If there’s one thing that can help you eat less and increase the chance you’ll lose weight, it’s getting more protein. Protein has been shown to help keep you fuller longer, speed up your metabolism, and even help build muscle more efficiently. You know that protein is the answer to your better body questions, but just how to get more protein is a different problem.
The following 11 ideas and food swaps will show you how to get more protein without totally disrupting your routine.
1. Add Greek Yogurt
Step aside traditional American yogurt, and allow Greek yogurt to take the spotlight. It’s rich in protein and so easy to eat as a snack or on the go. Just one serving of a Greek yogurt can add about 18 grams of protein into your day.
For an extra 4 grams of protein, top your yogurt with an ounce of nuts (about a handful). These are healthiest ways to load up on lean protein.
2. Mix Up Your Meats
You probably stick to buying your favorite meats at the grocery store. Many nutritionists suggest choosing lean proteins for a creative change, especially fish and other shellfish such as shrimp and scallops. Lean proteins make for low-calorie, high-protein meals.
3. Add a Handful of Pecans to a Salad
Nuts are not only a great crunch element to add to salads, entrees, and desserts, but they’re also packed with protein and antioxidants. Pecans, in particular, have a ton of magnesium, which aid in digestion; they’re filling and cleansing at the same time.
[Read: How To Stay Full For Weight Loss]
4. Prep Hard-Boiled Eggs
Don’t underestimate the convenience of hard-boiled eggs. Boil a bunch in advance and keep them in your fridge so you have a quick add-on option to low protein meals.
Adding just a couple of hard-boiled eggs into your salad or as a side to your sandwich can increase your protein intake by 12 to 14 grams.
5. Pick a Protein Powder
If you’d rather not search for protein-rich foods, protein powder is a quick way to add it to your normal diet. Put it in a smoothie or shake, or mix the powder into a waffle or pancake mix. You can pick from a number of flavors and styles.
6. Load Up On Quinoa
If you’re into stir-fry or burrito bowls, swap out your rice or noodles for quinoa.
Half of a cup of these grain-like seeds will get you 4 grams of protein and nearly 3 grams of fiber—that’s compared to only 2 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of fiber you’d get from regular white rice.
7. Sneak Spirulina Into Your Smoothies
Although for some it has an acquired taste, at more than 60% protein for its weight, spirulina offers an impressive range of vitamins and minerals, along with its valuable plant-based protein.
[Read: 7 Best Drinks for Weight Loss]
8. Swap Ricotta Cheese for Cottage Cheese
Yes, ricotta cheese has protein—a half a cup has about 14 grams—but it also has a ton of fat (which is why it tastes so good). Swap ricotta for cottage cheese in cold dips for about the same amount of protein with fewer calories and less fat.
9. Top Your Food with Chopped Almonds
Almonds are incredibly healthy.
They’re high in magnesium, fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, yet low in digestible carbs.
Almonds also contain 6 grams of protein in a 28-gram (1-oz) serving, which makes them a better source than most nuts.
And although a serving of almonds contains around 167 calories, studies have shown that your body actually absorbs only about 129 of those calories because some of the fat isn’t digested.
So sprinkle a few tablespoons of chopped almonds over yogurt, cottage cheese, salads or oatmeal to increase your protein intake and add flavor and crunch.
10. Eat Your Protein First
When eating a meal, eat the protein source first, especially before you get to the starches. Protein increases the production of PYY, a gut hormone that makes you feel full and satisfied.
In addition, a high protein intake decreases levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin and increases your metabolic rate after eating and during sleep.
What’s more, eating protein first can help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels from rising too high after a meal.
11. Add Lentils to Your Soup
If you’re looking for a way to increase the protein in your broth-based soups, try adding lentils. A longtime staple for vegetarians looking for alternative sources of protein, lentils can completely fill you up with very little effort. A handful of lentils can be subbed in for noodles, rice, or anything else starchy.