Ah, protein powder- probably one of the more controversial “food” items on the market. It usually gets a bad rap because it’s not exactly necessary in our diets. As an athlete, it is definitely a bad idea to rely on powdered supplements as the sole source of protein. Our bodies require quality protein from whole foods such as legumes, whole grains and lean meats, as well as the micronutrients and fiber in these foods. When you acquire all of your protein needs from powdered supplements, you are depriving your body of those vital nutrients typically found in whole food sources.
However, I am among the many that view protein powder as beneficial to a balanced diet, full of variety and rich in whole foods. While the thought of protein powder might elicit aggressive images of puffy body builders guzzling protein shakes because #GAINS, protein powder can fit into any swimmer’s lifestyle and not make you super bulky (as this is a common misconception and not necessarily the case when consuming the recommended serving size of the product). Protein powder is a great and convenient way to supplement protein gaps in your daily diet. I enjoy having a protein shake after my workout, but also eat a variety of other protein sources throughout the day. Since whey protein usually upsets my stomach, I use vegan protein powders. I recommend using pea protein, hemp protein and almond protein powders.
If you’re interested in how to incorporate protein powders into your daily eats, check out my top protein powder recipe picks below….
- 1 scoop Vanilla vegan protein
- 1 banana
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup oats⠀
- 1 tsp vanilla⠀
- Pinch of cinnamon ⠀
- Blueberries ⠀
Toppings: Creamy almond butter
Protein pancakes are one of my favorite ways to incorporate protein powder into my diet. Whereas this recipe works perfectly well without the addition of protein powder, it’s an awesome way to get in that extra protein in a post-workout meal. And better yet, it’s completely versatile. Depending on your flavor preference, you can use any flavor of protein you’d like!
For this recipe, I strongly recommend using a blender to combine the batter ingredients. Combine everything except for the blueberries in the blender and blend until smooth. Next, pour batter into a lightly sprayed pan over medium-medium low heat. I suggest using a spoon or small ladle to portion out each pancake. After ladling out the batter, sprinkle a few blueberries in the center of the pancake and let it cook. Once tiny bubbles appear around the edges, flip each pancake and continue to cook until they’re fluffy and golden-brown. Repeat the process until you’ve used up the remaining batter and top with a drizzle of creamy almond butter. You can also use honey or maple syrup as toppings (or whipped cream if you’re feeling fancy!)
- 1 scoop Chocolate vegan protein
- 1 frozen banana (Pro tip: peel over ripe bananas, place in resealable bag and freeze overnight)
- Handful of ice
- 1 cup almond milk ⠀
- Pinch of cinnamon⠀
- 1 tsp cacao powder⠀
- 2 tbsp powdered PB
Toppings: Puffed cereal + Creamy peanut butter
This recipe is a unique twist on your classic protein shake. This shake is thick, chocolatey and a deliciously convenient way to get your protein in. While protein shakes are probably the most predictable use of protein powder, I am confident that this recipe will blow all other protein shake recipes out of the water (no pun intended).
The instructions are super easy. First, add all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth, pour into glass and generously top with puffed cereal and creamy peanut butter. To make this shake extra thick, use less almond milk and add more ice. You may need a more high powered blender or food processor, but try adjusting these ratios to change the overall texture! That way you can eat it more like a smoothie bowl as opposed to a protein shake.
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 1 scoop Matcha flavored collagen protein
- 1 cup almond milk
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
Toppings: Fresh raspberries + blueberries, creamy almond butter, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds & coconut flakes
As you may or may not know, my alter ego is the “Oatmeal Queen”. So of course, I had to sneak an oatmeal recipe into the mix! In the colder months when the thought of a protein shake sends chills down my spine, I opt for protein oatmeal, or “proats”. Proats are just as simple to make as a protein shake and also pack in some extra carbohydrates to fuel those muscles and aid in post-workout recovery.
First, add ½ cup rolled oats, 1 scoop of matcha flavored collagen protein and 1 cup of almond milk to a bowl. Thoroughly stir with a spoon until any remaining clumps disappear. Then, stir in 2 tbs chia seeds, a pinch of cinnamon and 1 tsp vanilla. Microwave for 1:00, stir, then microwave for another :30 until you’ve reached your desired thickness. If the mixture appears cakey due to the clumps of chia seeds, add a few tablespoons of almond milk or water and stir thoroughly to break up the clumps. Top with some fresh raspberries, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut flakes and a generous drizzle of your favorite creamy almond butter and BAM, Berry Matcha Protein Oats.
About Zoe Gregorace
Zoe Gregorace is currently studying Nutrition Policy at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and recently graduated from Tufts University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and was a proud member of the Tufts Swimming and Diving team (Go Jumbos!). During her 16 year career as a competitive swimmer, she developed a passion for sports nutrition. She enjoys writing on the topic of nutrition, health and wellness and posts her meal creations on her Instagram page @whatzoeeeats. As a former college swimmer, she strives to share recipes and nutrition tips to promote balanced eating and optimize sports performance.