I’ve been making protein shakes ever since I started getting serious about cycling several years back. The reason being, it’s the fastest way to nourish yourself after a workout or ride and to start repairing your torn muscles. It’s recommended that you take protein, any form of it, within 30 minutes after finishing your workout. Some say, up to an hour. And still others say, within the day depending on your intentions. If you want that metabolic “burn” to continue throughout the day, you may wait a little longer to take the protein. But with my metabolism already naturally high, I take it within 30 minutes – maximum. What you don’t want to do is to starve your system in such a way that it starts to feed on the muscles, keeping it in a catabolic state – something I’ve done in the past. A protein shake can help you avoid that – that is, if you’re not overtraining.
With each year, I’ve refined my list of ingredients in making the ultimate protein shake. I went from just using whey protein powder with 2% milk, to going full vegan with Sun Warrior and almond milk, then transitioning to Hemp protein (which I regard as the cleanest plant protein) and organic coconut milk. I further refined it by adding more whole foods and spices to the mix for more anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory qualities:
- 300 ml organic coconut milk by So Delicious;
- 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of Nutiva Hemp Protein, natural flavor;
- several dashes or 1 teaspoon of organic turmeric;
- a couple of pinches of ground black pepper, to act as an adjuvant for the turmeric;
- a couple of pinches of pink Himalayan salt;
- a few slivers of pickled or whole ginger;
- 1 teaspoon of real Maine maple syrup;
- a dozen blueberries;
- 1 organic banana;
- 1 shot cold brew organic espresso;
- a dash or two of organic cacao.
Place all the ingredients together in a blender and mix. I use a small one by Hamilton Beach and cram everything in there, leaving just enough space for the contents to move and mix together without exploding and spilling.
The reason I use organic coconut milk is because conventional milk has antibiotics and growth hormones and it’s hard for me to digest. Not having conventional milk also eliminated mucus in my system. I shifted to almond milk, only to find out it has carrageenan. Apparently, the organic Silk brand doesn’t have it, but I’ve gotten tired of the taste and it’s very expensive. Not only that, there’s very little almonds used in almond milk. There are many more benefits in drinking coconut milk and it naturally comes straight from coconuts with little processing.
I use the Nutiva brand but there are also others. It’s a product of Canada, probably from Manitoba, because there’s a comparable company that produces a ton of hemp products.
“Hemp seeds contain one of the most complete protein profiles of any nut or seed known to mankind. They get even better; they also contain the right ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Their GLA (Gamma linolenic acid) content is 30% for whole seeds and 10% for protein powders. They taste delicious and nutty and do not overpower the other flavors like some vegetarian shake mixes tend to do.”
As I mentioned before, I’ve tried whey protein before. But for some reason, my stomach started to revolt after years of taking it when I did some bodybuilding, so I stopped.
There are many benefits to using turmeric. Mainly, it’s because of its anti-inflammatory qualities. Some brands of turmeric have lead in them. The brand I use, Simply Organic, does not. Beware of what you buy and always do your research on the source. The best thing to do is to grow your own, of course. I buy it out of convenience.
This too is anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory. The Chinese have been using it for centuries in every vegetable dish to its mitigate impurities and I’ve always had it in my meals growing up with my grandmother and mother’s cooking. But you don’t want to eat it in a dish because it absorbs all the impurities. It’s okay to eat it raw or pickled within a shake, however.
If you believe in the hype, people call it a superfood. To me, they’re just blueberries and they’re delicious and high in fibre. Adding blueberries to your protein shake will add another taste dimension. This too have anti-oxidative qualities along with vitamins and nutrients you need to recover.
Real maple syrup
If you want some natural sugars in your protein shake, this is the way to do it. It’s has numerous antioxidants to fight those exercise-generated free radicals, low on the glycemic index for better release of nutrients, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer, and has numerous vitamins and minerals.
This adds body to your shake more than the other ingredients. It makes it thicker and is ideal because of the amount of potassium and carbohydrates it has to refuel your system. And as cyclists, this is usually the go-to on-bike snack for refueling. Do I really need to talk more about it?
The idea behind the protein shake is to make something that tastes good, nourishes you and works for you and your stomach. It may take several tries before you get it right. If you have your own version of a protein shake, feel free to share in the comments or mention me on an Instagram post.