Protein shake

How to Eat More Protein

When I decided it was time to get serious again about losing the vacation weight and getting back on track, I struggled. I was hungry all the time. If you missed the post I wrote addressing hunger, check it out: Always Hungry? Here’s Why. I knew I needed to make some changes to my diet — not just getting back to my normal calorie range and reducing the amount of sugar I eat. I needed to eat more protein.

I was poking around online trying to figure out how to change my diet and came across this article: 12 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein. A brief breakdown: You’re Always Hungry, You’re Cutting Calories, You’re Lifting Heavy Things, You’re Engaged in Chronic Cardio, You’ve Got Achy Joints, You’re Experiencing Chronic Stress. Those were the ones that spoke to me. Yep, yep, yep. While I’m not necessarily lifting heavy, I am trying to get back into the weight lifting routine. I am hungry a lot, I AM cutting my calories to lose the weight, and damn I’m always achy…

The answer: I need more protein.

Which I already knew. Eating healthy fats and good proteins are what will fill you up. Sure, you get hungry and grab a bagel or chips or other junk thinking it will curb the hunger but those empty calories and carby things don’t go the distance. At least not for me.

I’ve definitely got the dinner down. We eat a protein with a vegetable and a salad or quinoa. That’s a pretty typical dinner. We rotate between chicken breasts, salmon, shrimp, ground turkey, boneless pork chops, and steak. I don’t really need help sneaking in more protein at dinner, it’s the other meals.

veggie-protein

A typical breakfast for me has been eggs and gluten free toast. It works well for me. But lately I’ve tried to mix things up to see if I can get more mileage out of that breakfast. One example: when I was doing food prep for the week, I browned some spicy pork sausage to use for the week. For breakfast that week I scrambled two eggs and mixed in some of the pork sausage and topped it with avocado. It was a great breakfast! Tasty and filling and I wasn’t starving by the time my usual morning break came around.

One thing I decided to change: add egg whites. Two scrambled eggs are about 140 calories. Adding some egg whites only adds about 15-20 calories to that but it bulks up the scramble. Perfect. Adding veggies to the scramble is also a smart move. The vegetables add bulk in healthy ways. Some of my favorites that are higher in protein are spinach, kale and broccoli. Yum! Doing a Frittata/Quiche type dish for the week is a faster way to do breakfast and pack it with lots of high protein things. (Maybe I need to start doing these muffins for breakfast again.)

eggs

Back when Michael and I were doing the slow carb diet, we ate a TON of beans. You can get the food list here: Slow Carb Food List. Not really paleo-friendly, but I liked aspects of the slow-carb diet. Eating beans filled you up like you wouldn’t believe. Soybeans (edamame) are the highest protein but I am not a huge fan of eating soy so I try to limit that. Navy Beans have 15.8 grams of protein per serving; black beans have 15.2 grams; pinto beans have 14 grams per serving. Beans are really versatile, too. You can add them to eggs, burritos, wraps, salads, pretty much anything.

What about snacks? I think that’s where I need to get more protein. Typically I eat an apple for a morning snack. I am trying to add string cheese to that because the combination seems to be much more filling than either of those on their own. Here are some other ideas I came up with:

Peanut Butter with celery and raisins

Cottage Cheese (This is one of my favorite snacks because it doesn’t usually take much to satisfy me.)

Greek Yogurt (I prefer to use plain and then add nuts and fresh fruit to it)

Nuts (cashews and pistachios are my favorites)

Hard-boiled eggs

Beef Jerky 

Hummus with veggies

Veggie and meat wrap (I saw this on pinterest and it looks really good! Use lean deli meat like turkey)

Kefir (I love this stuff!)

Swiss cheese with fruit 

Almond Milk

Protein Bar (this is tricky because it can be high in sugar and carbs)

A protein shake is another tip I see online a lot. This is an iffy one for me. The problem is that most protein shakes don’t fill me up like food does. I’ve tried many times to supplement meals or snacks with a protein shake and I was hungry pretty quickly afterward. Another downside? Sugar. Protein shakes are often high in sugar. I like the Atkins protein shakes because they are low in calories and low in sugar/carbs. But again–it’s not filling me up like food does.

peanutbowl2

 

The trick is to find food that is high in protein but not high in calories! Nuts are very high in calories. Luckily I only have to eat a few of them to take the edge off my hunger and lately I’ve been pairing pistachios with a string cheese. That combination is pretty tasty, especially when I’m craving salty/crunchy foods.

I need some more ideas. What are your favorite ways to eat more protein?

Hello Beautiful

It was the kind of rainy, gray, cold Saturday morning that made me look forward to the gym simply to get out of the house and still stay dry. I was also looking forward to changing up my workout routine like I talked about in this post. Yep–it was time to scale down the cardio and amp up the weights. Instead of doing an hour of cardio and 30 minutes of weights, I was going to swap it. It was the first experiment.

I was ready.  I was mentally prepared…sort of.  I was nervous, yes, about changing my routine, but I had to try. I skipped the elliptical and only ran on the treadmill. I did 1.65 miles, a tad more than what I’ve been doing for a few weeks. I’m looking forward to increasing my mileage next week.

After my run, I went to the weights and changed everything up. I did a mixture of the traditional weight machines, the plated weight machines for the upper body–back and chest, as well as the body weight exercises I have been doing. While I was doing the weight lifting my heart rate increased tremendously. That was cool to see. I was happy that I was able to spend so much time doing weights!

When I got home, I opened up one of these babies the second I walked in the door:

The company rep sent me a few samples recently and I was really looking forward to trying it as a recovery drink. The company claims it’s a good meal replacement drink (From their site: “Check out #Svelte in this month’s @NaturalSolution issue. Svelte is recommended as a great grab-n-go #mealreplacement. We agree!”). What I wanted it for was a post-workout snack that had a high protein count. 16 grams of protein was something I could get behind.

The drink I tried first was the chocolate. Mmmm chocolate. Most definitely. First, it tastes really, really good. It’s smooth and flavorful and did not taste like chemicals like Muscle Milk does to me. Second, I felt good after I drank it.

What I don’t like? The 260 calories in each bottle. That is really high for ME. That’s just a personal preference. I can see where the calorie count wouldn’t matter much to someone who was using this as a meal replacement but for a post-workout snack, that’s too high. I try to keep my snack calories around 100-150 calories tops.

So after my gym session I poured out half of the bottle and had that. It was very filling and got me through til lunch time. Did you catch my post on Sunday? Saturday after the gym I had the chocolate protein shake and it got me through for several hours until I was able to eat at my cousin’s house.

I really liked the flavors and am looking forward to trying the other flavors! They sent me chocolate, vanilla, spiced chai and cappuccino. The chai and vanilla are especially enticing to me.

Now for some facts: It’s made from organic soymilk, with organic complex carbohydrates for sustained energy. The Svelte website claims to be low-glycemic, but I don’t know a lot about that. Each bottle  has only 9 grams of sugar (excellent!). It’s also a good source of fiber,  is dairy-free and gluten-free.

This is the first protein shake product that I have really enjoyed in a long time. I didn’t feel like I was drinking chemicals and actually enjoyed it as a refreshing drink.

QUESTION: Have you tried the Svelte protein drinks? What did you think?