Ways to Increase Your Protein Intake

Oftentimes, I get similar questions from multiple nutrition clients. When this happens, it’s clear to me that it is probably a common question many people have and it’s worth talking about. One of the most common questions I get is: “How much protein powder servings should I take in per day? What other ways can I increase my protein intake?”

Before I dive into the answer to this question, I want to highlight that many people eat less protein than they should, especially if they are taking part in a strength training program. With most nutrition clients, this is one of the first things we address. Why is protein necessary? How much should you be consuming per day?

  • Protein is one of the macronutrients. If you’d like to learn more about it, check out our blog about macros: https://www.telosstrength.com/blog/intro-to-macros

  • How much should you be consuming per day? This varies from person to person, but a general rule of thumb is aim for 0.8 to 1 gram per pound of your bodyweight. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, then shoot for 120 to 150 grams of Protein per day.

Back to our original question… How much protein powder servings should I take in per day?

An easy way to get in more daily protein is to simply add in a protein shake or two per day. One protein shake is about 20-25g of protein, so it’s a quick add! But, you shouldn’t rely on just protein powder. Although it’s easy and convenient, I recommend staying within the limits of 1-2 per day. 

We want to also get “complete protein” sources in our diet. Complete proteins are protein sources that contain all of the amino acids our body needs to optimal protein/muscle synthesis. Amino Acids are the building blocks for protein. 

  • Examples of complete proteins: Animal proteins are complete, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy. Whey and Casein protein powders.

  • Examples of Incomplete proteins: plant-based protein sources like spinach, peas, nuts, and seeds (which is why vegetarians have a hard time getting all the amino acids they need)

How can I increase my protein intake instead of relying on just protein powder?

I recommend building on your current nutrition intake in sustainable steps instead of just adding in a ton of protein out of nowhere. This will help with adherence and the changes won’t be hard to keep up with over time. This approach is similar to “habit building”; make small changes continuously.

First, look at your current intake. How much protein are you getting per day? How much should you be consuming? What is the gap? From there, look at your current meals/diet. What are your protein sources? After those two analyses, look at ways you can manipulate your current meals and protein sources to fill the gap. I recommend increasing the servings of the current protein sources you typically eat moderately in order to close the gap. 

There are a lot of great protein sources beyond just protein powder. Below is a list of easy protein sources you can easily add into your meals or add as snacks:

  • Greek yogurt. This goes well with fruits and smoothies. 

  • Cottage cheese. Not everyone is a fan but it’s packed with protein and can be used for dips.

  • Egg whites. They are extremely easy to make and easy to add into meals. One thing you can do is add in a side of scrambled egg whites and veggies to your breakfast.

  • Low fat cheese. Just sprinkle some in your savory meals…just 28 grams (1 serving) is packed with 10 grams of protein. 

  • Lean meats. Sprinkle some lean ground turkey/chicken breast/beef to your meals. When you cook your meals, add in about 2-4 ounces of the meat to my salads/wraps for an easy addition of 15-30 grams of protein.

Other recommendations to increase protein:

  • If you realize you don’t eat enough protein by the end of the day, load up on protein in the morning. This way, you start your day on track and you are more likely to reach your goal by the end of the day.

  • Keep protein in throughout the day. I recommend having some protein in every meal and snack. That way you are constantly getting in protein, it will add up by the end of the day.