8 Cheap Ways to Sneak More Protein Into Your Diet #553 05/26/2014

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8 Cheap Ways to Sneak More Protein Into Your Diet

By Jordan Burchette

A bowl of Legumes

The foodservice industrial complex in this country has made it incredibly cheap to consume two of the three sources of energy—fat and carbohydrates. Of course, those also happen to be the two that decades of conflicting dietary fads have been determined to limit.

Outside those suffering kidney or liver disease, however, protein is rarely the target of dietary restriction. It also needn't require consumption in large, expensive slabs.

Deriving most commonly from meat, protein typically requires tons of feed, megaliters of water, and hundreds upon thousands of road miles to transport, contributing to its cost. In fact, according to PETA, it takes over 11 times as much fossil fuel to yield one calorie of animal protein as it does to yield a calorie of plant protein.

To give you an idea of what a typical protein costs, organic chicken breast registers at about 8¢ per gram of protein and is likely only rising, with drought, disease, and supply shortages driving up the per-pound cost of livestock nationwide.

But those trying to maximize protein on a budget have options. Behold these nutritional cheat codes for working more protein into your diet on the cheap.

Rye Berries

The collard greens of whole grains, rye seeds can be tough to cook with, but are loaded with additional nutrients, including magnesium, iron, and fiber. Historically regarded as "the poverty grain" for their durability on poorer soils, rye berries don't taste like rye bread, the flavor of which actually comes from caraway seeds. They're an incomplete protein, though, so boil them up the way you would rice alongside the next entry on our list…

Where to buy them: Two dollars gets you a pound of them at Whole Foods, or you can order five pounds at Breadtopia.com for about four bucks.

Value: 3.5¢/gram of protein


Exceeded in protein among all legumes by only soybeans and hemp, lentils are also high in folate, fiber, and, well, flatulence. Red lentils boast the shortest cooking time of the bean's six varieties but, like rye berries, lentils are an incomplete protein requiring the consumption of complementary foods (see above) within 24 hours for proper synthesis. You'll get a lot of carbs in the process, but fewer than in a helping of rice and beans, with almost three times the protein.

Where to buy them: A one-pound bag of house-brand lentils at Wal-Mart costs just over a dollar.

Value: 0.8¢/gram of protein


As high in protein as any vegetable (8 grams per cup), green peas are also rich in vitamins B1, B6, and K, phosphorus, and dietary fiber. Available in three forms—fresh, dry, and frozen—they can be cooked, tossed into salads, or popped like nuts.

Where to buy them: A two-pound bag of generic frozen peas can be purchased from just about any grocery store in the known universe for less than $2.50.

Value: 5.4¢/gram of protein

Keep in mind that rye berries, lentils, and peas are primarily carbs. So when you eat them, that's what you're getting the most of, but they're "good," fiber-dense carbs, making these foods nutritional multitaskers.


It's no surprise to see eggs on a list of protein sources, but it may surprise some to see them among the cheapest. One carton yields 72 total grams of protein, though the per-egg amount drops to 3.6 grams when separated, something the saturated-fat-conscious should consider. Hormone- and antibiotic-free organic eggs typically run about a third more, but are still a (healthier) protein bargain.

Where to buy them: One carton of conventional eggs averages $2.12 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is among the most ubiquitous foods in America.

Value: Approx. 2.9¢/gram of protein (conventional), 4.2¢/gram of protein (organic)

Parmesan Cheese

Low-moisture hard cheeses are customarily high in protein, and Parmesan is the highest. Nearly 40% of its total composition is protein, though almost another 20% is saturated fat. Still, you can shake several servings over salad or pasta to boost the protein content of a meal.

Where to buy it: A five-ounce tub of Grana Padano Parmesan at Trader Joe's runs between $3 and $4.

Value: 5.8¢/gram of protein

Light Tuna

Meat (along with substitutes like tofu, tempeh, and seitan) is ordinarily among the most expensive sources of protein, but canned tuna is the exception. Lower in mercury than solid tuna, light (or skipjack) tuna is still generally not recommended more than once a week.

Where to buy it: Whole Foods carries a soy-, salt- and pyrophosphate-free version within its 365 line for around $1.50.

