Protein Shakes – A Beginner’s Guide
Curious about protein shakes but don’t know where to start? Here’s your go-to guide – how and why to use protein shakes, how to choose a protein shake mix, how to make a shake and how to personalize your protein shakes!
If protein shakes aren’t part of your regular diet, it may be because you think they’re only meant for heavy-duty athletes or serious bodybuilders. And while it’s true that many athletes use shakes to refuel after exercise, there are plenty of reasons why “regular folks” might want to consider protein shakes, too. Plus, they’re quick, convenient, and fun to make!
What is in a Protein Shake? While there is no set definition as to what a protein shake actually includes, it’s basically a drink that provides protein – and oftentimes additional nutrients as well, such as vitamins and minerals. Some shakes are designed to simply supplement the diet with protein, while others are more nutritionally complete and can be used to replace a meal. Some protein shakes are sold in ready-to-drink form, but many people prefer to make their own protein shakes by combining – at the very least – a protein powder and a liquid; but they are often customized by the addition of other ingredients such as fruits and vegetables.
When and Why to Use a Protein Shake:
As a quick, balanced meal.
Protein shakes that are designed to replace a meal are great for people who are meal-skippers. They’re quick and convenient, and can provide balanced nutrition when time for meal preparation is limited.
As a meal replacement to help you lose weight.
For those who are trying to lose weight, a meal replacement shake can be used to replace one or two meals per day. Aside from being convenient, protein shakes have a defined calorie content and are portion controlled, which makes it easier to more accurately count calories and control total intake for the day.
As a supplement to help you gain weight.
For those who are trying to gain weight, protein shakes can be used to provide supplementary calories. Drinking a protein shake in between meals or at bedtime can help to boost calorie intake.
To supplement your protein intake.
Another reason to consider using a protein shake is to boost your overall daily protein intake if it’s difficult for you to meet needs from your meals alone. When you make your own protein shakes, you can adjust the amount of protein in your shake according to your individual needs.
As fuel before and after exercise.
Many people use protein shakes after a workout, but they’re also useful as pre-exercise meals, too. Those who work out in the morning often like to ‘top off the tank’ with a light meal, and protein shakes can fill the bill.
As a means to improve your dietary balance.
A simple protein shake is like a blank canvas – you can add all sorts of things to your shake that can help you meet your daily nutrition goals. It’s easy to add a serving of fruit or vegetables, but you can also boost your fiber or your intake of healthy fats with the proper add-ins.
Choosing a Protein Shake Mix For Your Protein Shake:
Some protein shake mixes are “complete” – they’re designed to be prepared simply by mixing them with water. But, more typically, protein shake mixes are designed to be mixed with milk –the combination of the shake mix and the milk provides the right nutritional balance in the finished shake.
Protein powders derived from animal sources include whey and casein (both come from milk), as well as egg white protein. For those who prefer to get their protein from plant sources, there are powders derived from sources such as soy, rice, pea, quinoa or hemp.
Some protein powders contain a blend of proteins. One reason for this is that different proteins are digested at different rates (whey protein is digested more quickly than casein, for example), so some people feel that blends are better at satisfying hunger.
Another reason is that – with the exception of soy – vegetarian proteins are not considered nutritionally complete. So, many vegetarian protein powders contain a blend of several plant proteins – this way, the final product provides the full complement of essential amino acids and is, therefore, a complete protein.
Many protein powders are flavored, although you can find plain, unflavored powders, too. Most people find that the tastiest shakes start with a flavored protein powder, such as Herbalife® Formula 1. Then, they’ll customize the amount of protein in the shake by adding extra unflavored protein powder like Herbalife® Personalized Protein Powder if necessary for their needs.
Most protein shakes, when made according to the directions on the package, typically have about 15 to 20 grams of protein per serving. An Herbalife® Formula 1 shake made according to package directions supplies 18 grams of protein.
Choosing a Liquid to Make Your Protein ShakeIn order to get the proper nutritional balance in your shake, it’s important to make your shake according to the package directions.
If your protein shake mix calls for milk:
– Many protein shake mixes are designed to be mixed with milk so that the finished product will have the nutritional balance that the manufacturer intended. For this reason, only cow’s milk or soy milk should be used in products that are designed to be mixed with milk.
– Both cow’s milk and soy milk contribute additional protein to your shake – another 9 grams or so. These milks also provide additional vitamins and minerals that complement the nutrients in the shake mix, making the finished shake more nutritionally complete.
If your protein shake mix calls for water:
– Water should be used only in those protein shake mixes that call for it. These products are nutritionally balanced on their own, and do not rely on additional nutrients from the “mixer” liquid. In place of plain water, you can also use black coffee or brewed tea if you like.
