I’m also sharing two of my favourite protein-packed recipes for you to try. They are perfect for a post-workout snack or for the days when you feel your diet may need a little boost.
Protein is a real buzz word at the moment with protein versions of almost every product available and protein being marketed as the solution to health and wellness.
Protein is one of the three macronutrients required by our body together with carbohydrates and fat.
It is important we are eating a balanced diet with adequate amounts of all three so that our body can function at its best and can support all the activities we do each day.
When I was training as a professional athlete my protein requirements were greater than they are now. I have definitely decreased my protein consumption since retiring from the professional sport.
Instead, I try to include a quality protein source with every meal and snack, as this helps meet my requirements while helping to keep my blood sugar level and hence energy, mood and concentration levels stable.
I don’t try to heavily load my diet with excess protein.
- I only use protein bars or supplements if I’m training very hard or I get stuck and don’t have access to ‘real’ food otherwise I don’t feel I need these.
- I love meat but I eat protein from a variety of foods like fish, eggs, beans, and lentils. Mix up your protein sources!
- We are all different; we all have different likes/ dislikes and needs. Listen to your body and find what works for you. If you are struggling to get it right, then seek help from a professional who can tailor a plan to your needs.
I would always advocate getting your protein from real foods first. Ideally, if your workout is strenuous, you should refuel with a protein-rich snack. For the days you cannot get home to make a meal, it can be a good idea to have some homemade protein bars and treats in the gym bag to enjoy as a post-training
recovery snack. Instead of focusing on supplements, focus on getting the basics right. Put your energy into things like getting enough sleep, eating enough to meet your needs, hydrating and rehydrating adequately, training hard, improving your sporting skills, and allowing for proper recovery.
Nicola Ludlan-Raine is a UK-registered dietician and qualified PT. Her blog is packed with healthy recipes and nutrition tips. I love her no-nonsense approach to food and fitness.
Her motto is ‘It’s not about diets, it’s about a way of life’ and she lives by the 80/20 rule. Be sure to check her out.
Rise and Shine Breakfast Shake
Smoothies are a super easy way to get something substantial into you.
They are a smart nutritional choice and it’s no big deal to make them. I keep stashes of frozen fruits and spinach in my freezer so that I can make smoothies without any hassle.
And because I include protein powder, I feel like I’m getting a complete meal in a jiffy. I often enjoy this as the snack when I feel I need something a bit more substantial.
- 100g pineapple, chopped
- 20g porridge oats
- 50g frozen spinach
- Tbs honey
- ½ avocado
- 1 scoop vanilla protein (I like to use whey)
- 250ml milk
Place all the ingredients in the blender.
Blend until smooth and enjoy immediately.
Peter’s Frozen Protein Bars
This recipe makes some of the tastiest protein bars you’ll ever have. Plus — there is no actual cooking in them. Win-win!
Peter, my husband, makes these at least once a week and they are always gobbled up within a couple of days.
10 minutes plus the time required to set
6 big bars
- 300g chocolate protein powder (banana or vanilla flavours also work well)
- 160g jumbo porridge oats
- 70g sunflower seeds
- 50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
- 30g ground almonds
- 1 banana, peeled and mashed
- 120ml water
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Line a 33cm x 23cm baking tin with parchment paper.
Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and use your hands to mash everything to a sticky consistency.
This process will take a few minutes and the mixture must not be too wet, so do not panic and throw in more water. Simply keep working the mixture with your hands.
Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and place in the freezer for at least one hour.
Remove the tin from the freezer and leave to stand for about 30 minutes. Cut the slab into bars and carefully remove from the tin.
Store the bars in airtight plastic bags in the freezer. Take them out as needed — just give them a few minutes to defrost before eating.