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Eat Well, Live Well, Be Well!

A healthy dose of my diet, nutrition and lifestyle hacks to improve your health. Every bite counts!

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How (and why) to Make a Whole Food Protein Shake

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Recently I posted about the trend in protein shakes and whether in fact we need as much protein as we're being told (or sold!).

You can read all about that here, but today I'm sharing why you do need protein in your shakes and smoothies - especially if that's your breakfast.

I'll also show you how to add protein from REAL FOOD instead of processed protein powders. At the end, I'll give you the lowdown on how to put together a great protein smoothie and I'll share my current fave recipe with you. Here goes...

Why protein is essential in your morning smoothie:

  • To avoid spiking blood glucose levels too quickly. This happens much more easily on an empty stomach

  • Helps reduce cravings later in the day

  • Helps reduce cravings for sweet foods

  • Increases sense of fullness and reduces hunger

  • Contributes to overall daily protein needs

Whether you're concerned about managing blood sugars or insulin sensitivity, PCOS, weight loss or changing protein needs during menopause & perimenopause, adding protein to your breakfast is essential. Even if it's a smoothie.

Here are some real food protein smoothie add-ins.

The protein amounts listed are an average based on 2 tablespoons or ~20gm of each.

  • Chia seeds: 5gm

  • Hemp Seeds: 7gm*

  • Almond Butter: 7gm

  • Flaxseeds: 4.3gm

  • Sunflower Seeds: 4.9gm

  • Pumpkin Seeds: 7gm

*Hemp seeds are very high in protein and are one of few plant-based whole proteins. They contain all the amino acids including those we can only obtain from food.

5 reasons whole food protein sources are better

  1. You know exactly what you're adding (no hidden sugar, preservatives, emulsifiers or other inflammatory fats)

  2. Wholefood plant proteins such as those listed are high in fibre, which is essential for gut health and more essential in a high protein diet

  3. They add minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and more. These are essential to maintain kidney function, bone strength and muscle health in a high protein diet

  4. Whole food proteins tend to be loaded with anti-inflammatory fats

  5. The plant proteins listed have less metabolic acid waste than animal proteins. It's important to eat a balance of both

Aside from protein content, these functional foods offer benefits from being cardio-protective, gut and bowel friendly, mood supportive, detoxifying great for women's health.

Making your real food protein smoothie

I use at least 2 tablespoons of 2 types of whole food proteins in my smoothies, plus a probiotic - usually a little kefir or a quality yoghurt; both of which add protein!

I always add a cup of baby spinach, because we need as many veggies as we can get.

I use the equivalent of 1 serve of fruit. Bananas are great. Berries and pears are good too.

I avoid dairy; a small bit of yoghurt or kefir is great. A whole cup of commercial milk, not so much. When buying plant based milks, look for unsweetened brands that use WHOLE ingredients. I like Australia's Own, Pure Harvest, Bonsoy.

Coconut water is a delicious option with lots of minerals too.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that because it's a drink you should 'eat' something as well. Protein shakes and smoothies are a full meal.

The ones below contain around 400 calories. That's a great number for breakfast and a good start to the day. It's filling, and extremely nutritious. Try one today!

Lean Green Protein Smoothie (~16gm protein)

  • 1 banana

  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves

  • 2 TBS hemp seeds

  • 2 TBS chia seeds

  • 30gm Natural Yoghurt

  • 200ml unsweetened organic almond milk

  • + a little extra water

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Nutty Nana Smoothie (~15gm protein)

  • 1 banana

  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves

  • 2 TBS Hemp seeds

  • 1 TBS 100% pure peanut butter

  • 30gm Natural Yoghurt

  • 200ml unsweetened organic almond milk

  • + a little extra water

  • 1 tsp vanilla powder or essence

Whizz it all up for a full minute until lovely and smooth.

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