– Rice, almond, hemp or oat milks provide very little protein, so these liquids are typically used in those protein shake mixes that are designed to be mixed with water. These ‘milk alternatives’ will add a bit of flavor and a few extra calories to the shake, but very little protein.
– Fruit juice doesn’t contribute any protein to your shake, either – so, again, it should be used in products that are designed to be mixed with water. But, fruit juices contain quite a few calories, so keep that in mind if you’re calorie-conscious. On the other hand, if you’re trying to boost your calorie intake, using fruit juice in your shake might work for you.
– Of course, milk or soy milk can also be used with protein shake mixes that are designed to be mixed with water – the addition of milk or soy milk will just boost protein content (and calories).
5 Ways to Customize Your Protein Shake:
Add Protein to Your Protein Shake.
Even though your protein shake already contains protein, you might want to include more if your protein needs are high. You can add plain protein powder, of course, but you can also add foods like low fat cottage cheese, yogurt, ricotta cheese or silken tofu to boost protein content.
Add Fruits and Vegetables to Your Protein Shake.
Adding fruits and vegetables to your protein shake is an easy way to get more servings of these healthy foods in your daily diet. Frozen fruits and vegetables are convenient, and they give your protein shakes a thicker texture. Experiment with different fruits and vegetables (you might start with sweeter veggies like carrots or butternut squash) and try different combinations – like pineapple with carrot, or banana with butternut squash. When you’re feeling a little more bold, try adding more unusual ingredients to your shake – like baby spinach leaves or beets.
Add Fiber to Your Protein Shake.
Most protein shake mixes don’t contain a lot of fiber, and most people don’t eat as much fiber as they should, so try adding high fiber foods to your shakes. Obviously, you can choose a dedicated fiber powder or go with fruits and vegetables, rolled oats, bran, or seeds such as sunflower, flax or chia seeds which all contribute fiber.
Add Calories to Your Protein Shake.
If your calorie needs are high, you can add rolled oats, nuts, nut butter, avocado, or dried fruit to boost the calorie content of your shake.
Add Ice to Your Protein Shake.
Ice makes a nice addition to a shake because it thickens up the liquid. Ice also adds volume to your shake, so it increases the portion size without adding calories. A great trick for those who are watching their weight!
Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.
5 food diet hacks: eat more food and stay slim
You really can eat more food and take in less calories. Foods that contain lots of water and fiber can fill you up without filling you out. Today, I’m talking about how you can eat more and still make your diet work for you.
“Just eat less”. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ve probably heard this suggestion more times than you can count. And every time you hear it, you probably think, “but if I eat less, I’m just going to be really hungry!” Sure, cutting back on the amount you eat is one way to trim your calorie intake – but it won’t work very well if you don’t change what you eat, too. I know it may sound too good to be true – but you can eat more food and take in less calories. You just need to know how to “pump up the volume”.
Want to feel full but eat less? Try this proven diet trick. There’s a couple of reasons why simply cutting your portion sizes – without changing what you eat – doesn’t work very well on its own. For one thing, if your diet is lousy to start with, you’ll just end up eating half of a lousy diet instead of a whole one. Sure, you’ll take in fewer calories, but chances are good your body won’t be getting all the nutrients it needs.
There’s another reason that cutting portions – without changing anything else – often backfires. If you cut your portions down, you are taking in less food, which means you are going to be less full… and, it stands to reason, you are probably going to be a lot more hungry.
That’s because most of us are used to a certain feeling of fullness that results when we’ve eaten a certain amount of food…because it takes up a certain amount of space in our stomachs. In fact, the amount of food that each of us eats at mealtimes is surprisingly consistent – we eat pretty much the same volume of food each time.
So how can you eat more and get full, without busting your calorie budget?
The answer is to fairly simple. You can pump up the volume of the food with water and fiber– all of which can help fill you up without filling you out. In other words, you want to increase the volume of food that you eat, but spend as few calories as you can in the process.
This sounds fairly obvious. After all, it’s one of the main reasons we suggest that people eat more fruits and vegetables – they’re more than 80% water, and the remaining 20% is nutrient-packed and fiber-rich. But when you actually run the numbers, you can see how small changes can make a huge difference in your calorie intake.
How to Eat More Food for Less Calories? Consider, for example, the difference between a fresh grape – which has loads of water – and dried raisin, which has very little. One grape and one raisin have the same number of calories (about 5) – so if you ate 20 grapes or 20 raisins, you’d eat about 100 calories either way.
