Are you eating enough protein? Even if you’re following the recommended guidelines for protein intake, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that you’re still short. Guidelines indicate that about 10 percent of daily calories come from protein, but you should probably be getting way more than that. Especially if you are older or active.
And exactly how much should you eat? It seems like 15–35-percent of daily calories from protein can provide several benefits. Eating higher levels of protein can help build and maintain muscle and contribute to a leaner physique. Animal sources are the best because they offer great serving sizes of complete protein but also feature other nutrients like vitamin B-12, and your body’s preferred source of iron.
As many people move to eat less meat—data indicates 31-percent of Americans now adopt meat-free days—getting good sources of protein may take even more effort. And for the record, no one is saying eating more whole-plant based products is a problem. It’s just that eating a balanced diet rich in animal proteins is healthy, too, and a great compliment to fruits, veggies, and whole grains. So, if you’re swapping out your beef or chicken tonight for a plant-based burger (an ultra-processed food), here are some ways to include more protein in your day:
- Egg whites: Egg whites are a high protein food that provides 10 g of protein per 1/3 of a cup. Add egg whites with an egg for a morning omelet or put them in your smoothie.
- Chicken is another excellent source of protein. One hundred grams of ground chicken has 17 g of protein, and an average chicken breast will have 35+. You can easily add it to a sandwich or salad as part of a healthy lunch.
- Greek yogurt is an excellent source of complete protein. It’s an easy and versatile snack, and a ¾ cup serving features 16 g of protein. Purchase sugar-free versions to boost the health factor!
Trying to include a good protein source with each meal or snack is an excellent way to ensure you’re getting enough protein to maintain health. Continue to eat your fruits and vegetables; just don’t be scared of fresh meats either.