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5 Sneaky Ways to Increase Protein Intake

healthy vegan lunch bowl with ingredients. Avocado, quinoa, sweet potato, tomato, spinach and chickpeas vegetables salad. Top view

Getting enough protein is extremely important for your health, but what happens when you can’t stomach the thought of another chicken breast or protein shake? The good news is, you can increase protein intake if you sprinkle, swap and top small additions that won’t feel like a lot of extra work or thought.

The Daily Value (DV) for protein is 50g per day for men and women according to the Dietary Reference Intake Guidelines. Making sure you get enough protein each day is essential for many body functions, such as making antibodies, enzymes, blood and even hair.

Here are some sneaky ways to increase daily protein intake that you can add to your diet:

1. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn, pasta, and roasted veggies.

Ever heard of nutritional yeast? It is a strain of yeast, but is not the same as baking yeast, therefore, it cannot be used interchangeably with active yeast in recipes. Yellow in color and mostly comes in flakes/granules; this is a cheesy-tasting, salty, nutty, and savory topping that can be added to just about all your meals and snacks for extra protein.

A 2-tablespoon serving of nutritional yeast contains 8g of protein. It is commonly used as a cheese substitute on popcorn, pasta, or roasted veggies. This versatile ingredient is popular amongst plant-based and dairy-free cooking. And you don’t have to store it in the fridge!

2. Swap out your sour cream for Greek yogurt on baked potatoes or tacos.

Greek yogurt makes an excellent stand-in for sour cream. It has been strained to remove a large portion of its whey compared to regular yogurt, resulting in a thicker, and tangier version of yogurt similar to sour cream. It is also higher in protein than full-fat sour cream while being lower in calories and fat.

One cup of 2% fat Greek yogurt contains 19g of protein. The strong flavor of Greek yogurt makes it a great addition to savory foods. Try using it to top baked potatoes or tacos with its rich taste and creamy texture.

3. Add canned chickpeas or kidney beans to salads.

Canned chickpeas and kidney beans are legumes that are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are also high in protein and make an excellent replacement for meat in vegetarian and vegan diets. Kidney beans are one of the healthiest types of beans to use as a protein source, with lower saturated fat than other varieties of beans.

Both kidney beans and chickpeas contain 7g of protein per ½ cup serving Canned chickpeas and kidney beans make a great addition to hot and cold salads for a protein boost and extra texture.

4. Sprinkle hemp seeds on toast and salads.

Hemp seeds are technically nuts grown on a hemp plant and can be eaten raw or used to make milk, oil, or cheese substitutes. Don’t worry, these little seeds lack the psychoactive compound THC found in marijuana, but pack a punch for being rich in nutrients. Containing all 9 amino acids, their nutty flavor and protein content makes them a great alternative source of protein. Next time you make your favorite avocado toast or hearty salad, try sprinkling some hemp seeds to add more protein and nutrients to your meal!

Three-tablespoons of raw hemp seeds contains about 10g of protein and are an excellent source of plant-based protein.

5. Top salads, oatmeal, or yogurt with a variety of nuts.

Nuts make a delicious, protein-rich snack in a pinch and are packed with fiber. You can eat them on the go or sprinkle chopped nuts on your favorite breakfast oats or yogurts and salads. Popular nuts as sources of protein include:

● Peanuts

● Almonds

● Cashews

● Hazelnuts

● Pecans

● Pistachios

● Walnuts

● Pine nuts

One handful of nuts contains about 6g of protein. Nuts are versatile and can help you meet your needs for protein as well as it increases feelings of fullness.

There are so many more ways to increase your protein intake with plants packed with protein without overindulging yourself with chicken breasts and protein shakes.

Learn more about healthy eating and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.

Written by: Wendy Chen, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern


1. Harvard Health

2. Nutrients


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