Upping your protein intake won’t make you big and bulky? What, no whey!
What is the first thing you think of when you hear the words ‘protein’ or ‘protein shake’? The big bulky guy in the gym whose chugging it down like there’s no tomorrow? There is usually a stereotype that goes with protein and for that reason, there can sometimes be a misconception of who should be using and consuming protein powder.
BUT before I talk about the benefits of protein, lets get back to basics, and talk about macros. What are they, why do people track and care about them!
Macronutrients, or more commonly known as macros, are what make up the caloric content of food and is a term that is used to describe the three key food groups our bodies need in order to function.
Protein for muscle repair, carbohydrates for fuel and energy and fat to keep us satiated.
The caloric combination of macros is where that mysterious total number of calories comes from and can be broken down like this…
- 1 gram of protein = 4 calories
- 1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
- 1 gram of fat = 9 calories
It’s not as complicated as it looks – I promise!
In the health and fitness world, you’ll sometimes hear the phrase, ‘macro-friendly’ and all this means is that the proportions and breakdown of macros within that particular meal, or food, fits within the proportions of what the individual is looking for in their diet in order to help them achieve their results. For example, my macro-friendly protein doughnuts.
So, with all the above in mind, I’m going to be spotlighting one of the categories and probably the most widely talked about macro that is protein.
What is it and why do we need it?
Protein is a molecule made up of amino acids and is an essential piece of every cell in our bodies, right down to healthy hair and nails. It is crucial for the growth and repair of all our bodies’ tissue. And for those of us interested in fitness, protein is of particular importance due to its increased role in the muscle building and repair process.
The amount that each individual needs is relative to his or her activity levels and of course, health and fitness goals, but a general base-level is typically 1g of protein per 1lb of body weight.
I have already *briefly* touched upon the stereotypes of both protein and protein shakes, but I want to really talk about the benefits of protein and why it is an essential and staple to our diets. Let’s leave stereotypes for another day (!)
As a girl, I understand that there is the real fear of getting big and bulky from lifting weights and consuming protein, but I promise you, it doesn’t work like that.
Whilst it’s true (generally speaking) that a women’s daily protein needs are lower than the typical man, it’s still a huge part in our diets and there are some really amazing benefits when you do up the intake!
1. Fuller For Longer.
Protein helps keep you fuller for longer. This is because protein is more satiating than carbs and fats, so by increasing your protein intake from protein supplements and protein-rich foods, it can help you feel fuller for longer. There are also so many amazing protein based treats on offer that it doesn’t have to be via a chicken breast!
2. Muscle Strength & Mass.
The more muscle mass you have, the easier it is to perform everyday tasks as well as gym based activity. Lean muscle mass also enables you to burn more calories throughout the day. Women may also benefit from protein supplements because it provides high quality and quickly digestible source of protein which, enables consistent construction and repair of muscle fibers.
3. Muscle Growth.
Getting ‘bulky’ is actually extremely hard to do because it requires a lot of strength training and a lot of progressive overload. It’s impossible for us girls to look like men because we don’t build muscle the same way, have the same hormones and muscle mass building capabilities – and we can thank the estrogen in our female bodies for that.
On a day-by-day basis, meeting your daily protein needs can be challenging if you’re strapped for time or eating on the go and that’s where protein powders and protein bars can be v. useful. Mixing it into a delicious shake or blend into a tasty smoothie can help you hit your protein goals. Sprinkle some powder into your pancake batter or stir into a creamy bowl of porridge. Not only does it add extra flavour, it can help make every meal or snack a high-protein one!
As someone who has tried a whole host of protein brands and blends and judged each one of flavour and texture, I’ve decided to list a few of my faves.
- MyProtein Impact Whey
Founded in 2004, MyProtein has risen to the top of the protein game to become the largest sports nutrition retailer in Europe. I’ve always always been a fan of their impact whey protein because it scores v. highly on the low calorie, low carbohydrate, high protein content scale.
I think I’ve tried almost every different flavour, but my fave has to be chocolate orange.
Shop MyProtein here.
- Bulk Powders Whey Protein
Similar to MyProtein, Bulk Powders has seen a huge lift in their sales the last couple years. They’ve teamed up with some great athletes and made their mark in the protein world. More recently, they’ve brought out a brand new vegan range, which I’m yet to try but have heard great things. Their whey protein, is super reasonable and they have a huge variety of flavours.
Shop Bulk Powders here.
- Free Soul Vanilla Whey
I was BLOWN away by this protein. Not only does the vanilla flavour taste like vanilla ice cream, it’s smooth, creamy and bakes SO well. Quite often when you use protein powder in baking, it can become really tacky but this was not the case with Free Soul. Great quality, great value for money, just great all round!
Shop Free Soul
- PHD Nutrition Smart Shakes
PhD Nutrition sent me their new range of Smart Shakes and all I can say is WOW. I’m not usually one for ready made shakes because I usually prefer to add them to oats or yoghurt BUT I’ve been turned. Containing more 20gs of protein and less than 6gs of carbs per bottle, these pre-made babies are the perfect on-the-move shake. Available in dessert inspired flavours including chocolate brownie, strawberry chessecake AND salted caramel, you won’t be disappointed!
TOP TIP: add the shake to cereal for the creamiest bowl you’ll ever eat.
Shop Smart Shakes here.
- UFit Plant Powered Shake
Vegan friendly protein products often have a reputation for unappetizing flavours, weird smells and chalk like consistency but UFit have successfully managed to dissolve those ideals. Their new coconut chocolate shake is high in protein, dairy free, delicious, has no added sugar and comes in at 186 calories. Win win!
Shop UFit Plant Shakes here.
How do you up your intake? Do you add it into shakes, smoothies or cakes? Let me know in the comments below!
I always try to share what I’m eating and drinking with you over on my Instagram stories, so if you’re ever on the hunt for food inspo, be sure to have a lil watch!