Why do I start my day with a protein shake and recommend it to most of my clients?
It’s quick and portable when I’m on the run.
It’s easy to pack a lot of nutrients into one serving.
It’s starts my day with a good balance of protein and healthy fats.
It’s usually the only way I can meet my protein requirements for the day.
It eases my digestive system awake after my nightly fast.
It’s sets the tone for healthy eating throughout the rest of my day.
I’ve seen this one change get many clients huge health and weight loss results!
If you have been to one of our nutrition workshops you have heard me talk about each of these and how a protein shake can contribute to a day of balanced eating. And balanced nutrition is what leads us to meeting our performance, health, and weight loss goals.
The problem is, there are a lot of ways that the morning (or any time of day) protein shake can go very wrong. It can actually take you much further from your goals than closer. One case study. . .
A client came to me with a goal of getting off of his newly prescribed diabetes medication. His doctor told him the only way he could do this was to go on a very low carbohydrate diet. His first step was to swap out his morning cereal with a shake recipe he found online, but he saw now change in his weight and his blood sugar continued to rise. What was the problem? The fruit and vegetable ingredients that made up his shake totaled out at over 100 grams of carbohydrates - much more than his usual cereal and milk! We found him a low carbohydrate, health fat, high protein option and he was well on his way to his goal. In fact, he was able to lose the weight and get off of the diabetes medication in less than 6 months.
Your particular needs may be different, but the truth is still the same. . . there are common protein shake mistakes that many people are making that keep from reaching their goals. We don’t want you to miss out on the amazing health benefits of a protein shake, so let’s see where a lot of people are going wrong.
The smoothie is really a milkshake.
This is the biggest one and the mistake my client was making. When we added up the sugar content of his smoothie, it was nearly as much as a fast food milkshake. Sure it used “cleaner” ingredients, but his body still had to process (and store away for later) all that sugar. To avoid this mistake, skip on ingredients that will add sugar such as flavored yogurts, fruit juice, sweetened nut butters, honey, and maple syrup.
The protein shake is the wrong size.
Sometimes a protein shake is a meal and needs to contain enough calories and nutrients to sustain you until the next meal. Other times, a shake is a post workout snack and should be much smaller and container fewer calories in this case. Any shake that you are using for protein boosting purposes should contain 20-30 grams of protein - and even after a workout you don’t need more than that. For a meal, there should also be healthy fats and a small amount of carbohydrate from frozen fruit or vegetables.
Forgetting healthy fats.
Most protein powders contain very little fat, and this is fine if you are using the shake pre or post workout for a snack. However, as a breakfast or meal replacement, a shake needs to contain healthy fats to fuel your body and brain. This could include unsweetened nut butters, MCT oil, avocado, or seeds such as flax, chia, or hemp.
The wrong protein source for your body.
There are many protein sources out there these days and it critical that you choose the right one for your body. If you have a dairy intolerance, powders that contain whey and casein should be avoided. Due to the inflammatory nature and being a highly GMO crop, soy protein is not the right choice for most everyone. It’s also important to make your protein source with your goals - whether that’s improving skin health, losing weight, or building muscle. Working with an expert health coach or well educated trainer can help you get this right.
Adding too much fruit.
Fruit can be a great addition to a shake (especially good frozen) because of the added phyto-nutrients and fiber. However, choosing the wrong fruit or using too much can sabotage your efforts. Just like in mistake #1, fruit can turn the sugar content of your shake or smoothie into that of a dessert. Your best option will always be about a 1/2 cup of berries or half a green apple. Most people overdo the fruit in order to cover up the more bitter taste of greens. Try a few drops of monkfruit or stevia instead to make your shake more palatable.
Skipping added vegetables.
One of the best parts of protein shakes and smoothies is that you can sneak in some extra dark green leafy vegetables. Spinach, kale, or collard greens (fresh or frozen) add a ton of nutrient value, hunger curbing fiber, and a few healthy carbohydrates.
Avoid these common mistakes and you will be well on your way to harnessing the power of the protein shake. If you are interested in more information on making smart meal or snack time choices, balance proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and finding the right portions for your body, then join us at our next Free nutrition workshop. You will walk away with a completely do-able plan to meet your specific goals. Click the link below to inquire about our next available workshop.