Need to add lean muscle? More protein. On a diet? Want to be sure to lose fat versus muscle mass? That’s right, protein powder. Trying to be sure you meet your daily requirement of protein? Yes, protein supplementation. The types of proteins in use today, their formats, and where you can find them are ubiquitous. We detail that and much more in our e-book Definitive Guide to Protein Powders, so we’ll skip the lengthy review and get right to providing you inspiration for a plethora of protein options.
Different ways to think of your basic Protein Shakes
We will give the Smoothie its due in just a bit, but first, let’s approach this from the athlete’s point of view. At The Shake Library, we like to say that “A day that ends well is one that started with exercise.” Everyone has heard that for weight loss, cardio in the morning, on an empty stomach helps to burn fat.
However, if your morning workout consists of weight training or a combination of resistance training and cardio, we highly recommend you take on protein before heading to the gym. This one is straightforward and doesn’t require a great deal of creativity as a simple fast digesting whey isolate, concentrate, blend, or hydrolysate will suffice.
However, to shake things up just a bit, pardon the pun, you may want to add some berries or caffeine for a little burst of energy, some creatine to support lean muscle, perhaps some liquid carnitine if your goal is weight loss or some nitric oxide for vasodilation.
One of the most important meals of the day is your post-workout meal. After training, whether aerobic or anaerobic, the body and muscles are primed for nutrient uptake. This is the ideal time for a fast digesting liquid protein, for ease, convenience, and speed of digestion. Once again, a whey isolate, concentrate, whey blend, or hydrolysate would be ideal.
For a more potent post workout, you might consider adding rapidly digesting, high glycemic index carbohydrates to shuttle nutrients to the muscles, glutamine, an amino acid known for its recovery capabilities, and BCAAs which independently stimulate protein synthesis. Post-workout meals and shakes should be kept low-fat, as fats are known to slow digestion and nutrient delivery.
We also recommend you consume protein before going to bed. You will be fasting the next seven to eight hours and you want to preclude the body from using all its stored energy during the night. This is the ideal time for a slow digesting protein, one that releases its nutrients over several hours. So, before bed, we suggest a milk protein, preferably one that includes casein, a blend of whey isolate and concentrates with casein. For a bit of added flavor and to further slow digestion perhaps a bit of fat from peanut or almond butter to add variety.
So even your basic protein shake can be creatively engineered for a better taste or to better address your specific fitness goals.
Simple, Creative “Mix-ins” for Your Protein Smoothie – Adding Flavor
As opposed to your basic shake a smoothie is typically creamier, includes pureed fruits and/or vegetables, possibly water, ice, or fruit juice, and is made in a blender. For our purposes, we’ll assume your smoothie also includes a popular type of protein powder, such as whey isolate, concentrate, or a blend.
Here is a list of possible “mix-ins” to improve the taste of your smoothie:
- Nuts, Seeds, or Nut Butters – a rapidly growing category in your favorite nutrition shop and a heart-healthy source of fat
- Chocolate or Cacao
- Fruits of all varieties - berries are a great choice for flavor and fiber
- Yogurt – plain for added protein or a fruit flavor for protein and taste
- Natural Sweeteners, stevia or monk fruit
- Spices – cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg
- Cooked Grains – oats to complete your breakfast smoothie
Simple, Creative “Mix-ins” for Your Protein Smoothie – Functionality
See below for a list of healthy ingredients which add functionality to your smoothie:
- Coffee – for great flavor and energy
- Flaxseed – a source of Omega-3 fatty acids
- Green Tea – antioxidants and energy
- Cacao Powder – helps suppress appetite
- Spirulina Powder – increases calorie burn
- Goji Berry – for stamina and endurance
- Maca Powder – provides energy & mental clarity
- Chia Seeds – for fiber, vitamins, minerals, and omegas
- Coconut Oil – for good fats
- Acacia Powder - antioxidants
Creative Protein Retail Products
Manufacturers are continuing to bring to market myriad different forms of protein. On the Go is big:
- Bars, Cookies, Brownies, and Muffins
- Bites and Truffles
- Chips and Popcorn
- Jerky and Meat Sticks
- Nuts and Trail Mixes
- Nut Butters
- Packaged snacks
- Plant-based products
- Greek Yogurt
- Liquid egg whites, and
- Good old chocolate milk
Other Ways to be Creative with supplementing Your Protein Consumption
Flex your creativity with these other ideas using protein powder in place of flour to create the following:
- Protein Pancakes
- Rice Krispy Treats
- Homemade Brownies, Muffins, Bread, and Protein Balls
- Protein Pizza Crust
- Cakes & Coffee Cakes
- Peanut Butter Cups
Whether you go for the convenience of store-bought, prefer to blend your own, or enjoy home cooking, your daily fix of protein is easily satisfied with just a bit of creativity.
For more information on protein powders visit our site at www.theshakelibrary.com and request your free copy of our eBook, The Definitive Guide of Protein Powders.