It's somewhat of a loaded question as it's not so cut and dry. The recommended daily amount (RDA) of protein is low -- 56 grams (g) -- for a 150 pound guy, but recent research has shown that doubling -- or even tripling -- your protein intake might be more beneficial for fat loss and muscle preservation for guys. So the question shouldn't be just how much protein a person should eat, but exactly how you can up your daily amount in accessible ways.
Most people I meet eat a protein-heavy dinner and a relatively low-protein breakfast. (I'm talking about that morning coffee and a scone.) We need to balance this intake more at all three meals, before and after workouts, and, yes, even as you snack. (Before you chow down, read up on The Truth about Protein.)
Add these items to your fridge at home or desk at work to pick up the pace when it comes to fueling yourself with protein.
The discovery of this snack has been a game changer for me. Regular beef jerky can also be a smart choice, but I always travel with Vital Choice wild salmon jerky. With 7 g of protein per jerky strip -- and 12 strips per packet -- along with over 300 mg of healthy omega-3s, this one is a no-brainer. Keep it in your glove compartment for a long ride home or briefcase on business travel to provide you with a solid protein source throughout the day. (Check out these 37 Protein-Packed Recipes for a delicious way to get your muscle-building fix.)
While maybe not "sneaky" in terms of protein content, cottage cheese is often passed over for Greek yogurt in the morning and as a snack. While both are good, some brands of cottage cheese -- like Daisy -- actually offer more protein -- 13 g per ½-cup -- than equal serving sizes of Greek yogurt. Outside of protein, Daisy low-fat cottage cheese also has just four ingredients compared to other brands that can have 10 or more, and those flavored Greek yogurts you love can have four times the added sugar. (Restock your kitchen with the Best Dairy and Deli for Men.)
These nutrient powerhouses pack in 6 g of protein per ounce, or about one handful. They're also portable and non-perishable, so they are convenient as well as being loaded with a bunch of other nutrients like vitamin E, fiber, and B vitamins. Enjoy them as a snack, use sliced almonds as a topper for cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, or if you are a culinary master, find recipes using almond meal to bump up the protein in breads. (They can save your life -- so it's time to get to know these power-packed nuggets with Your Ultimate Nut Guide.)
This under the radar vegetarian source of protein packs a powerful 11 g per half cup. You can pick up a can of cooked lentils then add them to a salad. Or if you like soup, there are plenty of canned options like Amy's Organic Curried Lentil Soup are tasty and have a few amount of ingredients to offer a unique source of protein. (You can easily work lentils and these cholesterol-lowering foods into your next meal.)
These are great as a salad topper, addition to trail mix, or as a quick snack by themselves. Sunflower seeds provide 6 g of protein per ounce, or about one handful of unshelled seeds. They're also loaded with potassium, several grams of fiber, and healthy fats. Head to the bulk section of your grocery store and look for the unsalted versions. (In addition to sunflower seeds, these 8 foods will keep your skin looking and feeling great.)
While cheese sticks may feel like a "kids foods," these slices of Cabot cheese have perfect little single serve bits of protein you can add to your lunch without feeling guilty. (And getting the cracker cut versions means no cutting necessary for snacking.) Each serving offers 7 g of protein, so I'll often grab some slices and enjoy them with an apple or pear for that easy, convenient afternoon snack. (Abs are made and lost in the kitchen. Eat these 7 Fat Loss Foods and your life will be drastically better.)
Sports nutritionist Christopher Mohr, Ph.D., is a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant. Through his company Mohr Results, Inc., he helps all types of individuals and athletes achieve their diet and nutrition goals.
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