Your muscles need protein to grow, but there are plenty of unexpected sources to get your fill.
Of all the things your body needs to function, protein is pretty high on the list. Protein is one of the main building blocks of the human body, and is used to build and repair muscles, tendons, and skin. It also affects hormones and enzymes that help your body function properly.
If you are hitting the gym often, you need even more protein than normal in order to build new muscle and recover from intense workouts. But the average sedentary man needs 56 grams of protein per day just to maintain itself, while the average sedentary woman needs 46 grams.
We all know that you can obtain the protein you need from things like greek yogurt, meat, eggs, and nuts, but there are also less well-known, but surprisingly effective sources of protein. So if you are looking to expand your horizons a little in terms of how you get your daily intake of protein, these five options are worth a look:
Sweet Potatoes- 4 grams per cup. Pretty much everyone loves sweet potatoes (especially sweet potato fries), but did you know you can also blend them up and add them to smoothies? If that isn’t your jam, baked sweet potato fries are also an option.
Artichoke Hearts– 4 grams per cup. Preparing and cooking a whole artichoke is a big to-do, so you definitely want to buy them frozen, jarred, or canned. But artichoke hearts are a delicious and nontraditional way to get your daily intake of protein.
READ MORE: Five Signs You Aren’t Getting Enough Protein
Spinach– 5 grams per cooked cup. Of all the superfoods, spinach is one of my faves. Not only do I find it delicious, but it just feels good after you eat it because of all the health benefits and iron, calcium, and magnesium. Protein is just an added bonus, really.
Quinoa– 8 grams per cooked cup. If you are looking for something super-easy to make and stuffed with protein, look no further than quinoa. In fact, it’s a good idea to get your kids hooked on quinoa at an early age (#momtip), because it is great for the body, but may take a little getting used to.
Pumpkin Seeds– 9 grams per ¼ cup. The amount of protein you can derive from pumpkin seeds makes them well worth your time. Unlike the other things on this list, you can carry pumpkin seeds with you at all times, so its great for a mid-day protein boost, or post-gym snack after hitting a workout.
Adding even one or two of these foods to your diet will help your muscles repair faster, and impact your overall health.
So if you aren’t paying attention to your protein intake, now is a great time to start!