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There are three macronutrients in the human diet: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Although all three macronutrients are necessary, it’s important to focus on the protein macronutrient.
Protein is essential for many of your body’s processes. It helps to support your body’s tissues, metabolic processes, and hormones. Because protein plays such a huge role in your metabolic processes, this macronutrient is a must if you want to improve your health and lose weight.
The good news is that there are some easy snacks you can incorporate into your diet to boost your protein intake. Take a look.
What Is Protein?
Protein is a macronutrient that is needed in your body. It is mainly found in animals and animal products, including meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs. It is also found in certain plants, such as legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Melanie Bedwell, E-commerce Manager at Olipop articulates, “Protein is a macronutrient that is essential to building muscle mass. It is commonly found in animal products, though is also present in other sources, such as nuts and legumes.”
Composition of Proteins
All proteins are made up of amino acids. There are about 20 amino acids that create different combinations. Amino acids are the building block of protein, and they are found all throughout your body.
How nutritional a certain protein is determined by the amino acids. Different food products will contain different amounts of protein as a result.
For example, animal products often have all amino acids, making them an essential or complete protein. Plant proteins, in comparison, are incomplete because they don’t include all essential amino acids.
What this means is that you can select food that is higher in protein in order to boost your protein intake completely.
Benefits of Protein
Given that protein is a vital macronutrient, it comes with a lot of benefits. Although the extent of these benefits is debated to some degree, there are agreed-upon benefits that you can rely on.
Our body contains many hormones. Ghrelin is a hormone associated with hunger. This is the hormone that makes you feel hungry. In contrast, peptide YY is the hormone that creates the full feeling.
Jeff Goodwin, Sr. Director, Performance Marketing and E-Commerce at Orgain explains, “Hormones are central to understanding obesity… Hormones tell us when we are hungry (ghrelin). Hormones tell us we are full (peptide YY, cholecystokinin).”
Protein reduces the ghrelin in your body while boosting peptide YY. As a result, protein reduces appetite so that you eat just enough to be full without overindulging.
2. Boosts Metabolism
Whenever you have a boosted metabolism, your body is able to burn off more calories. Protein is known to boost metabolism better than all other nutrients and macronutrients, including carbs and carbs.
According to Lina Miranda, VP of Marketing at AdQuick“Although not all sources agree on the exact figures, it is clear that protein has a much higher thermal effect (20-30%) compared to carbs (5-10%) and fat (0-3%).
3. Helps You Lose Weight
Protein helps you stay fuller for longer. Not to mention, less protein is required to make you feel full, resulting in fewer calories consumed. For these reasons, as well as the ones above, protein helps you lose weight.
4. Increases Strength
Eating protein for weight loss is a great idea because it helps you lose weight without getting too scrawny. Protein is known for helping to increase muscle mass and strength.
The reason for this, as Lilian Chen, Co-Founder and COO at Bar None Games explains is: “Protein is the building block of your muscles.”
At the same time, protein is good for your bones. Studies have found that individuals with a high protein diet have better bone mass and lower risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
5. Lowers Blood Pressure
Protein isn’t just great for weight loss. It is fantastic for your health all around. Studies have found that protein lowers your blood pressure. It also helped decrease triglycerides and bad cholesterol.
Best Protein-Enriched Snacks
Because protein is so good for your health, you want to incorporate protein-rich snacks into your diet. Here are some snacks to try out:
If you need a lot of protein on the go, peanut butter is one of the best snacks to grab. It is delicious, healthy, and loaded with protein. There are many ways you can eat peanut butter too. You can eat peanut butter by itself, or you can slather it on celery, bread, or fruit.
Peanut butter is not a complete protein, but it is beneficial for you, nonetheless. Drew Sherman, Director of Marketing and Communications at RPM writes, “While peanut butter does not contain all nine essential amino acids to make it a complete protein, it does supply essential nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.”
Greek yogurt is different from other yogurt types. It has more protein. Greek yogurt is an awesome high-protein snack because it is healthy, but it also tastes decadent and can be mixed with delicious fruits for a tasty snack.
Alan Ahdoot, Founder and Partner at Adamson Ahdoot LLP explains, “Greek yogurt contains 16 grams of protein, making it an excellent way to boost your daily protein intake.”
If you want Greek yogurt for protein, make sure to select a good brand that has minimal sugars and additives. Be sure to read the back of the container first to ensure it is a good brand.
Nuts and seeds are loaded with protein. As such, trail mix is an awesome snack if you want something quick, easy, and loaded in protein.
As Shaunak Amin, CEO and Co-Founder at SnackMagic explains, “Nuts are some of the healthiest foods on the planet — especially if you’re looking for a protein-filled snack in a nutrient-dense package. While they’re high in fat (nuts are about 80 percent fat), it’s unsaturated fat, which is considered heart-healthy because it’s thought to lower your overall cholesterol.”
However, make your own trail mix instead of buying a pre-made trail mix. Most trail mixes at the store include a lot of sugar, chocolates, and other sweets. By making your own, you control what goes into the trail mix. Select nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
Hard Boiled Eggs
Eggs contain a lot of protein but are only a few calories. According to Caroline Duggan, Chief Brand Officer at Lumineux Health“One egg has 6 grams of the stuff, with all nine “essential” amino acids, the building blocks of protein.”
Sunnyside up and over medium eggs may be great in the morning, but they don’t make a good snack because they aren’t convenient. That’s why you should make hard-boiled eggs. You can keep hard-boiled eggs in your lunch box and eat them as a snack when you need to pick me up.
Meat contains complete protein. As explained by Datha Santomieri, Co-Founder and Vice-President at Steadily“Animal proteins, such as meat, eggs, and milk, are complete proteins, meaning they provide all of the essential amino acids our body needs.”
One easy way to have meat on the go is to buy high-grade beef jerky. Even better, dehydrate your own meat to ensure you are getting high-quality beef jerky. The beef jerky will make a hearty snack that fuels you up during the day.
Other Ways to Mix Protein Into Your Diet
In addition to the snacks above, incorporate protein into your diet in other ways. Obviously, you can eat more protein by making meat-focused meals, but you can mix protein into your diet using other alternatives.
Add Seeds and Nuts to Other Dishes
Seeds and nuts are an easy way to increase the protein of any meal, including salads or savory dishes. Just add seeds and nuts to your other dishes, and you will have more texture, flavor, and protein.
Eat More Peas
Peas surprisingly have a lot of protein. Brittany Harrer-Dolin, Co-Founder of Pocketbook Agency explains, “There are many types of peas, each with its own nutritional value, but generally speaking, peas are an excellent source of plant protein.”
Incorporate more peas into your diet to make the most of the plant-based protein. You can eat peas as a side dish, but you can add frozen peas to salad or pea protein powder to different drinks.
Flavored Protein Powder
If you like drinking coffee and other drinks, consider investing in flavored protein powder. You can mix this powder into your drinks so that you have more protein without even realizing it.
Don’t go too crazy with this method because many drinks that pair beautifully with flavored protein powder are high in sugar. So, view this alternative as a treat.
Protein is a must in any healthy diet. It is what makes up your muscles and keeps your body strong. Incorporating more protein into your diet is a great way to ensure you have enough of this macronutrient.
The five snacks above are easy ways to incorporate protein into your life on the go. If you need more than these snacks, try to incorporate protein into your diet elsewhere. For example, eat more peas or add protein powder to your shakes.
Don’t forget to have a well-balanced diet, though. Although protein is essential for your body, so too are fats and carbohydrates. With a well-balanced diet, your body will be happy and healthy.