Protein needs vary widely by individual. One way of calculating your protein needs is to multiply your weight (in kg) by 1.2. to give you the approximate grams of protein you need a day. These levels do shift however – those who do high intensity weight training for example, may need more. Pregnant or breast-feeding women also have higher protein needs.
We do need to consume protein regularly because unlike fats and carbohydrates, the body doesn’t store much protein -- typically only about a day's worth.
When you consider the toast or cereal based breakfast that many people eat, it’s easy to see why protein shakes are popular. I do agree that a healthy, balanced protein "smoothie" can be a convenient option for our clients who struggle to eat a healthy breakfast.
My first preference for protein in a shake would be via whole food. If you can tolerate eggs, it is a great choice for breakfast. Alternatively, we often recommend clients use 2 heaping tablespoons of a seed mix (with flax, sesame and pumpkin seeds) paired with 2 Tbsp almond butter added into a smoothie – this can yield about 12 grams of protein. Of course, there are times when food allergies/sensitivities, individual tastes and texture preferences, or the need for specific nutrients in targeted medical foods require a protein powder.
We have recently seen an increase in the number of clients who have tried a protein shake and all its done is made their digestion worse or made them gain weight. This is usually a hint that there is underlying food sensitivity. This situation can be easily fixed by identifying the sensitivity and switching protein powders.
For vegans and those with dairy issues, we most often recommend a rice or pea-based powder. These tend to have a grainy texture – and peas are a very common food sensitivity so this isn’t for everyone.
Soy is a definite no-no for us for a number of reasons – it’s rough on the digestive system and a common sensitivity. Further, most soy powders are GMO and can interfere with hormones.
Collagen powders – which are from an animal source – is one that we really like for those who don’t follow a strict vegetarian/vegan diet. Collagen is what we need to build soft tissues such as skin, hair, nails, and joints. This is a very healing food and particularly excellent for those with poor digestion. It is in fact the magic ingredient behind the bone broth craze.
PROTEIN POWDER OPTIONS SUMMARY:
WHEY – MUST BE ORGANIC, GOOD FOR THOSE WHO DON’T HAVE A DAIRY SENSITIVITY, MIXES EASILY INTO A SMOOTHIE
SOY – BEST AVOIDED
RICE – VEGAN, EASY TO DIGEST, NOT A COMMON SENSITVITY, GRAINY TEXTURE
PEA – VEGAN, TOUGHER TO DIGEST THAN RICE, GRAINY TEXTURE
COLLAGEN - ANIMAL SOURCE, MIXES EASILY INTO SMOOTHIE