Often a blend of fruits, vegetables, juice and other nutritious ingredients, smoothies have transitioned from a diet drink to a healthful meal replacement. Adding protein to a smoothie can help you achieve your recommended daily requirement for protein while reducing your fat intake. However, not all protein is created equal and knowing which protein to use can help you reach your nutrition goals.
You can buy packaged protein powder at natural food stores and most grocery stores. The powder is usually made from whey, soy or other vegetable sources. Whey, a protein derived from milk, contains lactose and more fat than soy. Soy protein comes from soybeans, a legume whose protein content rivals that of animal products. It does not contain lactose. Other vegetarian sources include hemp, rice and pea protein.
To increase the protein in a smoothie using powder, in a blender, slowly add one scoop of powder with one or more cups liquid and blend until combined. Add other ingredients as desired.
Recommended Amounts of Protein
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the recommended dietary allowance of protein for different age groups. Generally, children require less protein than adults and men need more protein than women. Men, ages 19 to 70, need about 56 grams of protein a day; women in the same age range need about 46 grams. When using protein powder, the amount of protein in a scoop of each powder varies, so read the label. Generally, a scoop of whey protein contains about 20 grams of protein. while 2 tablespoon of peanut butter contains about 8 grams. Too much protein in your diet could cause undesirable effects.
Other Protein Sources
Adding other ingredients to your smoothie can also increase the amount of protein. Good sources of protein that can be safely blended into a smoothie include milk, yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese, peanut or other nut butters, tofu and pasteurized eggs or egg products. Add liquid ingredients to the blender first and thicker ingredients after adding the liquid.
Taste and Nutritional Benefits
When deciding which protein source to add to your smoothie, consider your nutritional goal. Most protein powders add little in the way of flavor -- unless you choose a flavored variety -- and all add a small amount of gritty feel to the texture. Whey powder contains lactose and should be avoided by those who are lactose intolerant or vegetarians. Soy powder has some heart-health benefits but is not as beneficial for weight loss as whey powder. Hemp powder offers another vegetarian source but is slightly grittier and has a nuttier flavor than soy.
Other protein-rich ingredients tend to add their own flavor and may have added fat, cholesterol or other factors that can interfere with your nutritional goals.
- Photo Credit Noel Hendrickson/Blend Images/Getty Images
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