If you’re busy, protein powders can often come in handy. At any time of day, you can quickly whip up a shake and allow your body to be nourished and satisfied.
A quality protein drink made from whole food ingredients can benefit your health in a number of ways. Protein powders can balance hormones, assist in weight loss, support detoxification and digestion, boost your immune system, and even support pregnancy. Protein is also the key nutrient that helps you get ageless glowing skin and lean toned muscles.
I’ve been in the fitness and health industry since my early 20s and have tasted many kinds of protein on the market. Some made me gain weight, some constipated me for days, and some made me feel bloated. This was the main reason I decided to design my own.
It’s important you choose the right protein powder that suits your needs and that supports your health in every way. Like most manufactured foods, protein powders are not created equal. It’s important they are not denatured (processed or adulterated) and they are free from chemicals and additives. Ignore all the marketing hype on the front of the package and head straight for the ingredients list and nutrition facts. Do you recognise all the ingredients, is it low in sugar and free from fillers - If so, you have a winner.
Like most manufactured foods, protein powders are not created equal. It’s important they are not denatured and they are free from chemicals and additives.
Protein helps to:
- Support weight loss and healthy metabolism
- Support detox diets
- Support nutritional needs during pregnancy
- Support digestive health
- Repair and maintain healthy skin and hair
- Keep blood sugars stable
- Curb appetite
- Maintain a healthy Immune system
- Sustain lean muscle
- Prevent muscle wastage
- Assist in hormone production
- Assist recovery from sport or illness
Here’s what you DON'T want in a protein powder:
1. Casein + WPC
These are also known as whey protein concentrate and caseinate. WPC’s and casein protein sources are high in lactose, which can often cause bloating, flatulence, and gastrointestinal distress in some people.
Food sensitivities to gluten can elevate inflammation in some people and cause a range of health problems including hormonal imbalances, skin conditions, fatigue, mood swings, and headaches.
These ingredients can raise glycemic load, which may contribute to fat storage. Most are processed with GMO corn and they can also cause gastrointestinal distress in some people. They are mostly added to protein powders as fillers to bulk it out or make the protein mix easier.
4. Artificial sweeteners
Common artificial sweeteners used are sucralose, splenda (955), aspartamine, equal, NutraSweet (951), or saccharin (954) and xylitol. Several negative side effects can come from ingesting these ingredients, including headaches, migraines, gastric distress such as bloating, acid reflux and weight gain.
5. Skim milk powders/milk solids
Skim milk powders and milk solids are often used as a cheap bulking agent in less quality powders. They are high in lactose sugars, which can cause bloating, gastrointestinal distress, constipation, and loose stools. The protein is poorly absorbed into the body, making it harder for you to reap all of its benefits.
6. Soy protein
Most soy proteins come from genetically-modified sources with high pesticide use, and contain the chemical compound phyto-oestrogen, which may cause hormonal disturbances and suppressed thyroid function in some people.
7. Vegetable oils and fats
These ingredients are often added to many weight loss and protein powders to increase richness and make them taste creamy. However, these fats are often derived from hydrogenated sources that contain trans fats, which are thought to be more harmful than saturated fats. Trans fats raise levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of good cholesterol.
8. Thickeners and gums
Thickeners and gums, including xanthan gum, are manufactured from soy or corn and can cause bloating, constipation and gas.
Fillers are often added to bulk up the protein and save money for the manufacturer. Some fillers include ingredients such as coconut flour or psyllium, which can cause gastric distress such as bloating, constipation and reflux in people who are susceptible to digestive issues.
WHEN SHOULD PROTEIN POWDERS BE INCORPORATED INTO A DIET ?
Match your protein to your goal. If you find a clean protein powder, it can be used for a number of things, such as fitness, weight loss, body shaping, etc. However, you will use the protein differently depending on what your goal is.
1. Weight loss
The best way to use protein for weight loss, is to use them as meal replacements. Start the day with a morning smoothie for breakfast after your workout. I vary between my Pure Native WPI, Organic Pea Protein or Body Shaping Shake, then add frozen blueberries, Organic Superfood, almond milk or coconut water and some ice. It all depends on what I feel like, but that’s definitely my shake of the moment. A small banana or 1/4 avocado can also be added for extra creaminess and boosters such as Matcha can increase fat burning. This type of smoothie will boost metabolism, nourish lean muscle and keep you energised all morning.
