Is a protein shake a good breakfast?
Protein is a vital macro-nutrient and it can be argued that out of the three (the other two being carbs and fat), it is the most important.
Including protein in your breakfast is a good idea because it keeps you feeling full, regulates appetite hormones and boosts metabolism.
When people talk about protein shakes, they are often referring to whey protein. This type of protein is obtained from the liquid part of milk and provides the body with all 9 essential amino acids.
Adding whey to your diet is an easy way to dramatically increase your protein intake; a scoop provides you with around 20 g of high quality protein, which is roughly the same amount that you would get from 3 large eggs.
Whether you are trying to lose or gain weight, whey is a great option. This is because it helps with muscle growth and strength building, but is also very filling and can aid in fat loss.
Studies have also shown that the consumption of whey may lower blood pressure & sugar levels, reduce symptoms of stress and increase bone mineral density.
If you can’t have whey, don’t worry. There are other protein powders available for those who are lactose intolerant or choose not to consume animal based products. An example is hemp protein powder, which also provides all 9 essential amino acids. Though it does contain more carbs than whey protein, it is still a great option.
Protein shakes can be prepared very quickly and are convenient to carry with you if you need to rush out of the house first thing in the morning. Having a protein shake for breakfast will fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied until your next meal. This makes them an excellent breakfast option.
The most basic protein shake is one that is made using a scoop of protein powder and a liquid of your choice. A shake consisting of a scoop of whey and a cup of low fat milk will have around 200 calories, 28 g of protein, 2 g of fat and 18 g of carbs.
Protein shakes don’t have to be this simple though. You can add in other ingredients to make them more filling, boost their calorie content and improve their nutrition. Below are some ingredients that you can use.
Oats – a carbohydrate rich whole grain that provides a slow and steady release of energy throughout the morning, oats are a rich source of nutrients such as manganese, phosphorus and magnesium. They also contain a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which increases feelings of fullness, lowers cholesterol levels and promotes the growth of good bacteria in your gut. You don’t need to use a lot of oats, around a fifth or quarter of a cup is plenty.
Frozen fruit – another great ingredient is frozen fruit, especially bananas, mangos and berries. These fruits are rich in vitamins A & C and other nutrients that greatly benefit the body. They also contain naturally occurring sugars, thereby making the shake much sweeter and more palatable. If you are going to incorporate fruits, it would be highly recommended that you use a blender when preparing the shakes. This will help to combine all of the ingredients and create a well-mixed homogeneous liquid that is drinkable.
Vegetables – these are another optional ingredient. If you do decide to use them, opt for mellow flavoured veggies such as spinach or cucumber, because they won’t be too overpowering and you will hardly be able to taste them. Like fruits, vegetables are rich in vitamins & minerals and including them in a morning protein shake helps you to meet your target of 5 a day.
Nuts & seeds – are rich in healthy fats, protein, dietary fiber, vitamins & minerals. There are many different options to choose from but the ones that work really well in shakes are almonds, chia seeds and flax seeds. You may also choose to use almond, peanut or cashew butter in your shakes; these are similar to solid nuts, the only difference being that they have been ground down into a fine paste.
With so many ingredients to choose from, you can create a wide variety of protein shakes and can accurately control the macro-nutrient and calorie content of each one.
Two delicious examples are our post workout petrol (29 g of protein, 383 calories) and packed with proatein (33 g of protein, 509 calories) shakes. The calories in a protein shake will vary greatly, depending on the ingredients used to prepare it.
You would ideally want to make your protein shake fresh first thing in the morning, but if you don’t have enough time, you can prepare it the night before and leave it in the fridge until you are ready to drink it.
When choosing a protein powder to use in your shakes, it is important to read nutrition labels. If you choose flavoured powders, be wary of those that contain large amounts of sugar. You ideally want a protein powder that only has 2 – 3 g of sugar per scoop.
Protein shakes can be a great breakfast option, especially if you include fruits, nuts and oats when preparing them. Other protein rich breakfast foods to eat are eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese.