For years I’ve attempted to make my own home made protein bar that actually tasted good, travelled well and had healthy ingredients. I have failed many times. Finally, I thought what the heck I’m going to share my failures with the world and use it as a way of educating if I can.
Today I found a “Protein” Ball recipe that was made with nuts and Medjool dates. I’ve been hoping to include Medjool dates in my final product as it’s a natural sweeter that is also a pretty good binder. I’m sure there are tons of other health benefits since they are so popular these days but I am choosing not to digress into that bottomless pit (you know how nerdy I am about nutrition) and instead stick to the topic at hand. “Protein” balls.
Some of the more astute of you might be wondering…why the heck is she putting protein in “”? Here is why: IM SO TIRED OF EVERYONE CALLING THEM PROTEIN BALLS!!!! While this recipe is tasty and they do have some protein…THESE ARE NOT PROTEIN BALLS. These are healthy snack balls or some other similar name that doesn’t imply they are mostly protein.
The same mistake happens with KIND bars (which I love BTW). KIND bars are not protein bars! If you check the label you will notice they have 5-7 grams of protein and 8-12 grams of fat, depending on the type of bar. With fat being twice as dense as protein and allotting for twice the calories as protein, we should more accurately call them fat bars! Haha I have a feeling that wouldn’t go over to well.
My point is not for you to stop eating KIND bars or not to make these delicious homemade fat balls either. It’s just important – and here is that ever sought after teachable moment – that you know what the heck is in the foods you are eating. You wouldn’t eat pizza and say it was your daily vegetable would you? (Ok some people might – including Janet, Julie and probably Mike G who all might even read this). Just do me a favor and when you eat or cook something, take a moment to asses what the macro ratio’s (macronutrients : CHO, FAT, PRO) are so you know how to balance yours throughout the day and according to your training demand. In other words – pizza is not a vegetable guys!
All that being said, if you are looking for a healthy snack that is tasty, satiating, has some protein and mostly healthy fats, you should try this. It’s easy to make, stores well and has all healthy ingredients (recipe listed below). As previously mentioned, most of the calories in this snack come from fat – which is not a crime – it’s the lack of awareness of what is in the food you eat that can potentially sabotage your efforts.
- Medjool Dates (pitted) – 1 cup chopped
- Cashews – 1 1/2 cup
- Coconut oil – 1 Tbl
- Chia Seeds – 1 Tbl
- Cacao Powder – 1.5 Tbl
- Hemp Protein Powder – 2 Tbl
*You can also use other protein powders if you like.
- Fire up the food processor
- Add all ingredients to the food processor, probably should add the nuts first
- Process away until well mixed
- If too dry add like 1 Tbl of water
- Roll into balls and store for later 🙂
Here are the nutrition facts if you want them! Enjoy!
Have you been wondering what all this online coaching stuff is all about? Check out this Q & A I did with Rose Parker – a woman who had not exercised in 4 years to find out more about how online coaching might benefit you!
Question #1: What was your biggest challenge in fitness before you started your online training & nutrition coaching plan? A: Lack of energy and motivation. I felt it would not work because I didn’t have the time or strength.
Question #2: What results do you get / have you gotten from your online training & nutrition coaching plan? A: The results are amazing. I have more energy. I can see the results in the cloths I wear, my energy/ endurance level. I can do exercises now that I could not have done before and exercise longer. I have done a 5k and am training for another one.
Question #3: What kept you from starting with an online training & nutrition coaching plan? A: I felt it would not work. I thought it was hopeless.
Question #4: What exactly did you like most about the online training & nutrition coaching you did with Jes? A: The motivation it gives me. The confidence to try new things. I am so proud of myself for working so hard and not giving up. Also the results I have accomplished.
Question #5: Why would you recommend this online training & nutrition coaching plan to another Woman over 55 who might be on the fence? A: Because it works. We blame weight gain on slow metabolism or menopause. But we can reboot our metabolism.
Question #6: Do you have any other benefits you want to mention about online training & nutrition coaching with Jes, or anything else you want to add? A: Anyone considering this should just do it. You will be glad you did.
Question #7: What, specifically, was your favorite part of your online training and why?
