With Thanksgiving under your belt—literally—you may be wondering how you’re going to fit into your Christmas party dresses (or suits) in the coming weeks. Starting your holiday mornings with high protein foods may help.
Let’s face it, the holidays really are the best of times and the worst of times. You’re probably reading this after spending yet another Thanksgiving Day filled with too much delicious food and too many family feuds. We love this time of year almost as much as we stress about it—whether that’s the political debates likely to happen around the dinner table, or wondering if all those hours at the gym are going to be undone one bite of pumpkin pie at a time. But despite all that, it is a lovely time, particularly with young children around reminding us of all the joy of the season.
While we have little control over the family insanity levels at our annual holiday gatherings, we can control whether we let the stress of it all go to our hips.
One way to keep the weight off this season (aside from showing restraint when it comes to sweets) is to fuel your body with a protein-rich breakfast. Starting your day with a high protein/slow-carb meal can help to keep you full and fueled, even if the rest of the day’s (week’s?) calories aren’t the cleanest or leanest.
A protein-rich breakfast (in the 30 grams range) that’s also boasting healthy slow carbs (think whole grain, fruits) can curb the cravings for sweets. Bonus: even if you can’t resist the whiff of pumpkin spice in the air, you may find that you can’t consume as much, and that of course, is a good thing.
Indulging is inevitable—and even important in keeping things in balance. But you can mitigate the damaging effects of going full doughnut. And you may still fit into that holiday outfit after all.
When it comes to fueling our bodies—from cognitive function to motor skills—we need a few critical macro nutrients: fat and carbs. You know glucose more likely as the sugars aka “dreaded carbohydrates.” And while fat has proven its worth in our diet, there are still public misconceptions about healthy fats and just how much we really need. But what about protein? Where does protein in the diet fit into the equation in boosting our body’s energy? Can we convert excess protein into sugars?
Protein, while not as key an energy source as carbs or fat, does play an important role in maintaining our energy levels by serving as the building block for healthy muscles and hormones that keep the body strong and balanced.
When we eat protein—be it from a steak, yogurt, an almond, or a lentil—it’s broken down into amino acids, which the body then essentially builds back into our protein. The protein in our body does different things as mentioned above, but in essence, you can think of protein kind of like the Internet for your body—it’s a system of transportation that keeps your body connected to itself. Protein ensures cellular communication and moving molecules around, like in building muscle fiber.
If the body is low on glucose or fat—our two primary sources of energy—it can use protein to create energy. But this typically comes at a cost: muscle loss chief among them. Your body will consume muscle mass to fuel brain and basic body functions. This is why a pure protein diet isn’t ideal, despite what cavemen may have told you.
The good thing here is that many proteins come connected to another macronutrient: fat or carbs. So if you’re downing a protein-rich whey smoothie (which, of course, we hope you are), you are also giving your body the fat (and possibly carbs) it needs to fuel your energy, as well as the protein to keep your system in a healthy condition.
As always, the food choices you make impact how they affect your body—a processed, poor-quality protein is harder for your body to understand and use. Those refined sprinkles-covered carbohydrates or the deep-fried kind also don’t do the body too many favors aside from a purely caloric gain, if not the dopamine rush from the sugars…So make your food choices healthy—and balanced.
Pair high-quality proteins with high-quality carbs and fats and keep them in balance. If you’re pregnant or strength-training then those are times to add more protein into your diet—and watch your carbs—but stay the middle path and keep a healthy balanced diet on your plate.
This time of year most of us have weight loss on our minds—if not immediately, for the post-holiday freak-out we’re sure to have when we step on the scale at our first visit back to the gym in, well, let’s just say a while.
We know there’s no magic pill to weight loss—it’s a combination of exercising more, eating less, and eating right. A high protein diet may help you meet your weight loss goals.
First, protein actually helps your body to burn fat. The body needs protein (or carbs) to create the energy needed to burn fat. And when you start to lose weight, that can often mean muscle loss too—and protein plays a critical role in keeping your muscles strong and healthy.
