and raisins

Cottage Cheese (This is one of my favorite snacks because it doesn’t usually take much to satisfy me.)

Greek Yogurt (I prefer to use plain and then add nuts and fresh fruit to it)

Nuts (cashews and pistachios are my favorites)

Hard-boiled eggs

Beef Jerky 

Hummus with veggies

Veggie and meat wrap (I saw this on pinterest and it looks really good! Use lean deli meat like turkey)

Kefir (I love this stuff!)

Swiss cheese with fruit 

Almond Milk

Protein Bar (this is tricky because it can be high in sugar and carbs)

A protein shake is another tip I see online a lot. This is an iffy one for me. The problem is that most protein shakes don’t fill me up like food does. I’ve tried many times to supplement meals or snacks with a protein shake and I was hungry pretty quickly afterward. Another downside? Sugar. Protein shakes are often high in sugar. I like the Atkins protein shakes because they are low in calories and low in sugar/carbs. But again–it’s not filling me up like food does.

peanutbowl2

 

The trick is to find food that is high in protein but not high in calories! Nuts are very high in calories. Luckily I only have to eat a few of them to take the edge off my hunger and lately I’ve been pairing pistachios with a string cheese. That combination is pretty tasty, especially when I’m craving salty/crunchy foods.

I need some more ideas. What are your favorite ways to eat more protein?

12 Responses

  1. You probably hit all of mine, so I’m not sure if I’ll have much to add. This morning I had an Italian egg scramble I made up. With a little spinach and tomatoes, some Tuscan seasoning and some shredded part-skin mozzarella (lower in calories/fat than my usual cheddar!)

    I do nuts just about every afternoon or right before a workout if I feel like I’m “starving”! I divide them up into 100-calorie pack snack bags. I have these set for the evenings, too. Pistachios are perfect because it takes time to shell them. I got some salt & pepper ones we love from Costco.

    I’m with you on string cheese and cottage cheese. I intend to put together some antipasto skewers like this soon! http://growingupbilingual.com/2013/recipes/gourmet-and-healthy-snack-appetizer-recipes-with-sargento-string-cheese/

    I like to top my cottage cheese with tomatoes and make a “poorman’s caprese” or salsa and make a “salsa caprese.” http://seasonitalready.com/2014/01/23/cottage-cheese-countless-ways/

    Love to see other ideas! Thanks for posting.
    Carrie @ Season It Already recently posted..Is This Real Life?

    1. Love your ideas! I will try several of those. Your scramble sounds fantastic. Where do you get Tuscan seasoning?

      I like your idea of putting the nuts in little bags already measured out. Nuts are high in calories and easy to over eat. So pre-measuring is fantastic.

  2. I’m trying to get more protein in, too! Dinners are fine (similar to yours) and lunch is leftovers. Breakfast is my high carb meal (Greek yogurt, cereal, coffee) and I always snack on fruit or rice cakes. I do need to make an effort to have more protein for my snacks! I’ve been trying to add an egg to things to up my protein but I’m not doing very well… I should try doing it again. At the local famers market I can get 15 free range eggs for $6, so I finally feel good about eating eggs again!

  3. I have been loving Siggi’s Skyr. It’s like greek yogurt. It has 100 calories per serving and 14 grams of protein. Plus, only 9 grams sugar. And, best of all, it is delicious. I love it. Vanilla is my favorite. It’s made with real vanilla and filled with little vanilla bean flecks. If I want to make it a more substantial snack I add like a tablespoon or two of unsweetened coconut flakes.
    Joy @ WhatIWeighToday recently posted..(157.4) What is Wrong with Me?

  4. I buy unsweetened, unflavored whey protein. Then I can add it to whatever I want or make my own shakes. That way I control what goes in them.

    I also whisk liquid egg whites into oatmeal or oatbran. That really lasts me for a long time in the morning, especially if I add nut butter for a fat on top.
    Lori recently posted..Biking and tightening up

  5. I for sure have string cheese during the day. It’s hard for me to have hard boiled eggs during the day because they are smelly – and I hate bringing smelly food to work! I have these little bags of dry roasted edamame – I think the brand is Sensible Foods or something like that – they are 100 calories and that really takes the edge off – I also keep frozen edamame at the office.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge