Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues in your body, and it also helps to regulate body processes and produces hormones. Although most people in the United States get more than enough protein in their diets, deficiencies can occur. Most adult women need 46 grams of protein per day. However, you may need more if you are recovering from an illness or pregnant, or if you are very active. With a few changes to your diet, you can increase your protein levels.
Add fish and chicken daily to your diet if you are not a vegetarian. Both chicken and fish are good sources of protein but are low in saturated fat. A 3.5-ounce serving of skinless chicken has 28 grams of protein and 7 grams of fat. A 3.5-ounce serving of tilapia has 26 grams of protein and 2.65 grams of fat.
Include legumes, such as kidney beans, pinto beans and soybeans, in your meals. Legumes are good sources of vegetarian protein and are low in saturated fat. They also contain fiber and other essential minerals and vitamins. A 1-cup serving of most dry beans has approximately 16 grams of protein.
Choose whole grains over refined grains to increase your protein levels. Whole grains, like brown rice and multigrain bread, have approximately 25 percent more protein than their refined counterparts, according to the Whole Grain Council.
Eat seeds and nuts as a snack. Nuts and seeds are a good source of protein and a simple way to increase your protein count. For instance, a 1-ounce serving of peanuts contains over 6 grams of protein.
Add dairy to your diet. For example, you can drink a glass of milk with dinner or add yogurt to your breakfast to increase your protein. One cup of milk has approximately 8 grams of protein and an 8-ounce container of yogurt has about 11 grams of protein.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- Harvard School of Public Health: Protein- What Should I Eat?
- USDA Nutrient Database: Nutrient Data for 05013, Chicken, Broilers or Fryers, Meat Only, Roasted
- USDA Nutrient Database: Nutrient Data for 15262, Fish, Tilapia, Cooked, Dry Heat
- Whole Grains Council: What is a Whole Grain?
- USDA Nutrient Database: Nutrient Data for 16090, Peanuts, All Types, Dry-Roasted, With Salt
- Consult your physician for specific recommendations on how you should increase your protein.
Ireland Wolfe has been writing professionally since 2009, contributing to Toonari Post, Africana Online and Winzer Insurance. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Master of Arts in mental health counseling. She is also a licensed mental health counselor, registered nutritionist and yoga teacher.