As a mid afternoon snack, I combine 1 serve of protein with 1-½ cups of coconut water or water then shake in a blender bottle. This will help curb appetite and stop you reaching for the cookie jar when you feel like something sweet.
The best way to use protein for weight loss, is to use them as meal replacements. Start the day with a morning smoothie for breakfast after your workout.
2. Sports performance
The best time to consume protein is immediately after exercise. This is when blood flow to the exercised muscles is high and the muscle is especially receptive to nutrients. Before exercising, protein shakes can curb appetite and keep blood sugars stable to get you through your workout. It’s important that your protein is high in BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids). Studies show that BCAA’s can reduce fatigue, improve exercise performance, reduce muscle breakdown, and facilitate healing.
For sports performance and recovery, I love to shake Healthy Chef Protein with coconut water or water and drink it immediately after my workout. Two shakes per day are ideal and will help your body and muscles recover quickly.
Protein has a stabilising effect on blood sugar. High stress levels can lead to hypoglycaemia or other blood sugar imbalances. Increasing protein intake can boost energy levels, reduce jitteriness, agitation and mood swings, improve sleep, and sharpen brain function. Stress can also cause play havoc with your digestion, causing all sorts of issues to malabsorption, constipation, IBS etc. The Healthy Chef Protein range is specifically designed to help support perfect digestive health. They are also low in fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPS) and can be enjoyed by everyone including those with gastrointestinal issues and lactose intolerance.
The Healthy Chef Protein range is specifically designed to help support perfect digestive health.
SHOULD PROTEIN BE MIXED INTO A SMOOTHIE WITH FRUIT? OR ARE THEY BEST TAKEN WITH WATER?
This depends on whether you want to use it as a healthy meal replacement or just a quick protein fix. As a smoothie, you’re having a complete meal, great for breakfast on the go. As a shake mixed with water, you’re getting quicker absorption into the body. This is great after a workout when you’re body is most receptive to the intake of protein.
HOW MUCH PROTEIN SHOULD A WOMAN GET IN HER DIET?
The amount of protein you consume each day varies slightly depending on your age, weight, and activity level. To maintain good health, it’s all about getting a good balance of quality protein over the course of a day. The average amount for a women it’s 1g per kilo of body weight per day. For athletes, pregnant women, or those dieting, aim for about 1.2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight or about 80 - 120 grams per day.
Just one serve of Healthy Chef Protein contains up to 26g of protein per serve.
WILL PROTEIN BULK ME UP?
It depends on the protein supplement you are using as well as diet and the type of exercise you are doing.
A woman can bulk up or gain weight for 4 reasons:
1 – they are exercising incorrectly for their body type and needs.
2 – they are eating too much or eating the wrong foods.
3 – they are drinking too much alcohol - that can suppress fat burning
4 - they are using the incorrect protein powders and meal replacement shakes that are loaded with ingredients that cause bloating and weight gain.
I’ve competed in many fitness figure competitions at both state and national level, and I know how the female body adapts to the training you give it as well as what you feed it. At the gym women should focus on high repetitions 30 – 50 and super set exercises… this is the best way of getting lean toned muscles fast without bulking up.
It’s also important they do at least 30 minutes of cardio every day to help with fat loss and body shaping if that is their goal. Reduce your food portions, omit processed white carbs and focus on a whole food diet high in fresh vegetables, salads, healthy fats and fresh fruit and some clean protein on the side. You’ll enjoy your healthy diet and your body and skin will look amazing!
THE EASIEST SMOOTHIE YOU'LL EVER MAKE
1 ripe banana, frozen and chopped
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 1/2 cups coconut water or almond milk
2 tablespoons protein such as Pure Native WPI, Organic Pea Protein or Body Shaping Shake
1 tablespoon Organic Superfood or Green Smoothie
COMBINE ingredients into a blender.
BLEND for a few seconds until smooth.
POUR into 1 - 2 glasses and enjoy.
Notes + Inspiration
For a Blender Free Smoothie combine coconut water or icy cold almond milk with Healthy Chef Protein, Organic Superfood and smashed banana and a handful of ice into a blender bottle then shake for a purely delicious creamy smoothie. Add boosters such as Organic Matcha, LSA or yoghurt for added antioxidants, probiotics and fibre.