I eat pretty healthy and recently started taking photos of my meals and snacks to keep tabs on my portions and food choices. So I never felt the need to track my calories or macros.
But just for fun, I decided to start using MyFitnessPal. I wanted to make sure that I was getting all the nutrients I needed. I honestly thought it was just going to confirm that I was eating a balanced diet. But let me tell you — it was eye-opening! I thought I was getting more than enough protein since beans, tofu, tempeh, soy yogurt, greens, nuts, and seeds are a huge part of my diet. But on most days, I was barely breaking 60 grams. I was also eating nearly 200 grams of carbs, almost 80 grams of fat, and almost 100 grams of sugar. My calories were higher than I expected, too.
I decided to make a small change — to increase my protein and decrease my carbs and sugar — and see how it affected me. I usually have a banana with raw almond butter for an afternoon snack around 3 p.m., so I traded it for a plant-based protein shake. It seemed like the easiest way to get 20 to 25 grams of extra protein.
I filled a shaker bottle with cold water and a couple of ice cubes, and I added either one serving of Orgain Peanut Butter Protein Powder (160 calories, 21 grams protein, 16 grams carbs) or Vega Clean Vanilla Protein Powder (130 calories, 25 grams protein, three grams carbs). For comparison, one medium banana plus one tablespoon of raw almond butter is 206 calories, 3.7 grams of protein, and 30.4 grams of carbs. The protein shake was easy to make, and it satisfied my craving for something creamy and sweet.
Within just one day, I noticed a difference in how I felt. It's a joke in my house that I can't stay up past 8:30 p.m. (and usually end up passing out in one of my kids' beds when I'm putting them to sleep). I mean, I wake up at 4:45 a.m., so give me a break! But that first night, I had more sustained energy to play with my kids after dinner, and I wasn't nodding off while reading them books. I walked out of my daughter's room at 8:00 p.m., and my husband was like, "You didn't fall asleep?" And I said, "Whoa. I didn't. And I'm not even tired."
I also noticed that drinking a protein shake kept me full for hours. Usually by 5 p.m. I'm so ready for dinner, but during this week, it was 6 p.m. and I was barely hungry. It must have been the combination of the 24 ounces of water and the protein that made me feel so satisfied.
Not heading into dinner famished helped me eat a smaller meal, which is also key for me in preventing evening belly bloat. And I also found I slept really well each night and had tons of energy for my 5:45 a.m. CrossFit workouts. Amazing, right? Just from getting an extra 20 grams of protein!
The only bad thing is that I kind of missed chewing actual food, but I think that's just from habit. I'm sure within another week that will pass. I'll definitely keep this up for a while because I'm experiencing so many benefits! I had no idea this simple swap would help me avoid the dreaded afternoon slump, give me more energy at night, help me eat less for dinner, feel less bloated, help me sleep better, and give me oodles of energy for my morning workouts. I mean, how could I not keep this up?!