Protein is essential to our bodies. Literally. You need to eat protein in some way, as it’s the building block of bones, muscles and skin, and the key component of enzymes, hormones and more. Proteins are made of amino acids, including nine that your body can’t produce on its own. Protein isn’t stored in your body as carbohydrates and fats are, so you need to eat protein each day to replenish your supply.
Good news for everyone working toward a weight loss goal: High-protein foods take longer to digest than carb-rich foods, so you feel full long after you’ve finished eating.
How much protein do you need? The Recommended Daily Allowance is 0.8 grams per kilogram of your body weight. Just multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36 and you’ll have the number of grams of protein you need to eat every day. A person weighing 150 pounds, for instance, needs 54 grams per day. (Pregnant women and athletes may need more.)
Your Nutrisystem meal plan is carefully balanced under the direction of expert dietitians, so you get just the right amount of protein, along with healthy carbs and fats. You want to be sure your Flex meals and snacks include plenty of good quality options. Lean meat, poultry and fish are some of the obvious and most popular sources. However, there are many other ingredients that can still deliver a punch of protein while fitting into your weight loss plan.
Check out these seven easy (and delicious!) ways to eat more protein:
Serving size: 1 large
Protein per serving: 6 grams
Why: An egg contains choline, a nutrient your body needs to help burn fat.
Fresh idea: Make a protein-rich and filling lunch of egg drop soup, with low-sodium chicken broth (a Free Food) and non-starchy vegetables like carrots and celery.
2. Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt
Serving size: 1 cup
Protein per serving: 22 grams
Why: Greek yogurt contains healthy sources of probiotic bacteria, which aids in digestion, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Fresh idea: Make a savory and delicious dip out of herbs and spices.
Serving size: 1 cup
Protein per serving: 8.5 grams
Why: From breakfast to bedtime, milk fits into every meal and is a great source of Vitamin D and calcium.
Fresh idea: When your day is dragging, treat yourself to the classic after-school snack with a cup of nonfat milk and your choice of the 10 kinds of cookies available on the Nutrisystem menu, including Double Chocolate Peanut Butter.
Serving size: ¼ cup
Protein per serving: 2 grams
Why: Get the most out of your SmartCarb serving! While hummus is considered a fiber-rich SmartCarb on Nutrisystem, it also helps you sneak in some extra protein. Chickpeas (the base ingredient in hummus) are high in lysine, an essential amino acid rarely found in plant foods. Tahini, an ingredient made from sesame seeds, has the amino acid methionine. Together, these components form a complete protein.
Fresh idea: Instead of mayo on your sandwich, spread a thin layer of hummus on the bread or wrap.
5. Protein Shakes
Serving size: 1 shake
Protein per serving: 15 grams
Why: When you need a big boost of protein in a snap (plus some fiber, vitamins and minerals), Nutrisystem Protein Shakes deliver it all quickly, easily and in delicious flavors like rich chocolate and creamy vanilla.
Fresh idea: Keep Nutrisystem Shakes on hand for those hectic days when you don’t get to sit down and eat proper meals. The shakes have all you need to keep you going when time is tight. Click here to stock up on shakes! >
Serving size: ½ cup cooked and deshelled
Protein per serving: 11 grams
Why: Along with the big dose of protein, you also get nine grams of fiber and just 120 calories.
Fresh idea: Lightly steamed edamame are fun to snack on and a great way to eat protein—they even come in shells like peanuts that you crack open to munch the beans inside. Flavor them up with a sprinkle of garlic or chili powder.
Serving size: ½ cup cooked
Protein per serving: 4 grams
Why: Here’s another way to take your SmartCarb serving to the next level! While this super-grain is technically a SmartCarb on Nutrisystem, it has all nine essential amino acids that your body needs, making it a complete protein.
Fresh idea: Try quinoa instead of oatmeal for a hot breakfast on a cold day. Add walnuts for another addition to eat protein, or try dried fruit for sweetness.