Whether you’re a powerlifting, bodybuilding man or a casual, recreational yogi, proper protein intake is important. Even if you aren’t active, the average man is suggested to take in about 56 grams of protein per day. While the average woman should ingest about 46 grams per day. Those numbers quickly double, triple or quadruple depending on your body weight, level of activity and fitness goals. Contrary to popular belief, getting in your grams doesn’t have to mean overdosing on steak, chicken and tubs of whey protein. We put together a list of tips and protein-packed foods you wouldn’t normally think of. These foods are for maximum muscle growth, maintenance, faster post-workout recoveries, more energy and better performance in everything you do.
As a more nutritional alternative to white rice and other starches, quinoa has about 8 grams of protein per cup and plenty of fiber to keep you full. You can cook it with chicken and vegetables for dinner or even use it as a cereal alternative for a balanced breakfast.
If the fancy name throws you for a loop, don’t worry; edamame is just another word for boiled soybeans. These legumes are packed with fiber and protein making them excellent snacks, salad toppers and ingredients. Try them shelled or still in the pod, with or without salt, and you’ll get about 11 grams of protein in just a half cup of shelled beans!
Have a busy day and don’t know what to bring for a snack? Fill a ziploc with a couple scoops of almonds and snack on them throughout the day. With their healthy fats, protein and fiber, almonds will keep you full longer. If you eat just a half cup of almonds, you’ll score about 15 grams of protein!
4. Meal Prepping
Stay productive on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon by prepping your meals for the rest of the week. Doing so will save time and keep yourself from going out for pricey meals or indulging in not-so-good for you foods. You can grill up your chicken breasts, boil your quinoa, steam all your veggies and portion all your meals for the week in a single afternoon.
5. Homemade Protein Shakes & Smoothies
Buying a tub of protein that you actually like will be a worthwhile investment. Most supplement stores offer small packages of protein samples for you to try before you settle on a brand and flavor that’s worth your money. Once you find the one you like, start making breakfast smoothies and snack shakes with your favorite fruits and a scoop or two of protein. You’ll pack in the grams you need all while sipping on a delicious, sweet treat.
6. Chia Seeds
With tons of iron, fiber, calcium and almost 5 grams of protein per half cup, chia seeds are one of the most underrated superfoods. They have more calcium than a cup of milk and the same amount of iron and magnesium as a cup of spinach. Load these up into an overnight batch of chia pudding or mix a handful into your next smoothie for an extra vitamin-infused punch of protein.
7. Chickpeas, aka Garbanzo Beans
They might not look like much, but baked and seasoned chickpeas make an addicting and satisfying batch of munchies. They’re crunchy enough to curb your chip cravings and can be boiled to make nutritious salad toppers or yummy side dishes. Each cup of these legumes packs about 12-15 grams of protein making them a kitchen staple.
8. Bake With Greek Yogurt and Cottage Cheese
To cut down on the amount of saturated fat often used in baking recipes, try replacing butter, oil, sour cream, whole milk and other wet ingredients with greek yogurt and cottage cheese. Many recipes are available online and I, from personal experience, can guarantee you won’t taste the difference. Plus, a single container of Fage’s 2% Greek Yogurt contains 20 grams of protein while just half a cup of cottage cheese has 15 grams of protein! Time to get baking.
9. Eggs & Egg whites
One of the most obvious sources of protein, eggs and egg whites are incredibly versatile and nutritious. Crack an egg into your protein shake or stir an egg white into your morning oatmeal for a protein boost. One egg white has almost 4 grams of protein while an egg yolk has 2.5 grams.