Maybe you’ve heard about the regimented body builders who snatch, grab and gulp down protein shakes 3x daily in addition to meals. Or you’ve been one of the dieters who gobble down protein bars (and shun carbs) in hopes of quick weight loss. It’s easy to understand the excitement. High protein diets have been shown to be one of the quickest avenues to muscle gain and weight loss. But even if your goal is not to be massive or to lose 30 pounds, listen up! Protein is an important component of every cell in the body, and many of us-including KIDS- aren’t getting enough.
Hair and nails are mostly made of protein. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. It makes enzymes, hormones, and helps lower insulin levels in the blood. Protein is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. The body uses the amino acids found in protein for healthy brain function; without them, the brain cannot produce enough of certain chemicals which regulate positive mood (now I know I’ve got your attention!). While the daily protein intake for an average person is only 50g-70g, many of us fall short & don’t realize it.
Along with fat and carbohydrates, protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning that the body needs relatively large amounts of it. The body does not really store protein, and therefore has no reservoir to draw on when it needs a new supply. So when customers tell me they get plenty of protein because they scarf down an 8oz filet at dinner, it’s time to talk! And getting in your protein can make a “sizable” difference, literally. Your body has to work much harder to digest it compared to carbs so it boosts metabolism and aids in fat loss. Now we’re talking my language!
Active Aging Adults(formerly known as Senior Citizens!)
Each decade, older adults lose about 3 percent of their lean body mass, mostly muscle. This incremental loss of strength (called sarcopenia) can be a danger, increasing the risk of hospitalization as years go by. One warning sign that muscle, not fat, is disappearing: the all-too-familiar sagging of skin over areas of normal muscle deposit, like the legs and arms.
As I mentioned, protein is a major component of your muscles and organs, helping your body repair old cells and make new ones. Since children are constantly going through periods of growth and development, protein is an essential part of their health. BREAKFAST is a key time to include protein (many don’t get any), as it can help keep blood sugar steady so your children won’t have “ups and downs” and will keep their brains more focused until lunch. In general, about 25% of kids’ meals should be made up of protein. SMOOTHIES are a great option for a quick, easy and yummy start to the day.
Protein Drinks-not so scary
What do you eat for breakfast? Cereal, fruit, oatmeal, yogurt? Or the very popular…nothing? Those can be healthy choices (except for “nothing”, obviously) but not rich in protein, unless you are buying protein-rich cereal or greek yogurt. So what can we do? For many of you, life is about running around. Eating out is expensive-or unhealthy. The answer: protein shakes!
Yes, some of you may have grimaced as you read that, but let me tell you, protein shakes have come a long way, baby! Some are higher in fiber, taste like chocolate milk and actually MIX WELL. Get a shaker cup and it’s a low sugar tasty breakfast or a low cal way to satisfy a mid-afternoon sweet tooth. Protein supplements are cost effective; an average serving costs less than beef, seafood or chicken and they are portable so you can bring it just about everywhere. There are so many choices it can get your head spinning, so discuss your options with a knowledgeable sales associate.
Cranberry, rice, hemp and pea protein are vegetarian options and are becoming more and more popular as a nutrition source. As stand-alone drinks, some find their taste to be on the gritty side. I am one of those people! These would be great options to add into a fresh smoothie. Got 3 minutes? Then grab a blender and try the following:
Peanut Butter Smoothie
8oz of milk (dairy, soy, coconut or almond)
1 scoop of protein
1Tbsp peanut (or any nut) butter – this is the only way I can eat only 1 tbsp of peanut butter!
If you want low carb, use unsweetened almond milk & no banana. Low cal or lowfat? Try PB2-a dehydrated peanut butter with the fat extracted (45cals and 1.5g fat). Need extra calories? Add more peanut butter and/or a scoop of ice cream. It is INCREDIBLE! You can throw in some spinach (won’t taste it), chia and a multivitamin powder. BOOM!
Some parents love the smoothie option because they can “sneak” in some great stuff (i.e. flaxseed, fruits & veggies) that won’t be detected by finicky kids; they have no idea what they’re really drinking! So start this year with a strong body. It will thank you for years – and years – to come!
As always, consult a physician if you have any medical conditions.
By Laura & Carter Dalton, owner of GNC Holly Springs