Value: 5.4¢/gram of protein

Fage 2% Plain Greek Yogurt

Greek (or strained) yogurt is notoriously high in protein—and price. But when it comes to protein content Fage's low-fat offering is high even for Greek yogurt, making it a relative bargain. It can obviously be enjoyed on its own and is also used as a substitute for mayonnaise, sour cream, or cream-based sauces.

Where to buy them: Major grocery stores often offer the 35.3-ounce size on sale for around $6. When they do, stock up!

Value: 6¢/gram of protein

1% Cottage Cheese

A punch line leveled at dieters for many years, cottage cheese isn't just a protein powerhouse, it also provides roughly 15% of the daily recommended intake of calcium, and half the DRIs of vitamin B12 and phosphorus. Just make sure to steer clear of additives like carbon dioxide, various gums (guar, xanthan, locust bean, etc.), and carrageenan.

Where to buy it: A 16-ounce tub can be purchased for around $2 at most grocery stores.

Value: 3.6¢/gram of protein

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"8 Tips to Eat Healthy on a Budget"
"How the P90X3 Meal Plan Works for Your Busy Schedule"
"How Much Protein Do You Need?"

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Ask the Expert: Do I Have to Sweat to Get a Good Workout?

By Denis Faye
Woman Running
Is sweating a must when working out? What happens if I do a good lifting session but don't sweat? Does it mean I didn't exercise enough?—Monica Q.

The Short Answer

No, you don't need to sweat to have a good workout. It can serve as one indicator of how intense your workout was, but there are better indicators including heart rate or perceived exertion (how hard it feels). In other words, if you bust your butt, it was probably a good workout, even if you're dry as a bone afterwards.

Conversely, just because you're sweating buckets doesn't mean you had a great workout. It might just mean you were really hot. Again, it's better to go by how hard you worked, not how wet your shirt is.

The Long Answer

You sweat to regulate body temperature. When you get too hot, your glands release a water-and-electrolyte solution across your skin's surface. The result is that your skin cools, causing a chain reaction of temperature reduction that ultimately reduces your core temperature.

You have two kinds of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Apocrine glands are located in all the nooks and crannies like your armpits and groin. Better known as "flop sweat," this kind of perspiration is emotionally activated, such as when you're nervous, stressed, or turned on. In addition to water and minerals, the apocrine glands secrete a cocktail of proteins, fats, and steroids that is broken down by bacteria, creating an offensive odor.

The second kind of sweat gland is the eccrine. These are located all over your body and they're the ones that do all the work when you exercise. You have between two and four million of them. The reason workout sweat smells so much better than first date sweat is that eccrine glands don't secrete the bacteria-feeding cocktail, just water and minerals, primarily sodium with a little potassium, calcium, and magnesium (all electrolytes) with a tiny bit of trace minerals.

There are a few reasons you might not be sweating the way you think you should. First, two to four million is a wide range. You may just not have as many sweat glands as that Drippy McDrenchalot going all Niagara Falls on the stationary bike in your spin class. Genetics, fitness level, weight, and outside temperature also play a role. If the air is cool, it's going to keep you cool to some degree, so you'll sweat less. However, if it's extremely hot, your sweat may evaporate as fast as you generate it, especially if you're wearing moisture-wicking clothes. It's common for cyclists, triathletes, or marathoners to finish events only to find their gear is completely dry, yet covered in salt—residue left from evaporated perspiration.

Your fitness level can also decrease or increase perspiration. On one hand, fit people have more efficient engines, so they start sweating earlier. It sounds contradictory, but the reason for this is that a properly cooled engine can work harder and longer, so it's just a body's way of prepping for what it's good at.

However, especially in the case of many Beachbody® customers, significant weight loss often accompanies increased fitness. Overweight people tend to sweat more, because they have weight to support and more mass to cool down, therefore they work harder. So when you're dropping some serious el-bees, even though your fitness is improving, you may sweat less because it's easier for your body to do everything.

If you never sweat at all, there's a slim chance you suffer from a condition called anhidrosis, but odds are you'd know it already and you'd experience other symptoms when you work out such as dizziness, flushing, nausea, or passing out. However, if you're concerned, you should speak with your medical professional.

