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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Protein, protein, protein -- It *is* your friend

Protein. We hear the debates all over the place. High protein? High carb? Good carbs? Bad carbs? Good protein? Bad protein? Supplement? No supplement?

Let me tell you my experience, maybe that will help. Going into weight loss surgery I knew I was going to have to drink protein drinks post-op for the rest of my life. I started drinking one or two a day as a replacement for snacks. I replaced skim milk with unsweetened, unflavored almond milk, There are more advantages to almond milk than skim milk, but that's just my opinion.

I bought the ARO black series natural vanilla from Vitacost. I always have purchased my vitamins from them and their brand is of high quality and very affordable. Plus, buy $25 of their brand of any combo and you get free shipping. NO ONE has paid me to endorse these products! I think they are of good quality and reasonably priced. You can register at Vitacost and receive $10 off your first $30 -- if you buy $30 of Vitacost vitamins or products you get free shipping. That's how I got hooked!

I like the ARO black series. I only tried the vanilla and it has a nice creamy texture and it's not gritty at all. Post-op I make mine with 4 ounces unsweetened, unflavored almond milk and 4 ounces of water. The ARO vanilla has 200 calories per scoop and 20 grams of protein and 7 carbs. It's not PERFECT for a post-op patient, gets the protein in me and the "extra" carbs IMHO are negligible.
You can add anything you want to the powder. Pre-op I once combined strawberries, grape tomatoes and a teaspoon or two of unsweetened cocoa powder. I buy Hersey since I use so little of it and it's high quality. That was a really delicious drink and it wasn't super sweet with the tomatoes.

I also tried the GNC 100% soy isolate Pro Performance powder. Umm...yeah, not my thing. I am mixing it with the ARO. IMHO the GNC is really for athletes or people who exercise/work out a lot. No matter how much I blend it I always seem to get a gritty taste.
GNC Pro Performance Vanilla -- 25g protein

GNC Pro Performance Vanilla - 25g protein
Post-op I added nothing -- and I drank 4 a day, alternating them. A post-op weight loss surgery femald needs to get 60g to 80g protein every day JUST from their protein supplement. Well, since your drinking liquids: low sodium V-8, watered down apple juice, water, sugar-free Jell-O, sugar-free popcicles, clear broth and strained cream soups you have got to drink at least 3 a day. I drank four. Two ARO and two GNC. That gave me 100g - MORE than enough.

The initial price tag for protein powder can cause sticker shock. Let me assure you, it's worth it. Get the best you can afford in the 20g to 25g range and try to make sure the carbs are 5g or less per scoop. Read your labels carefully. Some are made with milk and sucralose (Splenda) -- like the Vitacost. If you have milk allergies, look for a 100% SOY isolate powder. If you have soy issues and milk issues consult your doctor or dietitian for help.

So, that's it about protein. Protein drinks are NOT to be used WITH a meal. You can't make them with ice cream -- they are not meant to be a milk shake. They are meant to BE a meal. You can make them into smoothies with fruits and veggies. Kale and spinach are good things to throw into you protein drinks. Not post-op for at least 4 months, but if you're not a WLS (weight loss surgery) patient put a pinch of fresh spinach or kale in with your strawberries or blueberries. 

There are many flavors of protein powders out there but I intend to try an unflavored one and add pure vanilla extract or instant coffee or unsweetened cocoa powder to mine, for now. Later I can add fruits and veggies. Also one note to end my rant on protein -- if you have a blender strong enough to crush ice, using a little ice will thicken up any protein drink and make it LIKE a milkshake. But DO NOT USE ICE CREAM!

As always -- CHEERS!
Rachael Monaco