Becca asks, via email: “Any tips/recipes/advice on a no rubbish DIY protein shake? I see all these giant tubs of scary powder lining shelves and it makes me feel a bit sad. Something for those mornings where the stove just feels too daunting, or post-work out when my silly brain says to me 'don't eat yet!'”
The companies that market those giant tubs of protein powders are advertising masterminds. I mean, beside the fact that these powders are the ultra-processed, chemically-extracted, ground down waste products of various industries and taste like stevia-sweetened sweaty socks, think about it: the exact same product that is marketed to men for “bulking up” is sold to us ladies as being “slimming”.
Hence soy, whey and rice protein powders are all very popular, but what we aren’t told is that each one of these detracts more from overall health than it gives. In the long run, they can cause widespread inflammation in the body, inhibit optimal metabolism (contributing to weight gain, not loss), cause hormonal imbalance and digestive grief.
- Soy protein powders are probably the worst offenders, as soy is a potent thyroid inhibitor and endocrine disruptor. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
- Whey powders tends to contain an excess of tryptophan, which is anti-thyroid and inflammatory (when not balanced with anti-inflammatory, pro-thyroid amino acids such as glycine, from gelatin), and potentially even carcinogenic.
- Rice protein powders are heavily processed (they all are), not particularly high in bioavailable protein, generally too high in bran fibre (mineral-binding and irritating to the gut) and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
So, are there better options? YES!! Here are two:
- An all-natural “protein shake” (egg flip) – which takes just a few shakes to put together, tastes amazing, is incredibly nutrient-dense, provides a balanced spectrum of amino acids and probably the most bioavailable protein you can ingest, will help to lower stress hormones and promote optimal metabolism. Recipe below.
- Hydrolyzed gelatin powder* – for those who still want a “protein powder” (especially a portable one). Add a spoonful to fresh orange juice (the sugar balances blood sugar, and lowers cortisol and adrenaline) with a pinch of salt (also anti-stress, and essential for optimal hydration) and baking soda (helps to increase protective carbon dioxide, reduce water retention/oedema and support good cellular metabolism). It’s the only “protein powder” I’d recommend, as gelatin is naturally low in anti-thyroid amino acids, and high in anti-inflammatory glycine and proline – read more about gelatin here.
All-natural "protein shake" (egg flip)
1 raw whole egg or egg yolk
1 cup cold milk
1-2 tbs runny honey
½ tsp cinnamon
ice cubes, to serve (optional)
Combine all ingredients and blend or whisk until (very) well combined. Alternatively, place ingredients in a sealable container, jar or bottle, seal and shake well until combined. Serve over ice.
Some additional notes:
- Carbohydrates are “protein-sparing”, required for optimizing metabolism and for reducing the activity of stress hormones (stress hormones can accelerate ageing, break down bone and muscle mass, contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes, and cause weight gain). You *need* to be balancing your protein with plenty of carbohydrates, to avoid the dips in blood sugar and release of stress hormones that occur after a protein-only (low-carb) meal or snack. For those partaking in exercise, plentiful carbohydrates are even more essential.
- Train intelligently – overdoing it on endurance or cardio is NOT a good idea. Read Rob’s excellent tips here for smart training that will assist rather than detract from metabolic health. If your metabolism is sub-optimal (registered by low body temperature and a pulse outside of normal range), then you should not be exercising until you are metabolically well-equipped to handle the metabolic/hormonal stress of exercise. Of course, you don’t have to be exercising to enjoy an egg flip!
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Kate is a certified Clinical Nutritionist and offers one-on-one coaching for clients in Sydney Australia, and internationally via Skype or email. Visit the nutrition services page to find out more about private coaching, and be sure to subscribe via email and follow the Nutrition by Nature Facebook page for blog updates, articles, nutrition tips, recipes and special offers.