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How to get more protein into your daily routine

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(BPT) - Are you working toward specific health goals for your New Year's resolutions? If so, there's a good chance that improving your eating habits is at the top of your list. With a lot of conflicting information out there, it can be confusing to sort out what's helpful from what's not when it comes to nutrition. The one thing many experts agree on is the important role protein plays in your overall well-being.

"Focusing on protein as a major nutrient your body needs can help make a difference for your wellness goals," said registered dietitian and Quest Nutrition paid partner Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S. "And the good news is that it's not hard to make small changes that will increase how much protein you're eating every day."

To help you revamp your diet as the new year begins, Kirkpatrick offers four simple tips around boosting your protein intake.

1. Make protein a priority when cutting overall calories

If you're trying to lose weight as one of your resolutions, whether with the help of a pharmacological source or strictly through dietary measures, protein will make a difference.

"For starters, protein will keep you fuller longer, so you'll eat less," advised Kirkpatrick. "If your food intake is limited to begin with, protein will help in maintaining muscle mass so that you'll lose fat, not muscle, during the process."

2. Mix up your sources

Protein comes in a wide variety of different foods including meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese, legumes like beans, peas, lentils and soy products, plus nuts and seeds — as well as some grains.

By varying your protein sources, that means you'll also be getting a wider variety of different nutrients, vitamins and minerals. For example, you can choose eggs for breakfast, legumes for lunch and salmon for dinner. Regularly including protein in your snacks is also a great idea to help keep your energy up throughout the day.

"To get through my mid-morning or afternoon slump, I love grabbing one of the Quest Protein Shakes. The Chocolate flavor is delicious, satisfying and filling," said Kirkpatrick. "The Salted Caramel is my go-to for in my coffee in the morning, and in the evening, Vanilla fits my craving for something sweet — while staying high protein.”

Quest Protein Shakes are rich and creamy, with 30 grams of protein, 3-4 grams of carbs and 1 gram of sugar, making them a delicious, satisfying way to drink protein without piling on carbs. Visit QuestNutrition.com to find these and other products to help you meet your New Year’s goals.

3. Add protein to every snack and meal

A great way to ensure that you're getting enough protein is to make it a priority to fit some into every meal and snack.

"Adding protein throughout the day is easier than you think," Kirkpatrick noted. "Try adding hemp seeds to your oatmeal in the morning, then enjoy a cheese stick as a snack or have a bowl of cottage cheese with cinnamon for a sweet treat — then finish the day with slices of lean meat in a salad.”

4. Don't forget sources that aren't traditionally known for protein

Protein-containing foods fall into the obvious (think chicken breast, eggs, beans and milk) as well as the less obvious, so it can pay to think outside the box.

"For example, although nuts and seeds are often seen as fats, they contain protein as well. One-half cup of walnuts, for example, has about 9 grams of protein, and an ounce of pumpkin seeds has about 9 grams as well," said Kirkpatrick. "Grains like spirulina and quinoa are other tasty options you can try that you might not immediately think about."

Improving your eating habits doesn't have to be overly complicated. Following these tips to include more protein in your daily routine will help you follow your resolutions throughout the year, so you can feel good about the nutrition you're getting while supporting your wellness goals.