Go-To Protein Sources Found on my Shopping List
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I was shook when I first started tracking my macronutrient – aka “macros”, aka carbohydrates, fat, and protein – intake and saw how shockingly (shookingly? 😂) low my protein numbers really were.
Despite having failed miserably at macro tracking 2 or 3 times previously in my day, I’ve been successfully tracking now for about 11 months. Not to mention I’ve experienced results I am very proud of, without having to go to bed, or anywhere else for that matter, hungry.
The trick (or at least one of many tricks) is to prioritize protein throughout the day, in each meal and most snacks. I say most, because sometimes you just want a sweet junky treat with your afternoon coffee. Ya know, for making it that far. No, just me? #momlife #SAHMlife #kidssuck
Protein helps with satiety (feeling full) and plays a vital role in building and repairing tissues within the body. That being said, you don’t need to shoot for some crazy ridiculous protein number to see/feel/get results. But…the current RDA (recommended daily allowance) is listed as only 0.8g/kg, or 0.36g/lb bodyweight.
Research and credible health and fitness sources support a higher protein intake for resistance-training and endurance-trained versus sedentary individuals. For these more active populations, a protein intake of 0.55-0.64g/lb (resistance) and 0.64-0.91g/lb (endurance) is suggested.
Once you decide on your desired protein intake and start tracking your food you may become skeptical about your ability to hit your protein target. Until you get a feel for what you like and learn how to prepare food to support both your goals and your tastebuds, it can be intimidating. I’m here to tell you, you CAN get your protein in – AND do it deliciously at that!
(Notes on tracking: I use the free version of the myfitnesspal app. Find me there as Roach621. Check my IG @squatto4moscato story highlights for myfitnesspal tips and tricks, as well as my daily food diaries.)
Below are items on my grocery list (& in my belly) nearly every week, plus some of my favorite ways to eat them. 😋
Nonfat Greek yogurt – add a bunch of fruit, a bit of granola, and a touch of honey to some plain, nonfat Greek yogurt and you’ve got yourself a yummy, quick meal or snack. Use in place of sour cream to top tacos and in recipes. There are many delicious flavors available in convenient single-serve cups, too. Dannon Light & Fit, for example, makes great nonfat options for 80 cal and 12g protein.
Low fat or fat free cottage cheese – I know, I know, lots of you have a versions to this one, but hear me out. Try different brands before you write it off completely. Some people are turned off by the flavor, some the texture, but find one you enjoy eating. You don’t have to eat it plain, either, although that’s how I eat it most often – because I like it! But if that’s not your jam, you can add it to smoothies to thicken them up, mix it with salsa and eat it as a queso dip with chips (my personal favorite), or mix it with fruit. Not gonna lie, the last option there sounds disgusting to me, but lots of people swear by it. But the point is, find a way that works best for you OR just don’t eat it. No one is gonna force feed you cottage cheese like Michael Scott force feeds Kevin broccoli. 😂
Egg whites – super low cal, super high protein source right here. I eat them almost daily. Have you discovered you can microwave eggs/egg whites yet? If not – do iiiiit. Spray a microwave safe bowl with cooking spray, pour in your egg whites, microwave for approximately 2 minutes (watch because microwaves vary). Slap on a slice of reduced fat American cheese, maybe some Canadian bacon or turkey sausage, drizzle w low or no calorie pancake syrup and throw it between 2 protein pancakes, some toast, or a mini bagel. Boom. Delicious, filling breakfast in minutes. I also microwave flavored or unflavored instant oats in about 2/3 of the water it calls for for 90 seconds, stir in some egg whites, and microwave again til cooked through. Instant protein boost and can’t tell they’re there.
Meat – most deli/lunch meats are extremely low in fat (always read your labels, yo) but pack quite the protein punch! 👊 A single serving can grant you double digit protein grams for 60 calories or less. My favorites are chicken, turkey, and ham, either on their own, in a wrap, or on a King’s Hawaiian roll. 😋 I mentioned Canadian bacon and turkey sausage previously, as well – excellent sources of protein. Canadian bacon macros, especially, are 👌. One serving is about 10g protein for only 1.5g fat and 60 cal. Turkey sausage is slightly less protein and a bit more fat, but still a wonderful, tasty alternative to pork breakfast sausage. I buy it pre-cooked so all I gotta do is reheat it in the microwave. Because I don’t have time during the week to spend slaving over the stove in the mornings, and I bet you don’t either! This section is getting long, so I’ll just list some other high protein options I eat often: jerky or biltong, pork tenderloin, lower fat ground turkey and beef (I almost always use turkey for tacos, chili, etc and beef for burgers), steak (gotta watch fat on this one, but the protein is awesome and I love a good steak dinner 🥩😍), bacon (again, watch the fat. You could go for turkey bacon, but personally I don’t really care for it), CHICKEN (seriously, add it to every dish 🐔😂), and turkey pepperoni.
Fish – fish is like, the holy grail of protein. No clue if that analogy plays here, but you get the point. So. Much. Protein. So. Little. Fat. So. Little. Calories. This means VOLUME. Volume satisfies. 🐠🙌 Shrimp, salmon, and cod are the top 3 go-to fish options in our house. Salmon can be super fatty, but in a good way 😂, so you still gotta keep an eye on portions here. But read your labels – you can find lower fat salmon options. Cod and shrimp are basically free. That’s a slight exaggeration because calories count, but in this case calories are ridiculously low. Load up your plate! Love lightly crusted cod in the air fryer, lemon pepper rubbed salmon in the air fryer, and shrimp cocktail, tortellini, or tacos. 🦐🌮
Light, reduced fat, or fat free cheese – I was months into macros before I discovered fat free cheese shreds. Like, no clue. Seemed impossible. And it’s kinda hard to find by me – the only grocery store that carries it near me is Walmart and even then sometimes I can’t find it. The store brand is much cheaper than name brands, FYI. Walmart also used to carry fat free American cheese slices but I haven’t found those in months so I typically get the store brand reduced fat slices or Sliced Velveeta singles. I’m also loving Babybel light for it’s convenience, taste, and macros (50 cal/0c/3f/6p). It’s great as a quick snack on its own and sliced on sandwiches in place of higher calorie/fat options. Some of the ultra thin or reduced fat deli sliced cheeses work well, too. I’d give you more suggestions on how to eat these options, but…it’s cheese. You know how to eat cheese.