If you're numbers-oriented, you might want to try a heart rate monitor (HRM) to determine if you're pushing hard enough. Here's a great article from Steve Edwards explaining how to do that. However, while I certainly use a HRM as a performance indicator for training, when it comes to getting a good ol' fashion workout, I prefer to let perceived exertion be my guide. If it hurts, it's happenin'. (Within safe limits, of course. I'm not advocating heart attacks here.)

If you've just started a program and you're not sweating or feeling especially spent, it could be that you're still mastering the moves. That's okay. But if you're a few weeks into it and you're not feeling the burn, odds are that you're not pushing hard enough whether you're sweating or not.

Related Articles
"Which is Better for Losing Weight: Diet or Exercise?"
"What’s the Best Time of Day to Exercise?"
"25 Ways to Drink More Water"

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What Fun Run Should You Try This Summer?

By Kara Wahlgren

Runners in a Marathon

Maybe you want to attempt your first 5K. Maybe you're planning to finish an Ironman. Maybe you just want to get really muddy. Whatever your summer goal is, you've probably found yourself overwhelmed with the insane amount of options out there. So how do you pick the one that's right for you?

Start by gauging your competitive streak. Do you want to beat your personal record, or is the thrill of crossing the finish line enough? "Races fall along a continuum of competitiveness, with a distance race being the most competitive," says John Goldthorp, a certified personal trainer, running coach, and owner of FixYourRun.com in Philadelphia. "Mud runs build camaraderie, but many are not timed. Color runs are all about having fun with your friends and oh, P.S., you're running 5K, too. All that said, you can enter any of these events and adopt a more competitive mind-set—it's up to you!"

You'll also want to think about how much time you can devote to training. Beachbody programs give you a great base, but you probably still shouldn't run a marathon in June if you haven't run a single mile all year. How long should you train? "For someone who's already active, I'd say three months for a 5K and 12 to 18 months for a marathon," Goldthorp says. "Double those times if you're just getting off the couch. Respect the distance for which you're training…you could finish a marathon on less preparation, but your injury risk will be much higher. Have patience, do things right and reap the rewards later." While there's no hard-and-fast rule for determining whether you're ready, Goldthorp says a good guideline is to make sure you can run 75% of the course length without being completely wiped out. So, for example, you should be able to get through a 10-mile run before tackling a half-marathon.

To find out what's available near you, check the race finders at Active.com, RuntheDay.com, and RunnersWorld.com. But first, here's our rundown of options so you can see which one appeals most to you.

Mud Runs

Fun Factor: ***
Competitive Factor: Varies
Crowd Vibe: Weekend warriors and fearless fitness buffs.
If you like the idea of slogging through waist-deep mud and leaping over a fire pit, then you may be cut out for these obstacle courses. Teamwork is key, so if you didn't bring a friend, you'll make some. The untimed Tough Mudder is the most newbie-friendly; the Warrior Dash is timed, but you can skip obstacles that intimidate you; the timed Spartan Race prides itself on being the most intense.

Barefoot Runs

Fun Factor: **
Competitive Factor: **
Crowd Vibe: Minimalists on the move.
The barefoot running craze is picking up momentum, so it's not surprising that race promoters have hopped on board. Minimalists can bare their soles on well-groomed, wooded trails at events like the nationwide Naked Foot 5K, Maine's annual Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival, and the annual Boston Barefoot Running Festival.

Themed 5Ks

Fun Factor: ***
Competitive Factor: **
Crowd Vibe: Halloween 365.
Sure, sports bras and moisture-wicking hoodies are practical—but they're not nearly as fun as dressing up in fishnet leggings, red capes, mouse ears, or a few pints of stage blood. Themed races offer a nice distraction and a masquerade-party atmosphere—and even if you suck at running, you can still win at costuming. From the Awesome 80s Run and superhero 5Ks to the runDisney series and the various zombie survival races, there's a theme to suit everyone. These are a great choice if you're trying to get the whole family off the couch.


