The great thing about smoothies is that they are so versatile in their use. Depending on what you put in them, they can be used for losing weight, getting fit and maintaining your health.
If you workout for fitness or weight loss, you’ll find protein smoothies to be at the top of your dietary menu. But rather than gobbling down those chemical-based proteins that are clogging you up, you should revert to those that are plant-based.
I like to include more than protein in my workout smoothies, but just to give you an intro to plant-based proteins, we’ll start with that. These are my two favorite options because they offer lots of nutrition and health benefits, something you won’t find in the traditional protein shakes sold in stores.
Hemp seed protein powder
The first ingredient on the list is hemp seed powder. If you aren’t familiar with the term “complete protein”, it’s a protein that has all of the essential amino acids that make up protein. A lot of other plants only have some, not all. Hemp is one of the plants with complete proteins, which isn’t always easy to find in nature (aside from meat).
This powder is also concentrated with essential fats, enzymes and vitamins that the body needs. It contains no sugar, saturated fats or starches, which is a plus for those who want to lose weight. In the health community, it’s considered a superfood for many reasons.
For one, it has Omega-3 and Omega-6, GLA, antioxidants, vitamins B1, B2, B6, D, E, calcium, sulfer, calcium, copper, phosphorous, potassium, chlorophyll, magnesium, zinc, iron, amino acids, fiber, enzymes and carotene. It offers all this in a balanced way that only nature can.
The protein found in hemp seeds are easier to digest than animal proteins, which is why I recommend this over milk protein. It’s also easier to digest than whole eggs and meat. And if you have allergies to nuts, lactose, sugar or gluten, hemp can still be consumed by you.
On top of all the nutrients it provides, it also offers the following health benefits:
- Improved heart health
- Lowered blood pressure
- Improved digestion
- Weight loss
- Increased energy
- Promotes healthy cholesterol levels
- Reduces chances of heart disease
- Promotes skin/hair growth, healthy bones, regulates metabolism and helps brain function
Hemp is 1/4 protein, so in just four tablespoons, you can get 15g of protein. Within these four tablespoons, you’re also getting 2.5g of fiber, 4.5g of carbs and no cholesterol.
Spirulina algae powder
The second ingredient is none other than spirulina. Yes, it’s an algae, but not the scum you find floating in ponds and lakes. This stuff is only found in highly alkaline rivers, and can also be grown in such conditions right in your home (using a sophisticated setup).
Spirulina is another complete protein, making it highly digestible and easy to absorb by your body. It helps to naturally fill out your body, which is why starving children in Africa who drink it no longer look bony. So it doesn’t exactly put on weight, but helps to grow your muscle mass to a healthy size.
This powder also has antioxidants, B vitamins, GLA, Omega-3, 6 and 9, chlorophyll, vitamin C, D, A and E, calcium (26x more than milk), copper, iron, phosphorous and a variety of other nutrients.
Then there are the health benefits associated with it, which includes:
- Boosts immune system
- Aids in eye health
- Reduces inflammation (and PMS symptoms)
- Detoxes the body of toxic metals and even radioactivity
- Increases fat burning during exercise
- Helps ease allergies
It is 65% protein, and has more gram per gram than meat, fish, poultry and soybeans. You can get 16g of protein in 4 tablespoons of spirulina.
Adding these ingredients to your smoothies
Now, you can see why I love using these in my protein smoothies for workouts. I also like to include super berries like schizandra, goji and maqui.
But for this, we’ll stick to just the proteins. You can buy the hemp seed powder on Amazon, eBay or ZNaturalfoods. Add about four tablespoons to your smoothies. Spirulina can also be purchased from the same places. The spirulina, you can use 1-4 tb.
The hemp powder gives it a nice milky flavor and the spirulina doesn’t really have much taste. I like to blend mine with almond milk, two tablespoons of organic strawberry powder and two bananas. This is sweetener enough for me. I personally stay away from stevia.
Blend this up and drink before and/or after your workouts. I like to drink one before and after, especially if I’m weight training.
I know room temperature is best to drink, but I like mine cold, so I put mine in the freezer for about 30 minutes to get it nice and cold. All about personal preference really. If you just ate, I wouldn’t recommend drinking anything ice cold because it’ll slow down your digestion.
So that’s it — add these to your smoothies and just calculate how much grams of protein you need to get the fitness benefits you’re looking for. You’ll find this protein shake to be easier on your stomach (and to me tastes better!) than those typically sold for workouts.
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