“If you could recommend just one simple change to your client for fat loss, what would it be?” an interviewer recently asked me.
She probably expected me to discuss food intolerances or suggest dumping added sugars. Maybe I would recommend burst training combined with weight resistance.
All those definitely contribute, but my number-one game changer for fast, lasting fat has nothing to do with exercise or changing what goes on to your plate.
I’m talking about a protein shake.
The whole thing takes maybe five minutes to prepare, provides all the nutrients you need to perform like a rock star, and keeps you full, focused, and burning fat for hours. I’ve had clients do nothing else but substitute one for breakfast and successfully ditch those last stubborn pounds.
Studies confirm a liquid meal replacement “can safely and effectively produce significant sustainable weight loss and improve weight-related risk factors of disease.”
Starting your day with a shake makes sense when you consider that breakfast sets your metabolic tone. Convenient though they are, a sugary muffin or cereal will instigate a blood sugar spike-and-crash roller coaster, creating hunger and cravings throughout the day.
A protein shake steadies blood sugar levels to keep hunger and cravings at bay. Studies show compared with high-carbohydrate foods like muffins and cereals, a high-protein breakfast reduces your hunger hormone ghrelin and increases your hunger-suppressing hormone cholecystokinin. Talk about a win-win!
“The last thing I feel like doing in the morning is eating a protein-rich meal,” many folks confess. But a protein shake makes the perfect alternative whether you’re traveling or juggling an especially hectic workday morning because:
Manufacturers know that between the frantic search for your keys and getting the kids ready for school, you’re most likely to take the path of least resistance in the morning. A protein shake takes the guesswork out of breakfast. Just toss everything into your blender and in minutes you’ve got a portable grab-and-go meal.
It provides steady, sustained energy.
A low-fat muffin and large latte raises your insulin levels and jacks up your stress hormone cortisol, setting the stage for a late-morning crash that will leave you running for another sugary, caffeinated pick-me-up. A protein shake helps keep you focused with sustained energy for hours. That means no 11am doughnut cravings and no snapping at your co-workers once your blood sugar levels crash.
Tally up how much you spend on bagels, coffee shop smoothies, or whatever else counts for breakfast. Surprised? For the price of a large coffee, you can throw together a filling, nutrient-rich, fat-burning protein shake.
You know that time excuse for not having breakfast? It doesn’t work with a protein shake. In about the time it takes to pour cereal and milk, you can toss blend everything for a filling, delicious protein shake.
Made correctly, a protein shake provides an excellent source of healthy fat, fiber, antioxidants, nutrients, high quality protein. Feel free to improvise within these guidelines, but my basic shake blends:
- A non-soy, nondairy plant-based or defatted-beef (you read that correctly) powder with 20 - 25 grams of protein and 5 grams or less of sugar per serving
- ½ cup - 1 cup frozen berries
- Avocado (provides a creamy, decadent texture along with nutrients and fiber)
- Kale or other leafy greens (you won’t taste them)
- 1 - 2 Tbsp freshly ground flaxseed or chia seeds
- 8 - 10 ounces unsweetened coconut or almond milk
Have you made morning a protein shake? I would love to hear your favorite recipe in the comments below.
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