Dear Bariatric Foodie: What is the deal with protein???

~by Nikki

Hi Friends. I was supposed to post two recipes today, both of them kid-friendly dishes that post-ops can enjoy too. I have one of them, my WLS-friendly chicken nuggets. But then my dog, Precious, went missing. She’s a toy poodle and she’s only a year old and I can’t imagine where she is right now but both the divas and I are very worried about her.

I’m sure you join me in praying (or hoping if praying isn’t your thing) for her safe return. In the meantime, I thought I’d spend some time addressing the questions I often get about protein shakes and cooking and baking with protein. I hope this is helpful. Stay tuned for chicken nuggets this afternoon!

Here are my thoughts on some of the common questions and concerns I get about protein:

“I can’t stand the taste protein powder! I’ve spent so much on protein powder. What do I do?”

You try another one. And another one. And another one. Simply put, most people go through a few kinds of protein before they find “their” protein that they love (or at least one that they don’t hate). Now this can be an expensive endeavor, so a few pieces of advice.

If you want to buy whole containers of protein powder, consider getting them at places like GNC, that let you return opened containers if you don’t like them. GNC will often also sell you a sample of protein. There are also websites, like Vitalady’s, that sell sample sizes of protein. Otherwise, contact the company that makes the protein. They probably have sample sizes for sale. It really does help to try before you buy.

Not getting in your protein is not an option. I also get the “how bad is it if I don’t get all my protein?” It’s bad. Yes, eventually you should and will probably be able to get the protein you need strictly from food (I am 3 years post-op and still do a shake every day just to be safe though), but in the early stages, protein supplements help you get what your body needs. So don’t make contingency plans, make strategies! We’ll help. Hit us up if you need us.

“I tried to make a hot protein drink and I got nasty lumps! What did I do wrong?”

Protein powder is sort of like eggs in that it needs to be “tempered” to higher temperatures. There are some who believe protein should not be heated above a certain temperature else it becomes ineffective. That’s simply not true. Yes, it changes in structure when you heat it. But so does an egg. It goes from being a gooey membrane to being a solid. The protein is still there, your body can still get it.

To effectively make a hot protein drink you have to first mix your protein with something either room temperature or cold. Everyone seems to have their own method. Even Jen’s method and mine differ. What I do is put my protein in a cup and mix it with an ounce or two of cold water. I stir it vigorously into a smooth (yet gritty) paste. The important part is to make sure there are no lumps hanging out at the bottom of your cup. Then you SLOWLY add hot water (I add boiling water) and continue to stir vigorously! It takes some practice but the end result, if you do it correctly, is a smooth, lump-free hot protein drink.

If you need ideas for good hot protein drinks, click here, we’ve got you covered!

“I want to try baking with protein powder. Any tips?”

I bake with protein powder all the time. My pumpkin roll cake and choco-nana cake, for instance, is made from protein powder with no flour. You should know several things:

  • The texture of something baked only with protein differs from something with flour in it. For starters, things baked with protein as the base weigh…nothing. They are light as air. For things like brownies, that can be a bit disconcerting. If that bothers you, you can certainly add a bit of whole wheat flour, Carbquik or Atkins Baking Mix.
  • You have to put more baking powder into cakey things using protein powder or it won’t rise. I usually put twice the amount a traditional recipe prescribes.
  • Protein cooks a lot more quickly than flour desserts. It’s never taken longer than about 10 minutes for any of my protein based desserts to bake in the oven.

“What if I want to add protein to savory things?”

Unflavored protein is the way to go. We like Any Whey unflavored protein. It’s formulated for cooking and you cannot taste it. Jen reports sometimes she gets a hint of vanilla smell when she first opens the container,  but that it disappears into the dish and she doesn’t notice in the final product. I’ve never noticed that myself.

You’ll notice we use Any Whey in a lot of our blog recipes to amp up everything from soup to cheesecake!

“My protein makes me feel yucky! Why is that?”

There are a few things that could be going on. We’d suggest you contact your nutritionist to help you but here are some other pointers. First, if you are consuming whey, know that it is made from milk. Whey isolate has had the lactose removed but whey concentrate still has some lactose in it. That, along with using cow’s milk as a base, can be troublesome for people who have developed lactose intolerance, which is entirely possible after weight-loss surgery. Again, consult with your nutritionist. They might advise you to stop consuming lactose for a few days then re-introduce it to see if that causes an effect.

Some people also report whey intolerance. Again, your medical team can help you determine if that’s the case but there are lots of other worthy protein choices besides whey. And you can use any type of protein to make our shake recipes!

Those are by no means all the questions I get but they are the most common ones. If you have a question, hit us up! We’re happy to help.

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