Top 5 Superfoods to Add to Your Protein Shakes and Smoothies
June 25, 2018
If you regularly feel tired, sick or moody, need a weight-loss booster or want to prevent aging, this post is for you! These five superfoods can improve the overall quality of your health, are extremely simple to add to your daily protein shake or smoothie and can be found at health foods stores or online. As always, consult your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.
Superfood #1: Cacao Powder
Cacao is cocoa, or chocolate, in its natural state. It is completely raw, contains zero added ingredients and aids in boosting weight loss and overall vitality. Enjoy a rich chocolate taste by adding cacao powder to your protein shakes and smoothies. You can also find it in a solid form as cacao nibs, the raw version of chocolate chips. Both forms are great for replacing chocolate and cocoa in baked goods and trail mix and for adding to oatmeal and yogurt. Consume ½ tablespoon to 1½ tablespoons daily to get its powerful health benefits.
Cacao is best known for its fat-burning weight-loss qualities. It works to help your body more easily metabolize fat. It utilizes fat as energy, mobilizing your fat stores rather than storing excess fat. And due to its high fiber content and ability to increase the amount of serotonin produced in your brain, it suppresses your appetite—helping you feel fuller, longer throughout your day.
“Cacao also promotes weight loss through stimulating digestion, generally leading to an increased metabolism.”
This superfood refrains from spiking your blood sugar and insulin levels—both factors responsible for excess fat storage—which aids in keeping your cravings in check and avoiding sugar crashes. Cacao also promotes weight loss through stimulating digestion, generally leading to an increased metabolism.
Boost your mood with cacao! As stated previously, it increases the production of serotonin, along with dopamine—your “feel good” hormones. Therefore, this superfood is regularly used as a natural mood enhancer, antidepressant and anxiety and stress reliever.
Cacao also contains 40 times more antioxidants than blueberries, provides more calcium than cow’s milk and is the highest plant-based source of iron!
Superfood #2: Spirulina
Spirulina is a blue-green algae and considered to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Not only is it 60 to 70% protein, containing all amino acids, but it also contains 26 times more calcium than milk and is a great source of fiber, iron, omega-3s, B vitamins and antioxidants.
Spirulina powder has a distinct taste, although when mixed with flavored protein powder, it is greatly muted. After regular use, most people grow accustomed to the taste and it will go unnoticed. Begin by adding ½ teaspoon to your daily shakes and smoothies. Once accustomed to the taste, begin to increase your intake to between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon daily. If the taste is not for you, try it in capsule form.
Spirulina is especially beneficial for women because it can help reduce PMS symptoms such as bloating, fatigue, cramps and mood swings. And because it contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals, you might also notice shinier hair, stronger nails and glowing skin.
Spirulina is most commonly known for its ability to detoxify the body from heavy metals and other pollutants you are exposed to on a daily basis. It also contains antiviral properties and powerfully boosts your immune system. When you are sick, it is suggested to increase your spirulina intake up to 2 tablespoons a day.
“Supplementing spirulina take the place of your daily multivitamin due to its wide range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.”
Regularly adding this superfood to your protein shakes and smoothies can provide weight-loss benefits. Because it’s high in fiber, spirulina suppresses your appetite. And because protein consumption burns calories through digestion—and spirulina is roughly 70% protein—it helps you burn more calories, decrease fat stores, promote lean muscle mass and speed up your metabolism. It has also been shown to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels and boost digestion.
Supplementing spirulina take the place of your daily multivitamin due to its wide range of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. It also improves your overall vitality and energy levels.
Superfood #3: Goji Berry Powder
Goji berries are small red berries that are native to Asia and popular in Chinese medicine. They are jam-packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, iron, zinc and many other trace minerals and protein, and they are amazing at reducing inflammation in the body.
Goji berries can be found in powdered form and add a delicious yet very subtle fruit flavor to your protein shakes and smoothies. Supplement with 1 tablespoon of powder daily to reap the benefits. You can also try dried goji berries, which are perfect for an afternoon snack mixed with nuts, on top of oatmeal or eaten by themselves!