Fun Factor: *
Competitive Factor: ***
Crowd Vibe: Competitive runners and bucket-list hopefuls.
Before you can nab a spot at the Boston or New York City Marathons, you'll need to qualify by completing a certified marathon in about four hours or less (depending on your age). Get a jump on next year's goals by competing in a "feeder" race this summer; one fun option is the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series, which includes events in San Diego, Seattle, and Philly.


Fun Factor: *
Competitive Factor: ***
Crowd Vibe: Masochists…err, enthusiasts.
If your first thought at the end of a marathon is, "I could do three more of those right now!" this could be the grueling goal you're looking for. The oldest and most prestigious is the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in northern California, but other opportunities to show off your superhuman stamina are listed at RunningInTheUSA.com.


Fun Factor: **
Competitive Factor: ***
Crowd Vibe: Uber athletes.
You know the drill: Swim, bike, run. If you've never tested your multi-sport mettle before, start with a mini triathlon—typically a 750m swim, 20K bike ride, and 5K run, but some go much shorter than that, so look around. The mother of all triathlons is the Ironman, which combines a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and full marathon. Crossing the finish line is a huge accomplishment, but starting is no easy feat either; you'll have to qualify and pay a hefty registration fee.

Multiday Runs

Fun Factor: **
Competitive Factor: Varies
Crowd Vibe: There's no "I" in team!
Want camaraderie while you race? Sign up for a multiday event, which can feel more like camp than competition. The Ragnar Relays are overnight races in which 12-member teams run three legs each. The TransRockies Run is a series of trail races that range from 5Ks to 6-day, 120-mile odysseys. The most newbie-friendly is the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk, which isn't a race so much as a bonding event for charity (but your feet won't hurt any less).

The Great Bull Run

Fun Factor: ***
Competitive Factor: *
Crowd Vibe: Adrenaline junkies. If you're mainly just looking for bragging rights (there's no shame in that!) then the Great Bull Run is the perfect blend of mild athleticism and Instagram-selfie gold. Your only competition is your survival instinct, as you try to avoid getting gored by angry cattle. Check TheGreatBullRun.com to see if they'll be stampeding in a city near you.

The Color Run

Fun Factor: ***
Competitive Factor: *
Crowd Vibe: Just-wanna-have-fun runners. This might as well be called "Intro to 5K"—anyone can enter, the race isn't timed, and the sole goal is to get messy. Runners wear white, get pelted with dyed powder and squirt guns throughout the course, and cross the finish line looking like they lost a fight with a rainbow. It's all in good fun, which could explain why Color Run has nearly 3 million Facebook fans and more than 80 events scheduled this year. Like the themed runs, the Color Run is a perfect way to involve your kids in your jogging habit.

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Recipe: Strawberry-Banana Frozen Yogurt "Cupcakes"

(Makes 12 servings)

Strawberry-Banana Frozen Yogurt "Cupcakes"
Healthy cupcakes? Yes, it's possible. These strawberry-banana cupcakes are made with fresh fruit and Greek yogurt, and just a touch of dark chocolate (for its antioxidant properties, of course!) so they're not only good…they're good for you.

Total Time: 4 hrs. 20 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: None


  • 3-1/2 cups nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. raw honey
  • 6 medium strawberries, pureed
  • 1/2 medium ripe banana, pureed
  • 36 dark chocolate morsels (about 2 Tbsp.)


  1. Place 12 silicone baking cups on a baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. Combine yogurt and honey in a medium bowl; mix well.
  3. Place 3 Tbsp. yogurt mixture in each baking cup.
  4. Top evenly with strawberries, banana, and 2 additional Tbsp. yogurt mixture.
  5. Top each cupcake with 3 chocolate morsels.
  6. Freeze for 4 hours, or until firm.
  7. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: You can make this recipe using silicone baking cups, a silicone muffin pan, or a regular muffin pan. When using the regular muffin pan, to remove cupcakes, dip the bottom of the pan in hot water for 20 seconds.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Saturated Fat Cholesterol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
63 1 g 0 g 5 mg 24 mg 9 g 0 g 8 g 7 g

P90X®/P90X2® Portions:

Single Snack

P90X3® Portions:

Protein Carbohydrates
1/2 1/2

Body Beast® Portions:

Proteins Fruit
1 1/2

21 Day Fix® Portions:

Yellow Containers

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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