Sometimes, it's hard to get enough protein without feeling like you need to eat an entire antelope. Instead of raiding the fridge and eating 10 meals a day, try creating higher-protein versions of the meals you already love.
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The amount of protein that you need per day depends on your goals. While the official daily recommendation is relatively low at about 50 grams a day, this may be insufficient for those on a weight loss program. According to obesity physician Dr Spencer Nadolsky:
In terms of weight loss, higher protein intake than recommended by most government guidelines is associated with better results and long term success. We've seen this time and time again.
This isn't too surprising. Increased protein intake has been shown to increase satiety, increase the thermic effect of food (the amount of calories from food that's "wasted" through heat), and reduce the amount of calories consumed even when you're not counting.
Researcher and nutritionist Alan Aragon recommends that you consume your goal body weight in grams of protein. That is, if you weigh 180 pounds (82kg) and wish to weigh 140 pounds (64kg), consume 140 grams of protein. Of course, that's a lot harder to hit than the recommended 50 grams, especially if you're new to higher protein diets.
One trick is to create higher protein versions of the meals that you already love. You may also want to lower the carbohydrate and fat contents of these meals. This will lower calories without sacrificing how full you feel after your meal.
If you don't know the first thing about cooking — let alone altering traditional meals — don't worry. Here are a few great resources to get you started:
- "Protein Chef" Derek Howes has a great YouTube channel with recipes for family meals like "tuna pita fajitas", "baked buffalo popcorn chicken", "bodybuilding grilled cheese" and "sriracha tuna chilli".
- Protein Pow has recipes you can make from any protein powder (everything from hemp to casein) including "pumpkin spice protein lattes" and "protein tortillas".
- The Epicurean Bodybuilder even has an entire assortment of high-protein cheesecakes. Many whole cheesecakes will actually fit your daily calorie intake. (Disclaimer: She happens to be my sister.)
After increasing your protein intake, you'll likely feel unusually full while eating fewer calories — a recipe for success on any diet. No pun intended.