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Whether your goal is to increase lean mass or lose weight, quality protein consumption is vital. Protein increases metabolism and reduces body fat. Increasing muscle is not only effective in weight management but also improves your physique and strength. The muscle is an active tissue, meaning it utilizes energy while at rest. In other words, it keeps burning calories even you’re at rest. When trying to gain muscle, most people believe that lifting weights goes hand in hand with protein shakes. However, not everyone likes the taste of protein powder. Fortunately, you don’t have to keep up with the distinct, chalky taste of whey protein. Here are six natural foods that are protein shake alternatives.

Blend Bananas, Peanut Butter, and Oats into a Smoothie

Mixing a banana, peanut butter, and oats makes for a healthy and delicious smoothie. Making this smoothie is simple. All you need is one medium-sized banana, milk, one tablespoon peanut butter, and a dash of oats. Blend until smooth and enjoy. 

You get an average of 15-30g of protein, depending on the portion, in addition to healthy carbohydrates from banana, for a boost of energy. Peanut butter is an excellent source of healthy fats to keep your joints in check after your workout.

Blend Kefir into Your Smoothies

Kefir is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Just one cup supplies a generous 14 grams of protein and a complete amino acid profile. No wonder it’s highly recommended for gut health and muscle repair.

While its smell may not be as pleasing, what you get from the super drink is exceptional. Kefir is made when a bacteria culture is added to milk and is an excellent source of “good” gut bacteria.

Try using kefir to your shakes instead of water or regular milk. One cup adds around 150 calories to your diet. Kefir makes your foods more easily digested, thanks to probiotics, the healthy bacteria that keeps your digestive tract functioning at optimal levels.

Blend Greek Yogurt into Your Smoothies

Greek yogurt, with a low GI, a good amount of good fats, and a great taste, makes for one of the best alternatives to protein shakes. Like Kefir, Greek yogurt contains gut-bacteria-boosting probiotics.

Greek yogurt is also rich in vitamin B12, which helps with red blood cells formation and brain function. You also get potassium, which lowers blood pressure and calcium, the key to strong muscles and keeping your vital organs function properly.

Choose plain Greek yogurt instead of flavored varieties to avoid chemicals and sugar.

Quinoa

Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, is a whole grain (seed) with amazing health benefits. It contains all the nine essential amino acids required by your body for muscle building. Not only is this superfood protein-rich, but it’s also nutrient-packed. It contains high amounts of crucial muscle-building compounds, such as magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, iron, and vitamin B-6.

Quinoa is a good source of fiber, as well, with one cup supplying around five grams of fiber.

Eggs

Eggs are a powerhouse of high-quality protein, with one egg providing around six grams of protein. They also contain choline, a compound known to improve athletic performance and reduce fatigue. Due to the high protein content, eggs are excellent options in weight management since they keep you feeling full for longer.

Hard-boiled eggs supply your body with 78 calories and zero carbohydrates, making them perfect for ketogenic-style diet plans. Another interesting way to enjoy eggs is to cook them into your oatmeal. That’s right! While it may sound unconventional, cooking an egg into oatmeal adds a unique texture.

Simply cook your oatmeal as you normally would, remove it from heat, and whisk a beaten egg. The egg will cook slowly without scrambling, leaving a thicker, richer, oatmeal with quality protein.

Mixed Nuts

Nuts make for healthy high-fat, high-protein portable post-workout snacks for muscle gain. Just a handful provide essential macronutrients and a whole load of joint-friendly vitamins. Almonds have a high satiety value, meaning they will keep you feeling full for longer and control your appetite.

One ounce of cashew nuts or almonds carries around 160 high-quality value calories. Nuts offer the perfect blend of protein, healthy fats, and fiber, giving you the calories you need without adding to your waistline.

Moreover, nuts are highly versatile and can be served as toppings for your smoothies, blended into your smoothies, or turned into butter and applied to whole grain bread. However, be careful when buying nuts since most store-bought nuts contain loads of salt and unhealthy fats. If possible, try homemade nuts to enjoy untampered nutrients and minerals.

All images by Shutterstock

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