Interested in powering up your protein? You’ve likely heard that protein is an important part of a healthy diet, but you may not know just how impactful it can be. Protein is essential not only for muscle repair and growth but also for your mood. It contains amino acids, the building blocks for neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are vital for feeling energized, focused, and uplifted.

Beyond Muscle: The Broad Benefits of Protein

  • Curb the Cravings. Protein helps regulate blood sugar levels, keeping those hunger pangs at bay and reducing your inclination to reach for sugary snacks.
  • Burn More Energy. A protein-rich diet can boost your metabolism, helping you burn more calories throughout the day.
  • Balance Hormones. Consuming adequate protein can help balance your hormones, which can lead to improved mood, better sleep, and a more consistent energy level.

Protein Power-Ups: Simple Swaps and Hacks

  • The Seed Sprinkle. Chia, hemp, or flaxseeds are not just crunchy add-ons; they’re mini protein bombs that can significantly boost your protein intake.
  • The Smoothie Stack. Amp up your smoothies with extra protein powder and Greek yogurt for an extra creamy, protein-rich treat.
  • The Savory Switch. Repurpose your breakfast with savory protein pancakes made from blended oats and cottage cheese, topped with smoked salmon for an extra protein punch.
  • The Pasta Power-Up. Swap traditional pasta for legume-based alternatives like lentil or black bean pasta for a satisfying, protein-fortified meal.
  • The Soup Surprise. Elevate your soups with a scoop of lentils, chickpeas, or quinoa. 
  • The Snack Switch-Up. Instead of chips, pick Greek yogurt with berries or a serving of beef jerky to satisfy your cravings with a protein kick.

More Protein-Enhancing Tips

  • Quinoa Over Rice. Replace rice with quinoa, a complete protein source that adds a nutty flavor and extra protein to your meals.
  • Milk Matters.  Choose protein-rich options like Fairlife or whole milk over traditional nut milks to increase your protein intake.
  • Salad Toppers. Boost your salads with edamame or black beans, both of which are excellent sources of protein.
  • Bone Broth Break. Swap out your hot tea for bone broth, a comforting and protein-rich alternative.
  • Savory Oats Upgrade. For a twist on classic breakfast oats, top them with a poached egg (or mix 2-3 egg whites) and a sprinkle of hemp seeds for a morning protein boost.

Incorporating these protein power-ups into your diet can be a game-changer for your health and mood. Start with one or two swaps and gradually build up to transform your meals into protein-packed powerhouses. 

Wondering how much protein to eat and what a day of high-protein looks like? Check out this article. And, if you need more support or want more information, drop into the Cafe.

Cozy Beef Soup
Amy Fox of Food and Mood Lab