As athletes, it’s important to know some easy ways to get more protein. Protein is incredibly important for everyone’s health, and that is especially true for athletes hoping to achieve peak performance.
But what are the best ways to get protein? And how much protein should you even eat?
In this article, we will dive into exactly how much protein to eat and some easy ways for you to reach that optimum protein intake in your daily diet.
How much protein should athletes eat?
The modern dietary guideline for Americans is for adult women to receive at least 46 grams of protein daily and for adult men to eat at least 56 grams daily. But this doesn’t account for athletes who regularly participate in high-intensity exercise.
If you are wondering how many grams of protein to take after a workout, athletes should aim for 1.4 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition).
This is just a base guideline. Your recommended protein intake will depend on your size, age, gender, and activity levels. You can speak with a doctor or nutritionist if you want more accurate figures for your ideal protein intake.
Now that you have a basic idea of how much protein you should get, what are some easy ways to get more protein in your daily routine?
17 easy ways to get more protein in your diet
Here are some easy ways to get protein in your daily diet.
1. Try liquid protein shots
One of the easiest ways to add some protein into your routine is with liquid protein shots. And no, we don’t mean vaccines. We mean pre-portioned pouches of liquid protein that you can toss back on the go.
Unlike protein powder, liquid protein shots don’t need to be mixed with anything. This makes the single-serving pouches easy to take on the go and utilize during races or after workouts. No mess, no fuss.
Just make sure to keep protein absorption rate in mind and look for a product that is hydrolyzed or nano-hydrolyzed for easy bioavailability.
2. Eat your protein first
If you’re looking for easy ways to get more protein, the last thing you want to do is fill up on carbs before you even get to the protein portion on your plate. That’s why it’s important to focus on the protein first when eating your meals.
If you fill up before you finish your meal, at least you will have hit your protein intake goals!
3. Try meal prepping
If you want to add more protein to your diet, it’s important to be intentional about it. Don’t just leave your protein to chance. Prep some high-protein meals in advance so you know precisely where you’ll be getting your daily intake from. This is one of the easy ways to get more protein.
After you’ve cooked a protein, make sure to refrigerate it right away so that bacteria don’t grow on it. It’s also important to remember that meat should only be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days before it needs to be thrown out.
4. Choose leaner cuts of meat
Fatty meats can be unhealthy, and can fill you up faster while giving you less protein overall. Take these two cuts of steak, for example:
So eating a sirloin steak would give you more protein for less calories, and free you up to eat other protein or healthy carbs and fats.
Selecting leaner cuts of meat can allow you to eat bigger portions and can help boost the protein content of your meal, giving you yet another easy way to get protein.
5. Eat more seafood
Seafood is another great source of protein, so if you are looking for more easy ways to get protein, why not eat more fish and shellfish?
You can even eat canned seafood if you don’t have access to fresh seafood. Not only is seafood high in protein, it’s also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and selenium.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that the average adult eat at least 8 oz of seafood per week – and 90% of people don’t even meet that recommendation. If you are one of them, adding more seafood is a healthy way to get more protein in your diet.
6. Snack on nuts and seeds
When looking at easy ways to get more protein, a lot of the options might be geared towards people who eat meat. But never fear! There are plenty of easy ways to get more protein for vegan and vegetarian athletes too.
If you don’t eat meat, you just have to pay closer attention to complete vs incomplete proteins. Most plant proteins are incomplete, so you will need to mix and match your protein sources to ensure you are getting all the amino acids you need to increase your performance.
Some of the best plant-based sources of protein are nuts and seeds. They also make great on-the-go snacks since they don’t need to be refrigerated.
Almonds, in particular, are a great source of protein, with 6 grams of protein per ounce. Try adding a few tablespoons of chopped almonds to your oatmeal, salads, cottage cheese, or yogurt.
7. Make protein shakes
A protein shake is one of the easy ways to get protein into your daily routine. You can bring it with you to the gym, or make it before or after your workout. There are all sorts of tasty recipes for dairy-free protein shakes too if you are trying to cut milk out of your diet.
8. Add Greek yogurt to your breakfast
Yogurt is a simple way to get more protein, and Greek yogurt happens to have more protein than most. Regular low-fat yogurt contains 1.5 g of protein per ounce, while low-fat Greek yogurt contains nearly 3 g of protein per ounce. You can even add a scoop to your protein shakes!
9. Eat more beans and lentils
If you’re looking for easy ways to get more protein, you should add more beans and lentils to your diet. Beans and lentils are super versatile, as you can add them to a variety of recipes from soups to salads to pasta dishes.
