Growing up, I always favored carbs. In fact, I guess I still “favor” them. I mean what’s not to love about bread, cereal, pasta, cookies, cake, pizza, etc?! When I started to understand the damage that white carbs can do to a body, I began being more conscious about my carbs and switched gears to “whole grain” and “whole wheat” everything. But I was still eating lots of bread, pasta and cake. Just in the whole wheat variety!
Fast forward a few more years and I was told that I had a gluten intolerance and that I should cut all “wheat” products out of my diet. This was a sad day. I was absolutely sure that life was awful without these great carbs in your life. No more sandwiches? No more lucky charms? Sigh.
I changed my diet accordingly and felt better, but a more recent visit to the doctor indicated that I could start re-introducing these products into my diet. BUT—I should steer clear of dairy for a while.
All of these dietary changes were made alongside a steady exercise regimen that included basically one thing: running. It was pretty much all I did. I dabbled in yoga, pilates, and random weight training but nothing stuck like running did. About a month ago, I shared with you all that I was going to give P90X a try so that I could start having muscles like Courtney and Kasey do. And it’s been going well! But what I’ve learned along the way is that diet is equally as critical to building muscle as the actual weight lifting is. And that’s where protein comes in.
My gluten-free journey helped me to build the foundation of a good diet because it pushed me to eat more eggs, greek yogurt, cottage cheese and quinoa, all of which are excellent sources of protein. But I started to flounder a bit when I began adding gluten back in because suddenly it was ALL I wanted to eat. I missed it! Can you blame me? After much research and urging from other health and fitness bloggers, I decided to try incorporating more protein into my diet in the form of protein powder.
Janetha recommended this one and I was happy to see it was gluten and lactose free which makes it easy to digest. I’ve seen Seth drink protein shakes over the years and they always looked and smelled so gross, so I was extremely apprehensive. But the stats on this stuff can’t be beat. 120 calories per scoop and 21 grams of protein.
Let me preface this by saying that for a week or so I tracked my daily food consumption to see what kind of protein I got all on my own. It came out to about 80 grams/day. But in an effort to get the best results from P90X, they recommend aiming for 40% of your daily calories to be protein based. That takes me to about 130 grams/day. There was no way I was going to suddenly get 50 additional grams per day without adding in something like this.
The good news is that I actually like the taste! Each morning, I drink a smoothie that consists of this protein powder (vanilla bean flavor), vanilla almond milk, strawberries, pb2 and ice. It tastes like a strawberry milkshake and I actually look forward to it in the morning now! Eaten alongside some eggs and I manage to get 36 grams of protein just from breakfast. Win.
I’ve even incorporated it into baked goods and the result is awesome-you can’t even taste it but it instantly bumps the protein count. I used it to make these banana chocolate chip bars last week (recipe coming soon!) and Seth literally could not stop eating them. He ate 3/4 of the pan all by himself.
One of the main ingredients in the smoothie that I drink each morning is PB2 and it’s another great product that has helped me to add more protein without adding a ton of extra calories. It’s basically just peanut flour that you can mix with water to create peanut butter. It’s a strange concept but it really does taste, look and feel exactly like the real stuff!
Normal peanut butter has about 180 calories per 2 Tablespoons and this stuff only has 45. BUT it still has 5 grams of protein, which is really what I’m after. It blends perfectly with my smoothies in the AM and I’ve also eaten it on top of rice cakes or drizzled over popcorn. I’m a PB addict so this product is perfect for me.
Finally, I keep some of these NuGo bars in my closet for times when I’m out and about (like on the weekends) and want to bring a snack with me that has a good amount of protein in it. I’m a HUGE fan of Luna bars but they only have 9 or 10 grams of protein in them. These have 17 and the chocolate raspberry flavor tastes very similar to the Luna bar chocolate raspberry.
They also have 7 grams of fiber in them which is awesome. I try to eat a good amount of fruits + veggies each day but getting 25-30 grams of fiber can still be tough so having something like this to help me out is great.
I’ve tried alot of different protein bars and some of them can be really gross and chalky but these aren’t at all. They really do taste great or trust me, I wouldn’t eat them. And they are made locally in PA! They don’t have as many flavor varieties as Luna bars do, but hopefully in time their flavors will expand.
Other ways that I try to get protein are through eggs, deli meat, almonds, greek yogurt, kashi cereal, chicken, fish, quinoa and beans. I still can’t quite hit the 130 gram mark, but that’s okay. As I’m making changes and finding new foods that I like and that make me feel good, my diet is always evolving. I still love my carbs! But they often leave me feeling blah, and I want to feel my best for my wedding in October. If you have any tips or recipes that help you get more protein, please feel free to share! And thanks for sticking with me on my journey