These berries contain all essential amino acids and 4 grams of protein per serving—which is extremely rare for a fruit—helping you build muscle faster! They’re also considered a complex carbohydrate, perfect for restoring your glycogen stores after a workout without spiking your blood sugar and insulin levels. Typically, the intake of protein and complex carbohydrates is recommended directly after exercise, making this superfood the perfect addition to your post-workout protein shakes and smoothies.
Many people supplement with goji berry powder due to its ability to promote weight loss. Being approximately 20% fiber, it acts as a natural appetite suppressant. Fibrous foods keep blood sugar levels stable, preventing sugar from being ushered into fat cells for storage, which can lead to weight gain. Goji berries also help alleviate stress, lowering cortisol in the bloodstream (high levels of cortisol are directly related to fat storage and increased food cravings). They also help increase stamina, endurance and muscle recovery, allowing you to push harder during your workouts in order to burn more calories.
“Many people supplement with goji berry powder due to its ability to promote weight loss.”
If you often get colds, this superfood should be supplemented in your daily protein shakes and smoothies, as it contains 500 times more vitamin C per ounce than oranges! Due to containing high amounts of vitamin C along with vitamin A, goji berries build up your immune system and help ward off common colds and other illnesses.
Other benefits of regular supplementation of goji berries include increased quality of sleep, concentration, calmness, mood and energy levels, quality of skin and overall vitality.
Superfood #4: Maca Powder
Maca is a type of cruciferous vegetable, in the same family as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, that originally came from Peru. It is also an adaptogen—a healing plant known for reducing stress and fatigue as well as improving attention and endurance. You can find maca in powdered form, making it easy to add to your protein shakes and smoothies. “Maca tends to have an earthy, slightly nutty taste with a hint of butterscotch.” (Rachael Link, MS, RD)
Most people take maca powder to feel more awake, energized and motivated. As these effects are usually felt quickly, it’s recommended to begin with small doses and slowly increase your intake. The upside of maca is that it will provide you with the same energy you get from coffee, but without the jitters. Try adding 1 teaspoon to your protein shake or smoothie, observe how you feel and add more accordingly. Be sure to read the recommended dosage on the label.
“The next time you feel like you are dragging, experiencing brain fog or stuck in a bad mood, try maca as a pick-me-up.”
The main benefit of this superfood is the impact it has on your overall vitality. Maca is known for boosting your mood, energy levels and mental clarity as well as helping overcome symptoms of menopause, depression, anxiety and stress. The next time you feel like you are dragging, experiencing brain fog or stuck in a bad mood, try maca as a pick-me-up.
Maca has also been shown to balance estrogen levels. If you are a woman, estrogen plays many roles in the overall functioning of your body. Estrogen levels influence levels of ghrelin and leptin, your hunger and fullness hormones. When estrogen levels are balanced, you’ll also experience a control in your appetite and food cravings.
Adding maca powder to your protein shakes and smoothies also helps increase muscle and hair growth, stamina, endurance, thyroid function and fertility.
Superfood #5: Collagen Peptides
Collagen is the most common protein found in your body, and it provides strength and elasticity to your skin, bones, muscles, tissues and tendons. As you age, your production of collagen decreases, which explains why your skin can become wrinkled and look “saggy” and why your bones and joints grow weaker. Supplementing with collagen powder can slow and even reverse the aging process, among other benefits.
Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of collagen peptides to your daily protein shake or smoothie and bump up your protein intake by 10-20 grams. This superfood has a completely neutral taste and gives your shake a creamier, thicker texture.
Daily supplementation of this powerful superfood can provide amazing anti-aging benefits, like tightening of the skin and a reduction in the appearance of cellulite, stretch marks and wrinkles.
“Collagen peptides also assist in building lean muscle mass through boosting the production of amino acids in your body, helping your muscles repair and grow faster.”
The loss of collagen in your joints leads to inflammation, causing them to move less smoothly. Supplementing with this superfood has been shown to decrease joint pain by reducing your inflammation.
Collagen peptides also assist in building lean muscle mass through boosting the production of amino acids in your body, helping your muscles repair and grow faster. More muscle mass means a faster metabolism and greater fat loss.
Other benefits of adding collagen peptides to your protein shakes and smoothies include stronger nails, a decrease in hair loss and improved digestion, among many others.
The same benefits of collagen peptides can be obtained through incorporating bone broth into your diet.