PROTEIN SOURCES: From which sources will you get enough protein?
So we’ve covered the topic of why protein is essential and how much we should aim to eat. In this video, we’ll go deeper into how to eat more protein and from what sources. When you first start with this diet, you’ll probably have difficulty getting the daily recommended protein amount. This is natural and we all have the same challenge. That’s why I want to show you some ideas and things you can do to help you get enough protein.
The first thing you should know is that protein quality differs significantly between different sources. For example, protein from broccoli has much lower quality than protein from eggs. It is called the amino acid score. Basically, what it means is that the higher the score, the more beneficial amino acids the protein consists of are. For example, we can only use some of the broccoli protein because it doesn’t have many amino acids that make up our muscles.
Simultaneously, eggs, for example, have complete coverage of amino acids in our body to use them for everything. But the amino acid score isn’t all there is to it. We also have to consider what comes with the protein. There’s never just lean protein in nature. For example, if we eat processed meat like sausages, we get processed fat and potentially harmful additives; for eating salmon, we get pure protein with excellent quality omega fats.
So the first thing you should learn is to fill your diet with higher amino acid score protein from quality sources. What are these?
The best natural quality protein sources are:
- Fish (and other water life like shrimps); fish also has unique omega-3 fatty acid content you’ll get nowhere else and perfect protein quality
- Eggs – also perfect protein quality with lots of good fats and micronutrients
- Chicken and other poultry – quality protein without too much extra fat
- Low-fat dairy (just because we can get the fat calories from much better sources) like cottage cheese, curd, plain yogurt, and sometimes protein bars and drinks
- Low-fat meat (also the liver and other organs)(same fat principle)
- Soy protein (and some other plant-based high-quality protein)
- Also protein supplements, but we’ll talk about those later
So the most significant portion of your protein should come from those sources.
What other or secondary protein sources are there to fill your need?
- Nuts and seeds from which you will get decent quality protein, but also good fats, minerals, fiber, and other micronutrients
- Legumes, lentils, and beans
- Oats, quinoa, and some other plants
So, knowing that, how do you get to eat this amount of protein? By planning! We are all programmed to eat lots of carbohydrates – biologically and socially. So we have to work to get the protein consumption up. The best way is to start planning and writing down the amounts. Try and test different online apps and software; there are many great programs out there, some even for free. For example, myfitnesspal at myfitnesspal.com. The more you plan and write down your eating, the more you’ll learn. It is an invaluable experience. You should start by trying to add a ½-1 fist-sized portion of protein to every meal. For example:
- 2 eggs for breakfast
- 2 chicken breasts for lunch
- 1 can of tuna in olive oil for supper
- 200 grams of cottage cheese for a snack
Secondly, you can make almost every food with more protein. If you like to cook or prepare your food, try to start thinking of ways to raise protein content in those foods. For example, when making oatmeal for breakfast, you can add a spoonful or two chocolate protein powder to it or even dump a Skyr in. Some people even blend eggs into their coffee! But be creative. Beans are a healthy and cheap option to add in every meal.
Third – use protein supplements. I know, I know – protein supplements are for steroid-addicted, overaggressive bodybuilders in gyms. Protein supplements are a nice way to cover the protein need when nothing else comes to mind. Those don’t have to be protein powders; for example, you can use a good low-carb protein bar when you’re lazy, on a trip, or just want a sweet snack. There are also protein mysli, protein puddings, protein smoothies, and a big variety of protein powders. Keep at least some options in your kitchen cupboard or workplace lunchroom.
So, there are ways to add protein to your diet. It takes a little practice, but if you do it purposefully, then you’ll get intuitive in no time. On the other hand, if you just try to eat more protein without an effort, you probably won’t get enough.