When you hear that you need to eat more protein, most people think of piles and piles of meat! Mostly Chicken breasts & red meats but there is so much more to protein than meets the eye! Sure, it can help you maintain lean muscle mass, but it’s also important to many other processes in the body. Protein is found in a variety of foods, not just meats, and protein powders. You can find protein in some plant-based foods like legumes, broccoli as well as dairy products! Keeping this in mind, it should be easier to fit enough protein in your daily diet instead of eating loads of chicken breasts every day!
But if you’re on the go all the time, you may wonder if there are any protein sources that can fit your busy lifestyle. The answer is yes. Read below to learn about why protein is so important and what portable foods you can enjoy on the go to help you meet your daily protein needs.
FAST FACTS ABOUT PROTEIN
Protein is a vital macronutrient that is one of the building blocks of life found in every cell of the human body (1). Protein functions in the body to repair cells and as antibodies to fight off infection in the body (2). Not to mention that proteins help produce hormones that transmit messages through the body and make up muscles that help us to move.
Not only that, but protein also helps you feel fuller longer after eating it. This is because high-protein meals increase satiety and the thermic effect on feeding (TEF) (3). Therefore, you should include a good source of protein in every meal and snack throughout the day if you can.
Protein is in a variety of foods such as beef, chicken, pork, seafood, and fish as well as dairy products. However, if you’re on the go, it would be quite impractical to keep a steak in your gym bag. Therefore, I’ve included a list below of some protein-rich foods that are easy to travel with you on the go so that you’ll always have access to this all-important macro.
ON THE GO PROTEIN SOURCES
Protein powder is the ultimate portable protein source. Many protein powders are either composed of whey protein or pea protein and contain about 15 to 20 grams per ounce (4). A great protein powder choice that tastes great is Beauty Whey Protein powder! It comes in delicious flavors like Smart Cookie as well as a Vegan Natural Chocolate Pea Protein Powder, to name a few. (GET 20%OFF WITH CODE- NAT)
Protein powder can be prepped with water for a basic protein shake, or added to your favorite smoothie, yogurt, or oatmeal for a creative protein-packed meal. Switch up your flavor every now and then to keep your protein powder routine fresh and be sure to keep a scoop or two of protein powder as well as your favorite shaker bottle in your to-go bag.
Tuna fish is a great source of protein at about 7 grams of protein per ounce (5). You can find portable tuna fish pouches in sizes ranging from about 2.5 to 6.5 ounces and in a variety of flavors like lemon pepper, Thai chili pepper, or plain in water or oil. Enjoy tuna fish pouches alone or mixed with your favorite Greek yogurt dressing for more protein or mixed with mashed avocado for added healthy fat and delicious flavor.
You can eat tuna fish straight from the pouch or consume it in whole-wheat pita bread, with whole-grain crackers, or with sliced vegetables like cucumber slices, for example. These combinations will balance the protein-rich content of tuna fish with fiber and other nutrients from plant-based food products.
Whether you consume meat-based foods or not, you can find a jerky snack that fits your lifestyle. Jerky comes in a variety of flavors and can be made from turkey, beef, or plant-based seitan. Depending on the type of jerky you consume, it can range from 9 to 11 grams of protein per ounce (6,7,8).
Jerky is the ultimate portable source of protein and contrary to what one may think, it’s not necessarily high in sodium and preservatives all the time. Be sure to check the label of the brand you choose to find one less than 300 milligrams sodium per ounce for a heart-healthy choice.
Although the texture of cottage cheese can be off-putting to some, cottage cheese is packed with healthy protein, even in a small serving. Just one ounce of 1% low-fat cottage cheese contains 3.5 grams of protein, which is equal to about 28 grams of protein per cup (9).
Enjoy cottage cheese alone or with diced fruit or vegetables for a delicious snack or easy meal option. Some delicious combinations include cottage cheese with diced pineapple or cottage cheese with sliced bell pepper. You can even add your favorite seasoning like a sprinkle of salt or pepper for extra flavor. For a sweet, protein-rich treat, try a teaspoon of honey and/or a sprinkle of cinnamon mixed in your cottage cheese.
One particularly protein-rich plant-based food that is great on the go is edamame. Also known as soybeans, shelled edamame contains about 3 grams of protein per ounce, or about 17 grams protein per cup (10). Edamame tastes great alone with just a sprinkle of salt or as part of a stir-fry dish with other proteins and vegetables. Edamame also comes in a dry-roasted form for 13 grams per ounce. This dry-roasted form is particularly perfect for a portable protein-rich snack option.
Protein is one nutrient you don’t want to miss in your diet. So, whether you are able to eat most meals at home or are on the go, it’s important to make sure you have some protein-rich food sources on hand to help you meet your daily recommended intake.
Therefore, make a list of the protein sources above as well as any others you may find helpful, stock up on them, and prep healthy protein-rich meals and snacks. Then, keep a running list of the protein sources you find most helpful, so you’ll always have enough protein on hand to meet your protein needs every day.
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- Medline Plus (April 30, 2019) “Protein in diet.” https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002467.htm
- Medline Plus (last updated September 18, 2020) “What are proteins and what do they do?”
- Li, J., Armstrong, C. L., & Campbell, W. W. (2016). “Effects of Dietary Protein Source and Quantity during Weight Loss on Appetite, Energy Expenditure, and Cardio-Metabolic Responses.” Nutrients, 8(2), 63. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8020063
- Cleveland Clinic (June 12, 2020) “How to Choose the Best Protein Powder for You.” https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-tips-choosing-best-protein-powder/
- NutritionData (accessed November 8, 2020) “Fish, tuna, light, canned in water, drained solids.” https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4146/2
- NutritionData (accessed November 8, 2020) “Snacks, beef jerky, chopped and formed.” https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/snacks/5332/2
- MyFitnessPal (accessed November 8, 2020) “Primal strips.” https://www.myfitnesspal.com/nutrition-facts-calories/primal-strips
- Nick’s Sticks (accessed November 8, 2020) “Jerky: Traditional Turkey Jerky.” https://www.nicks-sticks.com/traditional-turkey-jerky/
- NutritionData (accessed November 8, 2020) “Cheese, cottage, lowfat, 1% milkfat.” https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/15/2
- Thalheimer, RD, LDN, J.C. (April 2017) “Exceptional Enjoyable Edamame.” https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0417p24.shtml