High-Protein Diet Tips for Beginners

Interested in starting a high-protein diet? This type of diet can help you feel fuller for longer, and also help you manage how much you eat each day. A diet rich in protein can also help you build muscle and increase your muscle mass. If you’re keen to try a high-protein diet, here are some simple tips to boost your protein intake and reach your health goals.

Tip #1: Figure Out How Much Protein You Need

First off, figure out how much protein your body needs every day. It’s not one-size-fits-all, but a good rule of thumb is to aim for proteins to make up about 20-25% of your daily energy needs. If you’re eating around 2000 calories a day, you might aim for 100 grams of protein.

You can also base your protein needs on your body weight. Generally, you should aim for at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight each day. But if you want to make the most of a high-protein diet, and potentially increase muscle mass, you might go up to 1.6 grams per kilogram [3]. Setting a clear goal will help you plan your meals better.

Tip #2: Spread Your Protein Across the Day

It’s better for muscle growth and repair to have a steady intake of protein throughout the day rather than all at once in the evening [4]. Try to include some protein in every meal to up your daily intake and keep things balanced.

Tip #3: Go for High-Quality Sources of Proteins

Try to avoid highly-processed, high-sodium meats, such as ham, sausages, bacon, and salami. Instead, opt for high-quality sources of proteins that aren’t saturated with unhealthy fats or sugars. One good example of a high-protein food is lean meat, such as chicken breast or turkey breast.

Other healthy protein-rich foods include the following:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Shellfish
  • Legumes, chickpeas, and beans
  • Almonds, pistachios, and other nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and other seeds
  • Edamame
  • Quinoa
  • Tofu
  • Oats
  • Certain veggies, such as Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, broccoli, beans, and corn

Some of these sources of proteins are also rich in essential nutrients, including healthy fats, fibre, minerals, and vitamins. For instance, nuts and seeds are excellent sources of fibre, magnesium, zinc, calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin E.

Tip #4: Stock Up on High-Protein Snacks

High-protein snacks can keep you feeling full and help manage your hunger. Researchers have found that eating high-protein and less calorie-dense snacks may improve appetite control, satiety, and the regulation of your calorie intake [6].

Here are some healthy high-protein snacks to add to your shopping list:

  • Cottage cheese and fruits
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Steamed edamame
  • Apple slices with almond butter or peanut butter
  • Chia seed pudding
  • Almonds and other nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chicken breast salad
  • Protein shakes

Tip #5: Mix Up Protein Sources

For the best results, mix up your protein sources between complete and incomplete protein sources.

  • Complete protein sources contain all nine essential amino acids your body cannot produce alone.
  • Incomplete protein sources do not contain all nine amino acids.

Animal proteins are often complete sources of proteins, such as:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Dairy products
  • Certain soy products, such as edamame and tofu

Here are some examples of incomplete protein sources:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Whole grains

If you’re leaning toward a plant-based or vegan diet, it’s important to vary your consumption of different protein sources to ensure you get all the amino acids your body needs. That’s because plant-based proteins tend to lack one or more essential amino acids.

Tip #6: Plan and Prep Your Meals in Bulk

To save time and ensure you stick to your high-protein diet, try batch-preparing your meals. You can freeze most meals for a couple of months. Just remember to label them with the date and reheating instructions. This can make your weekdays much simpler and keep you on track with your diet.

Tip #7: Boost Your Breakfast Protein

Another way to increase your protein consumption and achieve your daily intake goals is by having a protein-rich breakfast. There are various ways you can do this, and some examples are included below:

  • Swap out cereal for hard-boiled eggs
  • Make high-protein pancakes by adding protein powder to your pancake mix
  • Eat toast with high-protein foods, like smoked salmon or scrambled eggs
  • Add peanut butter, nut butter, or protein powder to your breakfast smoothies
  • Top your oats with blueberries and Greek yoghurt

While a high-protein diet can help with weight loss and muscle building, it’s not right for everyone. If you’re thinking about changing your diet, it’s a good idea to talk to a health professional especially if you have health issues, take medicine, or are pregnant.

Struggle to find the time to cook? 

If you find it hard to make time for preparing healthy, protein-rich meals, consider using a meal prep service. These companies prepare and deliver healthy meals to your door, helping you meet your protein needs without the hassle of cooking and planning every meal.

Some meal prep providers in Australia that offer high-protein meals include:

Protein Diet FAQs

What is the difference between the Atkins diet and the keto diet?

The Atkins and keto diets are both low-carb diets that can help to promote weight loss. While on the keto diet, you will have to keep your carb intake low enough to ensure your body stays in ketosis. On the other hand, you’ll gradually increase your carb intake on the Atkins diet, which means your body will be eventually kicked out of ketosis. There’s also no cap for your protein intake on Atkins, while keto limits your protein intake to around 20% of your daily calorie consumption. In this sense, the Atkins diet is less restrictive than the keto diet.

What are the overall health benefits of a high-protein diet?

Various studies have discovered that consuming more protein can help to reduce body weight and fat mass while preserving fat-free mass [1]. Researchers have also found that a high-protein diet may help lower heart disease-related risk factors, such as blood pressure [1]. Additionally, increasing protein supplementation can help increase muscle mass and lean body mass [2]. Finally, some research shows that increasing the dietary intake of proteins might help to improve blood sugar response and blood glucose control in individuals with Type 2 diabetes [7].

Is a high-protein diet bad for cholesterol?

If you consume the wrong protein sources, a high-protein diet might increase bad cholesterol levels. Processed meat like ham, salami, and sausages are some examples. Instead, focus on healthier sources of proteins that are low in saturated fats, such as fatty fish, beans, nuts, seeds, oats, and quinoa. Chicken breast and turkey breast are also excellent sources of protein that contain less saturated fats.

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