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Food For Thought Sundays: Protein Powder

Hellohello! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Even better if it was a long weekend for you!

I am coming off a weekend of working Thu-Sun straight. Well, technically a week of Mon-Sun. But that is neither here nor there. I’m here to talk about food!

Well, in our case today, “food like substances.”

As a personal trainer, I get a lot of questions about protein powders. Should people be using them, what kinds to get, how to eat them.

I always respond by telling people that I’m a bit of a hippie in the sense that I think nutrients should come from unprocessed natural foods. Not in powder form!

Of course, I’m also realistic and realize the diet of the average person could use a little boost. Especially the average active person! Long-time readers of my blog will know I’m a regular user of protein powder. I just try to use it wisely and sparingly.

First and foremost protein powder will not make you gain weight. That is, if you swap it out with other foods in your diet. For example, you can’t eat your regular daily foods and add a 300 calorie protein shake on top of that. Then you will gain weight. Rather, swap out one of your meals or snacks with the shake and you’re replacing rather than adding calories.


So why would someone want to use protein powder? A number of reasons. Some people like to drink a protein shake after weight lifting or intense activity to help in muscle repair. This just means the muscle tissues damaged during the workout build back up better, which helps you get that lean look you’re after. Some say it helps with soreness as well. Although, I personally have never noticed a difference.

Protein powder is also a way to get protein without additional fat or carbohydrates. It’s pretty easy to find a food that’s straight up carbohydrate (sugar) or fat (oil). But natural proteins usually come with additional macronutrients. Some are better than others, like egg whites or white fish, but protein powder is a way to get your protein straight-up!

There are tons of different kinds of protein powders out there. Here are the most common:



Whey protein is the most common kind. It’s a protein found in milk. It’s known as being quick digesting and best for right after a workout when you want protein asap.



Casein also comes from milk, but is a little slower digesting. People who use casein usually have it before bed to help muscle repair overnight (when breakdown of the muscles can occasionally occur). Casein is also a popular dairy allergen, so careful with this one if you have sensitivities!



The protein found in soy beans. This is a much finer powder and great for baking with. You can sub out some of the flour in a recipe with soy protein without too much of a texture difference. A lot of people are now careful of their soy consumption these days because of its estrogen content (which can mean breast cancer for women). I say take it in moderation just like anything else.



Hemp is actually a whole protein, containing all the essential amino acids. One of the few vegan sources that does besides soy. Hemp is typically a very fine powder and has an “earthy” taste. Some people dig it, I think it takes some getting used to.


Brown Rice

I have honestly never tried brown rice protein. Mostly because the carb-protein ratio is close to equal on this stuff and I prefer a powder that’s mostly protein.


Egg Protein

Another powder I haven’t tried. Mostly because egg whites have a great percentage of protein to begin with, so I have no need for it isolated in powder form!


Speaking of isolation, that’s a word you will hear a lot. Protein isolate means that the protein has been isolated from the source so the powder is essentially pure protein. Protein concentrate means it’s still mixed with a little carb, fat and other ingredients.


Because there are so many brands and flavours out there, I’m not going to go through them all. Different people have different tastes. But here are some things to look for:

  • Sweetener. I try to use unflavoured powders or ones sweetened with stevia. Artificial sweeteners include sucralose or acesulfame potassium. I usually stay away from them because too much gives me digestive issues.
  • Serving size. Some powders list one scoop as 20g, others list one as 45g. Before you get excited about how many grams of protein there are, make sure you double check the calories and serving size that are listed as well.
  • Weird ingredients. The isolate/concentrate protein should be at the top, followed be a sweetener, perhaps a gum thickening agent, and a flavouring. Anything else is unnecessary.


The last question I get asked all the time is how do I use it?

Well, in smoothie form is most common. Usually with a juice or milk and some fruit. I personally don’t like to drink my calories, so I eat my protein powders in solid form! Here are some of my favourite recipes featuring protein powder:

Stove-top Chocolate Chip Breakfast Oatcakes
Dairy-Free(ish) Protein Pancakes
The Best Bowl of Oatmeal Ever
Black Bean Burgers
Protein Cakes
Apple Cinnamon Protein Bars
Homemade Maple Cinnamon Oat Bran Protein Bars

And my all-time favourite, chocolate “brownie batter”

So there you have it! The down-low on protein powders. Not necessary but a welcome addition to what used to be my carb-heavy diet. As an active person, my body loves the protein boost. As mentioned above, I do use protein powders sparingly and never have more than one serving a day. The hippie in me still wants real food that doesn’t come in powder form ;)


Question of the Day: Do you use protein powder? What kind?

Can’t Stop the Heat


It’s hot people!!!

I am sitting here in front of the fan with sweat dripping off me. It’s gross. But I felt the need to share.

Some great “keep cool” tips and recipes shared in the comments yesterday!

Jennifer suggested squeezing lemons and adding stevia for a fresh and low-sugar drink option.

Tamizn shared a healthy sundae recipe.

Angela suggested her strawberry rhubarb frozen yogurt.

Yes to all of them :)

After posting yesterday, I hit up the friendly neighbourhood sausage shop. I walked in and bought just one sausage. I felt so silly. But it’s all I wanted for dinner!


I took my lonely sundried tomato chicken sausage and chopped it up to pan fry.


Thrown on top of a garden salad with hummus, olives and feta.


YUM to the sausage!! Living so close to a sausage and butcher shop is going to be awesome. I want to try all of their sausage flavours now, one lonely sausage at a time.


