Protein is a key nutrient at all ages, but it can be especially important for older adults. Protein helps you maintain your muscle mass, which naturally decreases as you get older. Keeping your muscle mass high can help you maintain your independence for longer and allows your body to function more effectively. The Grand Villa assisted living community offers a variety of nutritious and tasty protein options through restaurant-style dining. If you want to increase your protein intake even more, try these tips.
If your appetite is smaller than it used to be, make the foods you eat count. Choose options that are high in protein and enjoy those items first. This helps you get your protein in before you get too full. Some good options include:
Read nutrition labels when you shop to compare the protein content of different items. For instance, Greek yogurt usually has about twice as much protein as regular yogurt. If you enjoy yogurt for breakfast or snacks, start buying Greek yogurt to get a lot more protein in the same amount of food.
Some foods with high protein can be a little bland without seasoning. Plain chicken or fish doesn't have much flavor, for example. Head to your spice cabinet and pick out your favorite flavors to jazz up your food. Adding sauces can also help. Choose flavorings based on your dietary needs. For instance, if you're watching your sodium intake, choose seasonings without added salt.
You can also add other ingredients to make the flavor more appealing. If you're eating yogurt as a protein source, add fresh fruit, granola and some nuts, which give you even more protein. Tailoring the food to fit your taste preferences encourages you to eat more of it.
Aim to include protein in every meal, even if it's just a small amount. Start off strong with protein at breakfast. Eggs are a staple as a protein source. Plus, you can cook them in lots of different ways to keep things interesting. A side of turkey bacon or sausage adds more protein. Adding a smear of peanut butter to your toast is another option.
Planning your meals helps you track your protein intake and ensure you get some with every meal. Build your meals around a protein source based on your food preferences and dietary restrictions. When you sit down to eat, start with the protein portion to make sure you don't get too full before you get to it.
You might not always feel like cooking a piece of fish or grilling a steak when you need protein. Look for convenient protein sources you can eat quickly in busy times. Cold cuts are a good example. You can grab a few slices as a snack, cut them up to put on a salad or make a hearty sandwich as a quick meal. Smoked salmon and canned meats are other examples.
You can also prepare protein-rich foods in bulk to keep in your fridge. Make a big batch of chicken to use in different recipes or eat on its own. Boiling several eggs and keeping them in the fridge is another easy option.
Meals offer a good opportunity for protein consumption, but snacks also give you a way to boost your intake. Stock your kitchen with protein-rich snacks, such as nuts, trail mix, oatmeal balls and cheese. When you head out of the house, pack a small bag of protein-rich snacks to keep you going.
Even if you enjoy some meat with your meal, you might need more protein. You can often get it by adding protein-rich ingredients to other recipes or dishes. Here are some examples:
Eating a lot of protein can be difficult. Drinking high-protein beverages can be easier if you don't have a big appetite. You can find many pre-made shakes and beverages that are high in protein. Read the nutritional label to find out how much protein the shake offers. Check the other nutrient information, such as the sugar content and calories.
If you're still struggling to get enough protein in your diet, work with a dietitian. They can help you find the best sources of protein based on your dietary needs, and they might have different options you haven't considered. Dietitians can help create meal plans for you to simplify your protein intake efforts.