Tag Archives: protein

5 Ways to Add Protein to Your Oatmeal

Protein. How often have you heard nutrition professionals talking about getting enough protein? It’s really not much of a concern for most people, especially at lunch and dinner. The meal where it’s harder to get enough is breakfast because a lot of your typical breakfasts don’t contain that much protein.

So today I want to talk a bit about how to amp up the protein in one of my favourite breakfasts: oatmeal. Oatmeal is not typically seen as a high protein food, but with my tips you can make a bowl that contains just as much protein as a food guide serving of chicken! Here’s how:

Ditch the protein powder and boost the protein in your oatmeal with these 5 easy tips to add protein to your oatmeal!

1. Cook your oatmeal in high protein milk

If you want to add protein to your oatmeal, skim milk or soy milk (if you avoid dairy) are your best bets. Skim cow’s milk has 8-9 g and soy milk has 6-7 g of protein per cup, whereas other non-dairy milks like almond, hemp, rice, coconut, flax, and quinoa milk only have 0-2 g per cup.

However some dairy alternative companies have started selling protein-fortified versions of their products, such as flax milk and almond milk, each with 5 g of protein per cup.

Ditch the protein powder and boost the protein in your oatmeal with these 5 easy tips!

2. Add egg whites

I was skeptical when I first heard that people put egg whites in their oatmeal, but after trying it I was pleasantly surprised. It adds a nice French toasty flavour to your oatmeal as well as 3.5 g of protein for just 2 tbsp. I usually add 2-3 tbsp so that it’s not too overpowering, like in my recipe for my favourite banana oatmeal. Just stir in the egg whites during the last 1-2 minutes of cooking, which is enough time to cook the egg whites without making them overcooked.

Ditch the protein powder and boost the protein in your oatmeal with these 5 easy tips!

3. Stir in cottage cheese when it is done cooking

Cottage cheese is an awesome source of protein with about 8 g per 1/4 cup! Like egg whites, it can blend right into your oatmeal without being too noticeable. It just adds a bit of a creamy texture to it.

Ditch the protein powder and boost the protein in your oatmeal with these 5 easy tips!

4. Add ground flax, chia seeds, or hemp seeds

All three are a good source of protein. Flax and chia seeds have about 1.5 g of protein per tablespoon. Hemp seeds have double that! These seeds can be added in during cooking or sprinkled on top afterwards. But keep in mind that flax and chia seeds will absorb water to give your oatmeal a more gelatinous texture, so you need to add more water than usual. Also, be sure to use ground flax rather than whole flax seeds, since the nutrients are better absorbed when it’s ground.

Ditch the protein powder and boost the protein in your oatmeal with these 5 easy tips!

5. Add a scoop of nut or seed butter on top

1 tablespoon of your average nut/seed butter will give you about 3 g of protein. It’s also insanely delicious! Most people love peanut butter on their oatmeal, but I’m allergic so I use almond butter. If you’re allergic to all nuts, there are plenty of nut butter alternatives you can try!

Ditch the protein powder and boost the protein in your oatmeal with these 5 easy tips!

You may have noticed I didn’t include protein powder on this list. It’s always an option, but as I’ve shown here, it’s entirely possible to make a high protein bowl of oatmeal with just whole foods. Take a look at this example:

1/2 cup dry oats = 6 g protein
1/2 a cup skim milk = 4 g protein
4 tbsp egg whites = 7 g protein
1 tbsp hemp hearts = 3 g protein
1 tablespoon of almond butter = 3 g protein

Total protein = 23 g

Not too shabby, right? That’s about the same amount of protein as a food guide serving of chicken. And I don’t know about you guys, but I’d much rather have oatmeal than chicken for breakfast!

Ditch the protein powder and boost the protein in your oatmeal with these 5 easy tips!

How do you add protein to your oatmeal?

Looking for more ways to add protein to breakfast? Check out this post! –> 7 Ways to Get More Protein at Breakfast

Read this post to learn ways to get more protein at breakfast!


Filed under food and cooking, nutrition

Protein and exercise

I know this is long overdue, but I owe you guys a post on what I’ve learned in class about protein and exercise. I’ve already covered fats, carbohydrates, and refueling after a workout, which you can find in my Nutrition Posts section! I think this is an especially important post given the protein-craze in the fitness world right now.

Protein powerfood #1: Canned tuna (16 g per half can)

Functions of protein

I know a lot of people are amping up their protein intake to help build lean muscle, but did you know protein also has many other roles in the body related to exercise? These include:

  • Building materials for muscle, but also bone, tendons, ligaments and organs
  • Enzymes that speed up reactions for energy utilization and production
  • Hormones involved in energy metabolism, such as insulin, glucagon, and adrenaline
  • Maintenance of fluid and electrolyte balance
  • Transporters for substances in the blood and for moving nutrients into cells to be used
  • Burned for energy, mostly in situations of low energy and/or low carbohydrate intake

Protein powerfood #2: Greek yogurt (~16 g per 6 oz)

Protein and energy intake

As I just mentioned, protein can be burned for energy, however it is not a preferred source. It will mainly be used for fuel when a person is not consuming enough calories and/or carbohydrates in their diet to provide adequate energy. In this case, protein will be burned instead of used for its other more preferred roles, such as for building muscle.

