Protein shakes provide your body with energy and give it the fuel it needs to build lean, strong muscle mass. However, if you aren’t adding healthy fat to your shakes, your body isn’t using that protein as efficiently as it could. Healthy fat added to protein shakes provide you with more energy, better supplement absorption, and even fat burning power. Here are seven different choices for optimizing your protein shake with fats.
Coconuts, and the coconut oil made from them, are the richest source of saturated fat on the planet. It may seem as if coconut oil is unhealthy, but populations that naturally consume large amounts of it are in excellent health and do not have high levels of heart disease. That’s because the saturated fats in coconuts are different from others. They contain mostly medium-chain fatty acids, which go straight to the liver and help suppress appetite. In fact, a 2009 study published in Lipids showed that dietary coconut oil helped women with abdominal obesity shed pounds.
Avocadoes are delicious and nutritious, and they add a creamy texture to your protein shake. They are 77% fat by calories, which makes them higher in fat than even animal products. The primary fatty acid in an avocado is oleic acid, which offers numerous health benefits. A 2005 study published in the Annals of Oncology even made the case that oleic acid improves the mechanism of a drug called Herceptin, which is commonly used to treat breast cancer. Avocadoes are high in potassium and fiber, and they can lower LDL cholesterol while raising HDL levels.
Flaxseed oil contains a compound called ALA, or alpha linoleic acid, which readily converts to omega-3s your body needs for a healthy heart. Flaxseed oil has been shown to aid in weight loss, relieve digestive issues, fight cancer, reduce the inflammation associated with eczema, improve heart health, and much, much more. This nearly tasteless product also contains essential polyunsaturated fatty acids that your body cannot make on its own.
Cashews are some of the most nutrient-dense nuts in the world. They contain vitamins E, K, and B6 along with minerals such as copper, selenium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. About 82% of the fat contained in cashews is unsaturated, and 66% of those unsaturated fats are monounsaturated, making it a heart healthy fat. Studies of diabetic patients have shown that cashews can reduce high triglycerides, promote weight loss, and improve the body’s ability to regulate its blood sugar naturally.
Extra virgin olive oil is a phenomenal addition to a protein shake. A 2007 study published in Nutritional Pharmacology showed that olive oil benefits the cardiovascular system by lowering blood pressure, fighting inflammation, improving cholesterol markers, and generally reducing the risk of heart disease. It’s also packed with vitamins E and K, and there are more antioxidants in olive oil than in any other popular oil on the market today.
A single ounce of chia seeds contains a whopping nine grams of fat. In fact, believe it or not, about 80% the calories provided by chia seeds are calories from fat. Like flaxseed oil, it contains ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in the healthy fat you should aim to consume regularly. These tiny seeds also contain iron, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, copper, and calcium – all of which are important for a healthy, strong body.
If you’ve been making your protein shakes and smoothies with low-fat or fat-free yogurt, you might want to think again. High-fat dairy products contain valuable nutrients that your body needs, whether you’re trying to gain muscle, shed pounds, or just balance your diet. Full-fat yoghurt contains calcium, B12, phosphorus, and selenium, and a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine back in 2010 shows it may even reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. The best part is that full-fat yogurt – especially of the Greek nature – is packed with probiotics that can improve your digestion and immune system, too.
Adding fat to a protein shake may seem counterintuitive if you’re trying to bulk up and burn pounds of fat, but it’s actually one of the best things you can do for your body. Just make sure you’re choosing healthy fat, such as avocadoes, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, and chia seeds to make sure you can reap the nutritional benefits.