Protein powders can be a great way to increase the amount of protein you consume on a daily basis, but it is always better to eat real food over a supplement; and protein powders are a supplement. The main reason is that you will get more nutrients along with your protein from eating a real meal over a supplement. You can read more here on why protein powders aren’t suitable for everybody. The best way to increase protein consumption is by eating more protein rich foods. Here are 6 protein packed ideas to help keep your diet real.
Any left over dinners you have hanging around in your fridge are a great way to have a quick high protein meal. Grab some left over chicken and throw it on a salad, quickly heat up a bowl of soup, or just snack on some cold leftovers (I totally do this). Leftovers are basically healthy convenience food! I always make sure I have leftovers for later. Dinners that work well for left overs include curry, stir fries, and soup! My favourite left overs are the ones from my chicken curry stir fry.
If you can tolerate eggs, they are a versatile way to increase your protein consumption. One egg has 6 grams of protein in it. Eggs yolks are especially nutritious as they contain substantial quantities of vitamin A, D, B12, folate, and choline. Eggs can be added raw to smoothies, and will make the texture of the smoothie extra smooth! They can also be boiled and stored in the fridge for an easy post-work out snack. Lastly, you can also use eggs in baking to make things such as egg omelet muffins which are another great post-work out snack or to-go breakfast option.
3. Bone Broth
Bone broth is a great way to increase your protein consumption. One serving of bone broth has around 16 grams of protein in it (source). Home made bone broth can be made from any type of bones but the most common are chicken and beef bone broths. Bone broth is one of the most nutritious foods you can include in your diet as it is full of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur, and other trace minerals that are easy for your body to absorb. Bone broth also contains gelatin which is the mixture of amino acids (mostly glycine and proline) that we don’t usually get very much of in our diet unless we are making the effort to cook with organs and bones as well. Including bone broth in your diet can do more than help you build muscle; it can also help reduce inflammation, support joints and joint recovery, improve digestion, and support healthy hair, skin and nails (source). You can make a pot of bone broth at the start of the week and keep it in the fridge to reheat and enjoy as an addition to your meal, or as a nice post work out beverage. You can also make it into soup or use it as a liquid to cook rice in!
I always recommend home made foods first, but if you are short on time you can also buy gelatin on its own to add to your meals. The best brand is Great Lakes Gelatin and there are 2 different kinds; you can use the Gelatin in soups or bone broths, or you can use the Collagen Hydrolysate to add to smoothies or other cold foods as it won’t gel the way gelatin will. Collagen hydrolysate is a healthy protein powder! With gelatin powder you can make fun little protein gummy snacks too! If you would like to read more about the differences between the gelatin and the collagen click here.
4. Nuts and Seeds
If you can tolerate nuts and seeds, they are another great way to boost your protein consumption. Nuts are high in omega-6 fatty acids which can promote inflammation in the body in large amounts, so limiting your consumption to around a handful per day would work best. Some seeds do have a better balance of omega 3:omega 6; these include chia (4:1), flax (4:1), hemp (1:3) (source). Chia also has lots of soluble fiber which can help heal the gut and manage blood sugars (source). These seeds can be ground up and added into smoothies for an extra shot of protein. You can also add nut butters to smoothies as well.
5. Raw Dairy
If you are not allergic to dairy and can obtain raw dairy in your area, it would be a valuable addition to your diet. Raw dairy not only contains protein, but also enzymes and probiotics that you won’t find in pasteurized milk products. Some people who are lactose intolerant might even find that they can tolerate raw dairy because it naturally contains lactase; the enzyme to break down lactose which lactose intolerant people lack (source). If you cannot get raw milk in your area you might still be able to find raw cheeses; such as L’Ancetre (Canadian). Raw cheese is not only nutrient dense and probiotic, but also a good source of protein and delicious! Click here if you would like to read more about the benefits and controversy of raw dairy.
Why? Because pemmican is fun! Kind of. Well, I thought it was fun! Try my version of it here. Pemmican is great because it is in bar form so it can be easily taken on hikes, day trips, and other adventures (although people might wonder what the heck you are eating!). Pemmican traditionally contains organ meat; I used heart in my recipe. So you have organ meat, greens, and coconut oil or other healthy fats all in one awesome bar! I dare you to try it.
So, are there ANY protein powders that are OK?
I would say yes, but it is always healthiest to get your protein (and other nutrients) from real food before turning to supplements. That being said, someone who works out for a few hours every day may not be able to keep up with their bodies protein requirements. In this case I have a few recommendations. As previously mentioned Collagen Hydrolysate is probably the best ‘protein powder’ as it is similar to the protein you get from bone broth. If you can tolerate dairy, New Zealand Whey Protein is good because cows from New Zealand are grass fed and raised without growth hormones. If you are looking for a non-dairy protein powder, I like Hemp Pro 70, which is a hemp protein that is less chalky tasting than normal hemp proteins. Hemp pro is also made in Canada and is a complete source of protein even though it is plant sourced.
Getting a little creative with protein powders is always fun too. Instead of making that same old protein shake you could try making some blueberry maple protein muffins (bonus points because they contain eggs as well) with hemp protein. If you eat oatmeal or other hot cereals you can add a little extra protein to those as well. Collagen hydrolysate is probably the most versatile protein powder as it can dissolve into almost anything and has no flavor. I add it to my coffee or tea each morning!
How you get more protein in your diet?