Many of us grew up accustomed to eating meals centered around conventional pasta, bread, or anything you can imagine made with pizza dough.
But just because we were raised in a carb-heavy, high-sugar impact food culture, doesn’t mean our health can afford to stay there!
If you’ve ever felt hangry, then you already know that skimping on protein has negative effects for your whole body and can make a perfectly good day feel harder.
That’s because getting plenty of clean protein is crucial for your mood and your health!
To understand why, it’s important to realize that the amino acids that make up protein are the building blocks of your mind, your muscles, and your memory. That means protein affects your body from head to toe!
Not only is protein essential for burning fat and building muscle, it also plays a key role in supporting your immune system, helping to fight infection and inflammation.1 If you want to look and feel your best, getting enough protein is a must.
So how much protein do you need?
When you eat according to the Virgin Diet or Sugar Impact Plate, lean protein should count for at least one fourth of every meal you eat.
And while your protein needs will differ depending on your activity level, around .5 to .75 grams of protein per pound of your body weight is a good starting point. (So if you weigh 150 pounds, you’d need 75-112 grams of protein.)
It’s equally important to source clean protein. The way your food is raised is an undeniable part of your own aging and risk of disease. Be sure to choose organic, pasture-raised poultry, beef and pork, that is never fed any corn, soy, antibiotics, or hormones.
Whether you’re Paleo, vegan, or anywhere in between, check out my tips below to discover 5 simple ways you can pump up your protein…
1. Go Nutty
Add a handful of nuts to your plate or bowl.
Toss a handful of buttery pecans or crunchy almonds to your oatmeal for breakfast. Or add a handful of walnuts or pistachios to your green or grain salad.
Throw together a custom trail mix and give yourself powerful protein and healthy fats, anywhere, anytime. Or scoop a couple tablespoons of your favorite unsweetened nut or seed butter into your next smoothie.
Why no peanuts, you may be asking?
Peanuts are actually not true nuts, but more closely related to legumes like soybeans. They also happen to be one of the most common food allergens. (Read this blog for more reasons to pass on peanuts.)
2. Double Up
Eating out? Ask for double chicken, or replace one of your high-carb sides with a second piece of wild salmon.
Just because your entree comes as a mound of carbs with a side of protein doesn’t mean you have to order it that way! Sometimes it’s helpful to check out a restaurant menu online and get a feel for what they offer ahead of time. And you can always ask your server for recommendations.
Doubling up your protein means you won’t have the sluggish side-effects from eating a
small mountain of greasy french fries. Ask for the roasted Brussels sprouts instead!
3. Call on Collagen
Looking to enhance your inner and outer beauty, while sneaking 12.5 grams of protein into almost anything?
Look no further!
Collagen peptides are the most abundant proteins in your body, and are amazing multitaskers.
Because it’s flavorless and odorless, you can add a scoop of collagen to your morning coffee, oatmeal, or any soup or sauce you’re making for an easy boost of protein.
Supplementing the collagen in your diet is not only great for your joints, but your complexion too. Get ready for glowing skin! Since collagen is the main structural component of your skin, it’s a big part of preventing wrinkles and keeping your skin tone even.
And unlike some other proteins that can be hard to digest, collagen actually soothes your gut lining. You can read this blog to find out more reasons why collagen needs a supporting role in your daily routine… your whole body will thank you!
4. Bring On the Beans
Add black beans to your salsa, pinto beans to your veggie soup, or cannellini beans to your pasta.
There are so many different kinds of beans, each with their subtle flavors and textures. High in protein and fiber, beans are inexpensive and easy to keep dry or canned.
Get creative! In a pinch, my kids and I used pureed white beans in place of eggs in a birthday cake recipe. It was surprisingly delicious!
Turn to hummus for garbanzo beans, and use lentil or bean chips to dip. (Remember, you can also ditch the chips altogether and dip fresh veggies like baby carrots, broccoli, or cauliflower in your hummus to increase your healthy fiber intake.)
(Just don’t forget to take digestive enzymes before you eat, so you don’t get the traditional bean side effects…)
5. Shake Things Up
Swap your normal breakfast cereal or muffins for a smoothie.
Protein shakes are one of the easiest and quickest ways to nourish yourself. The protein gives you energy, while also building and maintaining muscle.
In under 5 minutes, you can create a fully balanced meal. By adding leafy greens, avocado, and berries, you’ll be sure to supply yourself with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and healthy fats. If you want to learn how to make the perfect protein shake, read this.
But not all protein shake powders are created equal!
Trust me, I’ve tried them all! I relied on protein shakes to boost my nutrition throughout 3 pregnancies and years of nursing my sweet babes. If only I knew then what I know now…
Many brands are loaded with dairy or soy, which just happen to be the top offenders for food intolerances and weight gain. Crazy, right? (Not to mention the gritty mouthfeel and sickening-sweet aftertaste.)
Our All-in-One protein powder supplies you with 20-25 grams of clean, lean protein, filling fiber, and healthy fats, with no added sugar. Whether you chose the Paleo-Inspired or the Plant-Based shakes, get ready for the dreamiest, creamiest shake powder around!
And steer clear of anything with more than 3 grams of sugar per serving to avoid a blood glucose and insulin roller coaster.
Your relationship with food can shift by changing simple habits, one at a time.
Changing your eating habits can feel overwhelming, but it can be as simple as upgrading your shopping list.
With a variety of protein-rich foods in your fridge and pantry you’ll be ready to make clean, lean protein a cornerstone of every meal you eat! And those cravings for excessive empty carbs and high-sugar treats will diminish.
Looking for more delicious and nutritious recipes? Check out our website, or pick up a copy of one of our cookbooks. You deserve the very best!
Thanks so much for reading this post! If you’re interested in finding out more about how to dial in your diet and health, please check out our 60-second quiz to find the perfect next step for your personal goals and health needs.