That's Not Food | Protein Powder

Welcome to a new series called That's Not Food!

Each post, we'll be introducing a new non-food source and discussing what it's purpose is, what the real food alternatives are, and how you can do simple swaps. There's so much happening in the health world that has nothing to do with food and everything to do with fads, quick 'nutrition', and tricking your body + mind. At Root Well, we're all about slowing down, eating real food, and feeling good about it. We're also about well researched topics and easy to digest content. *pun intended* So not only will you be getting opinions of a nutrition educator, you'll be getting the opinions of someone who'd well-researched on the topic.

First up: Protein Powder

Protein shakes have been popular among athletes for a long time. Even when we were very young, we can remember coaches suggesting chocolate milk or a shake after soccer practice or a baseball game, right? While the intentions were pure, the whole 'protein' thing has gotten way off course. Nowadays, it seems like every 'health and wellness guru' on Instagram is touting the importance of different protein powders for their smoothies and shakes. A great many of them even have their own lines of protein powders for sale. At Root Well, we're constantly being asked about our thoughts on protein powders and we're always confused. When did replacing food sources of protein become better than the actual thing? 

Super Basic Protein 101:

  • Protein is one of three macronutrients (fat + carbohydrates are the other two)
  • About 35% of your total caloric intake should come from protein sources
  • Protein is essential in the body but is only needed in limited quantities
  • Too much will just get stored (aka weight gain)
  • Too little can cause weight gain as well along with a lowered ammunity

*Please please please keep in mind this is such a basic rundown of protein and not in any way complete. 

OK so obviously protein is incredibly important for our bodies to function properly. So it would seem like 'hey, adding a quick fix of protein in to my shake is a great idea!' - but it's not. Here's the thing: you're probably getting enough protein in your daily diet without even thinking about it. If you're eating a well-balanced diet, you're probably fine. Many protein powders contain up to 80grams of protein per serving. In a 2,000 calorie diet only about 75grams should be from protein. You can see the discrepancy here. Just one serving of protein powder a day would be more than the total amount your body requires each day. If you're in a period of growth (pregnancy, adolescence, body building) your body needs extra protein. But NOT an obscene amount. About 10-15% more. An extra scoop of peanut butter each day will take care of that nice and easy.

Health professionals are pretty much in agreement that eating protein after working out is a great way to rebuilt torn muscles and give you a little energy boost. So, again, why not just grab or make a protein shake? We are full of an abundance of foods with adequate protein sources. Even on a budget, even with restrictions like abstaining from animal products, it's incredibly easy to find. If you make your own smoothies or shakes and would like to include protein in those, here are amazing food-source options to swap out your protein powder for:

  • almonds or almond milk or almond butter
  • peanuts or peanut butter
  • pumpkin seeds
  • silken tofu
  • avocado
  • hemp seeds
  • oats
  • chia seeds
  • spinach
  • tahini
  • dairy (cottage cheese, milk, yogurt, etc)

Add just one or two of these to your next smoothie instead of protein powder. You'll get all the protein you need without spending an obscene amount of extra money on fancy powders. 

What other topics do you have questions about? Any other non-food nutrition questions stewing in the back of your head? Shoot us an email or let us know in the comments!

Want more? Root Well now offers a 3-hour Intensive to answer all of your burning questions about nutrition in addition to helping you begin the journey of repairing your relationship with food.

Brianna Towne