You may have heard about the benefits of incorporating more protein into your daily diet, and how doing so can help you meet and exceed your health and fitness goals. Protein is a valuable macronutrient, responsible for building and repairing muscle tissue. Increasing your lean muscle mass will help amplify your metabolism, helping you become an efficient, fat-burning machine.
Additionally, protein is critical for supporting your muscles when you engage in a regular fitness routine, however mild or intense. And for those looking to clean up their diet, protein keeps you fuller longer, combating the mindless grazing that is the downfall of many.
As important as protein is, many people have a challenging time meeting their daily protein goals. Although protein can be found in foods such as meat, eggs, and nuts, upping your food intake volume can be tough. Also, busy schedules can be another hurdle, making it difficult to spend time in the kitchen making protein-rich foods.
Thankfully, that’s where protein supplements come in to save the day. Protein supplements, most often in powder form, can be added to milk or water to make a protein drink, or incorporated into any number of recipes for a protein boost. These supplements are easy to use and make it simple to meet your protein goals without spending hours in the kitchen. With a wide variety of flavors, there is something for everyone.
When you are choosing a protein powder, look for brands with clean ingredients and no artificial fillers, sweeteners or chemicals. It is essential to be aware of a large number of low-quality protein powders on the market; think of your body as a finely tuned machine that requires optimum fuel to perform its best.
If you’re trying to figure out what’s the best protein drink, look at the ingredients label. Reputable supplement companies like Performance Inspired Nutrition formulate quality blends that don’t rely on fillers or artificial sweeteners and are the best option for a protein supplement that will maximize your health and performance.
Once you have chosen your protein powder, it’s time to put it to work. One of the easiest and most popular ways to use protein powder is in a smoothie, creating a blend of protein and carbohydrates that is a perfect fuel source.
For a fundamental smoothie base, start with about 1.5 cups of your liquid of choice, like water, milk or almond milk. To this base, you can add a huge variety of ingredients to create different smoothies. Banana and chocolate are both favorite additions, as are strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Then, you’ll mix in your protein powder. The best protein powder for fruit smoothies is vanilla or chocolate, but you have the freedom to try whatever you’d like.
You’ll find a handful of these classic smoothies are a good addition to your protein rotation. But when you are craving something special, or want to get a little creative with the blender, here are five options that will hit the spot.
1. The Elvis
Elvis Presley was famous for his love of incredibly indulgent peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwiches. Just because you are focused on your fitness goals doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy similar flavors, reimagined as a protein shake. Mix together 1.5 cups water or milk, two scoops of vanilla protein powder and a teaspoon of peanut butter (bump the peanut butter up to a tablespoon if you’re trying to put on weight).
Blend the ingredients until smooth, and then get ready to push this protein shake over the edge. Crumble half of a strip of cooked bacon on top of the smoothie (choose turkey bacon for a lower-fat option). Enjoy your protein boost, and thank The King himself for the flavor inspiration.
2. Chocolate-Dipped Cherry
This blend will take care of the dessert craving you’ve been fighting, and you won’t have to sacrifice your goals to enjoy it. Mix 1.5 cups water or milk, two scoops dark chocolate protein powder and a half cup of frozen cherries. If you’re feeling like really treating yourself, you can sprinkle a few dark chocolate chips on top for a little extra crunch. You’ll feel like you’re enjoying dessert when you’re just giving your muscles an edge.
3. Mexican Mocha
If you’ve ever had Mexican chocolate or coffee, you may have found that it incorporates a bit of spice in the form of cinnamon. Cinnamon also has excellent health benefits, like providing a boost of antioxidants and protecting your heart health. For this recipe, blend 1.5 cups water or milk, two scoops of mocha or chocolate protein powder and a half teaspoon of cinnamon.
4. Island Dreams
Conjure up visions of a tropical beach as you drink this smoothie, blending protein with fresh fruit flavors for a sweet treat. Combine 1.5 cups water or milk, two scoops vanilla protein powder and a handful of frozen pineapple or mango. If you’re looking for a boost of healthy fats, sprinkle unsweetened shredded coconut on top.
5. Holiday Mint
For a candy cane twist on the protein shake, try this year-round holiday treat. Peppermint extract is the key ingredient, with about half a teaspoon added to 1.5 cups water or milk and two scoops chocolate protein powder. This is another blend that is perfect for those days when you are craving something sweet but don’t want to derail your progress.
Incorporating protein powder into your daily routine is far from the bland and boring shakes of the past. Whether you try one of these delicious blends or try your hand at cooking with protein powder, you have endless options. Meeting your protein goals can be tasty, fun and an opportunity to get creative, all while knocking your health and fitness goals out of the park.
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