10 easy ways to add more protein to your diet, today

Dietitian Melissa Meier weighs in on the protein debate, and why it should be your go to for the start of this year. 

Protein, protein, protein. It’s hyped-up at this time of year when every second person is on a health kick – and there are a few very good reasons for it.

Not only does protein help to build and maintain lean muscle mass, it’s also got a fullness factor, so if you’re trying to lose weight, it can really come in handy.

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How much protein do you actually need?

It’s super easy to get enough protein in your diet, and most people eat far more protein than they actually need.

Up to the age of 70, the average woman is recommended to have 0.75 grams of protein for every kilogram of her body weight each day. If you weigh 75 kilos, for example, that equates to just under 60 grams of protein per day.

From the age of 70, it bumps up to 0.94 grams per kilo, per day. For men, the recommendation is 0.84 grams of protein per kilo, per day until the age of 70, and 1.07 grams per kilo, per day after that.

Another way to look at it is to aim for a certain number of serves of protein-rich foods each day. For women, the goal is two and a half serves of protein until the age of 70, and two per day after that. If you’re pregnant, your goal bumps up to three-and-a-half serves per day.

For men, it’s three serves of protein until the age of 70, and two and a half after that. In case you’re wondering, one serve of protein is equivalent to:

  • 65 grams of cooked red meat, like beef or pork
  • 80 grams of cooked poultry, like chicken or turkey
  • 100 grams of cooked fish
  • Two eggs
  • One cup of legumes, like beans, chickpeas or lentils
  • 170 grams of tofu
  • 30 grams of nuts and/or seeds

Instead of trying to solve a maths equation every time you sit down to eat, however, a far easier way to make sure you’re hitting your protein needs is to follow the healthy plate model.

Put simply, that means filling 25 percent of your plate with one of the protein-rich foods listed above. Throw in a few protein-packed snacks throughout the day and you’ll easily beat your daily protein requirements.

10 cheap, dietitian-approved ways to add more protein to your diet

To give you a helping hand in getting enough protein without resorting to expensive protein powders, here are ten of my go-to ways to make sure I’m getting enough of this muscle-building, hunger-busting nutrient:

  • A couple of hard-boiled eggs as an afternoon snack = 11.1 grams of protein
  • A small handful (30 grams) of mixed nuts for morning tea = 5.8 grams of protein
  • A tablespoon of peanut butter drizzled over morning cereal = 6.1 grams of protein
  • A tin of tuna in oil (drained) added to a big leafy salad = 17.1 grams of protein
  • A small tub of Greek yoghurt alongside a slice or two of toast for breakfast = 8.1 grams of protein
  • Half a cup of canned chickpeas thrown into a stew = 5.4 grams of protein
  • Half a cup of cottage cheese spread over wholegrain crackers for lunch = 19.4 grams of protein
  • Half a cup of edamame beans thrown into a stir fry = 6.3 grams of protein
  • A glass of milk as a nightcap = 8.8 grams of protein per cup
  • A couple of tablespoons of chia seeds added to a smoothie before blending = 4 grams of protein

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can follow her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.

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