Protein is also important in regulating sugar in the body when paired with a carbohydrate (sugar). By regulating your blood sugar with protein, you’ll feel more stable and that means less of a sugar rush and crash, which usually leads to eating more sugar. So make sure you always eat a protein with every carbohydrate or PSL.
On that same note, protein can make you feel fuller longer. That’s because proteins take more time to digest, so your body isn’t ready to signal that it needs more food until the protein is already broken down. Plus, you actually burn more calories just by digesting protein-rich foods!
One of the most important functions of protein is in keeping your muscles strong and healthy, particularly after hitting the gym. Protein is beneficial to muscle repair and recovery, and strong healthy muscles can displace fat on the body, which is really what you’re after even if the number on the scale doesn’t move that much (muscle is denser than fat, so the more muscle you have versus fat, the leaner you’ll look, even if you technically weigh the same or more!).
It’s simple to ensure you’re getting enough protein throughout your day. Make it a part of every meal and snack—whether that’s a protein-based smoothie, a handful of nuts, eggs for breakfast or lunch, or a lean protein for dinner. You can even make sure your sweet treats and desserts come packed with protein—seeds, nuts, and dairy can all help to take the sugary edge off.
Need your whey protein fix but don’t have time to make it to the blender for a smoothie? Well, you may just want to grab a doughnut instead. That’s right, a doughnut.
But this is not just any doughnut, of course—leave those powdered sugar covered ones alone (that is, if you want to keep your abs in check)—reach for a pronut instead, the gluten-free high-protein doughnut that actually exists (no, you’re not dreaming).
The pronut comes by way of Australian health enthusiasts who wanted a healthy version of a doughnut, reports the Evening Standard. Recipes for the pronut craze include those based on zucchini, eggs, and yes, whey protein, along with coconut flour, making the pronut a relatively healthy take on the otherwise circle of empty calories.
Each doughnut contains as few as 85 calories, largely because unlike most doughnut varieties, they are baked, not fried,” reports the Evening Standard.
But while you’ll have to make a trip Down Under or to London to get your hands on a bakery-produced whey protein pronut—you can also make your own, from scratch, and you know, keep them in a fanny pack around your waist in case of emergency.
Cinnamon-Glazed Pronuts Recipe
Makes 8 pronuts
1 cup whey protein
11/2 cups milk of choice
1 cup egg whites
1/3 cup coconut flour
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 scoop of whey protein (about 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix dry pronut ingredients together.
In a separate bowl whisk together milk, eggs, and melted coconut oil.
Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until it forms a cohesive dough. Scoop into donut molds.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until knife inserted into the doughnut comes out clean.
While the pronuts bake, whisk together the glaze ingredients. Drizzle atop cooled pronuts.
mamaloco Image: mamaloco
You can’t throw a dumbbell these days without hitting someone talking about how much protein is the exact perfect most ideal amount for every human being on earth.
Of course, the only problem with that is there's no cut and dried rule that will apply to protein consumption.
So, just how are we able to determine the right amount for our own bodies on a daily basis?
Well, according to Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, a registered dietitian, and certified athletic trainer writing for the Food Network, there’s new research that says we may not be getting enough protein after all. Or more accurately, not getting it at the right time of day.
Angelo White points to some interesting science on protein and the wild variables most of our diets subscribe to.
While current dietary guidelines recommend about 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight (about 0.36 per pound), that can vary anywhere from 55 to 100 grams of protein per day for some people. And according to Angelo White, even upping your activity level a smidge (you know, from throwing dumbbells at people talking about protein) can increase your protein needs.
Pregnancy, aging, lack of sleep, stress—all these things can throw our body out of whack and that may mean more protein requirements (pregnancy for sure).
Angelo White also points to a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that suggests 20-30 grams of protein per meal may actually be most ideal as well as timing it right before or after a workout, and even before bed.
What science is also revealing is that a combination of proteins is also most ideal. While we often think of meat, poultry, fish, and eggs as the biggest or best sources of protein, but dairy, beans and legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and even vegetables shouldn’t be overlooked.
