Nutrition 5 Ways to Get More Protein into Your Diet By UPMC, March 16, 2018 It might seem like a challenge to incorporate healthy protein into your diet, but it’s actually an easy change that provides a big, healthful impact. Proteins are long chains of amino acids, and they’re essential molecules that aid in your body’s metabolic processes. They help build your hair and nails, and assist in building and repairing tissues. In fact, if you’re not getting enough healthy protein in your diet, almost every system in your body may suffer. For more information on getting more protein into your diet, consult with a nutritionist at UPMC. How Can You Easily Increase Your Protein Intake? Your body doesn’t store protein, so it’s important to find ways to get more protein into your diet. If you’re recovering from a long workout, looking to build lean muscle, or hoping to maintain a healthy weight, you definitely need to think about ways to increase protein intake. Protein also helps to curb hunger and cravings. But what makes something a healthy protein? Lean proteins are especially important to add to your diet. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, lean meat is a 3.5-ounce portion of meat that has fewer than 10 grams of total fat, fewer than 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and fewer than 95 milligrams of cholesterol. Lean proteins typically include chicken, fish, beans, legumes, many ancient grains, and some cuts of beef. Here are some quick ways to add protein into your diet: 1. Focus on breakfast Breakfast is your first opportunity each day to get more protein. While many yogurts contain sugar, Greek yogurt packs a healthy punch. Try adding chia seeds, fruit, and a bit of honey to your yogurt for extra crunch and flavor. Eggs are also a fantastic protein-rich breakfast option. Scramble them with sautéed vegetables to round out a healthy meal. 2. Snack with purpose Snack time is an excellent opportunity to add protein to your diet. Try packing a bag of nuts, or grab an apple and dip it in almond or peanut butter. Cheese is also a protein-rich option that will keep you full. If you miss candy or other sweet treats, try these no-bake protein bars for an extra dose of protein. 3. Mix up your meats You probably stick to buying your favorite meats at the grocery store. Many nutritionists suggest choosing lean proteins for a creative change, especially fish and other shellfish such as shrimp and scallops. Lean proteins make for low-calorie, high-protein meals. Try this grilled salmon recipe for a flavorful addition to your recipe box. 4. Pick a protein powder If you’d rather not search for protein-rich foods, protein powder is a quick way to add it to your normal diet. Put it in a smoothie or shake, or mix the powder into a waffle or pancake mix. You can pick from a number of flavors and styles. 5. Round out your dinners You don’t have to get all your protein from meat — side dishes also can be a good source of nutrients. Many ancient grains, like quinoa, contain high levels of protein. If you’re a vegetarian, these grains will add both substance and protein to your diet. For a simple dish, cook quinoa in chicken stock with basil and oregano. Beans are also a good option. When it comes to adding protein into your diet, variety is key. If you get bored with what you’re eating, you’re likely to skip the protein entirely. Instead, think about how to increase your protein intake creatively. Keep snacks and meal options on hand to satisfy your cravings and keep your body strong. For more information on getting more protein into your diet, consult with a nutritionist at UPMC.