Post Workout Protein Shake
I've been experimenting with vegan protein powders, opting only for those that are free of additives, preservatives and processed sugars, and I've finally settled on the perfect powder and shake ingredients for excellent post workout recovery and hydration. I'm happy to share what I've learned!...
The common vegan protein powder options available are rice protein, pea protein, and hemp protein. My first foray into powders was organic rice protein powder- SunWarrior Classic Protein is arguably the highest quality and most popular on the market. The taste was fine, it blended easily enough, and it wasn't too terribly rough on my digestion. The problem was the little warning label on the package that I noticed after a week or so of using the product... "California Proposition 65 WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm." After noticing that fine print I quickly called the company to make an inquiry. Customer service reassured me that SunWarrior rice protein powder is safe, as Prop 65 mandates the warning for even naturally occurring chemicals in plants and soil, such as arsenic, lead and other heavy metals found in rice. According to SunWarrior, the heavy metal levels in their product are well below worldwide guidelines with only trace quantities. SunWarrior has a wonderfully detailed page on their website detailing the issue of heavy metals in rice, yet no amount of consoling could erase the warning label from the package in my eyes. I tossed the rest of my expensive bag, vowed to rarely eat rice in general, and I looked for an alternative protein source.
I tried pea protein next. I'm severely allergic to soy and peanuts, which are both in the legume family. I've had allergic reactions to other legumes- snap peas and mung bean sprouts, but with so many different legumes in this world it's hard to say categorically whether I'm allergic to them all. Peas were a question mark, so when I found a soy free pea protein product on the market I gave it a go. After one serving I had a notable allerigic reaction- so for me, pea protein is out.
While pea protein packs more protein per serving than hemp, the latter is much higher in fiber, and much lower in calories. According to Livestrong, here's the breakdown: A 30-gram serving, which is about 3 tablespoons, of hemp protein powder contains 90 calories, 15 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fiber. The same serving size of pea protein powder contains 120 calories, 24 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbs and 0 grams of fiber. So even if you don't have a legume allergy, you might consider the overall nutritional benefit of hemp. Manitoba is the first brand I found that makes a pure, organic powder comprised of strictly hemp without any additional ingredients. Hemp protein is gritty and earthy, but not bad at all. It pairs well with a variety of flavors ranging from pineapple to chocolate to cherry.
After enjoying the Manitoba powder for a month, I discovered the Nutiva brand, which takes the wins as my top protein powder pick. Both brands have 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of fat in a singel serving. There are two big differences that have me choosing Nutiva. Manitoba packs a whopping 130 calories vs just 80 from Nutiva, and a serving of Manitoba is 4 Tbsp of grit, vs just 3 Tbsp from Nutiva. Less powder, less calories, same protein punch.
Once I settled on my ideal protein powder, I devised my favorite shake ingredients for maximum benefit post workout. The base for this recipe is coconut water, an all natural super hydrating and deliciously subtle and sweet wonder that replaces lost electrolytes better than any neon colored sports drink. Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, tart cherries can work wonders on reducing muscle soreness from strenuous workouts. Buy them frozen and organic to easily toss into your shakes.
A banana not only helps sweeten your drink and make it creamy, but it offers the "good" type of carbs you need after a workout to quickly replenish your body's levels of glycogen to help rebuild damaged muscle. Use frozen banana to eliminate the need for ice, which waters down the smoothie. Throw in some spinach for good measure, (added fiber, vitamin and minerals -including magnesium, iron and calcium of course), and you're good to go!
Post Workout Protein Shake
1 cup organic spinach (a big handful)
1 ripe banana (frozen is best)
1/2 cup organic frozen cherries
3 Tbsp Nutiva Hemp Protein powder
1 cup coconut water
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until well combined. Enjoy!
Put the spinach and protein powder in the blender first and the other ingredients on top
Get in the habit of peeling ripe bananas and wrapping them individually in saran wrap for the freezer to have handy. Use only bananas with spots on them, otherwise your banana is not sweet enough. If you don't have a frozen banana, toss in a few cubes of ice.