Most people watch their calories, sugar and salt intake and make sure they are eating enough fruits and vegetables, but do not always ensure they are getting adequate protein in their diet. Protein keeps us fuller longer, speeds up the metabolism and helps the body build and maintain muscle. Proteins help your body repair, and are also essential as an energy source- which is why it’s critical that we get enough protein from high-quality food sources.
Recent studies have shown that 1 in 3 adults over the age of 50 are lacking in getting enough protein- which can say a lot about their overall health and diet. The good news is- there are lots of simple ways to increase your protein intake without changing your diet drastically!
Upgrade Your Breakfast Routine
We have all heard the phrase “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, and for good reason- when we sleep, we essentially are fasting (not eating) for 7+ hours. When we wake up, our body needs a replenishment of glucose and other nutrients to produce energy. However, nearly two-thirds of American’s skip breakfast, which can cause symptoms like headaches, blood sugar dips, irritability and difficulty concentrating.
The unfortunate reality is that even those who eat breakfast don’t always eat a healthy meal. Instead of reaching for “convenience” items like donuts, muffins and breakfast cereals, try higher-protein foods like eggs, full-fat yogurt, cottage cheese or oatmeal with nuts.
Sneak In Some Protein Powder
Supplementing a flavored or unflavored protein powder is an easy and convenient way to increase your protein intake with little effort. There are many high-quality protein powders on the market with different flavors and nutrients. This can be particularly helpful to those with a soft-foods diet or even those with a decreased appetite. Protein powder can be added to smoothies, salad dressings, beverages and even things like baked goods and mashed potatoes.
Prioritize Animal and Plant-Based Protein
Animal products like lean meat, dairy products and eggs have the highest concentration of bioavailable protein. Including high-quality animal products into your diet is one of the easiest ways to meet your protein goals, however, there are plenty of plant-based protein options that can work well for those who choose to be vegan or vegetarian. Food items like beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and seeds are higher in protein than other plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, but you’ll likely need to be eating a higher concentration of these foods to meet your protein goals on a plant-based diet. Always consult a nutritionist or a healthcare professional if you have questions or want individualized recommendations!
When it comes to eating a well-rounded, healthy diet, many people struggle to eat 3 balanced meals a day. This can be for a variety of reasons- you’re too busy, you’re on the go, you’re recovering from an injury or illness, you lack the motivation to cook, etc. This is why having meals prepared in advance is beneficial- you can have meals ready for you to eat right at your fingertips! This can be anything from overnight-oatmeal for breakfast to a casserole for dinner, all of which are healthier than swinging through the drive-through at meal time.
Need some help getting more protein in your diet, but don’t have the ability or desire to cook for yourself? If you struggle to prepare meals or could use some help in the kitchen, Chefs for Seniors puts a personal chef in the home that can prepare customized meals tailored to your dietary needs and preferences. Click here to find a chef near you!