by Matt Weik
I’m sure a good majority of the people reading this article work at a company that requires them to be at a desk to complete their job. What happens when a meeting goes way longer than you expected or you’re under a lot of pressure to finish a project and you don’t have time to hit lunch? You simply don’t eat, right? That’s a terrible idea. Not only will that zap your energy for the remainder of the day and slow down productivity, but it will also force you to eat more after work just to hit your daily macros. And we all know what happens when we are super hungry— we tend to overeat.
In this article, we will talk about four protein sources to ensure you are on point with those coveted gains and never without a good, easily accessible and convenient protein source.
1. Protein bars
With so many different protein bar choices out on the market these days, it’s almost impossible to not find a bar that you like the taste of. Back in the day all the bars had the same flavor—cardboard. Well, times have changed. Today you have all kinds of unique flavors to choose from. If you can think of a flavor, I’m pretty sure it’s out there to buy.
The cool thing with protein bars is that they can be stored in your desk and not take up a bunch of room. In fact, you can store several bars and take up very little space. Depending on if you get a true protein bar or a “nutrition” bar will vary the protein content of the bar. Generally, nutrition bars are lower in calories and protein when compared to protein bars. Nutrition bars have around the 8-15g mark for protein. Most of the protein bars that you will find on the market these days will be around 20-35g of protein on average. The cost of protein bars also varies, but you can always find good deals on them at places like Wal-Mart or online. This isn’t to discredit supplement and nutrition stores, as they have a great selection of protein bars at good prices, it’s just very difficult to compete against the buying power of someone like Wal-Mart or big online retailers who can generally buy in much higher volume and get their price way down low. Some of the larger retailers and online store are even willing to lower their margins when compared to the mom and pop and brick and mortar locations.
2. Protein shakes
While there are a few extra steps with this source compared to all of the others, you still can’t go wrong here. Protein shakes have been a staple in the diets of those looking to put on size for many moons. Now this isn’t a replacement for real food sources when trying to put on size, rather it can be added to an already solid nutrition plan made up of whole food sources to help increase your protein intake. And, it’s for good reason that protein powder made our list. If you have a lot of storage in your desk, you can get away with tossing a 2lb tub in a drawer to keep it out of prying meathead’s visuals who want to come steal your powdery goodness. If they see you have a tub stashed in your desk, game over. As soon as you leave the office, it’s gone. Mooches—can’t live with them, and can’t crush their throat with the barbell on chest day for stealing your powder. For that reason, be stealth when scooping it out. You can also get away with storing the powder in a Zip-Lock bag along with the scoop so you can accurately measure your powder. I would recommend you put some type of label on your powder or you’re going to find yourself in human resources trying to explain the white substance (vanilla protein powder) in a baggie found inside your desk. I’ll give you three guesses who narked on you and the first two don’t count—PROTEIN MOOCHES!
Obviously, you’re going to need a cold liquid source (such as water) to pour the protein powder into as well as a vessel to mix everything up—which I would recommend a Blender Bottle (no plug and no commission, but if you’re reading this Blender Bottle, I’ll be checking my mailbox next week for a check or at least a free shaker bottle). Your protein powder of choice could be anything. Some people prefer a blended protein or a whey protein concentrate simply due to how inexpensive they are, and then you can go up in price with something like a straight whey protein isolate. Either way is just fine in a pinch. Flavors can also vary depending on your personal taste. A word to the wise though, don’t leave your used shaker in your office or in your drawer until the next use or you’re going to need to use an entire container of Febreze in your office to fumigate. The funk that will come out of that unwashed shaker is enough to make a skunk gag. Do yourself and everyone else in the office a favor and wash your shaker after you’re done using it.
Another “protein shake” option that I wanted to include in this section are RTD’s (Ready-To-Drink). These are SUPER convenient protein shakes where generally all you have to do is shake them up and then pop the top like a soda can or twist off the lid. Here’s my personal preference, get an RTD that has a lid. Not only does it allow you to throw the lid back on and shake it back up if you have some clumps, but there’s nothing worse than being mid-shake and then having someone walk into your office and you need to put it somewhere out of the way. Now you have an open container in your office full of protein-deliciousness that could potentially spill all over something important in your office—like your keyboard (don’t ask me how I know this).
While you need a pair to be the best at your company, we’re talking about the salty, edible kind. And anything goes here—peanuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, they’re all great choices in a pinch. You can grab a handful and you’re good to go any time of day. Many varieties and brands of nuts and seeds come in resealable containers or bags—if only more people knew how to put food down rather than eating everything in sight. Make sure you buy a product that is resealable so you aren’t wasting them all if you can’t finish the contents at one sitting. Not only that, but you’ll have a real mess on your hands if the packaging opens up in the draw and spills everywhere.
These crunchy little gems are a great way to get some good protein and fat in your diet. They also help you stay full and satiated throughout the day so you don’t have the urge to hit up the vending machine and throw all willpower out the window. For many, nuts and seeds make them thirsty. They can also be a choking hazard as well. I’m not saying you’re like my two-year-old son who shouldn’t be eating nuts, but there’s always that chance one gets caught in your throat or due to the texture they get stuck on the way down. Therefore, make sure you have some water to wash everything down as well as quenching your thirst.
Also, it should go without saying but, stay away from the candied nuts and the ones that have sugar added to them like honey roasted peanuts. You don’t need the extra calories from the sugar and the crash that would follow is never a good feeling and could completely throw off your productive day.
Who doesn’t like meat? Ok, maybe vegetarians and vegans. But other than those groups, who isn’t a fan? After all, American’s love their steak! And jerky makes getting in some protein in a pitch a cinch. We can leave the jerky source pretty open-ended with the type you prefer. Some people like beef jerky, some like turkey, while others prefer deer, bison or ostrich. It totally comes down to what you prefer. While jerky is almost always high in sodium, if you are behind your desk starving because you don’t have time to stop what you are doing and eat or you’re on a conference call that is longer than Santa’s naughty list, jerky will be a lifesaver. Same rule of thumb applies as with the nuts and seeds—have water handy as that sodium sneaks up on you fast.
Another key to jerky is that most of the bags you purchase can be sealed back up if you don’t eat it all. This ensures your jerky doesn’t further dry out or go bad on you (or dump out) in your desk draw. Personally, I hit up a wholesaler like Sam’s Club and purchase a 4lb bag of beef jerky (ok, maybe more than one since I’m a sucker for good beef jerky) and keep it in my office. Even if I packed my lunch and eat it all, there are times where I’m still starving and wind up grabbing a few pieces of beef jerky to hold me over until I make it home for dinner.
No matter what you choose to store in your desk drawer, make sure you have a plan. If you stock your drawer with protein bars, but rarely ever eat them, make sure you rotate your stock so you don’t have expired and possibly bad products sitting there that you won’t want to eat when you’re jammed up and without food. The seven P’s seem to apply here—proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance. Don’t be like your lazy and mooching co-workers out there scrounging for some protein to maintain their gains.