But, 20 grapes would have about four times the volume of 20 raisins – and take up more room in your stomach – than 100 calories of raisins. So, for the same number of calories, the watery grapes are going to be a lot more filling than the dried raisins.
Here’s another example… what happens if you put a stack of lettuce leaves or cucumber slices on a sandwich instead of cheese? An entire head of watery lettuce has only 25 calories, and an entire cucumber has only 10. But a single slice of Swiss cheese will cost you 100 calories. So, by piling up the veggies on your sandwich, you can pump up volume without adding very many calories. This is also why salads make such good meal starters – they take up plenty of room in your stomach at a relatively low calorie cost – as long as they’re not drenched in dressing.
Most soups are another great meal starter for the same reason. A small bowl of lowfat, brothy vegetable soup will take up a fair amount of room in your stomach – but, because it’s full of water and high-fiber veggies, it will only set you back about 100 calories or so. By the time your entrée arrives, you’ve already started to fill up – which means you can probably cut back on your dinner portions and save some calories.
This is also why I often suggest that you double up on vegetables and skip starchy sides at meals if you’re trying to cut calories. For the 200 calories you’d spend on a serving of steamed white rice, you could eat ten times the volume of roasted cauliflower.
Actually, sneaking vegetables into anything is one of the best ways to add volume to a meal with very few calories. So, add chopped or grated vegetables (carrots and zucchini work especially well) to dishes like soups, stews, meat loaf, casseroles, grain dishes and pasta sauces. Or, try folding plenty of steamed spinach into an egg-white omelet, or adding cooked butternut squash to your protein shake.
If watery, high fiber foods are the ones you want to turn to when you want to eat more and spend fewer calories, you’ll want to turn away from fats and oils. Since they have no water or fiber in them at all, fats and oils contribute the most calories to your diet in smallest volume of food. Think about this: a teaspoon of oil has the same number of calories as a whole fresh tangerine – but which one would fill you up more?
Here’s another trick: Add a little “air” to your Herbalife protein shake. Next time you make your Herbalife shake in the blender, try whipping it up for a while to pump up the volume. Making your shake bigger won’t boost the calories one bit – but it just might fill you up a whole lot more.
Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, FAND. Susan is a paid consultant forHerbalife.
Couples - one wants to diet and one doesn’t. What next?
What happens if one person needs to diet and the other one doesn’t? This week, I’ll look at how couples can support each other throughout a lifestyle change.
Do you remember the old nursery rhyme about Jack Sprat who ate no fat, while his wife “could eat no lean”? As the tale goes, things with Jack and his wife worked out pretty nicely – he ate his foods, she ate hers – and between them, they “licked the platter clean”. But what happens in real life? How do couples work it out when one person needs to lose weight and the other one doesn’t?
Let’s say you’re the one who’s got to watch your calories. You’re determined, you’ve got a plan – and you really need your partner to support you in your efforts. In order to do that, it helps to have a good understanding of how your partner might be affected, and also how to reasonably ask for support.
What you do affects the other person, tooWhen one half of a couple decides to diet, it impacts both parties. When you announce that you’re going on a diet, your partner might be thinking, “I didn’t sign up for this!” There are probably a lot of things you do together that revolve around food – so your partner is certainly going to wonder what’s going to give. What will they have to give up? Meals out? Socializing with friends? After all, it’s not just your life that’s changing – theirs is too.
Seven tips for getting the support you want:
Couple support tip 1 – Don’t think of what you’re doing as ‘a diet’When you say you’re ‘going on a diet’ it suggests that it’s something you’re ‘on’ for the moment – and will probably be ‘off’ later on. Instead, focus on simply making better food choices and getting healthier. Adopting a too-drastic meal plan isn’t something you’ll be able to sustain, anyway, and you shouldn’t expect your partner to go along for the ride. On the other hand, adopting a healthier diet overall is good for everyone.
Couple support tip 2 – Learn how to ask for supportAsking for your partner’s support isn’t the same thing as asking them to ‘go on a diet’ with you. You want your partner to respect your efforts, and to be willing to do what they can to help. Often times, your partner wants to be helpful, but just doesn’t know what to do…so be specific. Planning to go to the gym a few nights a week? Then ask for help with meal preparation or child care. If your partner is going to still keep goodies in the house, ask if they can stash them away – and not offer you ‘just a bite’.
Couple support tip 3 – Talk it over ahead of timeYou don’t want to suddenly announce that “things are gonna change around here.” If you negotiate ahead of time, it will be easier for you to figure out how to meet in the middle. Maybe eating out is problematic for you – but the solution isn’t to tell your partner restaurants are off limits. You might determine which restaurants offer the best choices for you, or ask if your partner would be willing to share an entrée with you.
