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Protein is vital for many functions in the body and it is used for enzymes, hormones, antibodies and structural tissues like muscles, tendons and ligaments. It also aids in slowing digestion and protein can be an excellent way to slow the release of energy from food. This aids in keeping a healthy blood sugar level.
There are many different foods that are rich in protein and several types of protein powders are also available. Common sources of protein used in powders include whey and casein (from milk), hemp, soy, pea and brown rice. They all have their advantages and disadvantages and which type you choose will depend on many factors including allergies, whether you are a vegetarian or vegan and also if additional immune support is required.
Protein smoothies can make a great, nutritious and energy sustaining breakfast. They can also be versatile and make a good blood sugar balancing snack during the day. They may also be used in the evening before bed to allow for a sustained release of energy overnight. This has the benefit of reducing low blood sugar dips and supporting sleep.
A large variety of fruit or vegetables may be used alongside protein powder in a smoothie. The darker fruits, such as the berries – blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, all have less sugar content than fruits such as melon and banana and can add potent anti-oxidants to a smoothie. Fresh vegetables shouldn’t be shied away from as they can be great additions to a smoothie. Spinach, kale, cucumber, celery, tomatoes, broccoli can all be added to a smoothie. Herbs like coriander and parsley also make a great addition. Don’t forget – a smoothie doesn’t have to be sweet.
Other beneficial items to add include nuts and seeds. Walnuts, almonds, chia seeds, cold milled flax seeds all add beneficial fibre, essential fats, vitamins and minerals.
Dairy doesn’t necessarily need to be added and coconut milk, coconut yoghurt or almond milk may be of use. Ice cubes can add water and make the smoothie cold and refreshing.
Basic recipe base (makes 1 smoothie)
100 g mixed fruit or 50 g fruit and 50 g vegetables – (frozen, fresh, chopped)
1-2 scoops of protein powder
1 tbsp nuts/seeds
185 ml liquid (milk/yoghurt, coconut water/yoghurt, water, almond milk etc)
3-4 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a blender or smoothie maker (some more fibrous fruit and veg may need to be chopped first) and blend until smooth. Drink straight after blending to get the most nutrition from the smoothie.