By Dr. Theresa DeLorenzo, RD
“How do I get enough protein in my diet?” This is a question I am often asked by my clients and friends. Typically people do get enough protein. The issue is more commonly not getting too much at one time and having snacks in between meals that don’t contain enough. When we consume more than 30- 40 grams of protein at a time consistently, it is hard for our body to process. We have to excrete the extra nitrogen which causes our body to lose fluid, sodium and calcium. The extra calories from the extra protein consumed are then converted to fat for storage. Conversely, when we consume carbohydrates at snacks without protein, they are burned quickly, leaving us feeling hungry again soon after. This is when protein shots become useful. If you have a snack in the morning between breakfast and lunch and/ or in the afternoon between lunch and dinner, add a protein shot with your fruit or crackers, to keep you feeling full longer. They contain a perfect 15 grams of protein to assist with daily protein intake, without being too high to cause issues with absorption.
“What should I have after I work out?” is another question I am often asked by the athletes I work with. It is important to refuel with carbohydrates to replace what you have burned but also with some protein to facilitate the movement of the carbohydrates back into the cells. Protein shots would be a great way to add protein to your after workout toast with avocado or with your post workout bagel to help mobilize the carbohydrates from those snacks back into your cells. Protein shots are shelf stable so throw them in your gym bag or purse and bring them with you!
Protein shots are more than just protein though. They also contain sodium, calcium and iron to replace losses from sweat during exercise. Calcium helps with muscular contraction and assists with fat metabolism in addition to protecting bone health. Protein shots can help to increase your daily calcium intake without having to drink milk. Other non- dairy sources of calcium include almonds, cooked broccoli and spinach and beans. When these non- dairy sources are consumed, having them with a source of vitamin C such as berries, tomatoes, oranges or peppers helps to enhance absorption.
Iron is a nutrient of concern, which is why it is added to most of our grains. Gluten free grains, however, do not contain added iron so the iron in protein shots can contribute to daily iron intake. For athletes, iron intake is of utmost importance as it is lost through many routes include sweat, heel strike as well as through the gastrointestinal tract from micro- tears. Iron absorption is inhibited by caffeine as well as dairy. Using protein shots as a source of iron will significantly contribute to iron intake without interfering with absorption like cheese on a burger or coffee with iron enrich toast. The aforementioned sources of calcium also contain iron and much like calcium, iron absorption is enhanced by sources of vitamin C.
Finally, protein shots contain collagen. Collagen is a versatile nutrient that can help with many aspects of our health. Collagen can help our skin health and prevent some of the loss of elasticity that occurs with age. Collagen also helps protect our bones from losing density with age. It also helps prevent inflammation and pain in our joints. Protein shots taken daily can be a great way to include collagen in your diet.
Adding only 60 calories to your day, protein shots are a great way to include protein, calcium, iron and sodium as well as collagen in your diet. Combined with carbohydrates, they make an excellent between meal or before bed snack. They can also assist you in your weight loss endeavors.
Ask your coach or weight management specialist about HealthWise Protein Shots with 15 grams of protein.
Dr. Theresa DeLorenzo, RD is a contributing writer for Nutritional Resources, Inc.
Dr. Theresa DeLorenzo, RD
Nutrition for Optimal Performance