Sarah Ryan, MS, RDN, LD

Proteins are the building block to life—protein rich foods help our bodies to grow and function normally and are key to feeling satisfied after a meal or snack. The amount of protein we need depends on our age, gender, and level of physical activity. It may be no surprise that Americans get enough protein on average, but we can do better when it comes to distribution throughout the day to maximize benefits.

Plant Based or Not?

While it’s always a great idea to include more plant based items in your diet, you don’t need to replace animal proteins with plant based proteins. The preference is yours! There are tons of healthful items regardless of what you choose.

Protein Throughout Your Day:

Here are some ideas to power up with protein throughout the day.


  • Stir-in nut butters to oatmeal
  • Add a scoop of whey protein to smoothies
  • Make and freeze egg cups for an easy breakfast on-the-go (here’s a veggie-packed, kid-approved recipe)
  • Cube leftover steak and add to omelets and scrambles
  • Balance your meal with a glass of milk

Lunch & Dinner:

  • Choose lean cuts of meat, look for “loin” cuts in the meat case (sirloin, tenderloin, top loin roast)
  • Add beans to soups and stews
  • Pre-cook chicken breasts and store in the fridge for an easy mid-week solution
  • Purchase tuna packed in water
  • Stock up on individually packaged frozen items, including veggie burger patties, seafood, and poultry
  • Layer sandwiches and burgers with a slice of cheese
  • Try diced tofu or seitan in stir fries


  • Dip fresh veggies in hummus
  • Pair your favorite fruit with a cup of low fat yogurt or cottage cheese
  • Roll deli meat in a piece of lettuce and cheese
  • Keep a baggie of unsalted nuts in your bag for an easy snacking on-the-go
  • Slice hardboiled eggs and serve with crackers or vegetable sticks