Try these alternatives to protein powder by using whole foods instead.
If you’re a health fanatic, a weight lifter, or even just someone looking to get their daily intake of protein, you’ve probably had protein powder and added it to your smoothie before. Protein powder can be really great for you, but oftentimes it’s mistaken for a catch-all in terms of nutrition when it usually doesn’t even provide enough nutrients for one meal.
People often use protein powder because it’s a lot easier than preparing and eating a full meal that has just as much protein, but if you’re going to make shakes/smoothies it’s best to go all out and instead use more natural sources of protein because they contain way more nutrients than the powder. Here are some healthy ways to get all the protein you need with superfoods instead.
1. Oats and Spinach
This duo works great in smoothies because it’s high in protein and magnesium and potassium while being low in fat. Magnesium supports muscle and bone health, along with energy and regularity. Oats contain about 7 grams of protein per half cup and spinach contains 5 grams per cup. Can you say green smoothie? Together, they’ll make your smoothie creamy and give it a slightly nutty flavor.
2. Hemp Seeds and Kale
Hemp seeds have long been known as a source of protein, but not everyone knows how to make use of them. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds contains 13 grams of protein and it’s also rich in iron and magnesium, just like kale, which by itself contains 5 grams of protein per cup. More green smoothies! Add the one cup of kale and three tablespoons of hemp seeds to your smoothie, which, as an added benefit, will help your body absorb the nutrients in your smoothie better because of the healthy fats from the seeds!
3. Pumpkin Seeds and Oats
If greens don’t do it for you, or you’re looking for something more creative, you can use pumpkin seeds (which, admittedly, are still green) because they are alkaline and contain 5 grams of protein per 1/4 cup. They’re high in healthy fats that protect your heart and brain. Oats, as stated earlier, are rich in magnesium and potassium as well as iron and zinc. Use 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds and 1/2 cup oats to obtain 13 grams total protein.
4. Quinoa and Spinach
You can use quinoa flakes or even whole quinoa in your smoothies as another creative option. Though quinoa might seem like it doesn’t belong in a smoothie, it lends a mild, nutty flavor that can be masked by strong fruits if that’s not the flavor you want. Uncooked quinoa contains 12 grams of protein in just half a cup, and it’s a good source for iron, magnesium, and potassium. Spinach has 10 grams of protein in 2 cups, so you can have a total of 12 grams in your smoothie.
5. Almond Butter and Chia Seeds
Not only is almond butter good for you, but it’s also super delicious. Both almond butter and chia seeds are great sources of magnesium and potassium. Two tablespoons of raw, unsalted almond butter had 7-8 grams of protein while 2 tablespoons of chia seeds has 5 grams of protein. That’s 12 grams for those that want something delicious to add to their morning drinks.
6. Chia Seeds and Kale
If you happen to be anemic and want to get your iron naturally too, chia seeds and kale should be your go-to. They’re also great sources of energy because of their B vitamin, magnesium, iron, protein, and potassium content. Using 2 cups of kale, which has 10 grams of protein, and 1/4 cup of chia seeds, which has 10 grams as well, you can get a total of 20 grams of protein with this simple combination.
You can really get away with pairing any of these protein sources together, depending on your smoothie contents or your vitamin preferences. It’s best to supplement your normal protein powder with whole foods because of the strong source of vitamins and their ability to keep you full for longer. If you try any of these combinations, let us know in the comments!