When you’re exercising a lot your body needs more protein to ensure adequate muscle repair and recovery. There are plenty of naturally protein heavy foods out there, but an increasing army of fitness brands are offering luxury protein enriched treats to encourage you to load up on the good stuff.
Protein injected treats usually use whey protein – which is actually a by-product of cheese production – it’s a high quality variety that is quickly ingested and absorbed.
Whey protein also has a certain powdery which you wouldn’t instinctively think to combine with common cheat-day treats such as truffles, cookies and popcorn - but that’s exactly what The Protein Works have done to help you avoid less nutritious treats in favour of their healthier varieties.
We’ve had protein rich versions of common favourite foods arrive on the market before – they look and sound amazing, but the taste is always just a little disappointing. The kind of thing you might enjoy if you’ve been drinking protein shakes and knocking back raw eggs for a couple of months, and totally lost touch with what real food actually tastes like.
So when we heard about these Protein Works treats, we thought it best to try them before we shared the good news…
Protein Works Diet Protein Truffles
Sounds unnatural, right?
Firstly, these aren't delicate truffles like the kinds you'd find in a Thorntons gift box - they're rather big, burly items that you'd expect to properly satiate a 4pm hunger pang until at least home time. They're freshly made on a regular basis, come individually wrapped, and a box of 15 costs £13.99.
Each 30g truffle contains 92 calories, 2.7g of fat, 7.2g of carbohydrate (only 2.6 from sugar) plus 10.2g of protein - it's suggested that athletes need around 1g per kg in body weight a day so that's a fair helping.
They also contain a few more goodies - such as Chromium Picolinate which has some claimed weightloss effects and Acetyl L-Carnitine - an amino acid which can help break down fatty acids.
So we accept they're healthier than Ferrero Rocher - 30g of which contains 174 calories and just 2.4g of protein and 11g of sugars. But how do they taste?
There are various favours available - we had the Caramel Macchiato and Strawberry Cheesecake. The Caramel Macchiato had a distinctly chocolatey taste that we enjoyed - granted they weren't nearly as sweet as a normal chocolate, but we'd enjoy munching one down with a cup of tea after a ride. We'd joke about going for two, but to be honest these are quite filling and we really don't think we'd need to double up!
When it came to the Strawberry Cheesecake variety - we were less keen on the taste. These are very sweet and not quite up our street. This said, Team TWC is without a doubt pro dark chocolate as opposed to white, so this could be more personal preference. Regardless, you can choose a box of 'randoms', or select one flavour - so it's really up to you what you go for.
Overall, we thought these were a satisfying treat that could be a good idea once all the Christmas temptations start flying around.
Naked Protein Popcorn
Going to the cinema and don't want to chomp away on 'ordinary popcorn'? Sorted... kind of.
Each 100g pack costs only £3.99 and contains 436 calories, 12.5g of fat (9.2g saturates..), 58.4g carbohydrate (0.7g sugar!) and 21.7g of protein. Oh and just 1.7g of salt! The ingredient list is pretty slimmed down - with just Organic Popcorn, Whey Protein Isolate, Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Natural, and Flavouring Salt Sweetener (Steviol Glycosides).
Of course it'll vary per brand, but 'normal' popcorn contains about 100 more calories for the same volume and only 7.5g of protein.
We weren't quite sure on this stuff - the taste was very sweet and had a slightly sandy texture thanks to a light coating on the surface. It was alright, and would certainly fulfill a need for something sweet like candy - but it wouldn't be our first choice of snack.
We've saved the best till last. We were meant to only take a tiinnyyy nibble before snapping our pictures - but these cookies are good! They cost £15.49 per box of ten, and come individually wrapped.
These are more of a 'serious snack' than a grazing item, as each cookie contains 315 calories. However, this makes them a great post training treat, with 17.9g of carbohydrate (6.5g from sugars) and 37g of protein. They contain 9.9g of fat, 3.9g of which comes from saturates.
We tried both the Choc Caramel Chunk and White Chocolate Macadamia options. The choc caramel chunk was by far our favourite and had the same consistency you'd expect of a cookie with a lovely rich taste. The white chocolate version certainly filled a hole (in our quickly dwindling appetite - man this was a tough day!) but reminded us more of a traditional energy bar. This said, that could make it a good on-bike option for those who don't want to rely on carbs alone!
You can check out all three treats online at The Protein Works - enjoy!
Want to try baking your own treats? Why not try our healthy Chocolate Nut Butter Cups...