Other than water, the element making up the largest portion of your body’s composition is protein.
Proteins are part of every cell, tissue and organ in our bodies. They contribute to building, repairing and maintaining tissues.
They also serve other essential functions. Including triggering important processes within cells. Such as cell division, cell shape maintenance and cell movement.
Yet another crucial function proteins serve is assisting with movements. Your muscles will not move as smoothly if your protein intake is too low.
Today we’ll look at 21 ways you can add protein to your diet. First let’s take a quick look at what proteins are. As well as why we need to get them through our diets. And how they can help us fight off infection and recover from illness and injury.
What are proteins?
Proteins are the building blocks of life. Their structure consists of 20 smaller units called amino acids. Nine of them are essential amino acids. Almost all the foods containing each amino acid are animal sources. Such as meat, fish and dairy.
Our bodies can store excess carbohydrates and fats. But they can’t store amino acids. So, we need a daily intake of them through protein in our diets.
What elements of our bodies need protein? Plenty of them. Including hemoglobin in the blood, which carries oxygen throughout the body. And muscle mass, located in different areas.
Plus skin, nails and hair. In addition, our hormones, antibodies, collagen and enzymes all need protein.
How can proteins keep us healthy?
Protein helps us fight off infection. Our immune systems weaken when we don’t provide our bodies with enough proteins. We become more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses that invade our bodies.
Protein is not only a good preventative for illness and injury. It also aids in the recovery process.
This comes back to the immune system. If it’s strong, you’ll recover from most illnesses caused by bacteria and viruses quicker.
And the recovery help is not limited to illnesses. Protein can contribute to healing following a hip or knee surgery. Or recovery from a broken bone.
Meat, poultry, fish & dairy
The easiest way to make sure you’re getting enough protein is to consume some of it in every meal. It doesn’t have to be the same kind of protein every time. In fact, variety is the way to go.
One of the ways to add protein to your diet is through meat. Beef, pork and lamb are all great sources of protein.
Another is poultry and fish. Good choices include grilled chicken breasts, turkey cutlets and seafood. In order to obtain the added benefit of omega-3 fatty acids with fish, choose salmon, trout, tuna and sardines.
Dairy products including milk and eggs are another good source of protein. That’s assuming your body tolerates diary.
Beans, nuts, seeds, bars & smoothies
Beans contain plenty of protein as well. Especially red, black and kidney beans. As well as garbanzo beans, white beans and lentils.
Nuts and seeds are a great choice. Such as walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pecans and macadamias. As well as sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds.
Protein bars are an obvious source. But look closely at the ingredients before you buy them. Some contain far too much sugar and too many calories.
Some people like to gain protein from homemade drinks. As an example, they’ll mix Greek yogurt, fruit, a spoonful of peanut butter and either almond or coconut milk in a blender.
Other protein sources
Here are some additional popular options for adding protein to your diet.
- Peanut butter
- Almond butter
- Low-fat cheese
- Cottage cheese
- Baked potatoes
- Trail mix
- Ancient grains. Including quinoa, amaranth, kamut and sorghum. Plus faro, freekeh, rye and teff.
A controversial source of protein is soy. There’s no question you can acquire protein by eating soybeans and drinking soy milk. And by using soy paste in soups and sauces.
But GMO-soy is added to many processed foods already. And soy can mimic the impact of excess estrogen in the body. So, it’s not right for everyone.
What about protein supplements?
Supplements are a very convenient and easy way to augment your protein intake. Especially as we age. As stated on Webmd.com, “As people get older, they will need more protein to remain healthy and physically active.”
Supplement powders come in delicious flavors. They can give you a boost of 10 to 20 grams of protein in a quick mix and drink that takes only minutes to prepare.
Perhaps the most complete and highly digestible vegetable protein is from the water lentil, under the name Lentein.
Lentein provides a full array of amino acids. Plus omega-3 fatty acids and a healthy boost of chlorophyll.
So, as you can see, there are many ways to add protein to your diet. Most of which are delicious. Start adding protein today.