By Austin Perry
Dieting is not always as easy and enjoyable as it seems. You start to reminisce on foods you once used to eat that were not always on the macro-friendly side of the spectrum and this can be crucial towards the mental aspect of a strict diet.
A way to mix things up and prevent your diet from becoming too bland or repetitive is to interchange certain sources such as your protein and carbs. The most common mistake people tend to run into is that they never switch up food sources and continue to eat the same thing for every meal which then leads to a possible slip-up in their diet.
Switching out food sources in your daily diet is not only refreshing but it can also assist with the mental aspect of enduring a strict diet before your next cheat meal. A lot of you may be asking yourselves what you can change up without throwing off your diet completely.
Listed below is a full spectrum line-up of protein packed foods that can be substituted into your daily nutritional intake.
Keep in mind, if you’re on a very strict diet, you will need to find certain sources with the closest macronutrient values and weigh them out properly when interchanging so that you do not throw off your macros for the day.
1. Chicken Breast
Ah, the stereotypical bodybuilding protein food… Chicken breast(s) have always been a staple point in many diets due to its high protein and extremely low-fat content. The most overlooked aspect of chicken breasts is that you’re getting more volume to help fill you up much easier than something like thinly sliced tilapia.
Chicken breasts are not only extremely clean macro-wise, but they are also one of the easiest foods to prepare ahead of time as you can cook in bulk and prep your meals for the entire work-week without worrying about food going bad.
2. Ground Turkey
This is an excellent substitution for a high protein source depending on the ratio you pick up from your local grocery store. When looking for ground turkey, be sure to go for a ratio between 93/7, 96/4 or 99% lean to ensure that you’re getting the best quality for your diet.
Ground turkey is simple but adds variety to your food selection for the week. Feel free to get creative with the seasonings or mix in with your greens to make a protein-based salad as a filler.
3. Egg Whites/Whole Eggs
There’s nothing simpler and more inexpensive as egg whites and whole eggs. You can easily pick up a carton of large grade A eggs from your local grocery store for a few dollars making this a cost-effective purchase for your diet.
Depending on your fat intake per day, you can either purchase liquid egg whites separately or you can go the manual route and de-yolk your eggs prior to cooking them as each yolk typically contains 5g of fat. Again, eggs also provide much needed volume to your diet and can be a delicious take when your hunger is through the roof.
Let’s kick it old school with this protein source. Tuna is by far one of the most common protein-based foods and can be very generous to your pocket at the same time. The game has definitely evolved when it comes to tuna as there are now pre-made tuna flavor expansions that you can pick-up from the store to add in some extra flavor.
Personally, my favorite is the StarKist Tuna Creations Hot Buffalo Style. Swap this into your diet and thank me later as it takes the headache away from prepping meals and is extremely convenient and tasty.
5. Ground Beef
If you’re not particular about your spending when it comes to shopping for your diet foods, ground beef is typically one of the best options to go to when looking for a protein-based meat that brings some flavor around. Just like ground turkey, you’re going to want to shoot for the leanest ratio of ground beef to swap into your meals.
Ground beef is loaded with protein per serving and can be used to add in some variety to your meals. So, go ahead, get creative and use those healthy recipes you’ve had saved up for quite some time.
There wouldn’t be an article without controversial topics or suggestions. Tilapia has been under the microscope for being more of a “bottom-feeder” fish but don’t let this stray you away from purchasing this as it is also containing a lower caloric intake, loaded with protein and extremely low in fats per serving.
Tilapia also contains healthy omega-3’s you want and need in your diet. Another great reason to choose tilapia is that it doesn’t have an “overly fishy” taste to it or at least that’s what I think about it.
There’s no second guessing the nutritional value of shrimp, this delectable seafood item is the perfect addition to your diet when looking for a protein source. However, I’m not suggesting making shrimp cocktail an everyday food item…
About 100 grams of cooked shrimp contains 99 calories, 24 grams of protein and 0.3 grams of total fat. As you can tell, it’s about as clean as it can get and adds plenty of flavor and is enjoyable all around especially when you’re on a strict diet.
8. Top Sirloin
Lean cuts of steak are enjoyable and can be thrown in to at least one meal throughout the day if you choose to do so. Typically, sirloin is relatively lean but has a higher fat intake than most of the above-mentioned protein-based foods so accommodate accordingly and you should be good to go.
When searching for sirloin, make sure to look for the leanest cut without much fat on it. If you have to, you can cut-off certain fatty areas of the steak to help hit your macronutrient goals per meal.
9. Whey Protein Powder
Simple, effective and easy. There’s not much to be said when it comes to Whey Protein as it is commonly used throughout everyday diets.
Whey Protein powder is great on convenience and allows you to hit protein goals for the day when you’re stretched for time or just can’t eat much more food. I prefer using a whey protein isolate such as Nutrex Research Isofit.
Whey Protein Isolate is cold filtered during processing and contains dairy free profile which is a huge plus for anyone who has digestion issues with whey protein concentrate.
10. Greek Yogurt
Blasting onto the scene as a major diet food a decade ago was Greek yogurt and the hype is still as real as it’s ever been. Not only is Greek yogurt a great protein selection but it also provides you creative abilities for specific recipes when calling for clean ingredient substitutions.
Greek Yogurt companies such as Dannon Oikos have catered to the health and wellness industry by their introduction of Triple Zero that contains 0 added sugars, 0 artificial sweeteners and 0 grams of fat. The flavor selection has expanded, and I have not found one bad flavor yet. Oikos Triple Zero is a great way to add in protein to your everyday diet without the addition of unnecessary carbs, sugars or fats.
The Final Takeaways
Your diet doesn’t have to be miserable all the time and you can actually enjoy nutritionally valued foods believe it or not. All it takes is simple coordination’s with your macronutrient intake and it’s smooth sailing for swapping in great tasting, protein-packed foods so that you don’t get overly burnt out on a certain food you’ve been eating for what seems like an absolute eternity.
Sprucing up your diet by substituting foods can go a very long way and can help prevent slip-ups and mental lapses with your eating habits.
Try subbing in one of the foods listed above and repeat whenever you feel like it’s getting old and you will be in good shape for the long haul.