Anyone who has ever stepped foot in a gym probably knows the importance of protein. It is essential to gain lean, quality muscle tissue.
If your goal is to simply “gain weight” then sure, eating a shit-ton of calories, from any source will do the job. However in order to gain muscle, the reason that 90% of people go to the gym for (and the 10% who pretend they just want to stay fit), protein is essential. Just how much protein you’ll need to eat depends on your weight & body type.
However as a rule of thumb, 1g of protein per lb of body weight is a good starting point. That means a 200 lb call of duty addict who has never stepped foot in the gym, lives off mountain dew, and has never prepped a meal is going to be going from eating not much protein at all, to a whole lot of it.
Not the easiest thing to do.
Here are 5 high protein versions of “junk food” that you can substitute that will help you increase your protein intake, and help you build lean muscle.
1 – Crisps/Chips
In the UK we call them crisps. In the USA, they’re called chips. In the UK chips are those things people eat with battered fish…. yeah you probably have never heard of that if you’re from outside of the Merry ol’ England.
Whatever you want to call them however, its no denying that these are one of the worlds most popular snacks. They’re convenient, and just easy to eat. However a traditional pack contains not much protein what so ever.
That’s where High Protein Crisps (or chips) come in.
The 2 big brands are Protein Bites & Quest Chips. Protein Bites are easier to find in the UK.
Per 30g bag Protein Bites contains the following:
Total Calories: 110
Compare this to a 25g bag of Walkers Cheese & Onion Crisps:
Total Calories: 130
You can see the Protein Bites contain almost 10 times the protein.
I’d compare these most closely to Quavers. They have a similar texture, and the flavouring is quite powdery. Definitely different to a regular thin crisp.
If you’re a regular crisp eater, then swapping even just 1 bag a day will help you boost your protein intake significantly.
2 – Cookies
Who doesn’t love cookies and milk? I remember when protein cookies first hit the market, quite a few years back. They were available in 2 flavours, Double Chocolate Chunk and White Chocolate & Almond, and only a few companies sold them. I first tried MyProtein’s High Protein Cookies.
Now these things are available from pretty much any of bulk supplement retailers.
Pretty much anyone who doesn’t monitor their diet, or track macros, probably has a few biscuits or cookies each day. If that sounds like you, then swapping one of these biscuits for a protein cookie is one of the easiest ways to boost your protein intake.
A typical protein cookie contains the following (Using MyProtein’s as an example, but they’re all very, very, similar)
Per Cookie (75g):
Protein – 38g
Fat – 9.9g
Carbs – 20g
Total Calories: 320
Compare this to a Tesco bakery chocolate cookie
Per Cookie (42g):
Protein – 2.3g
Fat – 10g
Carbs – 24.4g
Total Calories: 200
The carb & fat content is marginally lower in the protein cookie. However it contains over 16 times the protein content.
If you’re a regular biscuit or cookie eater, struggling to hit your protein intake, then this one is a no brainer.
Tip – Microwave these cookies for 20-40 seconds for a warm, soft, cooki-dough like treat.
3 – Ice Cream
A must have on hot summer days. A side serving with warm pie in winter. Your best friend during a break up. What’s not to love about ice cream?
The problem is, ice cream is not very macro friendly. Or at least most aren’t. Regular ice cream also doesn’t contain much protein at all.
Sure you can try to fit it into your macros. You can have just one scoop. But really, why would you settle for such a small serving?
If you regularly eat ice cream, then swapping to a protein ice cream will help you massively.
I reviewed Whey Hey Protein Ice Cream some time back. Whey Hey captures that authentic ice cream taste, consistency and texture. Unlike some high protein versions of foods.
Since I first started it, they’ve actually added a banoffee flavour to their range. This is on top of the traditional chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavours.
A typical 100g serving of whey hey contains:
Protein – 15g
Fat – 4.5g
Carbs – 5g
Total Calories: 118
I’ll compare this to a serving of Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream
Protein – 3.6g
Fat – 14.6g
Carbs – 17.4g
Total Calories: 216
You don’t have to completely swap your favourite ice cream for just whey hey, but swapping maybe a scoop of your go-to choice for some Whey Hey is an easy to to up your protein, without giving up your “favourite food”.
4 – Pancakes
Try watching an episode of Breaking Bad without wanting Pancakes. I dare you to. Anyone know this was the go-to White family breakfast (meth not included).
Switching out the traditional pancake mix for a high protein pancake mix is an easy way to increase your protein, and makes for an awesome breakfast.
You can make your own protein pancakes with this recipe.
If you’re too lazy though you can buy Protein Pancake Mix from almost any supplement retailer.
I used to prefer making my own, untill I tried the flavoured MyProtein Pancake Mix. Their regular is bland. Id recommend making your own. However their golden syrup & maple syrup flavours are out of this world!
A typical protein pancake serving (50g of protein pancake mix) provides:
Protein – 34g
Fat – 3.2g
Carbs – 6g
Total Calories: 191
Whether you make your own, or use a pre-bought mix, adding some zero calorie syrup, fruit, or yoghurt makes for a high protein, and awesome tasting meal.
5 – Chocolate Bars
The natural swap for chocolate bars are a protein bar. Oh I can hear your groaning, but bare with me!
Sure, some protein bars are outright crap! They give you an unwanted jaw workout. They taste bland, powdery or worst yet, like a tub of chemicals.
However some you’ll have to take a double take on what it is you’re eating.
There are so many to try but my picks for a chocolate bar substitute would be either Oh Yeah Bars by ISS Nutrition or Protein Chox from MyProtein.
The “gourmet” choice for me has got to be an Oh Year Bar. These things are out of this world.
They’re available in a ton of different flavours from peanut butter, to caramel chocolate nut, and even bars full of smartie like chocolate pieces.
Once you’ve tried an Oh Yeah bar, id be surprised if you don’t want one every day!
There are a ton of other protein bars on the market such as quest bars, protein flapjacks and everything in between. However these are not a substitute for the traditional chocolate bar in my opinion.
Hit Your Protein
To get stronger and build muscle you need to be eating the right macronutrients. Protein is, arguably, the most important. If you’re not eating enough protein, you might as well be pissing against the wind.
Im not telling you to give up your favourite foods, or go on a “bro” diet. However if you’re struggling to hit your protein intake, then the above food swaps are such a simple way to increase your protein intake.
Try adding some of these high protein food choices into your diet, and I can guarantee you’ll be hitting your protein intake much easier, without having to kill your taste buds with dry chicken breast and egg white omelette’s.