Lower Calorie/Fat Wraps and Lavash Bread/Pitas – These come in clutch for a number of things in place of lower protein, higher carb options. They’re great for tacos, sandwich wraps, crunchwraps, cut and baked into chips, and pizza crusts. Joseph’s Lavash bread (thin, rectangular wraps – not loaves) and pitas can be found at Walmart. Cutdacarb flatbread (purchased only online via their website www.cutdacarb.com) isn’t necessarily high in protein, but it does make better tortilla chips than Joseph’s. Just FYI. Also, another aside – baking corn tortillas with lime juice and salt is a healthier option to your typical store-bought bag of corn chips. Mission brand protein plant powered tortillas, La Banderita Carb Counter low carb tortillas, and Mission carb balance soft taco flour tortillas are all ones I’ve purchased and enjoyed. I can’t stress enough the importance of reading labels and being aware of what you’re buying and consuming. I can have 2 of the La Banderita Carb Counter tortillas for fewer calories and more protein than 1 of some other types, for example. Again, I am all about VOLUME. I like to EAT!
Protein Pancake/Waffles – I’ve had good luck with Krusteaz’s Protein Pancake mix and it’s typically less expensive than Kodiak Cakes mixes. A little tip: add a dash of vanilla, red velvet, or cake batter extracts to the batter. You can customize the mix by using water or milk or adding an egg, which is nice. I’ll often mix up a bowl of protein pancake batter for me and my husband, and make the kids their own “normal” stuff. I’ve also purchased the frozen Kodiak Flapjacks and those are really fast and tasty as the “bread” for my breakfast sammie with a drizzle of 0 cal pancake syrup. You can also make your own protein pancake and waffle batter using things like egg whites, greek yogurt, pumpkin, and protein powder and they can turn out great – just google/pinterest/IG a recipe that fits your goals and on-hand ingredients.
Protein Bars, Shakes, and Snacks – Having these handy can be a life saver for on-the-go, or mom-doesn’t-get-to-eat-right-now snacking. There are a bazillion of these out there, and I’ve only sampled a fraction of them but I have a list of favorites based on price, taste, and macros (find them on my Amazon favorites here). My go-to purchases are typically pre-made Premier Protein shakes, PEScience protein powder, Pure Protein bars, FitCrunch protein snack bars, Quest protein chips, and Flex protein crisps. I really like the BSN Protein Crisp bar in the Cold Stone Birthday Cake flavor but have not been able to find it since. I’m sure the other flavors of these are worth trying, as well – the one I had tasted like a delicious Rice Krispie treat! It warrants mentioning again, that it is imperative to check the labels here to make sure the products align with your goals in terms of calories, fat, carbs, protein, sugar, blah, blah, blah, because this info varies like craaaaazy on these. Personally, I prefer products to be 200 cal or less, 16g protein or more, and 7g fat or less.
Beans – I eat black or kidney beans mixed into chilis, soups, casseroles, burrito bowls, and salads to add some protein and volume. Nonfat refried beans are delicious with and on tacos. I also mix some into my cottage cheese and salsa mixture on occasion and it’s a magical, fat free, cheesy bean dip and it’s amazing. That’s pretty much the extent of my bean-eating ways outside of some air-fried roasted chickpeas, hummus, or the oddball recipe I try here and there.
Higher Protein Pastas – There are a variety of brands of chickpea and lentil pastas, as well as “protein plus” pastas available that provide added protein to your pasta night. The taste difference isn’t noticeable to me, although sometimes the texture is a little different than regular pasta.
Higher protein ice cream – I love Enlightened ice cream and Yasso frozen Greek yogurt (sold by the pints or as bars). 😍🍦 Personally, I think Halo Top tastes like garbage. Cold, chalky garbage. But to each their own!
Last but not least, I’d like to give a dishonorable mention to a few foods that many believe to be high in protein, but are in reality not when you look at serving size. I am absolutely NOT saying these are “bad” foods and you shouldn’t eat them – I’m a firm believer in EAT ALL THE THINGS. Please, PLEASE, DO enjoy all these items because they are delicious, they deliver valuable micronutrients and “good” fats, and you love them. I know I do. Just don’t think you’re eating some magnificent bomb o’ protein or anything, and if you’re calorie counting you’ll want to keep an eye on portion sizes due to the higher fat content. Yes, even when it’s “good” fat. Everything in moderation.
1. Avocado = 2g protein per 100g (160 cal/9c/15f)
2. Hummus = 2g protein per 28g serving (70 cal/4c/5f)
3. Peanut butter = 8g protein per 2 Tbsp serving (190 cal/7c/16f)
4. Assorted Nuts = approx 5g protein per 1 oz serving (160-170 cal/7-9/12-15f)
I hope this has been helpful. Feel free to leave questions in the comments or find me on IG @squatto4moscato 😁
Great post by the National Academy of Sports Medicine – – https://blog.nasm.org/fitness/the-second-scoop-on-protein-when-what-and-how-much