Consuming a wide variety of proteins is helpful to the body in more ways than one: it ensures a wide range of amino acids so all 9 essential amino acid needs are met (there are 20 all total though). It also helps reduce exposure to naturally occurring toxins in foods (dubbed “anti-nutrients”)—things like phytates (found in beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains), protease inhibitors (soybeans, broccoli, potatoes, nuts), lectins (dairy, gluten, peanuts), glucosinolates (cruciferous veggies like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale—all of which do contain protein!), and oxalates (wheat, beans, nuts). Combining proteins, like whey and soy, may also help to optimize muscle-building and recovery.
So mix your proteins and eat them often, ideally at every meal or snack, especially pre- and post-workout or activity. You can easily incorporate protein into meals, whether it’s a lean cut of meat or fish, a lentil and quinoa veggie burger, or somewhere in between. For snacks, try adding seeds or nuts or nut butters to fruits or whip up a high protein smoothie with whey protein, soy milk (remember whey and soy work well together!) and add in hemp or pumpkin seeds, yogurt, even some almond butter for good measure.
Image: aria ziyai
While there’s no magic pill for weight loss—a healthy diet can play a huge role in helping you to meet your weight loss goals. And whey protein powder may be an excellent tool in that regard.
Some protein powders market themselves as a weight loss aid, but we recommend steering clear of those claims. Protein powders can help you maintain a healthy diet and support an active lifestyle, but they will not melt pounds off of your waist. Nothing will! Weight loss comes with hard work, commitment, and patience.
When looking for a whey protein powder—or any protein powder for that matter!—the fewer the ingredients, the better. Just like with all the food we eat, cleaner, fewer ingredients generally mean a healthier product that your body will recognize.
Whey protein powder is an excellent protein choice for several reasons, including its favorable amino acid profile, which is among the most bioavailable of all protein products.
For best results, try using your whey protein powder just after a workout. Whey is insulinogenic, which means it can cause an insulin spike, so taking it around your workout means it will be quickly digested and help to repair muscle mass, which can take the place of fat in the body.
Try mixing whey protein powder with solid foods like bananas and oats, which helps to slow the digestion and lessen the glucose response. Your muscles will still get all the benefits, but your sugar levels will be more stable. Plus, rounding out with solids like oats and bananas will also fill you full of fiber, and this can stave off hunger and keep you feeling full for longer.
Of course, staying hydrated is also key in weight loss efforts. Nothing replaces water throughout your day, but using whey protein powder in a smoothie may give you the protein boost along with crucial hydrating liquids.
Image: tanvir sajib
We showed you how easy it is to make a protein-rich oatmeal breakfast with whey powder, now, you can turn that goodness into a super simple cookie recipe!
Cookies have a bad rap (poor Cookie Monster). But they don’t have to be the sugar-laden Oreos of your youth. You can whip up these super simple cookies with just three healthy ingredients you probably have in your kitchen right now: bananas, oats, and organic whey protein.
When possible, please make sure all of your ingredients are organic. Our mustHave whey protein powder is organic and made in small batches so we can ensure quality and flavor. If you don’t have access to organic whey protein, another organic protein powder will suffice, such as hemp or rice.
Makes 6 servings
2 medium-ripe bananas
1 cup rolled oats
1 large scoop of organic whey protein (about 1 tablespoon)
Optional: You can add in dried fruits, nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, even chocolate chips if you like to have a more textured cookie. Or if you like a bit more intense flavor, add ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract, cinnamon powder, ginger, or nutmeg.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease a cookie sheet.
Mash the peeled bananas in a bowl using a fork or potato masher. Add in the protein powder and mix well. If the bananas are a bit on the under ripe side, add in a few drops of water or milk. The consistency should be like an applesauce. Next, mix in the oats and any additional toppings you’re adding.
Using a spoon, drop the dough onto the cookie sheet and press down lightly to flatten. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies appear golden brown in color. Let cool for ten minutes before serving.
This is the oatmeal recipe you’ve been waiting for.
While oatmeal may seem like a quintessential winter breakfast, it’s actually ideal year-round. Oats are incredibly healthy—loaded with beta glucan, fiber and plant-strong protein.
