Apr 212015

Protein Powder2Do you need Protein Powder?

A friend asked me the other day if I had any ideas on making homeade protein powder because the cost is so high. It got me to thinking this would be a great topic to tackle, as I have been a smoothie a day drinker for about a decade. In doing so I have to say I came up with some mighty fine ideas of my own. Some to cut cost, some to save time, and all to improve nutrition.

Protein is necessary to build, maintain and repair muscle. With many people changing lifestyle and diet in recent years, some eliminating meat, I think it’s important to assess if we are getting the right amount of protein, and from what sources. Protein powder, used in shakes and the ever familiar smoothie, can offer a protein alternative– without significantly increasing consumption of fats, carbohydrates, cholesterol or calories. Let’s take a look at the benefits of protein powder.

What are the Benefits of using Protein Powder?

Many are complete proteins, which means they contain all the amino acids as well. They’re great when you’re on the run, are usually fat and cholesterol free, can be money-savers when compared to foods like meat, and are beneficial in many nutritional ways other than supplying extra protein.

They can be of great benefit when you’re starting a new exercise program, if you’re revving up your workouts, are very helpful when recovering from an injury or surgery, or if you’ve decided to go vegan, which eliminates a number of protein sources from the diet.

Here’s where we get to the hard part—which kind of protein powder is right for you, and how much do you need? Let’s take a look at protein math………

Protein Math

So how can you tell if you’re already getting enough protein? Let’s do the math.

The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound . This amounts to 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man and 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman. That’s not really that much.

Most protein powders come in concentrate and isolate forms. Concentrate powders usually contain at least 70 percent protein, but isolate powders contain more, up to 95 percent protein. Some powders contain a mixture of concentrate and isolate. A typical serving of powder ranges from about 25 to 40 grams, although some of these powders have 80 grams of protein per serving. You don’t need that. All your body is going to do is break it down for energy. And too much protein can be hard on your kidneys and your liver.
Recreational and competive athlete’s need more, and should consult a professional.

This might sound like a lot, but consider that one 4-ounce hamburger contains 30 grams of protein, a lean grilled chicken breast contains about 35 grams, 6 ounces of tuna has 40 grams, quinoa has 11 grams a cup and lentils 17.9.

Protein Powder1Which Protein Powder is right for me?

Here’s where things get confusing. There used to be just a few selections—soy, casein, and whey. Now soy is controversial for a variety of reasons, and many people are shying away from dairy, which is made with dairy product.  Well, move over, in come hemp, pea, rice and other plant proteins.

If you don’t have problems with soy, it is said to be the most “heart healthy” source of protein, as eating 25 grams a day (in addition to a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet) can reduce the risk of heart disease. Many will argue this, but it depends on your body. Anyone with thyroid disease or a predisposition to thyroid dysfunction, however, should limit the intake of soy-based protein food, due to its potential to affect hormone balance. Also make sure you are using a non GMO product.

Rice protein is not a complete protein because it lacks one of the essential amino acids, isoleucine. However, it can be combined with other protein sources to provide all the essential amino acids needed in your diet.

It turns out that the humble pea is a power-packed veggie protein source that’s worth your attention, especially if you have specific food allergies or sensitivities.  If you exercise on a regular basis, pea protein helps provide both a pre-workout energy boost and improved post-workout muscle recovery.  Plus it has a complete array of amino acids. Go Pea powder!

So, here’s my brainchild idea…lol. I say yes, to my friend, you can make your own. You could buy a protein powder if you choose and use a half portion. Personally I am transitioning to plant based. Then you can add you own additional proteins which will result in a much healthier protein punch, and eliminate all those additives you can’t pronounce. Here are a few suggestions.

green smoothieProtein Additions

Chia Seeds: Adding just two tablespoons of chia seeds to your daily diet will give you approximately seven grams of fiber, four grams of protein, 205 milligrams of calcium, and a whopping five grams of omega-3. Chia has both soluble and insoluble fiber, which is a great benefit.

Spirulina: 6g Protein / 10 grams
A blue-green algae, spirulina is a highly bioavailable complete protein containing all essential amino acids. At 60% protein (the highest of any natural food), it’s a plant-based protein powerhouse that finds it way into my blend daily.

Hemp Seeds: 16g Protein / 3 Tbsp
With a perfect ration of omega-6 and omega-3 EFA’s, hemp seeds are another bioavailable complete protein rivaled only by spirulina. They are a simple and great addition to a multitude of dishes, from breakfast cereal to salads to smoothies to vegetables and rice.

Nut Butter: Use natural and get 7 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons. Add another protein of your choice, some almond milk and a banana and you will stay satisfied until lunch.

Avocado: A creamy avocado is a great addition to anything, and it doesn’t affect taste.  Known for their  healthy fat, similar to that of walnuts or flaxseeds, 1/2 avocado also provides 3 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber to keep you full longer, not to mentions it’s anti-inflammatory benefits and more.

They best reason to have protein and a little bit of healthy fat or omega’s are they keep you feeling full longer, and prevent the dreaded snack attack.

I went on an unexpected journey recently and mixed a protein powder to go and threw my hand blender in my bag, so I knew I could get a good start to each day. Banana and Berries were readily found in nearby groceries and I found Almond milk without any difficulty.

Mix to taste and create a smoothie that’s right for you.

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