You're eating lean meats, tired of protein shakes, and have been eating so much to cover your protein intake goals. Still, you struggle to reach your "magic number".
So what can we do to help you reach your protein goals for the day? There are hacks for everything my friend!
Tracking MACROS can be daunting, but nowadays we have apps that make life SO much easier. Some even allow you to scan barcodes and pull nutritional information in seconds!
You may feel a little discouraged while trying to consume more food to reach your protein goals each day, not to mention the expense! The problem isn't necessarily the protein, you just haven't been as creative as you should be. I won't waste any more time, let's jump into a few tips to get you where you need to be:
Tip #1 - The Secrets In The Sauce!
This one may seem obvious but it was the ONE thing I didn't even consider when I started my fitness journey. I used to think of protein as just lean meats, protein powders, lentils, etc. Somehow, I didn't even realize there was a game changer in my fridge, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. It took some time to perfect, but I began creating my own sauces by blending peppers, a serving of greek yogurt or cottage cheese, combined with other fresh ingredients depending on the dish I was making. By doing this, I was adding at least 14 grams of protein per meal. You can try this with pasta, salads, or my personal favorite, Tikka Masala! Get creative and work with new flavors!
Tip #2 - Keep It Lite
Unless your goal is bulking, protein shakes are best with water. When you add milk or almond milk, oat milk, etc, you'll be filling yourself and curbing your appetite. This can affect your next meal you have planned and result in bloat, lack of water intake due to feeling full, (also leading to increased bloat) and make you feel like you have to constantly catch up throughout the day. Keep it simple. Keep it lite.
*Quote of the day:
"When life puts you in tough situations, don't say, Why me? Say, Try Me!"
–Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
Tip #3 - There's More Than One Whey!
(Yes, I do puns too)
This one has easily become a new favorite for me. When we think of protein shakes we tend to gravitate toward the milky consistency previously mentioned. What if there was an easier way? Well, there is, in the form of Iso Whey Clear Protein. This one was a complete game changer. One scoop mixes with water like BCAAS or Pre-Workout would. The flavors vary by brand, but it's like drinking juice. The main difference is this juice is packed with a whopping 20 + grams of protein per serving!
Now, I'm still an advocate for having your first pick at protein being a natural food source before supplements, but this is undeniably a huge perk when you're trying to rack up over 130 grams of protein in a day.
Also, if you're searching through flavors later, my personal favorite so far is Lemon Berry Blizzard, by Muscletech. (No I am not affiliated with them. Just love the flavor!)
Tip #4 - Dirty Gains Vs. Clean?
I won't judge on this one, but there ARE things to consider. Chasing dirty gains for protein consumption will get you to reach your numbers, but they come with a price. Dirty gains are when you throw together multiple burgers, steaks, etc, in meals to reach your desired Macros. I know some competition lifters who do this at times, but as you add more red meat to your diet, you also add more sodium, cholesterol, saturated fats. Some trained athletes can risk this, but it's best to customize things in a way that coincides with your health, weight, and age, rather than copying someone who's health is at a different level than your own. You can also consult with a doctor to be on the safe side.
Now this tip wasn't necessarily a protein hack, but it can literally be a life saver in a world where people copy and paste workout regiments and meal plans for someone who may have a completely different situation going on with their health. At the end of the day, what works for one person won't work for everyone, so be careful!
Tip #5 - Room For Dessert?
I had to save dessert for last! Just because you're on your fitness journey, it doesn't mean you have to cut out every dessert you love. Sometimes you can tweak recipes and come up with something that tastes just as good, or BETTER than the real thing!
One day, I was craving sweets. I wanted something sweet, yet tart. I raided my cabinets and fridge and figured I'd try something new. I threw together a scoop of vanilla protein, (about 30 grams of protein) added one serving of plain greek yogurt. (+ 16 grams protein)
(See how versatile this stuff is?)
I added 1 packet of blueberry oatmeal
(Yes I know, sugar, but its better than an actual dessert!)
If you cringed at the sugar there, I added a tsp of organic honey. (NOT SORRY)
I squeezed half a lemon over it and mixed until the consistency was more like a whipped pudding. The end result was surprisingly refreshing!
Now, the unhealthy version of this will easily triple your sugar measurements, and have a more fatty milk base without the protein boosts.
This is just one idea, I've also seen people use a packet of cheesecake jello in a similar recipe for a healthier version of what they craved.
Variety is still the spice of life!
There are more ways to increase your protein intake, satisfy cravings, and create new flavorful meals! Sometimes all it takes is a step back and some creative thinking to put together something that can become your new favorite addition to your meal plan.
Protein plays a big role in your fitness journey, but don't get tunnel vision and neglect other healthy foods that can aide you're recovery and fuel your workouts as well!
As always, I hope this blog was informative and helps someone out there. I just ask that you follow, share, and have fun while making positive changes in your life.
Go get it! Be safe.