RD and meal prep expert, Allison Schaaf, shares 7 simple ways to increase protein intake. High Protein meal Plans made easy!
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- Focus on adding protein, rather than restricting other foods.
- Make sure to include plenty of protein in breakfasts and snacks.
- Double your dinner recipes for an easy, high-protein lunch the next day.
- Let us make it easy for your with our done-for-you meal prep meal plans!
I've been a healthy living enthusiast for pretty much as long as I can remember. I simply love learning new ways to support our bodies in feeling their best, so we can make the most of life! That's why I became a registered dietitian in the first place.
Lately, I've been reading and learning a lot about the benefits of a high protein eating style. From increased metabolism to bone health to lower blood pressure, there are SO many reasons to explore high protein meal plans.
But how do you go about increasing your protein intake? Should you simply eat chicken all day every day and hope for the best? There are actually some very simple (and delicious!) ways to increase protein intake, without breaking the bank or burning out on the same meals day after day.
7 Ways to Increase Protein Intake
1. Stock Up on High Quality Protein
One way to commit to eating more protein? Stock your freezer! This has two main benefits. First of all, it will be easy to plan high protein meals when you already have tons of good protein options.
Second, buying in bulk allows you to take advantage of better prices, which can make a big difference when you're talking protein. I personally use and love Butcher Box (< affiliate link) for this purpose. They offer a much better selection of high quality proteins than my local grocery store and the prices are excellent.
If that's not your thing, I encourage you to really shop the sales at your grocery store. Next time organic chicken or grass fed beef goes on sale, grab extra for your freezer!
2. Start with Breakfast
If you don't already eat a high protein breakfast, this is an excellent place to start. Not only does protein at breakfast keep you full longer, it's also just plain hard to meet protein goals for the day if you don't get much at breakfast.
My Moroccan Breakfast Hash (pictured above) is an excellent choice as it includes both ground lamb and eggs for a major protein boost. If you need more ideas, check out my Mediterranean Egg Bake, Freezer Breakfast Burritos, or my Egg & Sausage Lumberjack Muffins.
Psst! Think you don't have time for breakfasts like these? All of our recipes are designed for meal prep! My goal is to make healthy, delicious meals attainable for anyone, no matter how busy you are. Check out our free beginner meal prep meal plan to see what I'm talking about.
3. Include High Protein Snacks
Snacks are another often overlooked area where it's easy to add a protein boost. If you normally grab a few crackers or a granola bar when hunger strikes in the afternoon, consider an upgrade!
Even small changes to snack time can make a big difference in how you feel and in your overall protein intake for the day. Simple things like adding nut butter to your apple or snacking on pepitas to satisfy a salty craving, instead of chips, really add up.
I recommend planning and prepping 1-2 snacks for the week. Having a healthy choice ready to go makes it so much more likely you'll choose something aligned with your goals!
4. Double Your Dinners
If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of planning 3 high protein meals a day, don't! One of my favorite meal prep hacks is doubling our dinners. I frequently double, or even triple, whatever I'm making for dinner. This requires very little extra effort, but pays big dividends when I have a homemade, healthy lunch waiting for me the next day.
Since our dinners tend to be high in protein anyway, this is a super easy way to plan high protein lunches.
I'll also stick a few portions in the freezer sometimes. I love having a freezer stocked with easy, tasty meals!
5. Try Budget Proteins
The one downside I often hear from those considering increasing protein intake is grocery budget. Let's face it, quality protein is expensive. It can be tough to balance a desire to eat a high protein diet and the need to keep grocery costs down.
To address this challenge, I personally love experimenting with out of the box proteins. High protein eating doesn't have to mean costly chicken breast at every meal!
I've rounded up a few of my favorite budget-friendly proteins (like pork chops, pictured above!) and ways to enjoy them to help with this very real challenge.
6. Focus on Adding, not Restricting
Mindset is so important. That's why I give this advice every single time someone is changing the way they eat: Focus on what you can have, not on what you can't.
In this instance, focus on all of the delicious proteins you get to eat every day, rather than on foods you used to eat that may no longer fit with your goals.
This is actually something I love about the high protein trend. The focus really does seem to be on increasing protein, rather than on eliminating other food groups. It's much easier (and more fun) to stick to your goals when you don't feel restricted. So plan your protein first, and then fit in your other favorite foods around it. You'll get the benefits of feeling great from increased protein intake, without ever feeling like your missing out.
7. Let Prep Dish help!
Did you know that our done-for-you Prep Dish meal plans work amazingly well if you're trying to increase protein intake?
If you're reading this in January, 2023, we're actually offering bonus protein boost meal plans to our subscribers each Friday in January! Sign up for a free trial to get in on it.
Even without our protein boost meal plans though, our regular meal plans include quite a bit of protein. Prep Dish subscribers receive 4 meal plans every week: Gluten Free, Paleo, Low Carb and Super Fast. They all include plenty of protein, but the paleo meal plan is usually the highest in protein if that's your goal. (Not paleo? No problem! Simply add an easy grain like rice or use tortillas instead of lettuce wraps.)
We do pride ourselves on the deliciousness and variety of the meals but Prep Day is really the game changer.
All of our meal plans include a detailed “Prep Day” plan, making it easy for you to efficiently prep the week's meals. No time wasted scouring Pinterest or counting macros, just reliable, RD-crafted meals you can be confident about eating and serving your family.
Click below to try our meal plans for free!
FAQ – Everything You Want to Know about How to Increase Protein Intake
How can I increase protein intake?
To increase protein intake, make sure to focus on protein with breakfast, snacks and lunch, in addition to dinner. Small changes like an extra egg at breakfast, chicken and slivered almond in your salad at lunch, and Greek yogurt with hemp seeds for a snack make a huge difference in your overall protein intake for the day.
What food is highest in protein?
Meat, like chicken and beef, is the food with the most protein. Non-meat high protein foods include eggs, Greek yogurt, almonds, hemp seeds and legumes like lentils.
How much protein do I need in a day?
The FDA recommends 50 grams of protein per day for the average adult. However, those aiming for a high protein diet often strive for closer to 100 grams of protein per day. The amount that's right for you will vary based on your activity level and goals. Experiment with what protein levels leave you feeling your best and most energized. It can be helpful to track how you feel at different protein levels in a journal while you're figuring this out.
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