Adventures With Protein


Did you know that in Australia, you can visit your GP and ask for a “wellness plan”. This will mean you are given X number of bulk-billed visits to a dietitian, and an exercise physiologist. For non Aussies, bulk billed translates to completely cost free to the patient.

For the first two months of 2016, I was doing pretty well on my own. I lost 10kg. After my diverticulitis adventure, I was struggling a little and I got stuck at 85kg for over a month. Part of that was the enforced “none at all” and then “just a little exercise” directive I was given.

Part of that was struggling to replace some of the foods that I was using to help me lose weight – eg nuts are mostly out other than softer nuts like macadamias and pecans, anything with seeds are mostly out eg tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, cucumber. I ended up replacing these better foods with things that were around the same amount of calories but much less nutritional value, like hot cross buns! I won’t lie, I love a hot cross bun.

Lunches were the most difficult to fix, because I was mostly having the same thing every day and it involved tomatoes. I’m someone who likes to stick to something, when I love it and it works for me.

So my doctor recommended the wellness plan option, and scheduled an appointment with the dietician, and the exercise physiologist – hereafter known as trainer, because that is too long to type, lol.

The weekend before the appointment we happened to be at Shellharbour and I wanted to visit the health food store there and get some advice about protein. I usually steer clear of these places because my experiences with them have been Not Great, Bob. Usually the ones around here are staffed by muscly, burly blokes who are not the brightest bulb on the tree. And this place was no exception to the rule. I’ll now recreate the discussion for you.

Me – “I want to get some protein. Just protein. I don’t want anything else in there. No stevia, no sweeteners, no extras. Just protein.”

Him – “Ok, well generally the reason they put those things in there is because protein tastes pretty bad on its own.”

Me – “It won’t be on its own, I will be flavouring it myself. With something like this.” (holds up powdered peanut butter which I already had found and was intending to purchase) “Or with cocoa powder, maybe a little maple syrup if it needs sweetening.”

Him – “Ok, then you could try this one. But I am warning you now, you will not like how it tastes.”

Me – “Is there maybe a smaller packet I could try, to see if I like it?”

Him – “This is the smallest size.”

Ok then, armed with 1kg of Whey Protein, and the powdered peanut butter, I left victorious. Momentarily. Because I really was not sure what I should do with this stuff. However I had my dietitian appointment coming up and I figured she could clue me in.

Of course the first thing I did when I got home was open the packet and taste this stuff. I can now tell you how protein tastes to me. Like absolutely nothing. It has no flavour at all. You could add it to anything and I would say the only thing you will notice is the occasional grainy, gritty texture. Because it does have a bit of a texture to it.

The second thing I did was make a shake with the peanut butter powder. OMG it tastes incredible. And I discovered you can get it at Coles, too! Which is good because I am going to be buying a lot of this. If you like peanut butter or peanuts, you will LOVE this stuff.

So I took these things along with me, plus my MyFitnessPal records for the past 3.5 months along to see the dietitian. She asked me a lot of questions and then she gave me absolute gold in return. Here are the goldest nuggets –

1. Beetroot would work well with ham and cream cheese on a rice cracker, for lunches. It is EPIC, I’m telling you. But she would like me to try and add tomatoes back in, because I had tolerated them fine for 40+ years, plus the seeds are pretty soft.

2. Protein shakes are best to have around 30 minutes after exercise. If I use 1 cup of milk that is a good place to get one of my daily serves of dairy. To begin with I should start with half a serving (15g = 13g protein) and see how that goes. If I feel like I need more, I can work my way up to 30g. The peanut butter powder has 4g protein for 1 tablespoon. So in one small shake, I get 17g protein.

She gave me some suggestions to try with the shakes, eg add greek yoghurt, freeze some bananas and add them in, strawberries and other berries should be fine if my blender is good enough.

Here is the protein shake recipe I am loving a lot.

40g RAW flavour WPI protein powder
1 tablespoon PB2 – Peanut butter powder
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
35g-40g frozen banana – I break them into pieces and freeze.
1 cup almond milk.

Updated 1 January 2018 – my current favourite recipe is –

40g RAW flavour WPI protein powder
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
35g-40g frozen banana – I break them into pieces and freeze.
100mls almond milk.
100mls brewed espresso coffee
1 frozen espresso coffee icecube.
(instant or filtered coffee will also work)

Sometimes I will leave the cocoa powder or the cinnamon out, depends how I am feeling that day. I find the banana sweetens it enough, but I have added a touch of maple sugar once to see what that was like. It wasn’t really needed.

