People ask me all the time why I eat what I eat, when I eat it, and how to make healthy food taste like it isn’t healthy. So here’s one of my favorite things to do: I put whey protein powder in anything I can possibly put it in! Many people who are trying to lose weight will avoid extra protein because they think it will make them “bulk up.” Females are especially guilty for thinking this way. But what really happens is that lean protein builds muscle and muscle burns fat and the more muscle you have the less fat you have….you can see where I’m going. So don’t be afraid to buy some protein powder and try it out. Here’s what I do.
The first place I put my whey is in my morning oatmeal. I stick a half a cup of oats– plain oats, no sugar or flavors added–in the microwave with about a cup of water. After heating for a couple minutes, I dump a scoop of whey protein into the mix, and stir it with 1/8 cup walnuts (for the good fats, fullness, and texture), and also with a heaping of cinnamon (for flavor, fun, and a metabolism booster!) My oatmeal just gets thick and creamy when I add it–almost like a cream of wheat. Some days I use less water just so it’s really thick and I feel super full.
Another place I use whey is in an afternoon snack with milk or almond milk (vanilla, chocolate, or plain). I mix a scoop of whey with my milk choice, and voila! A healthy and filling snack. LOVE it. Sometimes I add a scoop of my favorite greens powder—chocolate flavored Amazing Grass Superfood– with a scoop of my vanilla whey, and added to my almond milk, I have a thick, creamy shake. Nothing but protein, a crazy serving of nutrients from the greens, and all under 5 net carbs. Great way to gain muscle and burn fat.
One of the best times to take in extra protein is right after a workout. If you’ve just worked out really hard—especially from lifting or interval training or anything that challenged your muscles—you need to replenish those torn muscles with protein. A rule of thumb is to take in about two grams of carbs per every one gram of protein. Now I hate getting all “sciency” on you here, but think of it this way: if you take in 30 grams of protein after a workout, you will need 60 grams of a “simple” carbohydrate to transport the protein to your muscles. This is about the only time in the day that you can get away with eating a simple carb and it won’t damage your waist line. So grab a piece of angel food cake and down your little protein powder. One of my favorite post workout mixes is marshmallows and whey. Simply take a cup of small marshmallows, dump them in a shaker with vanilla whey, add water (and maybe a small serving of rice krispy cereal if you really want to have a treat) and chow down.
Probably the most popular pre- and post-workout snacks are protein shakes. You can buy them in an incredible variety, and no doubt your gym has plenty. My favorites, however, are the homemade ones. All you need is a blender, fruit, ice, whey, and any other necessity you would like to add. My personal recipe includes frozen (so I don’t have to use ice) mixed fruit (strawberries, pineapple, peaches, melon) a banana, whey protein, and almond milk. Sometimes I’ll use coconut water if I need the extra potassium and electrolytes. I’ve even been known to add kale and Swiss chard on occasion. When I was in San Diego, I found a smoothie shop that specialized in veggie smoothies. I got the most popular one—spinach, pineapple, carrots, apple juice, a few vegetables I’ve never heard of, and of course, protein. Only in California, right? Well my point is that you can put anything in a smoothie. You can also load it down with peanut butter, chocolate milk, chocolate whey and a few bananas if your plan is to bulk up in size—but unless you’re on nutritionist John Berardi’s “Scrawny to Brawny” plan, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Above all, be creative. I’ve added whey to pancake and waffle mixes (whole grain and gluten free, of course) and I’ve even put it in cookie recipes and oatmeal squares. When I eat cereal on rare occasion, I put whey into a shaker with milk or almond milk, and dump a protein mixture over the wheat flakes. One time I made a homemade version of the Peanut Butter and Jelly Lara Bar and added protein to the mix just to get a fantastic tasting, all natural, healthy treat, high in protein.
So where do you get protein powders and what kind should you look for? I’m no expert on choosing the perfect protein. I’ve tried egg proteins (casein and dairy free—especially great for vegans) and I’ve tried probably ten or more other types of whey found everywhere from GNC, the Vitamin Shoppe, Bodybuilding.com, and even Walmart and Target. I suggest you shop around, taste a few, and figure out what you personally like best. My favorite is the six pound monster bag that I buy from Costco. It’s called Cytosport and is made by Muscle Milk. It’s the best deal for your money—that I’ve found anyway—and it has 27 grams of protein per serving, only 3 net carbs, and is packed full of the essential amino acids needed for muscle recovery and my favorite—fat burning.
What’s left to lose? Go get your whey on—and your weight off!