Beta glucan, the polysaccharides (sugars) found in abundance in oats, hasbeen linked to numerous noteworthy health benefits, including protection against cancer and the ability to help fight off bacterial infections. They can help fight against high cholesterol, diabetes, and even HIV/AIDS.
Oats also contain a good amount of fiber—both soluble (absorbing water) and insoluble, which doesn’t get broken down by the body. This insoluble fiber is actually quite healthy for the digestive tract and can protect against hemorrhoids, diverticular disease, constipation, intestinal ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease and colon cancer.
You’re ready for the recipe now, aren’t you?
Well hang on just a few minutes more.
This recipe also includes organic whey protein like our mustHave whey. Why do we add this? Not just because we love whey, but because it gives the oatmeal a creamy protein boost. Consider this oatmeal recipe a smoothie alternative, one that satisfies your protein needs but gives you something a little more, well, satisfying.
And we can’t leave out the fruit! Berries are such a good fruit choice because they’re naturally low in sugars but also quite high in antioxidants, those free radical fighting nutrients that can keep us feeling (and looking) younger and healthier.
It’s almost a shame to relegate this just to breakfast. So, we won’t blame you if you feel the need to eat oatmeal for lunch or dinner too.
Makes one large or two small servings
1 cup rolled (not quick-cooking!) oats
1 cup milk or nondairy milk of choice
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries or blackberries
2 tablespoons whey protein powder
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, mix oats, salt, milk, and vanilla. Stir frequently while heating until oats absorb most of the liquid. Be careful not to scald the milk. When oats are thick and most of the liquid is gone, add protein powder and berries and reduce heat. Cover and let cook a few minutes more until the berries start to breakdown. Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes before serving.
Image: vegan feast catering
Pregnant women get A LOT of advice – from the unsolicited horror stories about birth to style tips, nursing tips, and so much more. Not all of it’s useful--after all, no two pregnancies are ever alike. But there are some bona fide gems out there, like this one: Protein powders may become your BFF food choice, especially early in pregnancy.
Protein is key during pregnancy. Women need to up their intake by about 10-15 grams. But as many women know, especially in those first few months, hardly anything is appetizing. Even favorite foods bring with them an air of nausea. A heightened sense of smell can only exacerbate the loss of appetite. What’s a woman to do?
When the nausea strikes, many women turn to the BRAT diet – banana, rice, applesauce and toast. The bland foods don’t upset the stomach and they can help stave off that incessant hunger too. But if you’re worried that you’re not meeting your protein needs during pregnancy, protein powders can help, a lot.
For example, you can take that applesauce and banana—even the rice too!—and plop them into a blender with a mild protein powder such as organic whey protein like our mustHave protein powder. Add a milk of choice, maybe a touch of honey and – voila! – you now have a protein enhanced but still rather mild potable meal.
Once the nausea wears off (usually around the beginning of the fourth month), you may find your appetite has returned. You can amp up your protein smoothie with leafy greens, fruits and even nut or seed butter for even more protein.
Protein powders also come in handy towards the end of the pregnancy when you may have quite an appetite but with baby growing so big inside, not much room to eat decent sized meals.
And once the baby has arrived, especially if you’re breastfeeding, you’re going to need to maintain a higher calorie load throughout the day. Protein packed smoothies are easy to consume while nursing or if you’re too tired to prepare a full on meal.
Image: Louise Vance
You don’t have to go full Paleo to get excited about the health benefits of protein. The fact is, protein is a critical part of every single diet, whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, raw, or low-carb.
Everyone needs protein and a significant amount of it every day, particularly if you’re a fitness enthusiast, expecting mother, or young child.
Fortunately, protein comes in all shapes, flavors, textures, and varieties. So no matter what your diet preferences are, there are protein sources that are just right. From beans to nuts, seeds, , avocados, and even leafy greens like kale, all contain healthy protein sources. Of course, so do animal products from eggs and fish to meats and dairy products. But what exactly does protein do for you?
Here are seven health benefits of protein: