When you feel a slump in energy, caffeine is often the solution of choice. But wellness experts, fitness competitors, medical professionals and nutritional coaches know the power of protein for a boost. In fact, protein is the root source from where sustained energy blossoms and grows. Even if you’re not a carnivore, there are plenty of protein choices for those who prefer a plant-based diet.
Holistic Health and Wellness Coach and professor at the University of North Carolina, Ashville, Aubrey Mast works with numerous clients striving to build healthier habits and stay strong and energized. This requires cutting empty carbohydrates from their diets and reprioritizing protein.
“Each person should be getting .8g protein per their body weight,” explains Aubrey.
“So someone who’s 165lbs should be eating about 60 grams of protein daily.” Protein should make up at least 10-15% of one’s daily diet and is important for everyone to consume, ideally with each meal or snack. “It acts as the building blocks of cells needed for growth and maintenance,” says Aubrey. “Protein creates enzymes and hormones, antibodies and contributes to fluid and electrolyte balance. It can also contribute to energy levels.”
There’s a reason her clients call her the “Nutrition Professor.” Aubrey is always “amping” up her personal health approach so that she can offer cutting edge ways for her clients to succeed. So when it comes to using the power of protein as energy boosters, Aubrey recommends the following approaches for all busy career professionals who prioritize living a healthier lifestyle.
Grab Veggies: “The reality is that most Americans eat too much meat,” Aubrey says. “With higher animal protein consumption inflammation is increased within the body and can cause long term trouble.” Try adding a few vegetarian meals into your week to get started. Lunch is a very easy place for you to incorporate plant proteins as they often have a longer shelf life and can often be stored at room temperature. More importantly, plants provide power for our bodies to become stronger and more resilient. “Plant based sources of protein not only offer the protein so we can build enzymes, cells and hormones but they also offer fiber, phytochemicals and nutrients which pack more of a nutritional punch than animal sources do.”
Go Green: “We can all benefit from adding protein-rich plant sources into our daily lives,” says Aubrey. She recommends turning to beans, legumes, seeds and nuts as smart protein alternatives. “Planning ahead with meal prepping on the weekend can not only add easy lunches into the work day but also provide complete sources of protein.” Beans and legumes are easy to prepare in advance and store in the refrigerator ready to toss into salads, pasta and rice dishes or as a lean protein snack. Seeds and nuts are great for adding to dishes as portable snacks and can be added to smoothies for protein boosts.
Get Going: “Having a stash of nuts in the desk is a frequent go to for me,” explains Aubrey. “Carrying humus and carrots, you not only get the protein but also the fiber to help with heart health. Even keeping rice cakes and nut butter are excellent and quick options that can easily be made more extravagant with fruits, honey and seeds.” When shopping, look for small portable packets of nut butter, hummus, nuts, seasoned chickpeas or create your own by dividing a larger portion into small reusable containers you can grab and get going.
Get Educated: It’s important to continually stay abreast of current trends and evolving nutritional insights in order to stay healthy and well. While A Healthy Career can help and connect you with wellness experts like Aubrey, consulting your medical professional is imperative for designing the best plan for your personal health needs. Aubrey also suggests checking out all the new health and wellness books hitting the shelves each week as a way to stay motivated and informed and to get great plant-based protein recipes. Aubrey recommends High-Protein Vegan Hearty Plant-Based Recipes and the No Meat Athlete Cookbook.
“It is very easy to meet protein needs and demands for anyone if we are mindful about consumption,” says Aubrey.
“The reality is that most people are over-consuming protein through animal sources. And if we are doing so it is essential to increase plants within the diet to help decrease the acidic load on the body.” This isn’t rocket science. Rather it’s a simple switch to a more organic source of sustained energy.
So the next time you need a boost in your daily focus, health and energy, consider plant-based protein as your power punch.
Kim Monaghan, PCC, RYT, CPBS is the owner of KBM Coaching & Consulting LLC, a boutique Human Resources Consulting and Career Coaching Firm serving a national clientele.