For anyone looking to shed the pounds or pack on the muscle, I'm sure many a dietitian has told you about the merits of a high-protein diet. Known primarily as the "building blocks" of the human body, not only does it help you to achieve the six-pack of your dreams, but it helps to manage your appetite, helping you feel fuller more quickly and for a longer period of time.
Of course, the main way to ensure you've got enough protein in your diet is to eat a ton of meat, but with all the saturated fat you can sometimes get in certain meats, it's no surprise you'll want to cut down on your burger consumption. Luckily, there are some simpler, sneakier ways to get more protein in your diet without adding any more meat. Let's see what we've got.
1. Diversify your protein sources
This is perhaps the easiest way to incorporate protein into your diet without messing with your intake of meat. Some of you reading this might be vegetarian or vegan, and as a result, you're probably already aware of this. Legumes like beans, nuts and even certain vegetables all have their fair share of protein in them, so you've always got a protein-rich, healthier alternative to meat. If you eat dairy, you could also find protein in your yogurts, your cheeses and (especially) your eggs. Don't be afraid to mix things up once in a while.
2. Add protein into side dishes
With so many sources of protein out there, it's time to get out of the mindset that eating protein involves massive hunks of meat. In fact, protein doesn't even need to be part of your main meal at all; by simply adding more protein to your side dishes, you could be doing your body the world of good. Add some hummus to your meal! Swap out that pasta for some quinoa, or mix it into a stir-fry for an unexpected protein boost! It might take a little planning, but trust me: the results are definitely worth it.
3. Use adequate substitutes in meat-based dishes
I don't know about you, but for many people out there trying out a meat-free lifestyle for the first time, there's an inherent danger in taking meat out of your diet, and not replacing it adequately. Some people end up effectively eating salads all the time, while others compensate for their lack of meat by piling on carbs. Needless to say, doing either of these things isn't a good look for you moving forward at best, and at worst can actually undermine your weight-loss plans. Instead, why not try replacing your meat with soy-based alternatives? While genetically-modified soy consumption has been shown to have negative effects in some animal-based studies, tofu and tempeh are two arguably safe bets.
4. 'Shake' things up
I know, I know: when you think of protein shakes, you think of those jerks in the gym who wear tank tops, are constantly sweaty, and say things like: "Do you even lift, bro?" Don't worry, not all consumers of protein shakes end up looking like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson; in fact, they're a pretty big part of toning up and getting that belly nice and flat. Turning your smoothie into a protein shake is easy: just add some whey protein (or dairy-free options made from hemp or pea, if you're vegan), and slurp away.
5. Chill out on the carbs
As I've mentioned before, attempting to fill the protein-shaped hole in your life can lead you to really overdo it on the carbs, leaning too hard on pasta or potatoes to quench your hunger. It's natural, but it's also devastating to your aspirations of weight loss: it can lead to spikes in blood sugar, which trigger hunger and cravings, leaving you worse off than when you started. Instead, try to focus on high-fiber carbs like whole grains, vegetables and nuts, pairing them with some protein with either your snack or your meal.
6. Get sneaky, and go nuts
Sometimes, you barely need to change anything at all to get the protein you need and want in your newfound diet. Sometimes, it's as simple as sprinkling a handful of nuts over the snack you were already going to eat, adding in some rogue chickpeas to that prepared recipe, or simply munching on sunflower seeds when you feel the pangs of hunger rumble in the pit of your stomach. Sneaky, isn't it? Your friends won't believe how much weight you're losing.
If you've decided to cut out the meat in pursuit of a leaner diet and healthier lifestyle, then don't worry about missing on vital nutrients! Chill out, enjoy these six tips, and keep up the hard work to take several steps toward the body you deserve. Good luck!