High Quality Protein – Tasty Ways to Power Up with Powders

High Quality ProteinMany of us try to get extra protein into our diets, for good reasons. Eating high quality protein helps build lean body tissue, staves off hunger, and can help you lose weight.

But as nutrients go, protein is not always the most convenient. Or portable (salmon to go, anyone?) Enter protein powder. Here’s the scoop on tasty ways to work it in.

Why Protein and Which Powder?

Studies have linked increased high quality protein intake with a natural reduction in calories and weight loss, most likely because of how your body likes to use it to build muscle, and because of how slowly it digests. Eating lean high protein foods is a great choice, but let’s face it, you can’t always grab a steak for breakfast.

In rough figures, experts advise shooting for somewhere between .5 grams and 1 gram of protein per pound of your body weight—on the high end if you’re very active and the low end if you’re rather sedentary.

Even with a whopping 40 or 50 grams from chicken or fish at your dinner, the average person can struggle fitting in the rest of the protein their body and workout routine calls for. That’s where high quality protein powders can come in handy.

They are a quick fix to eat healthy and get lean protein into your daily diet. While not a substitute for high quality whole foods, they make for a great supplement. If you’re new to protein powder, below are some facts about the main categories available for you to choose from.

High Quality Protein Powders

A Guide to High Quality Protein Powder

Whey: It’s a milk byproduct, which can be a problem for some people with allergies or lactose issues. It’s a complete protein with all 21 amino acids, high quality, quickly absorbed by the body, and relatively inexpensive.

Whey protein comes in different powdered forms. One of the most favored is whey protein isolate, which refers to how the protein chains are broken down into smaller structures during processing. This helps deliver the isolate’s rapid absorption, and may also be preferred for its milder taste than some concentrates.

Hydrolyzed whey protein is even further broken down, making it another popular post-workout choice due to its quick absorption rates. Whey protein blends typically offer the full array of amino acids and a mix of favorable qualities found in whey protein powder in all its various forms.

Casein: It’s a milk byproduct like whey, with similar benefits and possible pitfalls. A distinction is that it digests slower—not a great choice for after workouts, but better for, say, before bed. It also tends to come at a higher price point than whey.

Hemp: It’s a plant protein (yes from the cannabis plant, but this is a food source, that’s it). It’s a complete protein, vegan friendly and hypoallergenic. A bonus is the high fiber content. A drawback is the high price. Hemp is not widely available as a world harvest.

Pea: It’s a plant protein like hemp, but pea powder does remain deficient in certain amino acids, even though it can contain the full spectrum. However, it does provide near perfect digestibility (98%) and is also hypoallergenic, with few if any additives, making it very close to a whole food source for those willing and able to eat legumes.

Egg: Found only in concentrated form, egg protein powder offers a high quality source of lactose-free protein, including all eight essential amino acids and high levels of the full range of amino acids. Egg protein powder is derived from egg whites, which have been relied on as a lean protein source by athletes and body builders for generations.

Take it Beyond the Shake

When you get past the package instructions for mixing up a high quality protein shake, you open up a whole new world of uses for your powder. Throwing in some almond milk, yogurt or fruit is a good start if you want to “mask” the protein powder flavor in your liquid meal. But the powders make an excellent ingredient in many other dishes. A peek at the world of protein powder recipes online yields an amazing array of possibilities.

Baked Goods & Breads: The low-carb movement has produced pizza crusts with almond flour and protein powders; the low-cal movement has produced banana mini muffins with no sugar (but you still get to spread on a smidge of Nutella). A search for protein powder recipes can lead you to cranberry bread for your coffee and chocolate mint cake for dessert – any of which could give you up to 20 extra grams of protein by days end in treats alone.

Power Foods & Snacks: You can use protein powder to create your own high quality protein bars and the popular no-bake “energy balls” that many healthy recipe developers are posting on Pinterest. Try mixing chocolate-flavored powder with peanut butter for your base, or vanilla powder with coconut and almonds. These flavor combinations work well in grab and-go high protein cookie recipes, too. Perfect for after workout or to boost the protein in your lunch or mid-day snack.

Breakfast (& Pancakes): A scoop of unflavored protein powder can turn your oatmeal into “proatmeal.” Top with natural sweeteners like molasses (1 T. offers 20% of your RDA of calcium) and dates or raisins, plus cinnamon and ground ginger. Also, many variations of protein powder pancakes are circling the internet these days. We’ve seen chocolate banana and pumpkin spice, which sound more like pie than protein, right?

We’re taking it even further to give you this cake-based recipe, with enough flavor (it does help sneak the protein powder through) and style, you could have it for a holiday brunch. They feature 36 – 46 grams of high quality protein per serving, depending on if you make them with the special “cream.” If you do, it’s still only 423 calories, 77 from fat. We vote yum. But if you can’t do the 40 carb grams, go for no cream at 24 carb grams. Enjoy!

Tiramisu Protein Pancakes

Ingredients (Serves 1)

For the Pancakes

  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 scoop (30g) vanilla protein powder
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sodium-free baking powder
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup strong brewed cold coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon coffee extract

For the Sweet “Cream” Filling

  • 1/3 cup low-fat no-salt-added cottage cheese
  • 1/2 large banana
  • 1/8 teaspoon coffee extract
  • unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting


For the Pancakes

  1. Heat a non-stick skillet or pancake griddle over medium heat.
  2. In a small food processor or blender, ground oats into flour.
  3. Combine oat flour, protein powder, ground flax, and baking powder in a bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg white until frothy.
  5. Add coffee and extracts to egg white, stir and add to dry ingredients.
  6. Stir until flour is incorporated.
  7. Let batter sit at least 5 minutes before continuing.
  8. Spoon batter onto skillet surface, forming 3 medium-sized pancakes.
  9. Cook 5-6 minutes per side, or until golden brown with crisp edges.

For the Sweet “Cream” Filling

Combine cottage cheese, banana, and extract in a small food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Layer between pancakes and dust with cocoa powder.

Recipe courtesy of Kiss My Broccoli

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