I find that protein is *THE* most common macronutrient (macronutrients = protein, fat, carbs) that is under-eaten by those looking to lose fat.
Before I really dig into the importance of protein, though, I want to talk a little about mindset around weight loss.
Most people have it in their heads that in order to lose weight, they have to totally overhaul their entire life. Massive pantry clean-out. $300 Whole Foods grocery haul. Meticulous meal planning and prep. Tupperware. So much Tupperware. And most importantly – zero flexibility.
It’s not a mindset I subscribe to for a number of reasons – partly because it’s not a sustainable or fun way to live, and partly because for most, this way of life becomes too overwhelming and they quit either before or shortly after they get started.
And that, my friends, does NADA.
Nine times out of ten, there are really small changes you can make to your life (as long you commit and go hard on them) that will make a BIG impact.
One of those really small changes is just swapping out some of the carbs you’re eating for more protein. That’s it. I’ve seen some pretty amazing results from just this one simple swap.
Problem is, protein is probably the least convenient macro to lug around and prepare so it’s easy to skimp on.
But protein repairs muscles after a workout and it also maintains muscle when trying to lose fat (even when not working out). And muscle mass directly impacts the efficiency of metabolic function. It is directly tied to how many calories you burn per day while at rest (read: while sitting on your ass).
Protein is also the most satiating macronutrient, so it keeps you full and happy.
But I find that women and vegetarians, especially, are the ones who struggle most with getting enough protein to feed the beast (the beast being your muscles!).
*Quick note – for the average sedentary women, only about 50g of protein are required to prevent a protein deficiency. But this isn’t a blog post about how to survive, this is a post about how to lose fat and maintain good body composition.*
Here’s a list of 7 easy ways to increase your protein intake that won’t require any extra work on your part.
Protein Powder – I’m putting this first not because it’s the most important – it’s probably the least important as protein powder isn’t exactly “real food” – but a high-quality powder makes it so damn easy to get an extra 20g protein/day. Check this post for what I look for and avoid in protein powders. My favorite brands currently are Designer Totally Eggfor an egg-based protein, Tera’s Grass-Fed Organic Whey, and Ora Organic for plant-based protein.
Collagen Peptides – Truly the easiest and one of the healthiest ways to sneak in protein. When I couldn’t eat protein during the beginning of my pregnancy (yuck) I added collagen peptides to everything I could. Blend into hot drinks or soups or smoothies. One scoop is about 10g protein. My 2 favorite brands are Perfect Supplements and Further Food. (NUTRITIONADDICTION always gets you 10% off)
Hard Boiled Eggs – Easy to take along with you even as a travel snack in a little cooler or pull out of the fridge when you’re hungry. I like to just sprinkle mine with a little sea salt or a dollop of Dijon. They’re also nice to have on hand to whip up a quick egg salad for lunch or a mid-afternoon snack. 1 large egg = 6-7g protein.
Bean/Lentil Pasta or Rice – These are such a great way to satisfy your craving for carbs while also packing in a bunch of plant-based protein AND lots of fiber. Most brands have around 15g protein/serving. Banza, Tolerant Foods, Whole Foods 365, Trader Joe’s, and Right Rice are all great brands.
Cottage Cheese or plain Greek Yogurt – If you can handle dairy, this is a no-brainer. Both contain about 20g protein/cup. Yogurt is easy to whip up a quick dip for veggies or use for parfaits with berries, nuts, and chia, and cottage cheese is great to spread on a Wasa cracker with turkey and avocado for a fast lunch. Both are perfect for snacking, too.
Bone Broth – You can definitely just sip on bone broth on its own (10g protein for 1 cup!), although it’s not really my thing. I keep bone broth on hand to make a quick Hot Sour Egg Drop Soup (loaded with protein!) or to add to veggie soups for a big protein boost. You can also cook your grains – rice, quinoa, barley, etc – in bone broth to add lots of protein to your carbs.
Rotisserie chicken – Add this ready-made chicken to soups, salads, stir-frys, eat with a side of veggies and sweet potatoes, or make a quick chicken salad with Greek yogurt. 3 oz rotisserie chicken (a big handful) is 20g protein.
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