As the building blocks of the body, you’ll need protein if you’re to build muscle. To repair and rebuild muscle after your workout, your diet should have a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day.
To ensure your hard work in the gym isn’t going to waste, we asked Fitness First Clubs’ resident fitness and nutrition expert Carly Tierney for a few natural protein shake recipes. The following recipes are ultra-clean, easy to follow and packed with health benefits.
1) Nuts About Protein
• ¾ cup of soy milk
• 1 tablespoon of almond butter or peanut butter
• 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
If you are substituting peanut butter for almond butter, make sure it is a natural peanut butter to eliminate excess sugar, then process until smooth. Top it off with a sprinkling of chopped nuts for serving.
Soy milk isn’t just an ideal alternative for the lactose-intolerant, it’s a proven muscle-food too. Rich in branched-chain amino acids, soy milk contains only vegetable proteins - meaning that your body retains plenty of calcium while cutting down on saturated fats.
Of course, cow’s milk is a great option if you can’t get hold of soy milk. What it lacks in glamour, it more than makes up for in health benefits.
As for the almond butter? Research shows that including almonds in your diet can significantly reduce low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL). It’s also a great source of protein (whether or not you choose almond or peanut butter).
2) Coco Cool Down
• ¾ cup of coconut milk
• 1/3 cup of Greek yogurt
• 1/2 heaped cup of spinach
• 1/2 an avocado
• 1 tablespoon of almond butter
• 1 tablespoon of hemp powder
• 1 tablespoon agave
Put it all in a blender and then process until smooth. Top with a sprinkle of cocoa powder and unsweetened coconut curls for serving.
This rich concoction – coconut milk packs around 445 calories and 48 grams of fat! – is packed full of hearty proteins and healthy fats to build muscle. It will also make you feel fuller for longer (this is where many nutrition plans fall short).
The ½ heaped cup of spinach provides a healthy dose of antioxidants, while the avocado contains 25% of your recommended Vitamin K intake to strengthen bones and retain calcium.
3) Fit and Fruity
• 3/4 cup of coconut water
• 1/3 cup of Greek yogurt
• 1/3 cup of raw cashews (soaked overnight)
• 1/4 cup of frozen pineapple
• 1/3 cup of frozen mango
• 1 pitted dried date
Process the mixture until smooth. Top with a spoonful of chia seeds before serving.
Coconut water contains around 15 times more potassium than traditional energy drinks (470 milligrams per 8 ounces), keeping your energy levels topped up without the excess sugar.
This is then substantiated by a handful of natural, superior-quality protein sources. The Greek yoghurt is low in carbs and packing a steady supply of microbes to boost digestive health, while the raw cashews have Vitamin E in abundance (known to protect the immune system and even prevent prostate cancer).
4) Oat-standing Recovery
• 3/4 cup of almond milk
• 2 tablespoons of almond butter
• 1/4 cup of raw cashews (soaked overnight)
• 1 medium banana (cut into chunks and frozen)
• 2 tablespoons of whole oats
• 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed
• 1 pitted dried date and a sprinkle of cinnamon in a blender
Process until smooth. Top with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon for serving.
Another alternative source of calcium, almond milk is low in calories and for that reason is often a staple ingredient for dieters. One cup will provide half of your daily-recommended intake of Vitamin E, an antioxidant which boosts heart function and helps prevent cancer.
Elsewhere, this shake is packed with the essentials; the banana offers a wealth of potassium while the oats work hard to lower blood pressure levels. For fibre, the flax seeds and date go a long way in reaching your recommended-daily fibre intake.
5) Blueberry Delight
Provided by health & fitness expert Jenna McCormick, this shake is bursting with antioxidants.
Give it a try!
• ½ a cup of blueberries
• ½ a cup of coconut water
• A dollop of Greek yoghurt
• A scoop of protein powder (whey, flavour of your choice)
• Top with desiccated coconut, goji berries, flaxseeds and almonds
Blueberries are an impressive source of antioxidants and pack in plenty of vitamins K and C.
We’ve included a scoop of protein powder with this one. Whey is a fast-acting protein source and a go-to ingredient for many - with a range of flavours available you can get creative with your shake. Make sure you avoid heavily processed supplements and stick with the most natural ones possible.
How about the goji berries? A left-field choice of fruit, but a worthy one nonetheless – goji berries are rich in the essential mineral iron, which makes red blood cells in the body. Just one ¼ cup of goji berries takes care of 15% of your recommended intake of iron.
Take these natural protein shake recipes with you and try them out for yourself – the ingredients are backed by science to provide the most substantial protein sources for your fitness goals. Get creative!