If you’re trying to lose weight, it might be time to pound more protein instead of focusing on cutting carbs and counting kilojoules.
Protein boosts the production of satiety-revving hormones, prevents blood sugar spikes and fat storage, and most importantly, helps your body build lean muscle, a key determiner of your metabolic rate, says board-certified sports dietitian Marie Spano.
That’s why a 2015 review published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism concluded that most people should down up to 35 grams of protein at every meal—and that people trying to lose weight may benefit from even more.
Some data even suggests that you should eat about a gram of protein per half a kilogram of body weight every day to lose weight and build metabolism-boosting muscle, Spano says.
Getting that much protein can be a struggle—especially for men who aren’t interested in living on chicken breasts.
Enter, protein powder—which is way more versatile than you might think. Protein powder can be the secret ingredient in weight-loss friendly snacks, baked goods, soups, dips, and more.
Check out these 15 nutritionist-approved hacks to hit your protein and weight-loss goals.
1/ Sub out up to a quarter of the flour in pancake, waffle, or muffin recipes with protein powder. Try a flavoured tub if you’re feeling extra creative. Mix all dry ingredients before adding liquids.
2/ Combine three tablespoons of melted butter and 20 marshmallows in a saucepan over heat until totally melted. Then, throw in two cups of ProMix Protein Puffs and one half cup of toasted coconut. Press the mixture into a greased pan and let cool. Top it off with a dusting of matcha for a protein-packed version of Rice Krispies Treats.
Related: The Ultimate Post-Workout Shake!
3/ Use the blender to whirl a quarter of a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder into your morning coffee. It’ll get milky and foam up like a cappuccino.
4/ Add a scoop of unflavoured whey protein powder and steamed, diced broccoli (which also contains protein) to your regular pizza dough recipe. If you buy the dough pre-made, dust it with protein powder and then knead it to prevent clumps.
5/ Mix one scoop of protein powder and one tablespoon of nut butter into your morning oatmeal. Carbs plus protein and fat equal a perfect breakfast for weight loss.
6/ Roll together a cup of quick oats, one half cup of nut butter, honey, and a scoop protein powder for easy energy balls. You can add in dried fruit, spices (try cinnamon), pumpkin, or your favorite seeds to mix things up.
7/ Fold protein powder into your Greek yogurt. You only need to use half a scoop of powder since Greek yogurt is already rich in protein.
Related: 3 Awesome Ways to Eat Greek Yoghurt
8/ To make soups more filling, use a blender to mix unflavoured protein powder into broths or blended soups. (About a scoop per serving is a good target.) If you want big chunks of veggies or other ingredients in your soup, add them after blending.
9/ Fill your standard breakfast bowl with a blend of avocado, ProMix Protein Puffs, almond milk, seedless green grapes, chia seeds, and lime juice together into a creamy consistency. Garnish with some more protein puffs, sliced avocado, shaved coconut, cocoa nibs, sesame seeds, and sliced grapes for a breakfast bowl.
10/ Combine a few tablespoons of unflavoured protein powder into dips and thicker spreads, like hummus and guacamole. To prevent clumping, add small amounts at a time.
11/ Make your own protein bars: Mix one-quarter cup protein powder, one teaspoon nut butter, two tablespoons of liquid soluble fibre (like IMO syrup), and a small amount of coconut oil, which will help them firm up in the fridge or at room temperature.
12/ Add unflavoured protein powder to casseroles and creamy grain-based dishes like creamed corn and risotto. Combine a few teaspoons at a time until it reaches the consistency to your liking.
13/ Add a scoop of Tera’s Whey Organic Dark Chocolate Whey Protein to your peanut butter (or other nut butters). It’s a match made in taste-bud heaven.
14/ Use protein powder to sub out up to a quarter cup of the flour in cookie recipes. That way, they’ll make a perfect pre- or post-workout treat. Choose whatever flavour fits your mood.
15/ Mix one scoop of protein powder in with your favorite chia puddings. (Since protein powder is pretty absorbent, just like chia, you may need to add more liquid, too.)
SOURCES: Nutritionist Georgie Fear, R.D., C.S.S.D., author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss; Tori Holthaus, R.D.N., R.D., founder of YES! Nutrition; Albert Matheny, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., co-owner of SoHo Strength Lab and registered dietitian for ProMix Nutrition; board-certified sports dietitian Marie Spano, R.D., C.S.S.D., C.S.C.S.
Originally published on womenshealthmag.com.