Incorporating plant-based sources of protein into your diet can even lower your saturated fat and sodium intake, while providing you with some much-needed fiber.
10. Try a variety of grains
Rice is all well and good, but there are other grains you should be after if you are looking for easy ways to get more protein. Some ancient grains to consider include:
- Quinoa: 8 grams per cup
- Amaranth: 9 grams per cup
- Sorghum: 20 grams per cup
- Hulled barley: 23 grams per cup
- Millet: 6 grams per cup
11. Swap cereal for eggs
Another easy way to get protein is by swapping out your morning cereal for eggs. One large egg has over 6 grams of protein, so having 2 or 3 eggs in the morning can instantly increase your protein intake for the day.
Best yet, a protein-rich breakfast will help you feel fuller for longer and will help you to regulate your blood sugar levels throughout the day.
12. Get a little cheesy
Cheese-lovers rejoice, cheese is a fabulous source of protein! If you are looking for easy ways to get more protein, try cottage cheese (14 grams of protein per 4 oz.) or a low-fat cheese like colby or cheddar (7 grams of protein per 4 oz.).
13. Try some edamame
If you haven’t tried edamame as a snack, you’re missing out. This is one of the most easy ways to get more protein in your diet – and it’s tasty, too. Edamame, or soybeans, contain 9 grams of protein in a half cup. They are also full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are equally good for you.
14. Get creative with peanut butter
Peanut butter is a great source of protein. You can add peanut butter to your oatmeal, pancakes, an apple, a banana, or celery sticks for an easy meal or snack that is packed with protein. A peanut butter snack can add 8 grams of protein to your day.
15. Treat yourself with protein pancakes
Just because you are looking for easy ways to get more protein it doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself. Protein pancakes feel like a sinful snack, but really, they are chock full of protein and healthy ingredients.
Try making your pancakes with oat flour, egg whites, and protein powder – your body (and your taste buds) will thank you!
16. Use hemp hearts
Hemp hearts are an easy way to get protein in your diet.
What are hemp hearts? They are the soft inner part of unshelled hemp seeds – and no, they don’t contain any THC, so you don’t have to worry about them affecting your body or showing up in drug tests.
Three tablespoons of hemp hearts contain 9.5 grams of protein, which is three grams more than an egg!
You can sprinkle hemp hearts in your oatmeal, your protein shake, or your salads. This means you don’t have to switch up what you are eating to add extra protein into every meal.
17. Add a sprinkle of nutritional yeast
If you are looking for easy ways to get more protein that are vegan-friendly, nutritional yeast is another great option.
One-and-a-half tablespoons of this nutritional yeast contain a whopping 8 grams of protein, and the lightly cheesy flavor can be used to season your popcorn, salads, or (for non-vegan athletes) your chicken or eggs.
The simplest way to add protein to your diet
If you are looking for the easiest way to get more protein, you should add a daily liquid protein shot to your routine. Protein shots are pre-portioned, don’t need to be mixed with anything, and are a simple way to hit your protein intake needs.
One of the best things about protein shots is how portable they are. You can toss the single-serving pouches in your gym bag or pocket and take them on the go – whenever they are needed most.
To ensure you are getting the most out of your liquid protein shots, look for a hydrolyzed or nano-hydrolyzed product like Frog Fuel that can be fully absorbed by your body in 15 minutes or less.
FAQs about protein intake
Here are answers to commonly asked questions about protein by athletes:
What is the best protein for athletes?
The best protein for athletes is undoubtedly collagen protein. When you look at collagen protein vs whey protein, collagen doesn’t have the same digestive issues, and it also can protect your joints against injury, which whey doesn’t do.
Just make sure to look for a collagen product that has been fortified with tryptophan to make it a complete protein.
Why is protein important for athletes?
Protein is important for athletes because it provides your body with energy, helps you to build new muscle fibers, and rebuilds tissues after injury. Having ample protein (especially collagen protein) is important for sports injury prevention.
What are the health benefits of protein?
If you follow the easy ways to get more protein above, you may experience:
- A more healthy blood pressure
- A faster metabolism
- Better weight maintenance
- Improved muscle mass and strength
- Healthier skin, bones, and cartilage
- A boosted immune system
- More balanced insulin levels
What foods are high in protein?
Some easy protein sources include:
- Lean meats
- Whole grains
- Greek yogurt
- Cheese (especially cottage cheese)
How can I raise my protein levels quickly?
If you are looking for some easy ways to get more protein quickly, you can:
- Make sure you add a protein source to every meal
- Have eggs, protein pancakes, or a protein shake for breakfast
- Eat high-protein snacks
- Drink liquid protein shots