A: I really enjoyed the support I received from JES. I believe it was a driving force behind my success. I knew JES was monitoring my diet and exercise. She was the little voice that kept me going.
Question #8: What was your main concern that would have prevented you from buying this online training & nutrition coaching plan and what put your fears to rest? A: That it would not work. That I could not do it. The diet is a ten day reset and the training package is in 6 week intervals. I felt that I could always stop if I needed to. I haven’t so far and plan on continuing working with JES . I really enjoy it.
Question #9: What made you choose Jes Reynolds’s online training & nutrition coaching plan? over anything else you could have done? A: I had spoke with other people that I knew and trusted who had followed Jes diet and exercise regimen and had amazing results. So I thought I should try it also.
Question #10: If someone called you and said “Why should I work with Jes Reynolds?” or “Why should I buy the online training & nutrition coaching” — what would you tell them? A: I would share my story with them. I it’s one of the best investments I have made. It is an investment in myself and I am worth it.
Question #11: Is there anything you’d like to add about the experience you had with online training & nutrition coaching plan Jes Reynolds, or anything else? A: It is one of the best things I could have done for myself. I have tried other weight loss products. Pills that guarantee results…it never happened. I have not been perfect, but I never gave up. JES has always been there offering encouragement. I believe she believed I could do it before I believed I could.
Question #12: What are three benefits you’ve experienced as a result of the online training & nutrition coaching? A: Weight loss, increased energy, and I am proud of myself . What an accomplishment. I still have goals I want to achieve. I believe that I will reach them.
Question #13: Would you recommend this online training & nutrition coaching plan? If so, why? A: Oh yes I have and will continue to recommend this program.
Question #14: What surprised you the most or made you the most happy about the online training & nutrition coaching?
A: I didn’t think I would like the food or the shakes. I didn’t care for the protein shakes and bars I have tried in the past. The recipes were all easy and delicious. As far as exercise- I hadn’t done any in over 4 years. This whole process has been an amazing journey. Not only am I healthier but my posture has improved. I was starting to have hunched shoulder s and back. Now that is self correcting.
Thunder Throwdown 200’s
Warm-up: 400 meter run, dynamic mobility work + 30 seconds each of: squats, rev lunges, push-ups, sit-ups, mountain climbers
Then, as a 2-person group, complete the following challenge in order in your best time with proper technique. (runs must be completed by each person)
(basically each person does 100 reps of each exercise.)
Time cap at 40 minutes.
- ½ mile run (or 100 kb swings per person)
- 200 squats
- 200 bent-over rows
- 200 double unders with the jump rope (x3 if doing singles)
- 200 walking lunges (1-2-3-4 count)
- 200 overhead triceps press
- 200 weighted Russian twists (1-1-2-2 count)
- 200 Groucho’s (1-1-2-2 count)
- 200 Camper choice! (Choose between 200 of: hand-release push-ups, hollow rocks, or hip bridges)
- ½ mile run (or 100 kb swings per person)
Do this! Let me know how it goes!
When it comes to convenience, nothing beats a scoop or two of protein powder blended with some fruit, greens, almond milk and ice for a quick and healthy meal or snack. For anyone living the typical ‘on the go’ lifestyle, protein powder seems to be a godsend for athletes, dieters, or just about anyone who wants to make a healthy choice but has little time for meal prep or cooking. And while protein powder boasts convenience, if you are anything like me, you have probably also wondered if the convenience factor of protein powder and bars is somehow overshadowing the possible negatives that might come with relying on these hyped-up products on a regular basis.
Almost every canister of protein powder you see makes some type of compelling claims. Everything from, low calorie and low glycemic to high ORAC values (a measure of antioxidant capacity), probiotics, and even hypo-allergenicity. But is it really just all good stuff in there, or does something you don’t want get added to protein powders in the processing?
I often recommend protein smoothies as a way of getting a balanced meal and a serving of greens (depending on the recipe) and I have received many questions both online and in person regarding the best and healthiest brands of protein powder. This motivated me to buy many different varieties available in both health food and standard grocery stores. In this post, I will give a basic explanation of why we need protein, share my research and opinions on the healthiest options, and offer a few tips on what you should look for and what to avoid when shopping for protein powder.