Where Do I Get My Protein From?

I’ve tried all kinds of options for buying protein and by far the cheapest and most reasonable is Bulk Nutrients. They are based in Tasmania. I usually buy in bulk 5kg of protein at one time because I know I am going to use it. Just for an idea of how long that will last me – I use 40g in a shake and there is 1000g in a kilo. I can make 25 shakes from 1kg.

What Kind Of Protein Do I Buy?

I choose Whey Protein Isolate as it is a smaller molecule. I buy it in the raw flavour because all the flavoured versions have artificial sweetener and I don’t love the aftertaste of it. I don’t need to add sweetener and I add my own flavours. ;)

You might want to consider some of the other options available. There is a slightly larger molecule Whey Protein Concentrate available and it is a bit cheaper. I used to buy that and it was perfectly fine. They now have hemp protein in the raw flavour if you are looking for a vegan option – it is dairy and lactose free.

How Do I Blend It?

I was looking for a small cup blender specifically for these shakes because the better you blend them, the less texture of protein you notice. I ended up with the Nutri Ninja and I bought a couple of extra cups for it. The awesomeness I will be whizzing up in this thing is endless! When you go looking for a blender you want to make sure and get one that can handle ice and frozen bananas. Nutribullet is another one I looked at.

When Do I Eat It?

Usually I have my shake between 12pm-1pm and it leaves me feeling very full. I end up needing less dinner as a result, which is also an epic win.

How Am I Now?

Health wise I am back to where I was at the end of February. I am starting to feel more comfortable exercise wise and I’m ok with pushing myself a bit harder now.

The weight loss has started back on a downward trend, I’ve seen the number 84 on the scales now. My goal is 70kg by October however I am not sure how 70kg will work for me. We’ll wait and see.

My nutrition is a LOT better, and I find I do not want things I used to want. The closest I will get to a potato chip now is Vege Chips – and if you have not tried those, you should.

I’m still a shitty blog friend – and a shitty blogger – right now, and I am still deeply apologetic for that. On the other hand, I am a lot more fit and active than I was back when I was a good blog friend and good blogger, and that is something which is very important to me right now, especially with a general anesthetic for the colonoscopy in my near-ish future. I can’t be sorry about that – it is what I need to do for myself right now. :)

Similar Posts:

exercise, health, recipes

22 thoughts on “Adventures With Protein

  1. All that matters is that you beginning to feel better. So glad you found the time to share an update. As for your protein drink recipe… I have a large jar of Belgian chocolate protein powder. I mix it in a glass with water. That’s as much of a recipe as I can stand!

    • Ooh, yum! So you mix it with water, and it is ok? I might have to try it one day and see what that is like. :)

      My one weakness is dark chocolate. I have actually budgeted to have at least half a serving a day, as my before bedtime treat. :)

  2. *waves madly from Texas* Protein shakes can be amazing and I always make mine with milk. I figure that I need the dairy and the shakes have more ooomph to them if made with milk rather than water. PB2 is a wonderful find and great in shakes (reminder to self that I need to buy some more). And I love using frozen bananas as you described. Obviously we are twins separated by half the world.

    • *waves back madly from Australia* Hi there! :)

      I do need the dairy, when we did the maths I was not getting 2 serves a day. I’m still cutting it a little fine and probably should work in a small cheese serving, somewhere. :)

      I cannot believe the amount of bananas I wasted before I worked out I could freeze them! :) Thanks for dropping by my place, I will check yours out tonight.

  3. I’m glad to hear that you are feeling better. I love PB2! It’s finally become possible to find it locally and not have to order online. It’s great mixed in with many different things – terrific in yogurt. Plus mixed with water it makes a delicious peanut butter substitute for sandwiches. I’m not, however, a big fan of whey powder. But it is intended as a short term solution. Hopefully your tum will be able to tolerate more protein sources over time.

    I have similar dietary restrictions when my gastro is active. Low fiber diets are just counterintuitive. You may find that you’re able to eat many of the fruits and vegetables you can’t currently eat provided they have no skins and have been cooked or frozen. Such as I can eat canned peaches or frozen strawberries, but not fresh. Cooked carrots and spinach are great, fresh are impossible. Of course, your body is different so my experiences may not be helpful at all.

