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Protein is essential for losing the baby weight while breastfeeding, yet sometimes it’s hard to make sure you are eating enough because of all the carb cravings. I would much rather have some chocolate chip, milk-boosting cookies, rather than chicken. That’s just the way my taste-buds are. But, there are some great ways you can get more protein in, which is essential for helping you to lose weight and keep your milk supply up. I talk a lot about protein on this blog because it is so important to maintain your muscles, keep you full, fuel your brain and ultimately aid in your weight loss and fitness efforts.
So, let’s talk about how you can get more protein in once baby arrives. The goal is to lose the weight and keep your milk supply up. I have lots more tips on that in this post, which you will want to read after this one! If you aren’t nursing, protein is still essential to weight loss because your body will want to eat away at your muscles. Protein helps encourage your body to use fat, rather than your muscle tissue as fuel in a calorie deficit state. That’s what we want, and we have to eat protein to do it!
This, for me, is the simplest, most effective way to make sure I am getting enough protein. I don’t particularly like a lot of meat. It just isn’t something I crave, and my boys are still picky eaters, where chicken nuggets are sometimes all they will eat. I recently just got them to eat scrambled eggs, which luckily, I like too. Not making a lot of meat during the day, and not being into steak like my husband, I just find it easier to whip up protein shakes. Literally, just this morning I made two green protein shakes because it was so much faster than cooking eggs, or whipping up a salad. My favorite Protein Powder is the IdealRaw. It really is super clean, no chemical, perfect for breastfeeding because it has milk-increasing ingredients, and it tastes great. Below is the vanilla that I have. If you need help trying to decide how to choose a protein powder, I wrote this guide. I also have a list of my top choices for protein powders if you are breastfeeding. If you need some recipe inspo, here are some of my protein-smoothie bowl recipes to get you started!
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Make-Ahead Egg Muffins:
These are super quick and easy to do, and you can pack them in sandwhich baggies on the go. I really like this Turkey Sausage recipe from Iron Wild Fitness, and this recipe with egg whites, tomatoes and spinach from Show Me The Yummy. These are so fast, and basically pure protein bites. Much better than grabbing a bag of chips or eating your kids left overs (GUILTY!!). Check out those recipes, and if you don’t like eggs, you might like the next idea better because there’s no prep at all.
Now, these you have to be careful because a lot of them are created for body builders. Not only are they high in protein, they are also high in calories. Many of them are loaded with chemicals, so the first step is to make a really good choice. What’s even better, these protein bars can really satisfy a sweet tooth (hello breastfeeding and sugar cravings! More on why that is here). These Rise Bars are pretty good. They come in at 280 calories for one, they only have 3 ingredients, great flavors, and 20 grams of protein. The RX Bars are the other ones I really like. They are all-natural, with straight forward ingredients like egg whites, almonds, cashews and dates. They are around 210 calories, but only 12 grams of protein. That’s why the Rise Bars were my top choice. The RX Bars are higher on the carb end, with 24 grams of carbs. That’s not necessarily bad, but our goal is protein. The other thing you want to be careful of are sugar alcohols. Some people, like myself, can’t digest them well, and they cause a lot of bowel issues. It is better to just stay away from those if possible.
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Home-Made Trail Mix:
Making your own trail mix is super fast and easy, it lasts for a while (I’m not sure how long. I always eat it too fast), and you have control of the protein/sugar ratios. Cashews, pistachios, almonds and pumpkin seeds are my favorite nuts. I like to combine those with semi-sweet chocolate chips (those are lower in sugar, but still super good), unsweetened coconut shreds and just a few dried dates. Dates are higher in sugar, so you want to just sprinkle those in. That’s about all I do. I will try to grab a photo the next time I make it. The only issue I have are how expensive cashews are. If anyone has a great place to buy or order those, that doesn’t literally cost my full right arm, let me know! Otherwise, there are some great protein blends you can order online, to make it even easier.
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Peanut Butter Powder:
I LOVE this stuff because you can bake with it, mix it in smoothies and just eat it. I have the chocolate/peanut butter blend right now, and I happen to eat it with a banana and chocolate chips as I am writing this. SO. GOOD. The powder formula takes at a lot of the fat and calories that are normally in peanut butter. You can take a tablespoon of the powder and mix it with a little water for about 50 calories. Compare that to 95 for 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, and that’s not too bad.With the fat gone, this becomes a protein-heavy food, rather than a fat-heavy food. A great way to get some extra protein in, without adding more fat to your diet or macro count. You can grab this one off Amazon, or I’ve seen it at Walmart too for around the same price. From what I’ve seen, it is the most affordable. Check out this banana cookie recipe to get you motivated to bake with it too!
These are the 5 ways I get more protein in as a runner, and a postpartum mama of a baby who is 16 months and still nursing. Protein is super important to my milk supply while I add miles to my runs and start working towarsd some spring races. If you are wanting to try running after having babies, DO IT! I wrote a post on tips to get running again, even if it’s been years. I took about 5 years off, where maybe I ran 10 times total in those 5 years because I was pregnant, nursing, pregnant, nursing, pregnant and nursing. It takes a long time to feel back to normal, gain some muscle back and really have the motivation to hit the pavement again. Especially with three little ones now. I literally have to run with 3 in my fabulous double jogger.