Protein powerfood #3: Beans (10-20 g per cup cooked)

Protein and exercise

Protein is not a major source of fuel for either resistance or endurance exercise – your body much prefers fat and carbohydrates for energy. However, protein does play an important role in exercise so athletes have increased needs depending on the type of activity:

Resistance athletes: 1.6-1.7 g/kg of body weight/day

Strength training uses mostly the creatine phosphate system and anaerobic glycolysis to provide energy, and both of these systems use mostly carbohydrates for fuel. However, resistance exercise triggers muscle growth and this growth will be accompanied by muscle breakdown unless adequate protein is available, hence the increased protein requirements. But it should be noted that there is no additional benefit to consuming more than 2.0 g/kg of body weight/d.

Endurance athletes: 1.2-1.4 g/kg of body weight/day

Endurance exercise uses mostly aerobic glycolysis for energy, which can use carbohydrates, fat, and some protein for fuel. Studies have found that this kind of exercise does increase protein oxidation – and this effect is greater with higher intensities – which results in higher protein requirements. Also, increased protein is also needed to repair muscle damage.

Protein powerfood #4: Tofu (~27 g per 150 g serving)

What is nutrient timing?

The idea of nutrient timing suggests that muscle growth can be maximized by paying attention to when you eat. It breaks down growth into 3 phases:

1. Energy phase (the workout) – Eating carbs during your workout will spare muscle glycogen, increase muscular endurance, maintain immune function, minimize muscle damage, and allows for faster recovery. Eating a small amount of protein either during or before will spare muscle breakdown and help to increase protein synthesis post-workout.

2. Anabolic phase (0 to 45 minutes post-workout) – Eating carbohydrate and protein in a 3:1 ratio can help to promote an anabolic (growth) state by stimulating insulin, replenish glycogen, and reduce muscle damage.

3. Growth phase

  • A. Rapid phase (1-5 hours post-workout) – eating carbs and protein during this phase will help to maintain muscle growth.
  • B. Sustained phase (>5 hours post-workout) – eating enough protein regularly throughout the day helps to make sure that enough is available for protein synthesis. It is important to also eat sufficient calories from carbohydrates and fat to make sure that protein isn’t burned for energy.

Protein powerfood #5: Salmon (~25 g per 4 oz serving)

I hope you guys found this interesting and if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments or shoot me an email! :)

What is your favourite source of protein?


Filed under exercise, nutrition

Let’s talk about protein powders

One thing I’ve been wanting to talk about lately on this blog is protein powders. Until recently, I didn’t really know that protein powder is something that is commonly used by people my age. I figured it was for bodybuilders and athletes. But once I started writing this blog and checking out other blogs, I was surprised to see so many fellow bloggers using them!

I didn’t hop on the protein powder bandwagon though because I eat a diet with plenty of protein, so I figured I didn’t need them.

Last year in my first year nutrition class we learned about protein requirements – and they’re a lot less than I thought! According to the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDRs), protein only needs to make up 10-35% of our diet. There’s also a more specific Recommended Daily Amount (RDA):

RDA (Adults > 19 years) = 0.8 g protein/kg/day

That’s really not that much! For a 120 lb woman, that’s only about 44 g of protein. Considering the average person already gets more than this amount in their daily diet without even trying, I didn’t see the need for protein powders in the average diet.

But when might protein needs be increased?

1. In children, teens, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
2. In clinical stress, such as after operations, sepsis, major burns, and multiple traumatic injuries.
3. In highly competitive strength and endurance athletes who exercise for multiple hours at at a time on a regular basis.

So what do I believe now as a student of nutrition? I still don’t believe protein powders are necessary in the average diet. When I did a diet analysis for my class last year, I found out I was getting 1.3 g protein/kg/d without even trying! However, do think they are important for hospital patients under clinical stress and they may be beneficial for athletes, vegan diets, and the elderly.

Another good use for protein powder is to amp up the nutrition and satiety factor of snacks that otherwise may not be that filling. Protein powder adds a good dose of protein to this granola bar recipe, making them a great snack to keep you full and energized for a few hours:

Crunchy Soy Nut Butter Protein bars
Adapted from this recipe from Oh She Glows

Makes 10

1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup Kellogg’s All Bran Flakes
1/3 cup vanilla protein powder
1/3 cup of raisins or chocolate chips (personally I prefer chocolate chips!)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup of honey
1/2 cup of soy nut butter
1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Mix together the dry ingredients. Then microwave the honey, soy nut butter, and vanilla and stir until smooth. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix until they are evenly coated. Press the mixture into an 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper and press down firmly with wet fingers. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes, then cut into bars.

What do you think about using protein powders? Do you use them?

What’s your favourite protein bar or granola bar recipe?


Filed under nutrition, recipe