7 smart ways to add more protein to your diet

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This article was paid for by Abbott and created by the AOL editorial team. 

It's a fact: Your body changes as you age. No matter how fit you are or how well you eat, as you get older, muscle mass inevitably decreases while body fat takes over. It's a "gradual loss," deemed sarcopenia, that can occur even before some turn 50. 

That also means that your nutritional needs change as you age as to make up for the loss in muscle mass. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight for adults. And according to a study led by Il-Young Kim and previously reported by US News, the majority of "older adults" actually require around 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass every single day.

But recent research has revealed that nearly 1 in 3 adults over the age of 50 are still not consuming the amount of protein their bodies require daily. However, there are more than enough ways to get an extra protein push out of your meals and ensure you're hitting those nutritional marks. 

Here's how: 

  1. Swap regular yogurt for Greek yogurt. 1 serving of Greek yogurt can have anywhere from 15 to 20 grams of protein. 
  2. Get sipping on Ensure Max Protein, which has 30 grams of high-quality protein and 1 gram of sugar. It's available in two protein packed flavors, including Café Mocha and Milk Chocolate.
  3. Add peanut butter to fruit, which can average around 8 grams of protein on only 2 tablespoons.
  4. Choose lean ground beef for more protein. 3 ounces of beef is packed with 22 grams of protein.
  5. Keep high-protein nuts like peanuts, almonds and pistachios handy for when you get hungry. 30 almonds can have as much as 7.6 grams of protein.
  6. Mix in seeds like hemp, chia or flaxseeds to your meals. 
  7. Opt for fish such as salmon, trout or tuna. One 6 ounce serving of tuna has 50 grams of protein. 

You can find more ways to add protein to your diet here

RELATED: Best and worst protein choices for you: 

21 PHOTOS
The Best Protein Choices and Worst for Your Health and the Environment
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The Best Protein Choices and Worst for Your Health and the Environment

Learn which proteins are best (and worst) for you and the world around you.

1. Lentils: Eat These Often

The most climate-friendly protein. We love lentils because they deliver fiber and nutrients, such as iron and folate.

2. Tomatoes: Eat These Often

Eating more fruits and vegetables can help ward off disease. They’re low in fat and calories and give you fiber and important micronutrients. But, EatingWell’s Nutrition Editors note, they don’t provide much protein (1 gram per tomato), so also make sure to include higher protein sources in your diet.

3. Milk: Drink This Often

Choose organic and/or milk from grass-fed cows. EatingWell editors recommend choosing nonfat or low-fat (1%) milk. Buying local milk will have a lower carbon footprint, too. Look for milk that is rBGH-free (growth hormone).

4. Beans: Eat These Often

Beans deliver protein, fiber and nutrients. Opt for dry beans, when you can, for the lowest carbon footprint.

5. Tofu: Eat These Often

Excellent source of plant protein. Keep in mind that if the label doesn't say USDA Certified Organic or non-GMO, there is a good chance it was made from genetically-modified soybeans.

6. Broccoli: Eat This Often

Broccoli gives you only 2 grams of protein per cup, so while it is a low-carbon food (and great for your health), the EatingWell Nutrition Editors note that you’ll need to include higher-protein sources in your diet.

7. Yogurt: Eat This Often

Choose organic and low-fat or nonfat yogurt when possible.

8. Nuts: Eat These Often

High in protein and healthy monounsaturated fats.

9. Peanut Butter: Eat This Often

EatingWell’s Nutrition Editors recommend looking for natural peanut butter to avoid extra sugar and partially hydrogenated oils.

10. Rice: Eat This Often

The EatingWell’s Nutrition Editors recommend choosing brown rice since it is less processed than white, retaining the fiber and other nutrients. Whole grains, such as quinoa or millet are also good choices.

11. Potatoes: Eat These Often

Buy organic when possible, since conventionally grown potatoes tend to be high in pesticide residues (they’re on the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list of produce most contaminated with pesticides.)

12. Eggs: Eat These Occasionally

For the lowest environmental impact, pick organic and/or pasture-raised. Look for certified humane.

13. Tuna: Eat These Occasionally

Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. EatingWell’s Nutrition Editors choose light tuna to reduce mercury exposure.

14. Chicken: Eat This Occasionally

Best meat pick. EatingWell’s Nutrition Editors recommend that you cook it skinless to minimize saturated fat intake. Opt for organic, pasture-raised or antibiotic free for the lowest environmental impact.

15. Turkey: Eat These Occasionally

Poultry has the lowest carbon footprint of any meat, and turkey is a good choice. Opt for organic or antibiotic-free, but avoid less healthy processed forms (cold cuts, sausage, etc.).

16. Salmon: Eat These Occasionally

Choose wild salmon over farmed, when possible for the lowest carbon footprint. EatingWell’s nutrition editors note that salmon adds healthy omega-3s to your diet, so eat it and other fatty fish a few times a week.

17. Pork: Eat This Less

Choose pasture-raised, certified humane, when possible. For your health and the environment, skip processed pork, like bacon.

18. Cheese: Eat This Less

Stick to a single serving (1.5 ounces for hard cheese)—plus using a sharply flavored cheese can help you get the maximum impact for less. The EWG also recommends choosing organic and low-fat cheese, when possible. EWG lists cheese as the 3rd worst protein choice in part because they looked at 4 ounces of cheese—that’s almost three 1.5-ounce servings!

19. Beef: Eat This Less

Look for grass-fed and organic. Although pricier than conventional, it’s a healthier choice for you and the environment. Grass-fed beef is richer in heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Plus, organic, grass-fed cattle are raised in a way that minimizes the carbon emissions from manure. The EWG also recommends avoiding processed beef products, such as sausage.

20. Lamb: Eat This Less

The EWG ranked lamb as the worst choice based on carbon footprint and recommends choosing grass-fed, when possible. Since it’s not widely eaten in the United States, it plays a smaller role in carbon impact than beef, however.

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