If you’ve decided that you want to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way, or have just started researching what that looks like, you’ve quite possibly read a good deal of articles discussing the importance of protein when it comes to shedding pounds. While a healthy weight loss diet can look different for everyone depending on their unique needs, getting more protein in is almost always going to be a key factor. Thankfully, this is made easier if you are aware of important food swaps for protein.
There are a multitude of ways that protein can promote weight loss. For one, it can help shrink your cravings and prevent over-snacking, as well as reduce feelings of hunger in general, which can lead to fewer calories consumed throughout the day. Higher-protein diets have also been shown to improve metabolism and increase the amount of overall calories burned. And once you’ve lost your desired weight, increasing your protein can also help you maintain your weight loss.
To some just starting out in their weight loss journey, it can feel really intimidating to try and figure out how to increase your daily protein, especially if you’re already in a routine of what and how you like to eat. This is exactly why small food swaps can be helpful. They can allow you to keep your favorite foods while just making slight changes to increase how much protein your consuming.
1% cow’s milk: 8 grams of protein per cup
Almond milk (unsweetened): 1 gram of protein per cup
This swap adds: 7 grams of protein
For those who are able to consume dairy products, this food swap can give you a big boost of protein.
“Add cow’s milk to your oatmeal instead of almond milk,” suggests Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and member of our Medical Expert Board. “Almond milk is a good bet if you are opting to go plant-based, but cow’s milk will give you more protein—as well as calcium and vitamin D.”
Cream cheese: 3.6 grams of protein per 4 tablespoons
Cottage cheese: 6 grams of protein per 4 tablespoons
This swap adds: 2.4 grams of protein
“Instead of spreading your bagel with cream cheese, opt for protein rich cottage cheese,” says Young. “Cottage cheese is a good source of protein and will keep you full. It is also low in fat and will save you calories.”
If you’re not super fond of the idea of placing cottage cheese on your bagel, don’t fret! This type of cheese can also act as a 1:1 substitute for cream cheese in your favorite dips.