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Eight Ways to Sneak in More Protein

protein for muscle growth

To properly recover from any type of training, you need adequate protein to repair the tissue that is getting torn, or to make up for a lack of carbohydrates available for energy.

You can use the Men’s Fitness Food Pyramid to determine how much protein you should be taking in each day. As for when you should consume protein, a 2013 Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition review suggests that protein timing (eating it 1 hour pre/post weight lifting) does not significantly affect muscle building or strength. A recent Journal of Applied Physiology study found that timed protein ingestion in combination with resistance exercise, intervals, stretching, and endurance training decreases body fat while increasing lean body mass.

Whether you time consumption or not, protein is an essential component of training. But the same old “chicken, beef or fish” can get boring. Try these eight unique ways to incorporate protein into your diet for bigger muscles, faster recovery, more energy, and improved training performance.

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A 4-ounce serving of cottage cheese contains about 13 grams of protein, and non-fat options are available. Made of casein and whey protein, the dairy product provides long lasting muscle-repairing benefits.

Spread cottage cheese on a wrap or pizza, stir a scoop into scrambled egg, or add it to salsa.

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Quinoa contains all six essential amino acids (the ones you must get from your diet). If you’re not a fan of its earthy flavor, make it taste like fried rice: Cook your own meat, whether it be cubed chicken, small shrimp, pork strips, or beef skewers. Then fry an egg or two and chop it into mushrooms and carrots. In a pot, stir together meat, eggs, veggies, 1 cup crushed pineapple, and 1 cup of cooked quinoa. Sprinkle with low-sodium soy sauce and enjoy your homemade protein-filled “Chinese” food. 

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A cup of green peas contains about 8 grams of protein, which isn't bad for a plant-based food. Since peas are lactose- and gluten-free, pea protein powder is an increasingly popular supplement, especially among those with allergies or intolerances. One scoop of pea protein powder packs more than 20 grams of protein, similar to its whey and soy counterparts.

In addition to powder, some foods are being fortified with pea protein, like Beyond Meats Beyond Beef Crumbles, a beef-flavored, vegan, and non-GMO snack that contains 10 grams of protein per serving.

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Ostrim offers beef/ostrich, beef/elk, and turkey sticks, which contain 14 grams of protein per piece. As for beef/turkey jerky, take your pick. One ounce generally has more than 10 grams of protein.

There’s also such a thing as vegan jerky, and Louisville Vegan Jerky Company, Primal Spirit Foods, and Stonewall’s Jerquee use soy and other ingredients to provide tasty protein-packed snacks.

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Of course, we advise drinking whey protein shakes as part of a balanced diet, especially in conjunction with resistance training. But the protein powder we’re talking about here isn’t made for taste, it’s actually unflavored and used for cooking.

Quest Nutrition Multi-Purpose Mix is an unflavored whey protein powder made specifically for cooking and baking savory food. It boasts 24 grams of protein per scoop. Use it to give any recipe a protein boost (without tasting it).

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Protein-infused water hydrates and satisfies a juice-craving sweet tooth while providing enough protein to keep you noticeably fuller compared to other bottled waters.

For a new take on refreshment, try Trimino or Pro-NRG. Both beverages are sugar- and caffeine-free flavored protein-infused waters that are low in calories and high in vitamins.

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Hemp is another word for the cannabis plant, but specifically refers to varieties that contain little to no THC. Thirty grams of hemp seed provides about 10 grams of protein. Add it to Greek yogurt or use it to top a salad. 

Hemp protein is also available in powder, which generally packs even more protein per serving than the seed. 

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Blacks beans pack about 6 grams per serving but it’s easy to eat more than that if you’re a beans and rice fan.

To keep from inhaling the classic dish but still get beans’ nutrition benefits, pulse black beans in a food processor and use them with other healthy ingredients to make salsa, burger patties, and even baked good. 

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