Protein Shakes & Pregnancy

While many individuals look to protein shakes in an effort to lose weight or increase sports performance, women who have recently been diagnosed with gestational diabetes can significantly control their blood sugar levels by adding a protein shake to their diet.

Many women who have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes have never had any blood sugar issues and may be overwhelmed with where to start with diet planning. Most think that by simply avoiding sweets they will meet the diet restrictions required to support a healthy pregnancy and keep blood sugar levels in the normal range. A large part of controlling your diet is limiting your carbohydrates as well. Obviously not a fun time to be watching your carbohydrate intake, but the results will pay off when you meet your new little one.

Let’s Talk Carbs vs. Sweets

Yes, protein can be found in meats – your standard hamburgers, steaks, chicken, fish, etc. But what about a catered breakfast at work or a holiday meal and you know the offerings available will set your limits high? Try adding a high carb, low-sugar, meal replacement to your diet (40-50 grams of carbohydrates for a healthy adult) and you can most likely have a small portion of the pasta or a small portion of the pastry.

The key is moderation vs. completely limiting those foods that you crave and enjoy. Let meal planning be a creative time for you to try to see what works best for you. Many protein shake flavors are offered that can easily mix well with skim milk and really taste like you are drinking a milkshake.

Importance to Baby

Having an excess amount of sugar in the bloodstream that is not controlled for nine months can increase your risk of having a premature baby, having a larger baby that may need born via caesarean or having a baby with crashing sugar levels upon delivery that would require a short visit in the NICU to get those levels stabilized. Work with your doctor and dietitian to see where it would be ideal to incorporate protein shakes into your daily routine.


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Video: Super Simple, Quick Protein Shake

Courtesy of Youtube user scooby1961 comes a quick video of one of favorite, dead-simple protein shake recipes. Awesome choice if you have only a couple of minutes in the morning to get your protein shake and go.

The best part is that this recipe is really inexpensive, per shake. The author states that it’s around 60 cents per shake, even while using some high-quality whey protein powder.

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Protein: Drink It Up and Keep Weight Down

Did you know that the average American consumes 20% of their daily calories from beverages?  It pays to be careful about what you drink.  If you are putting together a weight loss plan, you may be interested in weight loss drinks as a part of your menu.

First, we recommend that you immediately replace carbonated soft drinks with water to cut hundreds of calories. Recent research even suggests that drinking lots of water might rev up your metabolism. But why stop there?

You may also reduce your daily calories (and ultimately lose weight) by replacing certain meals with protein shakes.  As you exercise regularly to reduce even more calories, the added protein may help you maintain energy and recover from your work-out.

Meal Replacement Done Right

In general, it is not recommended to replace more than two meals (or one meal and one snack) a day with drinks.  Of course, make sure your regular meals are well-balanced and nutritious.

Shakes are very convenient.  They are quick to make and easy to take along on a busy day.  They might help you avoid high-calorie junk food, especially when it’s just not practical to prepare the right meal.

Choose a drink that is appropriate for meal replacement.  Around 200 calories would be appropriate for many individuals.  Also consider your daily nutritional needs.

If you need a quick solution, consider Slim Fast’s High Protein Extra Creamy Chocolate Shake.  It offers 15 grams of protein and only 190 calories, along with many vitamins and minerals.

DIY:  Choosing Ingredients

You can also try your hand at making your own protein-rich weight loss drink.  Keep in mind that protein shake recipes are not necessarily designed to replace a meal.  With a little planning and creativity, though, you can get the best of both worlds.

When purchasing your protein supplement, choose casein protein.  Because it is slow-absorbing, it helps you feel full and makes for a good meal replacement drink.

If your diet doesn’t permit dairy, try an alternative like hemp or rice protein powder.  Soy is also a good supplement for meal replacements.

If weight loss is your goal, you don’t want to load your shake with too many calories.  On the other hand, you’ll need enough calories to replace a meal, and some recipes aren’t designed to do that.

Here are some simple tips to add nutrients and reasonable calories:

  • Use skim milk as a base instead of water.
  • Add fruit, such as berries or banana.
  • Add natural-style peanut butter (in moderation).
  • Add flax seed.
  • Add dry, uncooked oatmeal.

