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Protein Balls: How to Increase Your Protein Intake

Known as the building block of life, protein is a type of macronutrient that your body needs to power its basic functions. It’s also vital to its development and growth. Below, find out why protein balls may be a smart, convenient way to increase your protein intake.

Overview of protein

Along with carbohydrates and fat, protein is one of three macronutrients found in food that provide the fuel your body needs to function properly. Just 1 gram of protein gives you 4 calories of energy. 

Protein is a key component of every living cell in your body, forming various tissues including your muscles, cartilage, bones, blood, and skin. Because protein repairs and rebuilds these tissues, your body requires relatively large quantities of it. It also assists in the production of hormones, enzymes, and other chemicals.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see how incorporating plenty of protein into your diet helps maintain muscle mass. It even promotes muscle growth when you’re on a strength training regimen (with adequate training stimulus).

According to research studies, increased protein intake delivers better results for those who are lifting weights, adding muscle mass, or just trying to stay physically active.

Keep in mind that protein is a naturally occurring component in both animal and plant-based foods. A poor diet may lead to protein deficiency, and it also may be triggered by any of the following conditions:

  • Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa
  • Cancer (in its later stages)
  • Certain genetic health issues
  • Impaired nutrient absorption (due to surgery on your gastrointestinal tract, for example)

Symptoms of insufficient protein levels include:

  • Weak muscle tone
  • Brittle and thinning hair
  • Edema (i.e., body swelling due to fluid retention)
  • Skin lesions
  • Loss of muscle mass in adults
  • Impaired growth in children

Based on the average dietary intake of 2,000 calories, the recommended daily allowance for protein is 50 grams. This value may be lower or higher, depending on your personal calorie requirements.

Furthermore, it’s difficult to specify an exact recommendation for protein intake because of several other contributing factors. These factors include age, activity level, gender, whether you’re currently pregnant, or recovering from a recent illness, etc.

If you feel your daily consumption of protein is usually lacking, then consider trying the following strategies for upping your intake:

  • Have two eggs instead of a bowl of cereal for breakfast.
  • Include Greek yogurt in your diet, whether as a topping or on its own. 
  • Snack on your favorite cheeses during the day.
  • Incorporate protein-rich foods at each and every meal.

You can also improve your diet by eating protein energy balls regularly. Protein balls are a healthy alternative to snacks high in sodium or sugar which will get your protein levels to where they should be.

Aside from protein, healthy energy balls actually contain additional nutrients designed to repair and replenish your body post-workout. Ditch the fatty, processed munchies in favor of energy balls after the gym. They’ll not only combat your hunger pangs but boost your protein intake quickly and painlessly. Being a rich source of healthy fats and fiber, protein energy balls could even serve as a post-workout meal

First off, there are multiple advantages to cooking protein energy balls, such as:

  • They’re easy to make.
  • You can take them anywhere.
  • They contain a well-balanced ratio of macronutrients (e.g., carbohydrates, fats, and proteins).
  • You can customize them according to your personal tastes and preferences.

To prepare healthy energy balls, you’ll need the following types of ingredients:

  • Sticky (e.g., dried fruits)
  • Crunchy (e.g., seeds and nuts)
  • Creamy (e.g., coconut oil or nut butter)

Once you’ve gathered these ingredients, you’ll be able to make just about any kind of protein ball recipe you like. Remember, you also need a food processor to create a finely-textured dough.

Here’s a basic protein ball recipe which doesn’t contain any artificial flavors or ingredients:

  • 1 cup of medjool dates
  • 1 cup of nuts or seeds
  • 2 to 3 tablespoon of nut butter

Blend all ingredients in a food processor to form a smooth dough. Roll the dough into small protein balls to the size of your choice.

To jazz up the basic protein balls recipe, try adding in any combination of these ingredients:

  • Dried fruits like figs, berries, mangos, or apples
  • Spices
  • Flavorings such as cocoa powder or a dash of vanilla

In addition to encouraging weight loss and increasing strength and muscle mass, protein repairs and rebuilds your body’s tissues. Protein balls have become a popular, convenient, and relatively inexpensive way to fulfill the recommended daily allowance of this vital macronutrient. They’re easy to prepare, customize, and enjoy on-the-go (as a healthy snack or post-workout meal). Be adventurous when shopping for ingredients to create your own healthy energy balls and you can enjoy a different flavor every day of the week!

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/protein.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22958314

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25169440

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/InteractiveNutritionFactsLabel/factsheets/Protein.pdf

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