As a certified macro coach who has coached dozens of women at this point, one of the biggest obstacles when beginning to track macros is hitting their protein goal.
I get it, I’ve been there. You get your initial macro targets and you’re totally thrown off guard by the protein number. How are you going to get that much protein in every day??
While the number might look daunting at first, I have good news: it gets easier! Like, so much easier. All you need to do is take the tips that I’m going to share in this article and put them to use. You’ll be nailing your protein target in no time!
Get to Know What Foods Contain Protein
Hitting your protein goal is much easier when you know what foods and in what quantities will be required. If paying attention to protein content is new to you, it will be well worth your time to spend some time getting to know common high-protein foods and identifying the ones you enjoy.
Here’s a list of some of the most readily available and versatile protein sources:
- Chicken breast
- Turkey breast
- Lean ground beef
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Eggs/egg whites
- Turkey bacon
- Turkey pepperoni
- Protein powders
- Protein bars
Set a Protein Goal Per Meal
Determine how many meals and snacks you prefer to eat each day. Then, take your daily total protein goal and divide it by the number of meals you plan to eat in the day. For example, if you like to eat 3 meals per day and your protein goal is 120 grams, you could divide that number by 4 to get the total number of protein grams you should aim for at each meal (120/4= 30g of protein per meal)
Once you know how much protein you’d like to eat per meal, you can then figure out what foods and in what quantities you’ll need to eat to achieve it.
Build Your Meals Around Your Protein Source
As you’re planning your meals for the day, start with your protein source. For example, if you know that you have some chicken breast in the refrigerator for dinner today, build the rest of your meal around that protein.
Pre-log a portion of your protein that will help you hit your macros and then add your other meal components to that. Instead of treating protein as an afterthought, make it the highlight of every meal and snack you eat. Pick your source of protein and build around it!
Pre-Log Your Meals For the Day
Winging it rarely works, especially as a beginner. I always recommend pre-tracking your meals for the day in your macro tracking app at the beginning of the day so that you have a road map for the day.
One of the biggest struggles that I see with clients when it comes to hitting their protein goal is failing to plan in advance and ending up with a ton of protein to make up for at the end of the day. No one wants to be faced with needing to hit 75g of protein with dinner. Plus, consuming a lot of protein right before bed can lead to some digestive issues for some people.
Front Load Your Day With Protein
For probably the first 30 years of my life, I ate a big bowl of cereal every morning for breakfast. While there’s nothing wrong with cereal per se, it’s usually nearly void of protein. When I first started tracking macros I realized I was way undereating protein, especially with breakfast.
One trick that has helped me to hit my protein goal consistently over the past few years is to make a protein-packed breakfast every morning. Instead of eating a minimal breakfast with little to no protein, front load your day with a heavy protein breakfast so that you can head into the day knowing that you’ve already made a significant dent in your goal because you never know what life will throw at you that day.
My favorite protein-packed breakfasts include Strawberries and Cream Overnight Oats, Breakfast Burritos, and PB Mocha Protein Shakes.
Increase Your Protein Portion
Sometimes the easiest thing to do to increase your protein intake is to simply increase your protein portion. If you normally eat about 4oz of meat with dinner, make it 6 or 8oz. If you like to enjoy a container of Greek yogurt as an afternoon snack, try eating two!
The best way to go about this is to make sure that you’re eating lean protein sources that allow you to increase your protein intake without going way overboard with extra calories.
Choose High-Protein Recipes
Not all recipes are protein-focused, which is completely fine, but also not super helpful for those with protein goals. Make life easier for yourself by utilizing protein-forward recipes. I like to look for entree recipes that contain a significant amount of protein per serving, roughly 20-40 grams.
Here at FHM, we prioritize lean protein in our entrees so that hitting your macros and your protein target specifically, is easy. Plus, our high protein recipes are simple to make and require little time and preparation.
Don’t Be Afraid to Supplement
There’s this narrative out there that using protein powders, shakes, bars, etc. is bad for you. In my opinion, this is not the case. Is consuming protein derived from mostly whole foods preferred? Yes, of course, but don’t beat yourself up for using convenience items like shakes and bars to make sure you’re hitting your targets.
Protein shakes and bars, especially those made with high-quality protein, are super beneficial and convenient. I always have them on hand and frequently reach for them when I need a snack.
My favorite protein powders include 1st Phorm Level-1 & Phormula-1 and Clean Simple Eats (code TAMI). For protein bars, I love Built Bars (code FHM10), Level-1 Bars from 1st Phorm, and Healthy Eating on the Go Bars.
Pro tip: Froth a scoop of protein powder into your morning cup of coffee for a smooth, creamy, protein-packed way to start the day! My favorite protein powder to do this with is Level-1.
Make Higher Protein Swaps
This could be in regards to your meal as a whole, or to specific ingredients used within your meal. For example, your typical bowl of cereal for breakfast can be swapped for a protein bagel, egg whites, and turkey sausage for a much more protein-dense meal.
When it comes to specific ingredients, examples can include swapping Greek yogurt for sour cream, lean ground turkey for ground beef, and cottage cheese for salad dressing. Every little bit of extra protein you get each day counts and adds up!
Add Cottage Cheese to Everything
Kidding, kind of. Cottage cheese is packed with protein, low in calories, and goes in so many more dishes than you would think. From Cottage Cheese Breakfast Bowls to Cottage Cheese Chicken Parm, there are so many ways to add a dollop of cottage cheese to your meal and not only up the protein content, but increase the flavor and creaminess of the dish, too!
See our roundup of cottage cheese recipes to find ones that you like!
Want to Make Hitting Your Protein Goal Easy?
We offer several ways to help make getting your daily protein in simple and delicious. You can join our Weekly Macro Recipes membership where you’ll enjoy a full library of high-protein meal options. Or, you can sign up for group or 1:1 coaching where we’ll provide you with the support, encouragement, and ideas you need to consistently not only hit your protein goal but to reach all of your goals.