    • I would not have thought to put the powder in yoghurt, but I am absolutely going to give that a try. :) YUM!

      The thing I have to be careful of is seeds that are not digested, or hard nuts which might not get digested well by the time they reach the tiny pouches they might get stuck in. I can tolerate most things quite well, and I probably could eat all the things I am avoiding without any problems, it is just there is an element of danger that I could end up back in that situation again, needing IV antibiotics or having to go back to hospital. I think at this stage I’d rather play it safe! ;)

      I am pretty sure it was cacao nibs that started all of this. But we will never know for sure. :)

  4. You have to prioritise in the way you see fit. I’ve been prioritising exercise for the last 6 weeks and have said to hell with the housework. As I’m also doing the Marie Kondo declutter thing which means taking everything out, I feel it might as well be DOUBLY untidy. ;) And that peanut butter powder sounds amazing.

    • I will be having a big declutter at the end of this, so I am reading your posts on that subject with great interest. :) The one downside to all this exercise is – some of my much loved clothes will no longer fit. :/ Though there is one dress – of course my most favourite – which was damaged that I might be able to get remade now into a smaller size with the extra material. :)

      Absolutely look out for the peanut butter powder – I don’t know if you have Max Brenner over there, but they make this peanut butter shake which is *amazing* and it tastes like it has this powder in it. :) This shake is now my most looked forward to treat of the day! ;)

    • I’m hoping I am back blogging, SSG! At least for a little bit. I’m just going to play it by ear and see how it goes. I do have a couple of posts scheduled now. :)

  5. Good to hear from you and I now have a case of the guilts about my own diet and lack of exercise. I don’t think I could ever go down the road of supplementary protein as you are doing.

    • I thought the exact same thing, Andrew. The bottom line is, with the amount of exercise I am now doing, I do not get enough protein for my body via my regular diet. I’d have to eat at least 500G of beef a day, and even more of chicken! I struggle to eat more than 200-250G of either of those, a day.

      It isn’t a very big shake. 1 cup of milk with those things added works out to not a big drink. And I am having half the serving size of protein the packet recommends, 15g vs 30g. But it is very filling! :) I do not know if I could handle 30g. :)

    • Thanks MargieGF! ;) It is a lot of hard work but it has a lot of positive effects on me, so it is worth it. I’m sleeping so much better, feeling a lot better mentally, and challenging myself, which is interesting for me. :) I have a post coming tomorrow about a 5 week challenge I am doing at the moment.. :)

  6. I saw peanut butter powder for the first time yesterday at Costco. It was taking the shelf space that used to hold the natural, non-organic peanut butter that Youngest Son likes. I wonder if it could be reconstituted?

    • Thanks Beth! Vege chips are good for so many reasons. I like the size of the packet – I buy the snack packs with 12 small bags in there. I love the salt and vinegar flavour best of all. :) But also The Other Half likes them, and they are low sodium which he needs as much as possible. :)

  7. Good to hear you’re on your way back to health. I hadn’t heard about the Wellness Plan.
    I’ve tried vege chips and they are AWFUL. To me anyway. I don’t eat regular chips either, so that’s okay.
    I’ve thought about protein drinks as meal replacements, but they all seem to need to be added to milk and that’s too much milk for me, I have an intolerance, so need to limit my intake. I’ll just stick with smaller portions of everything and see how I go.

    • Protein powder can be added to water, as well. I have not tried that, though. For me since we switched to the a2 milk a few years ago, I tolerate it a heck of a lot better than I used to. I have also tried a couple of lactose free milks before and found them to work well for me. I did tend to get a lot of gas pain and bloating with regular milk, so it is nice to be able to drink milk without that now. :)

  8. Don’t worry about being a shitty blog friend. Take care of yourself, as that’s the most important thing.

    As for protein, it’s frustrating. I’m supposed to have whey protein isolate, because it breaks down faster. And as a gastric bypass patient, I things to break down fast so I can absorb them before they pass out of my system. I’ve found ones I like, but it seems like all the really tasty ones are a different kind of protein, like whey concentrate, milk or plant protein. I tend to buy chocolate or vanilla, and then dress them up with PB2, or I add some Torani sugar free syrups. Luckily I’m far enough out from surgery that I really don’t need to rely on protein shakes anymore.

    Oh, and you shake sounds delicious!!! I will need to try it.

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