Why is protein important?
Protein fuels almost every cell in the body. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. You also use protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Protein also makes us feel full, regulates hunger hormones, speeds up the metabolism, and takes more calories to digest – hence it’s helpful for weight loss.
How much protein should I eat?
Those who work out for 45 minutes three to five days a week need an average of 0.40 – 0.85 grams per pound of body weight. That means the average American (who weighs about 180 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) should take in a minimum 70 grams of protein per day.
If you’re a Nerdy Girl Member and looking to “tone”, increase this to
To really make protein work for you, aim for 20 grams of protein at each meal.
How can you get 20 grams of protein in each meal?
Here are 8 easy ways:
In every large egg, you’ll find six grams of muscle-repairing protein. So, if you crack three of them into a pan with a quarter cup of shredded American cheese, you’ll get a total of 23 grams of protein! If you’re not a fan of cheese, add a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt to the cracked egg mixture to make extra fluffy scrambled eggs.
2. Make a Parfait
A serving of 2% Greek yogurt carries 150 calories and packs an impressive 20 grams of protein. Top off your container with some fresh fruit and nuts for some added sweetness and crunch.
3. Pep up Your Oatmeal
When prepared with water and topped with fruit, a cup of oatmeal will serve up about 7 grams of protein. To hit the 20-gram mark, use a ¾ cup of 1% milk (6 g/protein) instead of H20 and top off the bowl with a ½ cup of slivered almonds (6 g/protein). For added sweetness and flavor use a small drizzle honey and a few shakes of cinnamon.
4. Add Protein Powder
Whether you’re making smoothies, oatmeal, pancakes, or waffles, protein powder can help you make your meal healthier and more filling. A standard scoop has about 18 to 35 grams of protein, so you can rest assured you’ll hit the nutritional mark.
5. Avocado Toast with Cottage Cheese
Take 2 slices of Ezekiel bread and top each one with a quarter-cup of low-sodium cottage cheese, and then top with 1/4 of an avocado and sprinkle with a ½ tablespoon of chia seeds and ground pepper to taste.
6. Chia Pudding
Combine 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, a ¾ cup of 1% milk, 1 tablespoons of maple syrup, and a ¼ teaspoon of vanilla in a jar with a lid. Cover the container, shake it up, and let it chill overnight. In the morning top off the pudding with a ¼ cup of slivered almonds and your choice of fruit. The resulting dish will be one that packs 375 calories, 17 grams of protein and 11 grams of satiating fiber. To kick the protein count up to 22 grams, add a ¼ scoop of protein powder.
7. Have Lox on Ezekiel Toast
Instead of scarfing down a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, switch to two slices of protein-filled Ezekiel Bread, smother it with a tablespoon of whipped cream cheese (since it’s filled with air you can get away with using less), and top it off with 3-ounces of lox. This simple yet tasty combo will give you 24 grams of protein and 6 grams of filling fiber all for 285 calories!
8. Top your salad.
If a garden salad and a cup of soup is your go-to lunch combo, you may or may not be getting enough protein to stay full and satisfied through your mid-afternoon meetings. To get more protein during your afternoon meal, add some bulk to your salad. Every ounce of animal protein (which includes everything from fish and chicken to turkey and steak) contains between 5 and 10 grams of protein, while vegetarian sources of protein like hard boiled eggs and beans have about 8 and 11 grams per half cup.
Are you struggling with weight loss? Or maybe you’re just not sure exactly how much protein you should be getting… Schedule your no-obligation Success Session today!