If you currently go to school or have a crazy work schedule, cooking may not always be the number one priority on your list. It takes time, energy and effort that some of us don’t have the capacity to give. With that said, when you place cooking on the backburner, you may find that you’re simply not getting enough nutrients. One of the most common deficiencies remains protein. According to a 2014 study, over one billion people worldwide are not getting enough protein.
While all nutrients are important, protein remains one of the most vital factors that keeps your body functioning properly. Without it, you may experience the follow symptoms:
1. Loss of muscle mass
2. Skin problems, such as Edema
3. Fatty liver
4. Weakened bones and heightened risk of fractures
5. Decreased immunity
6. Increased appetite
In addition to these greater consequences, people with less severe iron deficiencies may feel tired and lethargic on a daily basis. This makes it difficult to concentrate and move your body.
Although the recommended intake varies per person, it should make up 10-35% of your total caloric consumption. Below, we’ve listed a few ways to elevate your protein intake without adding any more complications to your busy schedule.
Spinach is high in protein and extremely low in calories — so eat this green as often as you can. The most obvious way to increase your spinach consumption would be through salads. However, if you’re not the biggest fan of this sometimes flavorless leaf, you can always throw a handful or two into your smoothie. The best part about spinach is you hardly taste it when it’s blended with fruit and yogurt or milk. This is a perfect way to diversify your plate and get the protein you need to start your morning.
If you’re looking for another way to transform your spinach experience, try sautéing it or throwing some into an omelet. Cooked spinach is absolutely delicious. Plus, it shrinks so you end up getting a ton of protein in a tiny serving. Once again, you don’t need to go out of your way with the spinach — just toss it in where you see fit.
Protein powder is a classic addition to your diet that will go a long way in terms of getting your protein levels up. You can throw a spoonful into your smoothie, or you can even throw some flavored powder into your water bottle and bring it to the gym with you. If you get in the habit of drinking protein drinks, you’ll elevate your protein count and you may even benefit from muscle gain.
While I wouldn’t recommend chomping on nuts and cheese all day, these are certainly snacks that can help boost your protein intake. Almonds tend to be the lowest in fat so if you’re trying to be conscious of your calorie intake but enjoy the salty flavor, try sticking to almonds. These snacks are great because they fill you up and they also make getting your nutrients feel less like a chore. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a little charcuterie board?