Why you want protein in every meal

by Kim on August 19, 2014

Special delivery in the mail today!

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I knew I was going to want some protein powder to help me through the first few postpartum weeks, when energy is low, eating is kind of all over the place, and lots of breastfeeding is happening. But since I recently gave up dairy, I had to bail on my usual go-to (I’ve been drinking Shakeology lately, and unfortunately didn’t get the vegan kind!).

I’d heard great things about Sun Warrior from other bloggers, but so far it’s…just ok. To be fair, I’ve only had it in this cereal (aka the love of my breakfast life), which really showcases the flavor of the powder—maybe I’ll like it better in smoothies?

I also have plans to whip up a ginormous batch (or five) of these energy bites once the baby’s here. (I lived on them when Mason was born!) They rely on flax and peanut butter for their protein boost, and they’re wildly delicious.

Speaking of protein: you’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to include it in every meal. But have you ever been totally clear on why?

I just started reading the book Trim Healthy Mama, which has a pretty good explanation of protein in it. (I mentioned THM in this post, after hearing the authors on a podcast, and finally just got my hands on the book after requesting it from the library 5 months ago!)

THM

I don’t love every detail about the book (you can read solid reviews that point out some of the things I didn’t agree with here and here), but it’s still jam packed with good info, and the ways the authors describe different hormones, nutrients, and fuel sources are some of the best I’ve ever read.

In one of the early chapters, they talk about how excess insulin in the body is what makes us fat. It’s no secret that our modern industrialized diets tend to come with too much sugar and carbs, and not enough protein and fat (specifically, the kind of fat that doesn’t come with a bunch of sugar and carbs).

But what exactly is it about protein that makes it so critical to our health?

Well, protein helps keep blood sugar in a healthy range, which saves the pancreas from having to release a bunch of extra insulin to bring skyrocketing blood sugar levels under control.

Ok, but how does it do that?

The Trim Healthy Mama book explains it like this…

“Protein causes the body to release glucagon, a hormone that helps counteract the more hazardous side of insulin. Glucagon helps to halt insulin’s stimulation of fat synthesis. [Storing glucose in fat cells as fat, rather than burning it up for energy.] Animals in a laboratory setting that are given injections of pure glucagon fail to gain weight, and reduce their food consumption. This is why protein is so important in every meal…

A carb heavy meal with little protein will cause insulin to surge ahead without the buffering effects of glucagon.”

Protein is like the good kid who’s forced to sit between the two naughty kids in the back seat to keep the peace—the naughty kids being carbs and insulin. Of course they’re all good, essential parts of the family, but sometimes when carbs are around, insulin gets a little too rambunctious.

Basically, if you’re going to put these guys together, you’re going to want a moderator. Thank goodness for protein!

What’s your favorite way to get protein in your diet?

Do you use protein powder? If so, what kind?

 

xoxo

Kim

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Giselle August 20, 2014 at 10:29 pm

I used to suck at getting enough protein but now tend to try to stick with natural sources like eggs, meat, and nuts. Although I do like some protein powders like the one you mentioned above as well as a few grass-fed brands and my latest favorite About Time :-)
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Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries August 20, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I guess we were on the same page today with the protein topic! ;)

My favorite protein powders are Designer Whey, Amazing Grass, and Skoop B-Strong.
Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries recently posted…How Much Protein is Necessary?My Profile

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Jenny August 20, 2014 at 10:31 am

I use Sun Warrior most days and love it, but I highly recommend the Classic Raw Vegan Vanilla kind. I tried the Warrior Blend once and… blech. Just not for me. Definitely different. I recommend giving the other kind a go :)

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Jaclyn @ Bumpsweat August 20, 2014 at 7:54 am

I use the pea protein by Vitacost. They’ve done a pretty good job keeping the ingredients list short; it doesn’t have fillers and junk in it, and it tastes good, especially in a smoothie.
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