5 Protein Hacks for Optimal Muscle Gain

Protein is one of the three essential macronutrients. But unlike fats and carbohydrates, protein is much more difficult to find in a modern-day diet, especially in larger quantities. Inconveniently, it’s also the most important one for muscle growth.


But don’t let this discourage you. Instead, focus on finding creative ways to incorporate more protein into your diet so you can reap as much benefit as you can from your work.

Not sure where to start? Read on as we’ll give you five excellent tips to get your protein in for optimal muscle gain.

Add Some Protein to Your Everyday Foods

One of the most sustainable ways to increase and maintain your daily protein intake is by either adding some protein sources to your regular meals or substituting them entirely.

Let’s take breakfast as an example. If you have a bowl of cereal, you can change it for quinoa, oatmeal, muesli, or other high-protein grains. Bonus points if you also use a flavored protein shake, mixed with milk, instead of plain milk. Eggs and Greek yogurt are also excellent protein-rich breakfast foods.

Cheese is another ingredient that can easily go well with many foods, such as a sandwich or bowl of pasta. Cottage cheese has a very high protein content of 10-12g per 100g, but a more savory option might be parmesan or pecorino.

The beauty of it is that you have a lot of options to get creative with all dishes, such as nuts (especially almonds), legumes, and soy products.

Time Your Protein Intake Right

Fitness experts often talk about the anabolic window, which is a period right after a workout when your body best uses the protein. The figure often cited is around 1 hour, while more traditional people talk of a 15-minute window. In reality, recent studies show that this window likely extends much further.

Another important point is spacing out your protein intake. Although it’s hard to draw firm conclusions, some studies have suggested that distributing your protein intake across more meals may give you a slight edge.

Stick to High-Quality Protein Sources

Unfortunately, protein isn’t as simple as a number on the label, as not all protein sources are created equal, and that’s because of the other nutrients in these foods.

Nuts and seeds are two types of foods that have a decent protein content and are easy to snack on throughout the day, but they also contain lots of fats and calories, so it’s difficult to get too much protein out of them.

Then there are amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. In total, there are 20, but only 9 of those are considered essential because they’re more important for building muscle. Of those 9, there are 3 branched-chain amino acids, which have the biggest benefit for muscle growth.

Different foods have different amino acid makeups, which is why you need to source most of your protein from high-quality sources, such as lean meat, eggs, and fish.

Spice Up Your Diet With Different Foods

Eating the same diet over and over can get boring quickly, which is why we recommend you include as much variety as you can. After all, sustainability is a big part of your fitness journey, and it’ll be much easier to sustain a more varied, and thus more interesting diet.

You can plan it out so that you have certain meals on certain days. For example, you might feel rushed on Monday, so make a quick and healthy smoothie for breakfast. For other days, try switching between scrambled eggs with veggies and a Greek yogurt parfait.

For dinner, try alternating between beef or chicken with an occasional fish day, with rice, quinoa, or potato mash on the side.

Find Creative Ways to Use Protein Powder

Protein powder is for more than just making smoothies. If you have a delicious and easily dissolvable powder, you can incorporate it in many recipes, such as cakes. And if it’s unflavored, then that opens the door to even more mixtures. You can even toss a scoop into your morning coffee for an early high-protein drink.


We know how maintaining a high protein intake every day can feel burdensome sometimes. But if you follow along with the hacks we mentioned here, and then get creative with them, you’re in for a more easily-sustainable and enjoyable experience to go with your exercise.


  1. Thank you for this insightful article on increasing protein intake for muscle growth. As a male, in his early 60s committed to maintaining and enhancing my fitness, I found the data and tips provided both practical and motivating.

    Incorporating protein into everyday foods, such as switching cereal for quinoa or adding Greek yogurt to breakfast, is a game-changer. The idea of creatively using ingredients like cottage cheese, almonds, and soy products to boost protein is particularly helpful.

    The emphasis on timing and spacing out protein intake resonates with me. Understanding that the anabolic window might be more flexible than previously thought, and that spreading protein consumption throughout the day can be beneficial, provides a practical framework for my dietary habits.

    Highlighting the importance of high-quality protein sources and the variety of amino acids was enlightening. Lean meats, eggs, and fish are staples in my diet, and it’s reassuring to know they are optimal choices for muscle growth.

    Adding variety to avoid dietary monotony is a crucial point. Planning meals with diverse protein sources not only makes the diet more enjoyable but also sustainable, which is essential for long-term fitness goals.

    Lastly, the creative uses for protein powder, beyond just smoothies, opens up new possibilities. Incorporating it into baked goods or even coffee is a fantastic way to ensure I meet my protein needs without feeling restricted.

    Overall, the tips and strategies shared in this article are practical and adaptable, making the journey to maintaining a high protein intake both enjoyable and sustainable. Thank you for this valuable guidance!


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