Couple support tip 4 – Don’t ask your partner to police you or to berate you if you cheatFor one thing, what you eat is your responsibility, and it’s unfair to place the burden on the other person. And if you do cheat, you’re likely to shift the blame to your partner. It’s a bad dynamic, so do your best to avoid it.
Couple support tip 5 – Be reasonable in your requestsBe respectful of your partner’s lifestyle, and think about how they might be affected when you make a request. You might envision your partner going to the gym with you in the evenings, but it’s probably not going to happen if she likes to run outdoors in the mornings.
Couple support tip 6 – Don’t get angry and frustrated with the other person……just because they might be lucky enough to be able to eat what they want without gaining. And feeling sorry for yourself isn’t productive, either.
Couple support tip 7 – Take the focus off the foodYou don’t need a heavy, calorie-laden meal to enjoy a night out. Focus instead on how much you enjoy and appreciate the time you’re spending with your partner. The person you’re with is more than just an eating buddy – and you have plenty of other things you can share besides a large pepperoni pizza.
Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.
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5 best ways to help you control hunger
It’s hard to stick to your diet if you’re feeling hungry all the time. Try my five tips to help control hunger.
Hunger control is probably the biggest hurdle that dieters face, and it’s a complaint I hear more often than any other. Some people gripe about counting calories or keeping a food diary, others grumble about making time to exercise – but not a day goes by that someone doesn’t tell me that they just can’tcontrol their hunger and that they’re “starving all the time!” And while I have plenty of tricks up my sleeve that can help you control your hunger naturally, the first step is to figure out if you are really and truly hungry in the first place.
What Does it Feel Like to Be Truly Hungry?If I asked you to describe what your hunger feels like, what would you tell me? Does your stomach rumble? Does your energy level dip? Do you have a little bit of “brain fog” or feel “cranky”? If any of those things happen to you, you probably do need some fuel – these are all common symptoms of true hunger. And, when you feel this way, your body is likely to respond when you eat something – and you’ll probably feel better.
On the other hand, if you’re eating for reasons other than hunger – if you’re just bored or angry or depressed – food probably won’t make you any less bored, angry or depressed (or, if it does, you probably won’t feel that way for long). Feeling hungry isn’t the same thing as “wanting something to eat”. If it’s emotion that’s driving you, or if you got the urge to eat something simply because it looked good or smelled good, you’re probably not truly hungry. In that case, you’ll want to find other ways to deal with the urge to eat.
5 Best Ways to Control Your HungerHunger control is aimed at curbing true hunger – the growling stomach, the low energy, or the irritability that often comes when your body needs fuel. Since true hunger naturally drives you to eat, you’ll want to learn some tricks for controlling hunger if you’re also trying to control your calories. So here are my top 5 tips for hunger control.
– Protein is a hunger-buster.
Protein satisfies hunger better than carbohydrate or fat, so try to include some lean protein at each meal and snack. Protein works its magic not only in your digestive tract, but it also affects your brain chemistry in a way that helps you feel satisfied and mentally sharp.
– Watery, high fiber foods are filling.
Water and fiber have no calories, but watery, high fiber foods are ‘bulky’ and take up more space in your stomach, so they help to fill you up. Most veggies – with the exception of the starchy ones like potatoes, corn and peas – have very few calories per serving because they contain so much water and fiber. Watery fruits like melons and pineapple, and high fiber fruits like berries can also help fill you up for a relatively low calorie cost.
– Exercise can help control hunger.
A bout of exercise can suppress hunger hormones, which can curb your appetite. But, in order to sustain your activity, your body needs to be properly fueled. Sometimes, in an effort to lose weight, people cut their calories too much and just don’t have the energy to keep up with their exercise – so the whole process backfires. People often tell me that they feel as if exercise makes them hungry and leads them to eat more – but often that’s because they haven’t fueled up properly before and after their workouts.
– Fluids can help with hunger control.
Drinking fluids with your meals may make your meals feel more filling. And, some people confuse thirst with hunger – so even though their bodies are craving fluid, they wind up eating instead. If you stay hydrated, that’s less likely to happen.
– Eating small, frequent meals can help control hunger.
When you eat small meals every few hours, it helps to keep your blood sugar levels more stable throughout the day. This is important, since dips in your blood sugar can cause your hunger to spike. And – even if you think a smaller amount of food won’t be enough to hold you – the knowledge that you’ll be eating again in just a few hours often makes it easier to manage your hunger.
Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.
10 tips for successful weight loss
Weight loss and weight maintenance are really two sides of the same coin – in reality, the habits that help you drop pounds are the same ones that will help you maintain your weight loss. After all, losing weight isn’t really considered a success unless you manage to keep it off.
