If you count your daily protein intake daily, and done some of the math you might be a little concerned on how much protein you need to get in per day. Just how much chicken and fish can you eat? Relax guys, there is an alternative to eating all your protein. Protein shakes are a great way to supplement your meals, or even replace one or two. But be warned, all protein shakes are NOT created equal.
Why is it that a nutrition company may sell a 1 ½ pound canister of protein powder for $45 but a big box store will sell a 2 pound canister for less than $20? Well, I’m not rocket scientist, but I’m gonna have to go with one is filled with high quality protein powder, and the other has lots of inexpensive fillers that may or may not have any semblance to protein.
There is also a difference between a meal replacement shake and a protein shake. Meal replacements have a selection of your vitamins and minerals, with some proteins and carbs. Protein shakes are mostly protein, with a few supplements added in. When I make my shakes, I use both a meal replacement powder and a protein powder. That way I make sure I’m getting the best of both worlds. The best part is, the brand of products I use give me a healthy meal (lots of vitamins and minerals) with a minimum of 27 grams of protein, 9 grams of sugar (fructose – the good stuff), and all for around 200 calories.
This is a great area to practice your new skills as a label reader. Make sure you’re getting what you want, and not a bunch of stuff you don’t, and that goes for excess sugar as well. Many inexpensive powders on the market use too much sugar (in many forms) to make their product palatable, and we’re trying to avoid those empty calories.
You can also make your own smoothies at home. Some fruits, vegetables, maybe some soy or almond milk, blend them up and presto. A healthy smoothie! A few things to remember though; too much fruit equals too much sugar. Yes it’s fructose, and it’s a good sugar, but too much is still too much. Also, watch your food waste. Some fresh fruits and veggies don’t have a long shelf life, so either make those smoothies, or toss that produce.
If you are going to make your own, I prefer using a blender (a good blender), and not a juicer. Most juicers press out the liquid and discard the pulp. That pulp that gets thrown away has most of your vitamins and minerals, and you’re losing all that fiber (did I mention we need more fiber?). A blender will just grind up all that produce, fiber and all, so you’re getting all the goodness of your foods, and not just the liquids.
One last thing on smoothies. PLEASE avoid commercial / chain smoothie shops. If you can’t, or don’t want to avoid them, make sure that you check their nutritional info. Most chain smoothies use a freaky amount of sugar, syrups, and add ons, in their smoothies. If you’re not careful that “Healthy” smoothie is going to cost you between 400 and 800 calories! And if you’re on 1,200 calories per day, that’s a big chunk of your day, in one glass.
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