Protein is one of the three macronutrients required for proper functioning of our body. It plays a crucial role in many processes such as building and maintaining muscle mass, supporting the immune system, and aiding in tissue healing. It is important to consume an adequate amount of protein in your diet to ensure that your body can function properly. The recommended daily intake of protein varies depending on factors like age, gender, and activity level. Typically, the average person needs, at a minimum, 0.8g of protein per kilogram of body weight to maintain their muscle mass. However, individuals living with cancer have a greater protein requirement to meet the increased demands from the immune system and to minimize muscle loss due to treatments. For our patients currently undergoing a treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, protein needs may be as high as 1.5g/kg just to maintain muscle mass.
We generally prefer to meet our protein goals through our diet, however this can be challenging for some. In these cases, we benefit from the use of protein powder. Protein powder is a convenient and versatile food supplement that can be used in various ways to increase your daily protein intake. Here are different ways to use and take protein powder:
- Protein Shakes: The most common and straightforward way to use protein powder is by mixing it with water, milk, or a milk alternative to create a protein shake. You can use a shaker bottle or blender to mix the protein powder with your chosen liquid. Customize your shake by adding fruits, vegetables, nut butter, or other ingredients to enhance the flavor and nutritional profile.
- Smoothies: Incorporate protein powder into your favorite smoothie recipes to add an extra protein boost. Blend it with fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and other ingredients for a well-rounded and nutritious smoothie. If you opt for a plant-based protein powder, you may want to also add about one tablespoon of an oil of your choice, to help smooth out any grittiness.
- Oatmeal: Stir protein powder into your cooked oatmeal or overnight oats for a protein-packed breakfast. It adds flavor and helps keep you full and energized throughout the morning.
- Yogurt Parfait: Layer any type of yogurt, protein powder, granola, and fresh fruits to create a delicious and protein-rich yogurt parfait.
- Protein Pancakes/Waffles: Prepare pancakes or waffles by mixing protein powder into the batter. You can find numerous recipes online that use protein powder as a key ingredient.
- Protein Bars: Make your own homemade protein bars by combining protein powder with nut butter, honey, oats, and other ingredients. Press the mixture into a baking dish, chill, and then cut into bars.
- Protein Energy Balls: Mix protein powder with ingredients like nut butter, honey, oats, and seeds to create protein-packed energy balls for a quick and nutritious snack.
- Protein Pudding: Create a simple protein pudding by mixing protein powder with milk or a milk alternative and letting it set in the refrigerator.
- Baking: Use protein powder in baking recipes to add protein to muffins, cookies, brownies, and other treats. You may need to adjust the other ingredients to accommodate the protein powder.
- Toppings: Sprinkle protein powder over yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal as a protein-rich topping
Author: Nicole Brice-Elion, CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre intern
Please note that the information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. It is essential to consult with your healthcare provider or a qualified professional before making any healthcare decisions or taking any actions based on the information presented here.