I love a really good smoothie. And, because I am a naturally lazy person, I really love with a good smoothie can replace me having to cook a real meal for myself.
Don’t get me wrong, this is not a regular thing for me and I really do try to cook (food is way too good not to cook!), but for when things get hectic and crazy and there just isn’t enough hours in the day, smoothies are the best fall-back, especially when you look at the alternatives. You can not eat (this is a bad option, all around), you can pick up something quick (and probably a little greasy) or something healthy and fast (but probably beyond pricy!).
Smoothies are the best option and I will stand by that.
But to make a smoothie worthy of a meal-replacement, it’s gotta have more than calcium and carbs and calories: it has t have protein. And there are so many different types of protein out there, it’s hard to know which one to choose!
But fear not! I’ve compiled a relatively small guide of some of the most popular types of protein, hopefully making it easier to decide which one is the right one for you!
Plant- Based Proteins
For starters, there are plant-based proteins. These include things like pea and rice proteins, as well as mixes of a variety of plant proteins. A lot of these types of protein powders and mixes are also vegan-friendly, which is a big plus for this category for sure!
Rice and pea proteins mixed after often been described as a “potent protein” combination. Brown rice protein is very easy for our bodies to digest, and contains lots of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Pea protein includes arginine, which is a very important amino acid when it comes to building up muscle mass. It’s also easy to digest, and both of these protein types are dairy-free (again, good for all our vegan friends!). Metagenics makes a fabulous mix of these two powerful proteins in proportions to optimize your protein uptake!
Hemp is another great option for protein powder that is totally protein-based. It is another great source of fiber, and is considered a “complete protein”, which means it contains 9 very important amino acids our bodies take up from food! It is also a source of unsaturated fatty acids, which is something many Western diets tend to lack but can help fight things like heart disease and cancer. However, this does increase the calorie count for this type of protein powder, generally.
Whey and casein are two milk-based proteins that tend to form two little camps: some people swear by one, other people swear by the other.
Whey is common, so it’s easy to find in grocery stores. It also helps a lot with weight loss while allowing our bodies to maintain lean muscle mass, which makes us look toned and tough without looking like master-muscle-people! You can also find it in a lot of different flavors, like vanilla, chocolate, and even strawberry, and you can put it in just about anything and you’ll barely notice it’s there.
However, whey can be difficult for people to digest. Especially if you are sensitive to milk, this type of protein might not be the one for you. Plus, some studies have found that whey protein can increase incidences of acne and breakouts. So, depending on the type of skin you have and the skincare routines you have in place, you might want to stick to plant-based proteins.
Casein protein is also isolated from milk. It tends to be digested by our bodies slowly, while whey can be digested relatively quickly. It also contains various micronutrients, such as calcium, though the exact amounts will vary by brand.
I’m a personal fan of casein protein because it can help your cells synthesize protein, which is good for when you haven’t taken a minute to stop and eat food in a little while. It makes this protein really good for meal-substituting without making your body feel the effects of pseudo-skipping a meal.
This protein powder also contains larger amounts of leucine relative to other types of protein, which is the key ingredient to getting muscle growth started!
Yes, soy protein is plant-based, however this one is so well-known I felt like it deserved its own whole little area!
The good news is, this type of protein has very few calories and not a lot of cholesterol associated with it! It’s also very concentrated protein, which is good for increasing your overall intake but this can also decrease your absorption of other types of vitamins and minerals.
It also contains branched amino acids, which are important for building muscle mass. However, soy is also a pretty well-known culprit of inhibiting thyroid functioning. Your thyroid is what control your metabolism, and the less it works, the slower your metabolism.
My personal recommendation with soy is moderation. It has significant good and bad aspects, so just like anything else, I would use it sporadically along with alternatives to give your body a break every once in a while.