If you ask people who have successfully lost weight, how they did it, they’ll often say that losing weight is the easy part – but keeping it off is a lot tougher. Sometimes you’re so focused on weight loss that you’re paying more attention to the end results – like what the scale says or how your jeans fit – than you are on establishing new habits. But once you’ve reached your goal, it’s easy for those old habits to sneak back up on you.
Some people are more successful at losing weight than others. Many people set unrealistic goals or try to lose weight too quickly, and this can undermine dieting efforts in no time. Drastic changes – even if they lead to short term weight loss – are hard to sustain, and dieters then convince themselves that they don’t have what it takes to win the battle of the bulge.
Instead, it helps to think more about replacing old habits with new ones and shifting attention away from the end results – in other words, paying more attention to the journey, rather than the destination. As new behaviors become established and take hold, the weight will usually take care of itself.
We’ve learned a lot from people who have successfully lost weight and maintained it through two studies: in Germany, the Lean Habits Study1 is following about 7000 successful weight losers, and in the US, more than 4000 people are enrolled in the National Weight Control Registry2. Participants in these studies say that the best weight loss strategy involves establishing new behaviors, rather than relying on drastic or unrealistic diet and exercise plans.
Here are the top 10 weight loss strategies of successful ‘losers’:
1. They get to know themselves really well.One key to success is learning how to manage your own high risk situations – such as eating when you’re stressed or cleaning your plate out of habit rather than hunger. Successful weight losers are adaptable and plan ahead – they know what situations might get them into trouble and have a backup plan for dealing with them.
2. They get a lot of exercise. On average, the National Weight Control Registry enrollees burn about 2000 calories per week through exercise. That’s a lot – they get about 60-90 minutes of moderate to high-intensity exercise daily. The most popular exercise is walking, and they average 5-6 miles a day.
3. They set goals and monitor their behavior. Setting goals – ones you measure, like how many minutes you will walk, how many calories you will take in, or how many sit ups you will do – are helpful because you can track whether or not you meet these goals. Successful weight losers keep track of how much exercise they get, and they keep food journals – sometimes using a food log to plan meals ahead of time. These self-monitoring strategies are critical and provide much-needed feedback on behavior changes.
4. They have regular meal patterns and frequency. Many people get in trouble with their weight because their eating patterns are so disorganized. Successful weight losers report that eating at regular intervals and snacking only when they’re hungry are keys to success. Skipping meals usually backfires, and having routine meal times means that you don’t go long stretches without food – which often leads to excessive snacking or larger meals later on.
5. They eat a low fat, nutrient dense diet. No surprises here, but a high-quality diet – one with plenty of protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains– is what keeps people satisfied. The fruits, veggies and whole grains are bulky and filling, but their calorie cost is relatively low. Adequate protein is key, since protein is highly satisfying and will keep hunger at bay between meals.
6. They practice portion control. By learning what size portion you need to eat to feel ‘not hungry any more’ – as opposed to feeling ‘stuffed’ – you can trim your food intake significantly. Portion control strategies include using smaller plates, serving your food in the kitchen (rather than having serving dishes at the table), and using meal replacements such as Herbalife protein shakes, bars or frozen meals.
7. They practice stress management. Food is so often used as a comfort when we’re stressed – but we usually feel guilty afterwards, which just increases the stress and keeps the cycle going. Successful weight losers have learned to find other ways to reduce their stress. They exercise, call a friend, or practice some meditation or deep breathing.
8. They had an attitude adjustment. Many people who have successfully lost weight say that they had to change their thinking about dieting and weight loss. Some felt it was ‘in their genes’ to be fat, or that they couldn’t lose weight because they’d never been successful in the past. Eventually, they faced the problem head on – recognizing that weight loss and, weight maintenance, success would come through a series of small steps and a lifelong commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
9. They adopted a plan, and they stayed with it. Once you have an established routine of how you generally eat, and how frequently you exercise, learn to stick with this routine day in, and day out. People who have lost weight and are successful in maintaining that weight loss do this – even on holidays or when they go to restaurants. Many dine out less often, because they prefer having more control over what they eat by preparing more meals at home.
10. They have learned to control their environment. Successful weight losers learn how to control situations that are most likely to get them into trouble. The foods that are available in the refrigerator or cupboard at home, in restaurants, at the workplace or in the grocery store are all environments that can be controlled. To gain control over the food environment, keep ‘safe’ foods in the house, choose restaurants where you know you can get the healthy foods that you want, bring appropriate foods to work and prepare a shopping list before you go to the supermarket.
Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife. Herbalife markets weight management products.