Anything you read fitness-related or any health expert you chat with will tell you how important protein is in your weight loss or exercise routine.
For me, hitting a high daily protein consumption continues to be a significant factor in maintaining my weight and achieving my low body fat percentage.
However, with my focus on a clean diet I made a personal commitment to avoid protein powders, supplements and bars. My protein intake is accomplished through eating real food. Sticking to this commitment is not easy. You might think I need to eat chicken breasts and canned tuna 24/7. However, I am here to tell you there is hope — protein is everywhere. There are many staples in my weekly shopping cart that I had no idea existed last year. Here are just a few:
- Hemp Seeds: A versatile seed with a nutty taste. I love it sprinkled in my oatmeal or on my salad. 2 tbsp = 10g protein.
- Low-Fat Plain Cottage Cheese or Greek Yogurt: Add blueberries and you have an awesome post-workout snack. 1/2 cup = 14g protein.
- Tofu: Italians and Tofu don’t mix. But you know what, it’s actually good! Add spices and pan sear a few slices, and then add it to a spinach salad. Oh yeah! 1/2 cup is more than 10g of protein.
- Edamame: The soy bean. Steam a 1/2 cup and pack it up for that afternoon commute home, or add to your soup, salad or side dish. It packs a whopping 17g protein per cup.
- Egg Whites: Don’t think I need to say much more. I hear 4 egg whites pack as much protein as a 4oz chicken breast. Boil them or add a bunch of veggies to make a quick omelette.
- Nut or seed butters: Visit a Whole Foods Market and you will realize peanut butter is so yesterday. In my fridge you will find pumpkin seed butter, sunflower seed butter, almond butter and hemp seed butter. Substitute peanut butter with any seed butter and your traditional toast with Ezekiel bread and you’ve tripled your protein intake.
- Cheese-strings: A convenient snack. Throw it in your lunch bag with a handful of almonds and presto, more than 10g of protein.
- Grains: Move over rice and white pasta, hello freekeh, quinoa and kamut. All pack double — if not triple — the protein from your traditional grain, and all are yummy! Try them in a soup: your family won’t even realize the swap.
- Beans: Lentils, Chick Peas, Black Beans or Red Kidney beans. All pack tons of protein. Make a burger or chili, hold the meat and add the beans.
None of these are items are single hitters, no 1 or 2 items will get you to your protein goal. But if you diversify your diet and add many of these items into your daily routine it is possible to achieve your protein goal without any supplements!
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