To help you stick to your diet, try a fun variety of ingredients.  Experiment with your ingredients while keeping an eye on calories and seeking a variety of nutrients.  Soon you’ll be mixing your favorite protein-rich meal replacement drinks.

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Ladies: Torch Some Fat and Build Muscle with Protein Supplements

Many health-conscious women take supplements to ensure that their bodies get the nutrients they need–from iron to calcium to folic acid to multivitamins. But ladies, if you want your body to achieve peak fat-burning, muscle-building performance, don’t forget about protein!

Protein boosts the metabolism, keeping your body burning and using food for energy instead of storing calories as fat. It also promotes lean muscle growth, to help you see results from toning and strength-training exercise.

If you are as busy as the average woman, consider choosing protein supplements as a convenient  strategy to amp up your health and fitness progress.

Protein Supplements are Easy to Add to Your Routine

Protein supplements are very convenient. Of course, ready-made protein shakes are available at any health and nutrition store. But don’t overlook  powdered protein supplements. They can be stirred into water or mixed with a spoon or blender into a delicious smoothie.

It’s fun and easy to experiment with different recipes, and protein powders come with different flavors to enjoy, including vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Plus, protein powder is typically quite cost-effective, considering how many servings you’ll get from your supplement purchase.

Fuel Your Busy Day with Protein

We all know how important it is to fit breakfast and healthy snacks into a protein diet plan. A protein shake makes a refreshing start to your day, and it’s easy to make and take it ‘on the run’ if necessary. Nutritionists agree that protein is particularly important at breakfast, since it helps you feel full longer and avoid a mid-morning blood sugar “crash.”

Plus, it’s been determined that our bodies use protein (such as for muscle growth) more efficiently if our protein consumption is evenly distributed among meals throughout the day. A protein supplement drink, whether for breakfast or as a snack, is an easy way to balance out your protein consumption.

Set a Results-Driven Goal

To figure out exactly how much protein you should be consuming, you’ll need to crunch some numbers. One of your fitness goals should be achieving a positive muscle building state, meaning that your body is burning fat rather than muscle.

To achieve that fat-burning state, you’ll want to ingest a minimum of 0.9 grams of protein per lean pound of your body weight. First determine your lean body weight. For example, a 140 pound woman with 22% body weight requires 98 grams of protein. Here’s how we did the math:

  • 140 x 0.22= 31 lbs.
  • 140 – 31= 109 lbs.
  • 109 x 0.9= 98 grams

A recent study from the International Journal of Sports suggests 1.6 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. (Think 0.7 grams per pound.) For our example woman (140 pounds x 0.7 grams) you’ll get the same result as above, 98 grams. Your own numbers may come out a little differently depending on your formula.

Ready to add protein supplements to your health and fitness plan? First set an informed goal and get ready to achieve that positive muscle building state. Learn more details about protein supplements here at Top Protein Shakes to choose the right supplement for you, and make it a part of your routine.

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Rice Protein Powder as an Awesome Gluten-Free Alternative

For Vegans and those of us with food allergies, the land of protein powders can be a bit of a minefield. Whether it’s lactose, animal products, eggs, nuts, or gluten in general, most of the best protein powders are going to be off the table.

Whey and casein powders’ primary protein source is from animal proteins, usually from milk byproducts. And while this is a great source of cheap protein, it doesn’t fit everyone’s diet restrictions.

Thankfully for those of us that need a more natural approach to our protein diet plan, a handful of vegan protein powders have come on the scene over the last few years. We’ve talked a bit before about soy-based and hemp protein powders, but now rice protein powder is rapidly gaining in popularity.

Part of this sudden popularity is due to the fact that rice protein powder is completely gluten-free, and contains nearly no common food allergens. But, can it still stack up as a substitute for whey when you’re trying to put on some muscle? Let’s find out:

What’s the Scoop on Rice Protein Powder?

As discussed, rice-based powders have the enormous benefit of not containing any of the common food allergens that prevent a lot of folks from using the more traditional powders. The powder itself is created through a complicated enzyme process that separates the carbohydrate portion of the rice from the protein element. While the process sounds fairly complex, it boils down to this: You get a low-carbohydrate, high protein supplement that is easily digestible and avoids all animal products.

Amazingly, approximately eighty percent of typical rice powders consists of protein, so it remains a fairly dense, protein-packed alternative. The purest form of rice protein is completely unflavored, and consists of little more than the rice protein. However, you can also get flavored powder in some of the most common flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and berry. These flavors are usually added in with artificial sweeteners, so it may be best to go plain if you’re trying to avoid sucralose and aspartame.

