Clients ask me what to look for when shopping for a protein powder supplement and if they are really necessary. So much so, I think it’s time I let you in on the real deal to help you make informed decisions.
Let me start off by saying it is absolutely imperative you are getting enough protein in your diet throughout the day to ensure stable blood sugar levels, keep satiety levels in check and keep your body’s metabolic rate screaming for more!
Although I like to get the bulk of my calories from actually chewing my food, a protein supplement makes it quick and easy for on the go nutrition. It just makes perfect sense in my busy world. WebMD has an article called Do You Need Protein Powders?” which is about why we could use more protein in our diet.
The world of supplements are staggering enough but protein powders seem to take the cake. Everything from weight gainers (no thanks!), to vegetarian options and ones that include a lot of unnecessary bells ad whistles. Powders can be sourced from whey, brown rice, hemp and pea to name a few. Through my many many years of experience (ok, 25 plus years….I spilled the beans), I have always found whey protein (either concentrate or isolate) to be of most benefit when it comes to changing body composition for the better. That’s my personal opinion. You can read about the best (and worst) WHEY protein powders here.
First, what to look for when shopping for a protein powder.
Be aware of additional sweeteners! Why? They trick your body into wanting more sugar and/or carbohydrates and therefore the vicious cycle of cravings kicks in, that’s why! Good reason, huh? If ya didn’t know that, you do now!
Sweeteners are also responsible for very unstable blood insulin levels which will wreak havoc on your energy levels and have also been known to destroy communication between cells. Yikes!! Sweeteners will be listed as many different forms. The only ones acceptable are stevia (a natural plant based sweetener that is 100 times sweeter than table sugar but does NOT affect blood sugar) and xylitol (a sugar alcohol that has no effect of blood sugar levels).
There are other healthy sweeteners for baking and consumption but for discussion purposes on protein powders, we will just stick with these two.
Be sure to avoid sucralose (and any other sugar on the label ending in “ose”, acesulfame potassium, Splenda, glucose polymer blend and maltodextrin. Don’t miss this read on why you want to avoid these. What you may not have known is that these little suckers actually contribute to the obesity epidemic. True story! We will save that for another time today girlfriends.
As a side note, your protein powder should have no more than 5 g of carbohydrates per serving to keep calories in check for the day.
Some clean protein powder(s) on the market (but not limited to) are;
1. Genuine Health’s Instant Smoothie. This comes in Orange Cream flavour (there may be more flavours) and tastes great with water. For a quick lunch, add to 1 cup of orange juice and have a few almonds on the side and you have a super quick lunch. Actually anything in the Genuine Health line is A+ in cleanliness.
2. Perfect Nutrition’s Diesel Protein. This is also a very clean protein and is sweetened with stevia. I find this one too sweet for me but if you have a sweet tooth, it hits the spot. Comes in traditional chocolate, vanilla and chocolate peanut butter.
3. Kaizen Brand protein. A really nice one that mixes and tastes well with water. It does contain carageenan which I’m not crazy about but if I have to, it fairs far better than the other crap on the shelf. It also comes in a cardboard container for easy recycling.
Now some fun ideas with what to do with your protein powder!! (And a great blog to read!)
It doesn’t have to be shakes all the time either. You can add it to your pancakes, muffins and banana bread (YUMMO!). Go ahead and experiment. There was a time when they (who really is “they” anyway??) used to say never use protein powder in baking because it destroys the protein chain of amino acids. That a pile of garbage!!! Don’t let anyone steer you otherwise. You heard it here on Body Health Coach.
Let’s get this party started!
Protein Pudding/Protein Ice Cream
This is a nice change to shakes;
Mix 1 scoop of protein powder to 1/2 to 3/4 c of water or low fat skim milk to a blender. It will be a little thick but that’s what you want. You can stop right here and set in the fridge for 1 hour to chill for pudding or in the freezer for an hour to chill. Get creative with your flavors! Check out some of these tasty variations on these little treats. It feels like you’re cheating but you’re not.
⦁ 1 scoop of chocolate protein, 1/2 to 3/4 c milk, 1 tbsp all natural peanut butter.
⦁ 1 scoop of vanilla protein to 1/2 – 3/4 c milk, 1/2 c frozen pineapple, 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut, a splash of rum extract……a clean pina colada!! You can also use coconut milk instead of regular milk.
⦁ 1 scoop of chocolate protein , 1/2 -3/4 c water or milk, 1/2 c frozen raspberries and 1 tbsp of chocolate chips. Oh, this is yummy!!
⦁ 1scoop of vanilla protein, 1/2 -3/4 c apple juice, 1/3 c unsweetened apple sauce, a good pinch of cinnamon.
The above can also be made into a protein shake of course too.
Tips to Make Great Shakes
⦁ Freeze your fruit in individual ziplock bags or buy already frozen fruit. This will make your shakes ice cold and frothy.
⦁ Watch your portion sizes when it comes to fruit. Even though it is good for you and loaded with fibre and antioxidants, polyphenols, etc, it will still affect your blood sugar levels. Fruit in it’s juice form will give you more carbohydrates than you bargained for. This is why a portion size is listed above as a 1/2 – 1/3 cup.
⦁ Personal size blenders are great to throw in your bag and take to the office but it is not necessary if you do not want to tote one around. With that being said, you can omit the frozen fruit in your shakes at the office or gym or where ever, and substitute juice. An example would be 1 scoop of protein powder added to 1/2 c water plus 1/2 c juice.
⦁ There is a method to mixing your shakes the right way. If using a blender, add your protein LAST before you blend. If you add it first, it will start to get gummy as soon as it hits liquid and it may not mix completely into the shake. The same goes for mixing in a shaker cup. Make sure the protein powder goes in LAST. Snap the lid on quickly and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
⦁ Prepare your protein powder as you would your fruit…in ziplock bags. Make as many things “grab and go” to make your mornings easier. Put 1 scoop in a baggie and throw it in your workout bag. In the morning, just reach in the fridge and grab your pre bagged fruit for your blender (if you go that route), your pre bagged cut up veggies, your pre bagged protein powder and a large chunk of your day is taken care of.
More Protein Shake Recipes (follow same protocol for pudding and/or ice cream)
⦁ 1 scoop of vanilla protein, 1 c water, 1 peach (frozen optional), 1 small slice of ginger. It’s a fuzzy ginger peach.
⦁ 1 scoop of chocolate protein, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 tbsp natural peanut butter.
⦁ 1 scoop of vanilla protein, 1 cup almond milk, cinnamon and 1 tbsp honey.
⦁ 1 scoop of chocolate protein, 1 c cold coffee and 1 tsp honey. A great mocha!
⦁ 1 scoop of chocolate protein, 1 c of strawberries.
⦁ 1 scoop vanilla protein, 1 frozen kiwi, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1 tsp honey and a dash of cinnamon.
There you have it friends. You’ve heard it here first…and hey, if you haven’t you certainly got refreshed. If you would like to go check out some meal plans that already have adequate protein levels determined as a standard, take a look at our meal plans and grab yours.
Enjoy and have a super fab day!