Nutrition: Whey protein powder and pea protein powder

Friday 04 May 2018

I wanted to write about protein powders this week because I regularly see visitors to Maggie’s who either need to build themselves up after surgery, or after a particularly poor patch as a result of treatment when they have very little appetite. Or for people who wish to lose weight or have difficulty swallowing as a result of treatment.  Protein powders can be so versatile and help in all of these different situations depending on how it is incorporated into an eating plan. It is also really good for a quick breakfast when time is short.

What is protein  needed for?

As we know from the first blog that protein is very important as part of a healthy eating plan for several reasons. It has the potential to fight infection, needed for repair of tissues, helps to sustain and even blood sugar and that enzymes, hormones and anti bodies are made of protein.

What is protein powder and how can it help?

Look out for protein powders as they are pure proteins, not to be confused with the body building protein that is sold which usually contains extra glucose, sometimes caffeine and creatine. Protein powder is easily digested and absorbed. It is also high in one of the essential amino acid called L glutamine. ( Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.  They are linked together to make a protein chain). L glutamine is particularly beneficial because it helps to heal the lining of the digestive tract which can easily become damaged as a result of treatment.

Visitors quite often talk about problems with their digestion. It is also the most abundant amino acid found in muscle tissue helping to give the muscle energy.

You can buy 2 types, whey protein and pea protein. The whey protein comes in a variety of flavours but I always think it is a good idea to buy the unflavoured variety as this will mix with both sweet and savoury foods to add value.
One very easy way of incorporating them is to simply follow the instructions on the tub and mix with water shake and drink. But I like to use them for mixing with other ingredients to increase the food value and make up a meal replacement. Like having a meal in a glass.

Here is a recipe that I often share with visitors and am told through feedback,  that they find it really simple to make and a great help. I must add here that I cannot take credit for it as it is not my recipe but one that I was given by the   when I was doing some training there.

Protein drink ( Penny Brohn Cancer Centre),This could be used as a meal replacement if you wanted to lose weight.  Drunk between meals to help with weight gain or sipped throughout the day when appetite is poor or if you have difficulty swallowing.Nutritionally the drink is superb, high in vitamins and essential fats and of course protein

1 heaped teaspoon of Tahini   (sesame seed paste used when make hummus)
1 heaped teaspoon ground almonds.
1 small avocado peeled and pip removed and chopped
100g/4oz. Blueberries
1 medium apple cored and  chopped.
150mls of rice milk or oat milk.
1 teaspoon runny honey or agave syrup.
2 heaped teaspoons ground flax seed (also known as linseed)
2 tablespoons of omega 3 rich oil (flax oil, hemp oil or walnut oil)
1 scoop protein powder.

Simply blend all the ingredients together and keep in the fridge for up to 24hours.  It may discolour a little because of the avocado. A 200ml glass contains approximately 388 calories.

This of course would change if you chose to use different fruits i.e. change the blueberries and apple for a banana and pear or strawberries and melon etc.. You could add vanilla essence or cinnamon to ring the changes.

I think that it would be a good idea to keep the avocado because of its nutritional value and it gives the drink a smooth silky texture that is easy to swallow. Most of the ingredients can be bought in supermarkets,  probably the only one you could not get would be the ground flax seeds which you would have to get from a health food shop. The protein powder you can access online.

SoupsThe protein powder can of course be added to soups. To do this you would have to mix the powder with a little cold water and then stir it into the soup at the end of the cooking time when it was ready to eat, a little bit like using corn flour to thicken something. You cannot cook with it because it is a protein, it would harden and possibly go lumpy.

Blog originally written by Caroline may 2012

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