Another great benefit is its low calorie count. One serving (one scoop) of the average rice protein contains between 50-70 calories, as compared to the 90-100 ballpark that most whey powders fall into. And while the price point for rice is a little higher than whey, it’s still a good amount of protein for your dollar.

Any Downsides?

While there’s a lot to like about rice, there are a few areas where it doesn’t quite stack up against the more common alternatives. Just like hemp protein powder, it doesn’t contain quite as much actual protein per serving when compared to milk-based proteins — usually around 12-15 grams per scoop.

Plus, rice powders don’t seem to dissolve quite as nicely, and can end up being a little gritty. We’ve found that using rice milk or almond milk instead of water as your base can help cover this up nicely. Blending it with ice and fruit can also make things go down a little more easily as well.

But all in all, it’s tough to complain too much about rice protein powders. For their cost, they offer a great, gluten-free, lactose-free alternative for Vegans looking to up their protein consumption.

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The Best Whey Protein Powder on the Market?

Hundreds of protein powders are competing for your dollar these days. Some are junk, some are fantastic, and there are plenty that somewhere in the middle. However, finding some of the best, high-quality protein powder can be quite the task, and the options can start to make your head spin.

While we’ve reviewed quite a few protein shakes and hemp protein powders in the past, we’ve yet to single one out as one of the best. After trying out Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard 100% Whey Powder, that may be changing.

What Makes it So Great?

This powder, quite simply, rocks. Is it the cheapest powder on the shelves? Absolutely not. But have you ever bought a cheap powder at a super-center and struggled to even swallow the stuff, let alone be confident that you’re even getting any nutritional benefit from it? Well, you definitely won’t have to worry about that with ON’s Gold Standard.

This is high-quality protein powder, plain and simple. Each serving packs in 24 grams of pure protein, and it’s your average protein. It’s made with 100% whey protein isolate, which is arguably the best and most dense protein available. Ninety percent of it’s weight comes from protein, so there’s little room left over for fillers, fat, lactose, cholesterol, and other unwanted ingredients.

Best of all, it’s a completely natural product. If you hate the thought of pumping your body full of aspartame, sucralose, or other artificial sweeteners, no worries with this powder. There’s some natural sugar for taste, and the chocolate powder is delicious.

On top of all of the above, each serving contains 5 grams of branch chain amino acids (BCAAs), which help to contribute to lean muscle growth and general body recovery after a workout. It also has a good amount of glutamine and precursors, amino acids which can be essential to muscle recovery during intensive workout programs.

What’s Not So Great?

Like just about every other powder, there’s some cons to go along with the pros, but with this powder they are relatively minor. If you’re trying to completely avoid sugar, you’ll want to look elsewhere. Perhaps a completely natural protein supplement, such as a hemp protein powder, would be a good call.

It also doesn’t mix quite as well as some other powders, and can end up being a little gritty. This is due to quality of the protein isolate, which just doesn’t mix quite as well as other lower quality ingredients. However, you know you’re getting some of the best protein powder on the planet, so hopefully you can power through a little texture in your shake. With a few creative protein shake recipes, you can mix this stuff in with fresh fruit, milk, yogurt, or my personal favorite oatmeal, for a shake that tastes great but also supercharges your workouts.

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Hemp Protein Shake Recipes that Actually Taste Great

With the surge in popularity of hemp protein powder lately, it’s obvious many folks are looking for a more natural way to get their daily protein. For those with allergies or other dietary restrictions, hemp is arguably the best protein powder. Hemp protein has plenty of benefits, but sadly one area it sometimes lacks in is taste.

While plenty of people don’t mind or even enjoy the taste of hemp-based shakes, it’s tough to argue that they are quite as tasty as your typical whey protein powder. Part of this is due to the amount of time hemp protein has been on the market. Whey and casein powders have been around for much longer, and therefore have a giant array of flavors and varieties to choose from.

However, if you love the health benefits of hemp and like avoiding the artificial sweeteners and animal products found in most other powder styles, you may be looking for some great recipes to mix up for your morning breakfast shake or as part of your protein diet plan.