What is Protein
Protein is a macronutrient (macronutrients are necessary for growth, metabolism and other functions of the body) that is broken down into amino acids when digested. Amino acids are “the building blocks of life” and the body needs a variety of them to function properly. Some amino acids must come from our diet – these are the essential amino acids and some the body can make for itself (most of the time) – these are non-essential amino acids.
Essential amino acids – the body can’t manufacture, and thus we must consume in our diets.
Non-Essential amino acids – amino acids the body can make for itself (most of the time).
Why Do We Need Protein
As mentioned, proteins are broken down into amino acids to produce things like enzymes, hormones, antibodies and more, they are the building block of the cell and help to transport substances and make repairs throughout our body. The presence of amino acids in our blood plasma also causes an increase in hormones that aid in controlling body fat stores and improve use of fatty acids for energy production. When you consume protein after a workout, it facilitates recovery by providing the tools the body needs for cellular repair and restoration.
How Much Protein Do We Need
From Precision Nutrition:
- Basic protein intake: 0.8 grams per kilogram (or around 0.36 g per pound) of body mass in untrained, generally healthy adults.
- Athletic high intensity training: 1.4-2.0 g/kg (or around 0.64-0.9 g/lb) of body mass.
While there are some naysayers to the idea that protein is vital to maintaining a lean physique, there is a growing body of research that indicates the consumption of protein also helps you maintain a healthy body composition, strong immune system and healthy metabolism while also promoting satiety.
Please also note that macronutrient ratios and food choices often need to be adjusted based on individual need. The goal is to start with what works for most people (see above), record what you are doing so you can make sure you are compliant and then make adjustments as needed.
Main Types of Protein Powder
- Whey is a complete, dairy-based protein shown to be easily absorbed and utilized by the body, especially post workout.
- Popular options include “hydrolyzed” “isolate”, neither of which seem to be necessary to get the benefits of whey protein. “Hydrolyzed” means the product has broken down to improve digestion. “Isolate” means the protein has gone through a purification process.
- Attention should be paid to the source and processing of the whey – as this process is not regulated by the FDA.
- Avoid pasteurized dairy sources and artificial sweeteners.
- Choose whey from organic grass-fed dairy.
- Whey and casein are diary based proteins so avoid if you have a dairy allergy.
- Soybeans contain all of your essential amino acids (referred to as a complete protein)
- Soy protein performs comparably to whey protein as a workout recovery drink.
- Soy isoflavones can potentially interact with hormones like estrogen and potentially skew hormone levels when taken in excess. For men, specifically, the fear is that increased soy intake could reduce testosterone levels. However, research suggests that the effect of this isn’t always a a huge concern unless you are ingesting large amounts of soy.
- There is quite a lot of research being done on the potential negatives of soy but I find this research to vary quite a bit so it is hard to say for sure whether one should avoid soy or that we don’t need to worry.
- Some of the above mentioned negatives are:
- most soy available in the USA is often genetically modified.
- soy is high in phytic acid which can prevent absorption of important minerals.
- the processing of soy to create soy protein powder could render the proteins ineffective.
- I personally avoid soy and I do not use soy protein powder because of the GMO and phytic acid research claims but I remain optimistic about soy products and if I have a little tofu now and then I am OK with it.
Vegan Protein Powder Blend
Plant-based proteins are fantastic because they eliminate potential allergens and are often made from organic ingredients by reputable companies that (one must hope) are concerned with creating high quality ingredients that are processed correctly. Sources of vegetarian protein are commonly derived from peas, hemp and brown rice.
