Episode #509 Increase your protein intake easily with little boost throughout your day. Whether you’re busy, have a smaller appetite, tend to skip meals or are trying to lose weight, protein is a girl’s best friend.
Nothing compares to whole foods, but when you need some variety, some easy to bring along, or to boost a meal, these 10 ideas will start your wheels turning.
1. A Quick Breakfast Option
Whether you like to drink it or make it a thicker smoothie bowl, this has been my breakfast of choice more often than anything else for 27 years. If I have leftovers for breakfast instead, a smoothie bowl is my post-workout meal. It’s such an easy, quick way to boost my overall micronutrient density with 2 cups of veggies, ¾ cup fruit, and some super food additions to add nutrition and fiber. It’s a keep-you-full for hours meal.
2. An On-The-Go Option
Take along a shaker bottle with the protein powder in it. I do this all the time when I’m heading for errands after the gym or driving more than a few hours. I’ll just add cold water, shake and drink. That way I never miss the window for boosting muscle protein synthesis. I’m not tempted by something that doesn’t serve me just because I’ve let by blood sugar dip.
It’s been proven that high-quality protein ingestion before a workout can reduce the muscle breakdown that occurs with exercise and supports recovery from that workout better than nothing before a workout. So, even if your goal is fat loss*, consumption of protein prior to your workouts is going to power your workout up. (*actually, especially if your goal is weight loss, increasing protein will prevent muscle loss so you avoid that weight regain that occurs from a slowed metabolism)
Fuel those muscles. Muscle protein synthesis is reduced in older adults. Two thing that boost it are high dose of high-quality protein (high quality protein = adequate essential amino acids), and a strength training workout that takes you to complete muscle fatigue several times for the same muscle group. Combining those two boosts frequently is the best way to enjoy higher muscle protein synthesis in your second half.
If you’re training for endurance events you’re going to need to eat sooner after your workouts because they are tougher, longer, and come more frequently. Your body is in a constant state of breakdown if you’re not careful. But otherwise, you’ll want to wait about 60-90 minutes after a strength training workout. That’s when muscles have the greatest muscle protein synthesis boost from the workout that you’ll then increase further with a high protein shake.
5. Boost Protein Content of Other Breakfast Foods
I’ve long forgotten cereal but if I was going to have it, the milk I’d pour over it would be blended first with protein powder. I do occasionally stir protein into oatmeal (or overnight oats) or make sure I’ve got a protein drink to add to that 2-3 egg scramble so I reach my breakfast goal of 30-40 grams of protein.
6. As A Light Meal Anytime
A smoothie bowl or smoothie in a glass is a good option if your appetite isn’t ripe for something bigger, or it’s getting late and you don’t want a heavy meal before sleep. I will sometimes suggest clients sometimes do two smoothies in a row to give their digestive system a break.
7. Mid-Day, Guiltless Snack
If you’ve got blood-sugar issues or high energy needs and need to snack, you’ll be served best by having protein with whatever else you choose. Got a chocolate craving? Add raw cacao, a little mint extract, and some cacao nibs. Close your eyes and imagine Girl Scout Thin Mints.
8. Boost Muscle benefits of an otherwise low protein meal
Drink a “simple shake” (unsweetened almond milk or water + protein powder) along with your dinner if you’re having something low protein. This is super helpful for vegans or anyone choosing a meatless meal.
9. Make Desserts More nutritious and less insulin-spiking
You can create puddings, mousse, dessert-worthy smoothies, even cookies using protein powder that reduces the sugar spike and, in some cases makes it a potential breakfast.
10. As a Travel Companion
As we travel more again, in each of my recent 6 trips I had protein and a shaker bottle packed so that I had a ready-to-go boost of protein for pre-workout, breakfast, or before meals I knew would be too low in protein for me. Flipping 50’s Paleo Power doesn’t dissolve well in a shaker (that’s both a factor of the hydrobeef making process and the fact there’s no chemical dissolvent in it unlike a large percent of other brands). To mix most successfully, you need a blender. I pack an immersion blender if I’m flying and not staying with family or an Airbnb.
Forget About Food For Hours
Psst. Don’t skip the Fiber Boost. Most Americans average about 15 grams of fiber daily. For women over 50 the recommendation (though still lower than supports blood sugar and elimination of toxins) is 21grams. Most functional practitioners recommend 35-50 grams of fiber a day. Let your body tell you. If you have weight to lose, keep in mind toxins store in fat, making it harder to lose as your body put it there to protect you. Fiber helps eliminate that from your system more efficiently as you exercise and otherwise sweat (sauna?) to release toxins. Likewise with excess estrogens.
To boost your fiber, start by counting your current daily average. Then add 5 grams to your daily intake for a week. (That’s a hearty serving of Fiber Boost in a smoothie. You can also use Psyllium husk. The difference is Fiber Boost contains more than 6 food sources of fiber, so your body recognizes it as a part of a meal unlike it coming from a single source). Remember to increase your water intake when increasing more fiber.
Bonus: protein and fiber together kill cravings by boosting satiety.