First, Some Basics

As most people who use hemp-based shakes do so as part of a vegan diet or have some sort of lactose intolerance, milk is usually off the table as “base” for your shakes. Thankfully, soy milk or almond milk work nicely, and help you to avoid dairy products altogether.

While hemp mixes decently with water, you’ll usually want some more substantial liquids to help cover the grittiness that can come along with these powders. A lot of users swear by orange juice as a great base for hemp protein shakes. The richness and taste can help to mask the hemp, but keep in mind the calories and sugar orange juice can add. Orange juice probably wouldn’t be a good choice for a post-workout shake for this reason. Alternatively, yogurt works nicely, and helps to add to the protein content of your shake.

Let’s take a look at a few hemp protein shake recipes collected from around the net:

Superfood Shake Recipe

  • 1/2 cup Almond Milk
  • 1/2 cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 3 drops of Liquid Stevia (optional) 
  • 1-2 tb Hemp Protein Powder
  • 1 tb of Cinnamon

Look at all those “super foods”! Blueberries, almond milk, and cinnamon all in one recipe. Add in a couple of scoops of your favorite hemp protein powder and you’ve got a delicious shake with tons of health benefits. Optionally add in a few drops of stevia for sweetness, or use another artificial sweetener if you choose. Combine in a blender and blend until smooth.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup Almond Milk
  • 1/2 cup Strawberries
  • 1 Banana
  • 2 tb of Hemp Protein Powder

You’ll barely even notice the hemp protein powder in this recipe. The combination of the banana’s smoothness and the “pulp” generated from the strawberries gives the whole mixture a very smooth texture, making it go down very easy. Feel free to add in some stevia if needed, but this mixture should be naturally sweet enough for most palettes.

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The 3 Top Protein Shakes to Use in Your Protein Diet Plan

After the low carb diet plan came on the scene a few years back, thousands of dieters have been switching to a high protein diet in an effort to lose stubborn body fat. While extreme low carb diets like the Atkins diet have shown mixed results, there’s little doubt that protein should make up a significant amount of your daily food intake.

The average adult needs roughly 50 grams of protein a day — double or triple that amount if you’re trying to increase muscle mass through strength training. So a well-timed protein shake can help to get that needed protein intake.

However, you need to be careful using protein shakes as a total meal replacement. Unless the shake is designed specifically as a meal replacement, you can be losing out on essential nutrients and vitamins by skipping food all together.

Thankfully, there are a good number of meal replacement protein shakes that can help you avoid carbs, lose weight, and still get those needed nutrients throughout the day.

1. Slim-Fast Lower Carb Shakes

Slim-Fast shakes have long been the go-to meal replacement shake of choice for years, but those looking for higher protein content in their shakes were left in the cold. Thankfully, Slim-Fast has created “lower carb” shakes that have only one gram of sugar and a whopping 20 grams of protein.

Oddly enough, these shakes contain more protein than Slim-Fast’s High Protein Shakes, and contain much less sugar. However, they do contain the artificial sweetener sucralose which has been shown to have an impact on overall blood sugar levels.

Like most Slim-Fast products, their lower carb shakes contain about a third of your day’s nutrients and vitamins, so they make a great nutritive meal replacement shake.

2. New Lifestyle Diet Pudding Shakes

Don’t let the “pudding” in the name fool you. These shakes have a good nutritional profile, including 15 grams of protein and only 7 grams of carbs. Each serving has plenty of vitamins and minerals, and mixes up to a rich, smooth shake that’s easy to enjoy as a breakfast or lunch replacement.

3. Beachbody Low Calorie Meal Replacement Shake

A more traditional bodybuilder protein powder, but one that actually contains a good amount of nutrients and vitamins. Made from a combination of whey and soy protein, these shakes help to keep you feeling full and satisfied. Best of all, it contains no artificial colors or aspartame.

Each serving has about 130 calories, 14 grams of protein, and is available in either chocolate or vanilla flavors. You can grab a 30-day supply for about $40 from the Beachbody website.

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The Best Protein Shake Recipes for Every Body

A quick search of your local health foods store will show you the enormous number of protein powders and supplements available. Some are meant for endurance athletes, some for strength athletes, and it’s easy to feel a bit bewildered at all of your choices.

And that’s just the beginning — when it comes to actually mixing up your protein shakes for a meal replacement or for a workout supplement, what ingredients do you actually use to create your shake? Just mixing your powder with water gets old very fast.

