Smoothies are a great way to start the day. They are incredibly easy to make, gentle on the digestive system and provide the body with nutrient dense, clean fuel. That is, if you use the right ingredients.
First things first, what ingredients should you be adding to your smoothie?
Three important things. Protein, healthy fats, and fiber.
But...this is only a winning combination if you use clean ingredients. And let’s be honest, I know you’ve looked at the ingredient labels on protein powders and thought to yourself, there’s an awful lot of ingredients in this powder, is it really healthy?
Protein powders are notoriously loaded with sugar and other junk ingredients that are absolutely, not necessary. You can literally get you protein fill from single sources using real, whole foods.
So let’s talk a little more about protein. A healthy serving per meal is about 15 grams, which along with the healthy fats and fiber, will satiate you, stabilize your blood sugar and keep you full for a longer period of time.
Plus, protein supports many other functions in the body. As it is being digested, it is broken down into amino acids. These building blocks are used to manufacture new body proteins which then create enzymes, hormones, muscles, nails, tendons and even hair. Your body is constantly working behind the scenes for you, which is why you want to fuel it with the right ingredients.
Okay, so now we are ready to dive into the different protein sources you can use as you build your smoothies. Some sources can be used on their own, while others will need to be combined with another source, to get the 15 grams of protein needed per meal. All sources, except for one (collagen) are plant based.
This is my absolute favorite way to add protein to my smoothie. It is heat stable, which means you can add it to hot or cold liquid. Plus, it has no taste, so you don’t have to worry about it affecting the flavor of your drink. Collagen is known to support skin elasticity, decrease wrinkles, increase hydration and moisture in the skin, and overall help you look younger. It also supports your joints which becomes even more important as we age. Be sure to use hydrolyzed collagen peptides as it is more bioavailable to the body. You can also find a vegetarian version, called marine collagen.
How to: Check your package for serving size. No other protein source is needed. I prefer the Bulletproof brand of collagen.
With their soft texture, and nutty taste hemp seeds make a fantastic addition to your morning smoothie. They are also a complete protein, boasting 20 amino acids and containing 9 essential amino acids, which our body cannot make on its own. Plus, you are also getting a serving of healthy fats, as they are high in omega 3 fatty acids.
Add it: Use about three and half tablespoons to get your daily serving of protein. Or combine with another source to round it out.
First things first, if you follow a gluten free diet, be sure to buy certified gluten free oats when choosing this method. Oats can be contaminated with gluten, as they often are grown near wheat, barley and rye fields. Adding oats to your smoothie may sound strange but it gives you a boost of fiber, a smoother consistency and a boost of protein.
Add it: Check your package for serving size. You can use this alone or with another protein source to round it out.
Did you know that chia and flax seeds contain protein? They are also full of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids which can help to reduce inflammation in the body. Plus chia seeds are hydrophilic, which means they soak up water and in turn, can keep you hydrated for longer periods of time!
Add it: Check your package for serving size. Combine with another source of protein to get your full daily serving. It is helpful to grind these before adding into your smoothie, which makes them easier to digest.
Not only will nuts and nut butters provide a punch of protein, but they’ll also supply the body with healthy fats. These two things combined leave us feeling fuller, longer and help maintain balanced blood sugar. Win, win!
Add it: Check your package for serving size. Combine with another source of protein to get your full daily serving. Be sure to choose raw nuts and nut butters for full nutrient benefits.
While homemade nut milk isn’t going to be the protein star of your smoothie, it will provide you with a bit of the good stuff. Plus it makes an excellent smoothie base, minus the dairy proteins which typically leave many people with unnecessary inflammation.
Add it: Combine with another source of protein to get your full daily serving. I prefer to make my own nut milk or use the brand Three Trees.
Protein powders, when made from whole food plant sources, like hemp or brown rice, are a great way to power up your smoothie. However, most powders are loaded with artificial sweeteners, sugars, and other ingredients that can work against the body.
Add it: Choose a brand with simple ingredients that is derived from whole, food sources such as hemp, brown rice, sunflower, pumpkin, or chia seed. I prefer Genuine Health or Sun Warrior.
This post was written by Jessica Yeager, CNE <–click the link and come hang out on FB with me!
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