This is a post that may get me into some trouble.
Let me just first say that I do not really have an issue with protein powder. It’s not really all that harmful when used moderately. Unless you’re an extreme body builder, you probably don’t need 5 scoops per day, but a scoop or 2 is really not that big of a deal.
However, I do find protein powder concerning because to me, it reinforces the irrational obsession we have with protein. We’re told our whole lives how important protein is, and you know what, it totally is important. Every single macro and micronutrient is important for our health and well-being. We should absolutely care about our protein intake. However, for the average person, protein should only be at about 10% of daily intake. A range of 10%-35% is required. And to be honest, I think that for most people, 30% is way too high. I think that requirement is stretched so far because it is expected that humans eat a lot of animal protein, which means that their protein intake is probably pretty high. The RDA is high to try and match a more realistic intake for a lot of people. That, and the meat industry has a lot of say in Federal Guidelines.
The truth: there is such thing as too much protein. In fact, there’s such thing as too much of nearly any nutrient. Ever hear the saying, “too much of a good thing”? Yup, this applies to nutrition as well.
With that said, do I think protein powder is a bad thing?
Well, no…..yes….maybe. It completely depends.
If you are trying to increase your protein intake without increasing fat intake (a high fat food will almost inevitably have a lot of protein and vise versa), protein powder might be useful. However, there are many healthy fats that we should be eating for both protein and other nutritional value fatty (the healthy kinds) foods offer.
If you are an athlete, I can understand the need to get a little more protein into your diet. This may not be necessary for people who already eat lots of high protein foods, but for some, protein powder is ok. Just keep in mind that the fitness industry makes a lot of money on supplements, and many of them don’t really make a significant or necessary difference. If you eat a nutritious and balanced diet, you should be able to reach many of your fitness goals in time. I can say as a fitness “professional” (I am a certified group exercise instructor), I will never sell supplements because I do not think they’re worth the money for the average person.
Now, if you are someone who is lightly or moderately active, you probably don’t need protein powder at all. Just incorporate foods like beans, lentils, soy, nuts, and seeds into your diet and you shouldn’t have too big of an issue meeting all of your amino acid needs. Track your food intake via Cronometer if you are concerned about meeting protein needs and see if you need to adjust your food intake at all (and honestly, don’t just look at protein, look at the big picture).
But what if you enjoy a post-workout or daily protein smoothie? Well, that’s perfectly ok, and I’m not going to say that you can’t use protein powder because 1. I can’t tell you what to do and 2. Chances are, you’re probably not harming yourself.
Now, if you are looking for an alternative, this no protein powder protein smoothie is for you.
What I love about this smoothie is that it is made with completely real ingredients. Just whole plant foods that will benefit you in so many ways. Remember, don’t just focus on one nutrient. Would you eat something that is filled with saturated fat, cholesterol, hormones, etc. just because it has calcium (well, sadly, we’re told to do that thanks to the dairy industry)? I certainly wouldn’t! I want a meal that will provide all 3 macronutrients and lots of micronutrients because balanced nutrition will always be more important than obsessing over one small part of a food.
This protein powder free smoothie is a total meal replacer and is very filling. It tastes really satisfying AND has about 15g of protein, which is an adequate amount as long as your other meals feature some form of high-protein meal (like chili or a tofu veggie stir fry). I love having this for breakfast or after a workout. It’s so filling and surprisingly really delicious. Protein powder is cool and all, but it’s so not needed to be healthy or fit! I think this smoothie, along with many of my other recipes can prove just that!
- 1.5 Cups Almond Milk
- 2 Cups Spinach
- 1.5 Bananas
- 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter
- 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds
- ½ Cup Oats
- ½ Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 Tsp Agave
- 1.5 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
- Optional Boosters:
- hemp seed, flax seed, spirulina
- Add ingredients to a high speed blender and blend on high for about 30-60 seconds, or until thoroughly blended.