However, we’ve created a short list of some basic, easy-to-make protein shake recipes that are tailored to different fitness and nutrition goals. Wanting to lose weight while maintaining muscle? Want to bulk up with a protein-filled workout supplement? Need to avoid milk and lactose products while getting the nutrition you need? We’ve got a shake recipe for you. Let’s get started!

Meal Replacement Shake for Weight Loss

A big mistake many protein shake newbies make is trying to replace a meal with a basic protein shake. While some protein powders are meant for this, the majority do not contain enough nutrients to replace a healthy meal. If you’re trying to lose weight with protein shakes, you need other nutrients that basic powders can’t provide.

So for this recipe, we’ll be including some light fruits with casein protein powder. Casein takes longer to digest than whey, and helps you feel fuller longer.

  • 1 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1 banana, peeled
  • 2 scoops vanilla or plain casein protein powder
  • 5-6 ice cubes
  • Water as needed
  • Blend for 30 seconds

Reese’s-Cup Muscle-Building Protein Shake

Folks looking to put on muscle need to mix things up a bit. After a strength workout, your muscles need fuel immediately. Generally, whey protein is thought to be the best choice for bulking up, as the protein contained in whey digests more quickly, and thus reaches your muscles faster than casein proteins. For best results, you can either sip on this shake during your workout or consume it within 30 minutes of the end of the workout.

  • 1 heaping tbsp of natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 scoops of chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1 cup Egg Beaters
  • Blend for 30 seconds

All Natural Protein Shake

Wanting to avoid processed milk products or lactose in your protein shakes? You may want to take a look at hemp protein powder. It’s made from hemp seeds and contains about an equal amount of protein and fiber. Plus, hemp protein has a very nice amino acid profile for general well-being. Here’s a quick recipe for a basic hemp protein shake.

  • 30g (1 serving) of hemp protein powder
  • 2 cups yogurt
  • 1 cup raspberries or strawberries
  • No need to blend — can just be stirred together if desired.

Hemp protein doesn’t contain as much protein as whey or casein (thanks to the higher fiber content), but you’ll still get 15-20 grams of protein with this recipe. Also give rice protein powder a shot, if hemp isn’t your thing. It is a little easier to digest, and mixes up a little better than hemp.

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Should Hemp Protein Powder Replace Your Whey?

Within the last few years, hemp protein powder has come upon the health and fitness scene as a more natural alternative to processed protein powders. Yes, you read that right — hemp. Just when you thought you had the differences between whey, casein, and rice protein powder all figured out, another protein powder contender enters the mix!

But what benefits and pitfalls can you experience with this new source of protein? And more importantly, should you replace your current protein supplement with hemp protein? Let’s take a look at the basics.

The Pros

First of all, it needs to be said — No, hemp protein does not give you a “buzz”. The powder is created from the seeds of the hemp plant, and is considered one of nature’s most complete amino acid sources. It contains nearly all of the amino acids that humans need on a daily basis, and is second only to soy protein in that regard.

One of the top reasons to potentially switch to hemp protein powder is that it’s about as natural of a protein powder as you’ll find. No artificial sweeteners or fillers added, and it’s not made from a processed milk product. This is also great news if you’re lactose intolerant, and have difficult digesting whey or casein protein powders.

And speaking of digestion, hemp contains a large amount of fiber along with it’s protein content.

The Cons

Some of the best protein powders on the market will contain roughly 25-30 grams of protein per serving. This is one area that hemp falls short — because of it’s large fiber content, there’s not quite as much room for protein. A 30 gram serving of hemp powder will only about 15 grams of protein. It’s still a great source of protein for those looking to eat a balanced diet, but may not have the protein load that body builders look for in a supplement.

Also, by forgoing some of the factory processing that goes into typical protein powders, hemp doesn’t dissolve as easily and doesn’t taste quite as good as other powders. If the taste and texture bother you, you’ll likely want to mix hemp powder in with more substantial foods, such as yogurt, peanut butter, etc, to help mask it a bit.

However, if you’re looking for an all-natural alternative to protein powders and don’t necessarily need to bulk up on muscle, check out hemp protein powders. They cost nearly the same as whey and casein, and thanks to their amino acid profile, they have some fantastic health benefits.

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