Getting the right amount of protein in your diet is important for healthy living. Protein is in every cell in the body from our muscles, to our organs, skin and even our hormones. It helps with muscle building, strength and energy and eating enough is important to keeping your body running smoothly.
However, recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from researchers at Abbott and the Ohio State University found that more than 1 in 3 of adults over 50 years old are not getting the daily recommended amount of protein they need. And because we may begin to naturally lose muscle after we turn 40 — as much as 8 percent of overall muscle mass every decade — getting enough protein as we age is even more important.
The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities throughout the day to add protein-rich foods — from a variety of sources — to your diet. Not only should you eat a good breakfast (no skipping!) each meal should contain 25-30 grams of protein. If that seems like a lot, consider working in a few of these foods between meals to meet your protein needs.
Try it: Start your day with a three-egg and veggie omelet, or hard-boil a few eggs to eat as a snack with a dash of salt and pepper.
2. Cottage Cheese
There's no denying that cottage cheese is a portable protein-filled snack. Just a 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese has 12 grams of protein, 80 calories and bone-building calcium. It can be a great replacement for cream cheese or ricotta in many recipes and has fewer calories and less fat.
Try it: Toast up a slice of multigrain bread and top with cottage cheese and sliced pears for a sweet and savory pick-me-up.
3. Protein Drink
Make the most out of your busy days by grabbing an Ensure® Max Protein drink — a 150-calorie nutrition drink with 30 grams of high-quality protein and one gram of sugar. Get all the perks of protein, from maintaining or rebuilding muscle mass, to helping to satisfy hunger, in an easy, on-the-go option.
Try it: Perk up your mornings by trying the Café Mocha flavor which includes 100 mg of caffeine, as much as one cup of coffee.
This vibrant soybean isn't just for sushi night. Edamame is a simple snack that serves up about 26 grams of protein, iron and calcium, as well as one-third of your recommended daily fiber intake — in just 1 cup.
Try it: Pick some up in the frozen section and microwave for a few minutes. Top edamame with chili powder and red pepper for a spicy snack or soy sauce and rice vinegar for a twist on the classic.
Tuna is a convenient source of protein that you should always have in your pantry. One 5-ounce can contains about 32 grams of protein and 140 calories.
Try it: Drain the liquid from the can and mix tuna with Greek yogurt, lemon juice and chopped celery and onion. Eat it on crackers for a protein-rich afternoon snack.
Recipes: Check out these protein smoothie recipes
Lentils are an inexpensive way to get ample amounts of protein. A cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein, more than one-third of your recommended daily iron intake and 15 grams of fiber, making it a great choice for vegans or vegetarians.
Try it: Blend cooked or canned lentils with your favorite seasonings — lemon juice, cumin, garlic, sun-dried tomato — for an easy lentil dip.
You may associate almonds with "good" fat, but these tiny tree nuts are also a healthy source of protein. A 1/4 cup serving of whole almonds (about 23 almonds) has 6 grams of protein, along with iron and calcium.
Try it: Eat a handful of unsalted almonds as an afternoon snack or sprinkle chopped almonds on a favorite salad or casserole for some added texture.
This fermented soybean is a natural source of gut-healthy probiotics and also provides 34 grams of protein in just 1 cup. When baked it can be a great snack or addition to any meal.
Try it: Soak sliced tempeh in your favorite marinade, coat with panko breadcrumbs and bake for delicious, healthy tempeh "fries."
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6 Ways to Maximize Nutrition
Nutrition and health go together. After all, it's food that fuels every cell in your body and supports your muscles for strength. Optimizing your diet to maximize your health doesn’t have to be difficult. By focusing on a variety of foods and nutrients, you can help support your strength, and energy.