Cantaloupe + cottage cheese was all I could muster in the heat this morning. I briefly thought about running early before the heat set in, but it was already 26C by 8am!!

Instead, I went to the gym and it’s actually really growing on me!! The number one thing I was upset about leaving Fredericton over was my gym there. I’d really grown to love it. But I get good vibes at my new gym here in Toronto – way important!! You’ve got to love the gym you go to, or else you’ll never make it there.

Ohyes, I suppose you may like to know what I did there ;) Full-body weightlifting day!

The following exercises are all in straight sets, meaning I did the sets for each exercise all in a row with a short rest time in between. Normally I alternate, but it’s fun to switch it up from the norm sometimes.

Exercise Load Reps Sets Target
Sumo squat  70 lbs 8-12 3 Quads, glutes, thighs
Barbell split squat  60 lbs 8-12 3 Quads, glutes
Cable twisting chest press  17.5 lbs 8-12 3 Chest, front shoulder
Seated cable row  60 lbs 8-12 3 Back
Good morning  50 lbs 8-12 3 Lower back, glutes, hamstrings
Standing calf raise  50 lbs 8-12 3 Calves
Barbell upright row  30 lbs 8-12 3 Top/side of shoulder
Cable pushdown  30 lbs 8-12 3 Triceps
Preacher curl  25 lbs 8-12 3 Biceps
Captain’s chair  b/w 15 3 Abs

Oh, and my warm-up was a torturous mile on the treadmill. Running is sonotfun when you’ve got a stuffy nose. And when it’s hotter than a sauna. Otherwise, awesome weightlifting workout! :)


Post-lifting snack = protein powder + banana. Whipped up some of my favourite protein goo (ie chocolate whey with a dash of water). Stellar snack!!

Then I rush-rushed (and sweat-sweated) off to Kensington Market for a reader meet-up!

Please excuse our “I just stepped out of an oven” look. It’s the fashion in the Tee Dot right now ;)

Jamee moved to Toronto on the same day as me!! She took the plunge coming all the way from British Columbia. It was so much fun bouncing things off someone who is brand-spankin-new to the city as well.


Jamee is a vegan and had already scoped out Hibiscus Cafe for us.

Their menu consisted of mostly delicious looking buckwheat crepes. I ended up with one that popped out at me immediately: pear, pecan and chutney. The flavours together were fabulous. Jamee got a yummy looking salad that I want to come back and try…


It also must be noted that we sampled one of their vegan peanut butter crisp bars and it was amazing. Like, reallyreally good. Definitely recommend!

Afterwards, Jamee and I wandered around Kensington Market, peeking into many of the shops and things on the street.


Including shopping in an organic market!! I may suck at clothing shopping, but I’m happy in any grocery store ;)

Jamee and I then said goodbye, but I have a sneaking suspicion we’ll be seeing lots of each other. She was so sweet and fun to hang out with!

I wandered back down to catch the streetcar, stopping through Chinatown along the way.

IMG_9399 IMG_9400

The rumours are true – Chinatown really does have the cheapest produce!! Left with a 69 cent head of romaine and a $1 pint of strawberries :)

Ohyes, and another drink to beat the heat after walking around for so long.

Fresh watermelon juice.

Aka the best dollar I’ve spent in a long time. 

Now I’m off to go heat up more leftovers and shower for the second time today.

Ohoh!! And I got another job interview at another location. I totally wasn’t expecting it so I’m pretty pumped about it – it’s on Monday :)


Question of the Day: What’s the best dollar you spent recently? ;)

Things I Learned The Month I Moved Away

I still get excited about little things, like when my Dairy-free (ish) Protein Pancakes make the Foodbuzz homepage.


Meditating at 5am is only fun when you’re not wishing you were asleep instead.

Protein before bed is the secret to waking up with no belly pouf (for me!). No matter how weird the combination may seem.

IMG_9160Cottage cheese, almond butter, sugar-free syrup, cinnamon. 


Soy protein powder, cocoa powder, stevia, vanilla extract, coconut, almond milk.

I am head over heels for yoga. Even though I curse myself for going during the sun salutations, I always leave with a dopey grin on my face.

Earthquakes happen in Ottawa!!

There is no sense in getting mad at myself for getting up at an ungodly hour to eat breakfast, then go back to bed. If it helps me sleep, so let it be.


I still have a lot to learn about this world.

I still have a lot to learn about myself.  

Bloggers are some of the best people I know.


I reallyreally like baking.

And I might even be good at it.

Not to mention, it makes for excellent therapy when I need to take a time-out from life.

I am a hopeless optimistic. I cling on to the idea that things will always work out in the end.

I’m kinda outdoorsy!!

I still don’t have a handle on how to deal with my anxiety disorder. I’m oblivious as to whether it’s something I can cure by finding the source of it, or if it’s something I’ll just need to manage for the rest of my life…

The Queen of England is just an 84-year-old woman who shouldn’t have to walk and shake people’s hands anymore. She should be doing old-people yoga with my Nana.


I left something in the mountains. I think I may have to go back and find it.


Even after living with someone for 10 years, sometimes you need to learn how to live with them all over again.

I’m thankful my family loves me enough to have me around :)


I am way more scared than I admit about moving to Toronto. Thankfully, I’m also a hopeless optimistic. Tonight, I zip up my suitcases for the last time, and tomorrow I will unpack them for good :)


Question of the Day: What did you learn in June?

**An unfortunate paragraph break in my last post may have led to a few incorrect e-mails. If you haven’t heard back from me yet on the July 11th Toronto blogger meet up send me another e-mail at:

Take that wordpress.