Protein shakes are a useful supplement to add to a healthy diet for runners. It’s important to refuel correctly after running to help muscles repair and restore glycogen levels with the addition of carbohydrates in a shake. It’s particularly important if you don’t have time to prepare a meal. Shakes are a convenient way of getting optimal nourishment during a crucial post-workout window.
The quality of protein shakes has improved vastly over the years. Some brands are more conscious of cutting out sugars and unnecessary additives but unfortunately there are still many that have artificial sweeteners in an attempt to keep the macronutrients in balance while making them more palatable.
There has also been a surge of online shops undercutting the larger brands with much cheaper options and in that, the quality of the protein itself has been called into question.
There is increasing evidence to support the claims that artificial sweeteners can cause neurological damage, and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is being pushed to test products that have been around for the last 20 years or so, particularly ‘diet’ products which notoriously cut out fat and replace with not only artificial sweeteners but a concoction of flavour enhancers to make their products more appealing.
Seek out simple foods in their natural state
I’ve always promoted simple food in its natural state and support the recent rise of plant-based protein powders – minimally processed, natural products, with the majority of brands not adding anything artificial.
Brown rice protein powder is my favourite of the plant-based proteins. It’s hypoallergenic and has a 98% correlation to mother’s milk. Others include pea protein and hemp protein.
Super proteins are an exciting new fusion of plant based protein powders and superfood powders. Superfoods are blended with protein powder to boost their nutritional offering and include items such as raw cacao and maca powder.
Raw cacao is widely recognised for the naturally occurring chemicals it contains which stimulate the happy centres in our brain. No other food in the world is known to contain as many mood- improving substances as cacao.
Maca, a Peruvian superfood is considered an ‘adaptogen’ as it works wonders for improving energy levels and helping us cope with the stressful demands of modern life. It has a positive effect on our hormonal system, helping to correct hormone imbalances in the body. Maca is also known as ‘nature’s viagra’ as it is best known for its aphrodisiac qualities. It is popular with athletes as it helps improve endurance and performance.
When super proteins are blended, the ingredients are cold-pressed and kept raw which retains essential organic compounds and they contain no refined sugars, artificial ingredients or allergens.
The race to refuel
Protein shakes are best consumed as soon as you have finished running. The sooner you can refuel, the sooner your body can be assisted in essential repair and recovery. Within 15 minutes would be ideal but anything up to one hour is a prime window of opportunity.
Plant-based protein powders are also useful at any time of day to boost overall protein intake and are particularly beneficial for vegans and vegetarians. You can make a breakfast smoothie more sustaining if super proteins are added. For example, a shake based on banana, almond milk and oats would be predominantly carbohydrate. With the addition of brown rice protein powder and chia seeds which contain essential fat, the meal becomes more balanced and the effect on blood sugar is more stable.
Super Protein Picks
Recover right with these superfood-enhanced products
– Blissful brown rice and raw cacao super protein
Raw cacao contains iron and magnesium normally lost in the processing of chocolate and a huge amount of antioxidants which mop up cellular damage in the body.
– I heart protein and chia seed super protein
One 25g serving contains a third of our RDA of heart-healthy omega 3 and a whole host of essential minerals and fibre to improve digestion. thatprotein.com
– Sunwarrior warrior blend organic protein
Contains pea protein, hemp protein, goji berries and whole ground coconut evolutionorganics.co.uk
– Project organic vegan protein
Uses a 50/50 blend of rice and pea protein and makes a perfect base for adding one of my favourite superfoods, camu camu powder. Camu camu is a red/purple cherry-like fruit that grows in the Amazonian rainforest and has an exceptionally high vitamin C content. theproperfoodproject.co.uk