The down-side of one single type of vegetarian protein is that most are incomplete proteins, meaning it will not contain the all essential amino acids the body needs to function properly. Vegan protein powder blends solve this issue by providing a complete array of the essential amino acids in vegetarian form. The result is a gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free supplement that can nutritionally stand up against animal-based products, without users having to worry about amino acid deficiencies, allergens, or stomach upsets.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Protein Powder
- What is the source of protein? (vegan, whey, egg, etc)
- Is it a complete protein? (you need to make sure you have a source of essential amino acids in your diet)
- Is the serving size appropriate for my purposes? (a reasonable serving that doesn’t ruin the taste of a smoothie should give 16-20 grams)
- Is there any sugar or an artificial sweetener in my protein powder? (if so, am I ok with that? – most of the time the answer to that is no)
- Is this protein certified by a governing body or quality control company? (supplements are not regulated by the FDA so you should feel good about the standards of the company you are buying protein powder from)
- What type of potential toxins may be in this? (many powders have dies, or other harmful contaminants that we will cover in the next section)
- Is the taste tolerable enough that you will eat this? (healthy protein often tastes like junk! I have a vegan protein and a whey version because I sometimes don’t finish the smoothies made with the vegan protein because of the taste)
This is the number one criteria because, well, if it’s doesn’t taste good, you won’t drink it! If you’re adding fruits like bananas and berries to your shake, save yourself some grams of sugar or artificial flavors and get a plain neutral-tasting powder. However if you prefer to just add water or some type of milk, go for a product that has fruity flavor from natural fruit extracts. Some companies will ship you free samples if you request them on their website, or you can buy single-serve packets instead of investing in the whole canister if you’re not sure about the taste. Which brings us to the next important criteria…
What does the Nutrition Facts Panel say? Are you getting straight protein or are you mistakenly looking at a meal replacement that has carbs and fat as well. Is there sugar in it? An artificial sweetener? How much protein is in one serving?
This is big one, and there are three main things to consider when looking at the ingredient list:
1) Is it organic? You don’t want any pesticide residues adding to your toxic load. Non-GMO and organic would even better. 2) Is it plant-based? Legume, hemp and grain-based products are naturally more hypoallergenic, taking care of the finally criteria.
3) Is it allergen-free? Milk/casein/lactose, gluten/wheat, soy, eggs and nuts are among the top allergens that people react to without even knowing it. If your protein powder is causing digestive upset, ezcema, or even brain fog, it’s not worth it.
You’ve heard of mercury as a heavy metal we need to be wary of when choosing fish. And who could forget the arsenic scare in brown rice? Protein powders are also at-risk for contamination with neurotoxins like cadmium, arsenic and lead. Consumer Reports did testing on some popular protein powders and found that several brands, including Muscle Milk, Myoplex, Designer Whey and GNC, all had traces of these dangerous elements.
The top five picks I’ve listed are clear of heavy metals (at least from what I know) and contain no refined sugar. FYI Certain flavors of Terra’s whey does contain stevia.
||Grams of Protein per /Source
(milk, gluten,soy, eggs, nuts)
||good, but contains stevia
||yes, and non-GMO
||no – made from milk
||20 grams Organic Hemp, Chia, Quinoa plus the highest quality Organic Pea 100% grown
||yes, and non-GMO
|Garden of Life Raw
||17 grams/Blend of Sprouted grains, legumes and seeds
||yes, and non-GMO
Protein Product Brand Awareness
From Consumer reports
“The results showed a considerable range, but levels in three products were of particular concern because consuming three servings a day could result in daily exposure to arsenic, cadmium, or lead exceeding the limits proposed by USP.”
The article goes into detail about the heavy metals in our environment and how they can accumulate in the body. My advice – don’t read the article. DISTURBING to say the least.
Meet your daily protein requirements through a balanced diet combined with a organic grass fed whey or a vegan blend is with an emphasis on real food protein sources as much as possible. Try using protein powder or a bar no more than once per day.
All About Protein
Protein Powder Reviews
Research On Why You Should Avoid Soy
This might not look like a stretch but IT IS!
Right now I’m using this mostly with golfers but their is practical application in many other athletic activities. Some form of torso #ROTATION occurs during almost every sport, including running, swimming, volleyball, baseball and martial arts.
As we age the natural rotational ability of the spine is often reduced because we just dont move as much and if we do it’s often repetitive motion in the same plane of movement. Even if you do move in many planes there are often improper patterning/sequencing issues that have developed over time. ALL athletes can benefit from this stretch!
Golfers if you want to improve “lag” this is one stretch you can try.
1) While lying down put one arm straight over head.
2) Reach as far as you can across your body with the other arm as if you were trying to roll over using only your upper body.
3) Let the hips lag behind as far as you can and keep reaching with your upper body for about 60 second
4) Repeat on both sides.
Everyone I’ve had try this says it feel so crazy! Test it out and let me know what you think!