Although most people are aware of the benefits of eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, not everyone knows just how important protein is for your body. Protein is one of the four macronutrients that your body needs on a day-to-day basis (the other three are fats, carbs, and water). Protein is essential for our bodies to work properly.
Why is protein so important?
Because your body burns protein slower than carbs, protein is important to prevent blood sugar spikes that can not only make you feel weak and dizzy, but can also lead to serious health issues down the road.
Also, when your body has enough protein it doesn’t have to resort to burning muscle for the energy it needs, so your muscles stay strong and toned. That’s why drinking a protein-rich smoothie after a workout is an excellent way of replenishing your body!
Here are some of our favorite forms of protein:
Nuts and Seeds: You may be surprised to know that tiny seeds—like chia seeds and flaxseed—pack an amazing protein punch. For instance, one ounce of chia seeds contains an impressive 4.4 grams of protein, and they boast a wonderfully nutty taste! Speaking of nutty, nuts are also a great source of protein. Just 1/4 cup of almonds or 2 tablespoons of almond butter will give you 8 grams of protein. Flaxseed is another great alternative, with 8 grams of protein per 1/4 cup. When you choose to add nuts to your green smoothie don’t forget that they’re also higher in fat, so don’t be overly generous!
Protein Powders: If you are looking for a plant-based protein that is free of animal products, your best option is hemp protein or raw vegan protein powder. Feel free to add 2-4 tablespoons to your morning green smoothies! You can buy hemp protein at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or even online at Sunwarrior.com.
Spirulina (blue-green algae): This plant-based ingredient is an excellent source of protein that can be added to your green smoothies. Be careful, though! The taste is strong, so start off light (by using about a teaspoon) to get used to the flavor, then add more as you can.
Additional protein options include chocolate and vanilla protein powders, whey protein powder, silken tofu, soymilk, non-fat Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and natural, no- sugar added peanut butter. We prefer to avoid soy and animal products, but that’s just our personal preference; if you enjoy these foods, feel free to use them in your green smoothie creations.
Drinking green smoothies as a meal replacement?
If you decide to drink a green smoothie as a meal replacement, it’s recommended that you add a protein source to your blender, or have a high-protein snack—such as a hardboiled egg or a handful of nuts on the side. If you work out regularly, your protein requirement will be higher, so we recommend that you adjust accordingly.