10 Ways to Sneak More Protein Into Your Diet

By Matthew Kadey, R.D. |

Protein becomes even more important as we age. Follow these stealthy ways to give your meals an extra dose.

tips to get more protein into your diet

Getting enough protein is important, especially as we get older. Not only is protein critical for all our cells to function properly, but it’s also essential for building and maintaining strong bones and muscles.

There are other benefits to adding more protein to your daily meals, too. A higher-protein diet can help promote weight loss, keep you feeling fuller longer and improve blood sugar stability.

But it isn’t always easy to eat enough of it. For most older adults, daily recommendations fall between 0.5 to 0.7 grams per pound of body weight — that is, 88 to 122 grams of protein per day for a 175-pound person. And with age comes the need to ramp up our protein intake even more. That’s because the body uses protein less efficiently to maintain and build muscle as we get older.

Luckily, you don’t have to overhaul your diet to eat more protein. It’s easy to sneak protein into the meals and snacks you’re already eating. Here’s how to easily go bigger on protein from morning to night.

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1. Spread Hummus on Sandwiches

This blend of chickpeas and spices is good for more than just a dip. Hummus is also a great option to use as a creamy sandwich spread. It contains more protein than condiments like mustard.

2. Stir Protein Powder Into Oatmeal

After you’ve cooked your oatmeal, it’s easy to stir in a scoop or two of your preferred protein powder. A scoop of powder can contain up to 20 grams of protein. As a bonus, it can give oatmeal a nice creamy texture.

3. Blend Boxed Egg Whites Into Smoothies

Not a fan of protein powders? Egg whites are another great option for boosting protein numbers in your smoothies. A store-bought box of liquid egg whites is essentially pure, super high-quality protein. (FYI: 3 tablespoons of liquid egg white equals one large egg, which contains 5 grams of protein.)

And because boxed egg whites are pasteurized (i.e., they’re treated with heat to eliminate pathogens), you can safely consume them without the need to heat the whites. Don’t try this with raw egg whites.

4. Simmer Grains in Bone Broth

The next time you are cooking up a pot of grains like rice or quinoa, boost the flavor and protein content by swapping in bone broth for water. Bone broth is a stock made by simmering the bones and connective tissue of animals for a lengthy period of time.

The resulting strained liquid is deep in flavor and rich in protein – about 10 grams per cup. Just don’t confuse it with regular broth, which typically contains very little protein. You are looking for products that are specifically labeled “bone broth.”

5. Season With Nutritional Yeast

Use flaky nutritional yeast as an easy way to add plant-based cheesy flavor to, well, everything. It goes great on chili, soups, scrambled eggs and even popcorn. Two tablespoons provide about 4 grams of protein, along with important B vitamins.

6. Use Greek Yogurt in Potato Salad

Swap the mayo for Greek yogurt when making potato salad and you’ll still get that tangy flavor and creamy texture. Gram for gram, Greek yogurt contains about 7 times as much protein as mayonnaise. You can do the same thing when making tuna or egg salads.

Recommended reading: 6 Simple Foods Swaps for a Nutrition Boost

7. Add Edamame to Salads

Frozen and cooked edamame, which are green soybeans, are a simple and nutritious way to bolster protein numbers in salads. Each 1/2 cup of prepared shelled edamame has about 9 grams of protein.

Other nutritional highlights include fiber and essential micronutrients including folate and magnesium. You can find bags of frozen edamame in supermarkets alongside frozen vegetables.

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8. Sprinkle Hemp Seeds Onto Soups

With 10 grams of plant-based protein in each 3-tablespoon serving, using hemp seeds as confetti for your soups and salads is an easy and tasty way to get more of this important macronutrient. Far from a one-hit wonder, nutty-tasting hemp seeds are a source of heart-benefiting omega-3 fats and essential nutrients like magnesium and iron.

9. Add Dollops of Ricotta Cheese to Pancakes

Coming in at 7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup, rich-tasting ricotta is an excellent high-protein topping for a stack of pancakes or waffles. You’ll also benefit from extra amounts of bone-benefiting calcium. Use a lower-fat (part-skim) option so you get more protein for fewer fat calories.

10. Top Pasta With Canned Mussels

Canned mussels are an easy no-cook way to give pasta night an extra dose of low-cost, high-quality protein. Each can of this seafood option supplies about 15 grams of protein. What’s more, mussels are a source of heart-healthy omega-3 fat and contain high amounts of vitamin B12 to help support your nervous system. When mixed into dishes like whole grain pasta, they won’t taste as fishy.

Recommended reading: Canned Foods Are Convenient, but Are They Good for You?

See our sources:
How protein can help you maintain a healthy weight: Cleveland Clinic

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