Benefits of Protein Powders
There is really no secret as to why protein powders have gained popularity in the fitness world. Using protein powders as a supplement can be a great way to boost your protein intake while keeping calorie intake low. And while you can get all the protein you need by simply eating protein-rich meals, all of this, unfortunately, comes with extra fat, carbs and as a result, more calories. So if your goal is to build muscle but lose body fat, protein shakes as meal replacements are one of the tools that can help you get there.
Increased protein leads to muscle protein synthesis or muscle growth. Adding muscle tissue increases your resting metabolic rate which means you burn more calories while resting/sitting/sleeping. Stronger muscles help prevent injury, prevent bone loss and protect joints. It makes every day chores like lifting groceries, carrying kids, or rearranging furniture easier. My personal favorite reason, lifting a weight amount that you once THOUGHT was impossible, or actually failed at then succeed at, can be emotionally empowering and create a shift in your beliefs about what you believe YOU are capable of!
Types of Protein Powders
Whey Protein is one of the most widely-used protein powders. Because whey digests quickly and contains a high amount of amino acids, which promotes muscle growth and recovery. Whey is a milk-based protein, so if you’re lactose intolerant, you can choose isolate version, in which the lactose is removed during processing. Whey is also the least expensive and easiest to find protein powder.
Casein is very similar to whey because it is milk-based and offers the same amount of amino acids. The real difference between the two is that casein is digested and absorbed more slowly. Casein protein will you make you feel fuller longer and would be a good choice for a breakfast replacement or quick lunch, where whey protein would be a better choice taken immediately after your workout, to provide a fast absorbing protein source
Pea protein powders are a good choice for vegetarians, vegans and people with dairy or egg allergies. It’s made from yellow split-peas, which contain eight of the nine essential amino acids. Pea protein powder is a suitable choice against milk-based protein powders when it comes to muscle gains.
Mixed Plant Proteins
Some protein powders contain plant-based proteins blended together. Like brown rice, peas, quinoa, alfalfa, chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp. When combined together they can provide the body with all nine of the essential amino acids. These protein powders are higher in fiber, so they are absorbed and processed in your body more slowly.
Choosing the Right One
There are many different brands out there, and choice really comes down to individual needs, taste preference and budget. I would suggest asking friends, co-workers or fellow gym members what they use, like or dislike. Definitely try to avoid protein powders that are high in sugar, and have a lot of artificial ingredients.
My two personal favorites are VEGA, because it is a plant based, GMO free and high in other vitamins and minerals so it makes a good choice for my kids. It also tastes REALLY good! It’s easily found locally and is affordable. Second is a Ascent, which has both whey and casein protein, this protein powder is the smoothest and creamiest I have found. They have a lot of really good flavors that I use in baking! ( YES you can bake with protein powders, keep reading for some great recipes) The company has been in business for 30 years, uses no GMO ingredients and has strong sustainable company practices.
Protein powders are not just for quick supplemental drinks, mixed with water and guzzled down post work out. You can add them to your favorite smoothie recipe, for healthy on the go breakfasts. Hide them in baked goodies if your kids are picky eaters for extra nutrients. Or make your own protein packed energy bars & balls! Here are a few fast N easy recipes to try out.
Makes about 4 large, or 6 small pancakes
- 1 cup flour (all purpose is recommend, but you could experiment with, oat, hemp, coconut or whole wheat)
- 1/4 cup protein powder of choice
- 1 tbs baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup water, almond milk or your choice of milk
- Mix all the dry ingrediants
- Then slowly add the liquid, mixing until “just mixed.”
- It should be a little lumpy and quite thick
- Add a little extra water if needed.
- Cook in a hot pan or griddle using oil and a little butter
- Now is a good time to add blueberries, strawberries, bananas, maybe even mini chocolate chips!
- When bubbles appear in the centre of each pancake, flip over
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips ( or mini MnM’s, or dried cranberries, or nothing! YOUR choice)
- 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats ( NOT instant, or steel cut)
- 2 teaspoons ground chia seeds
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- Pinch of cinnamon & sea salt
- Combine everything except chocolate chips in a food processor until well combined
- Stir in add ons ( mini chocolate chips.. etc..)
- Roll into tablespoon size bites
- Or press flat into an 8×8 glass pan to cut into bars after its been chilled in the fridge
- You can store in the fridge for up to a week
- Invest in a mini ice cream scoop to make your energy balls.
- It saves time and is less messy then rolling them in your hands.
Use a vanilla or mocha protein powder in “dessert” smoothies or cold coffee blends, for extra flavor!
- 8 oz cold brew coffee
- 1/3 cup almond milk, cashew milk or cream
- 1 scoop protein powder
- Handful of ice cubes
- 1 banana
Blend high in a blender until smooth and creamy
Low Carb Banana Bread
- 1 cup mashed bananas ( about 2 med. bananas)
- 1 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
- 2 scoops protein powder
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup honey or agave
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Mix all ingredients together well.
- Pour in a greased 9×12 baking dish bake at 350 for 30 minutes