I have worked hard to stay fit and understand the complex relationship between aging, nutrition, and exercise.
Easy High-Protein Pancakes
We know we should eat breakfast. And we know that we need protein if we want to maintain our nice lean muscle mass. But breakfast options are often just sugary junk, and often the only breakfast protein in reach is a nasty, fatty, pork sausage link. What's a health-conscious person to do, first thing in the morning?
The answer: protein pancakes.
Protein pancakes are simply pancakes from a mix that's fortified with protein powder. The idea is simple, and the results are delicious. This article is your guide to the top ten protein pancake mixes on the market -- your best-rated, highest protein, and most convenient options. If you maintain your muscles with weightlifting and increased protein intake, then much of this will be familiar to you. If you don't lift or eat your protein, then maybe you'll find some inspiration to get started!
1: Kodiak Power Cakes Flapjack and Waffle Mix -- Whole Grain Buttermilk
Number one, hands down. I love Kodiak Cakes protein pancakes, and I have them for breakfast at least once a week. The benefits of a power cake breakfast include mental toughness, not having to eat for hours, and enough protein in your system to maintain healthy muscle mass.
Making Kodiak cakes could not be easier -- equal parts water and mix, a hot griddle, and away you go. One serving, which for me is a nice stack of 5 4-inch cakes, is about 300 calories and a handsome 20 grams of protein. Add an egg to the mix, and you up the totals a bit. Add syrup and butter, and you have another 100 calories of simple sugars and saturated fats -- not the way I roll, but whatever. I have mine with a sliced banana or some strawberries. Lately there have been some really nice ripe mangoes in the supermarket. Half a mango sliced on a hot batch of Kodiac power cakes, and I'm full until lunch. And, you know, my biceps are bursting through the seams of my suit coat...
Eat Your Protein and Lift Your Weights!
Me at 56
This is me after several years of eating right and consistently lifting weights. I started lifting light weights a few times a week -- it was all I could manage, and I was sore a lot! But it was a good kind of sore, and now lifting and eating right are just habits. I'm no Mr. Universe, but for an old geezer with a shaky health history, obesity in my family, and only one ACL, I'm doing okay!
The health and diet information in this article comes from research and my own experience. And yes, I eat protein pancakes all the time.
2. MET-Rx® High Protein Pancake Mix, Original Buttermilk
I have only had these MET Rx protein pancakes a couple of times, and I have to say that they're pretty awesome. The MET-Rx brand is a very well-known quantity in lifting circles, nd they make some mega meal-replacement bars that are basically all the protein, or even all the food, that you need in an entire day. Their protein pancakes are equally no-nonsense, and really just about as good as my favorite Kodiak cakes. These pancakes, like the Kodiak cakes (and many in this guide) are made with water and nothing else, though you can add an egg for added protein if you like.
I have made these cakes with blueberries, and the results were pretty amazing. I'm not really a bananas-in-the-mix kind of guy, but sliced bananas on top are always a good way to sweeten pancakes without pouring a ton of syrup on top. Syrup is the worst, by the way -- it's just liquid sugar, a huge does of simple carbs that will fire up your insulin response and, over time, make you chubby.
MET Rx protein pancakes have 12 grams of protein per serving, a little less than Kodiak cakes, but still a great dose first thing in the morning. This is about the same as the protein in 2 eggs. If you eat a serving and a half, like I typically do, then you're up to three eggs. It's fine to eat this many eggs once or twice a week, but by adding in protein pancakes you can get all that protein without all that saturated fat and cholesterol (although the detrimental effects of dietary cholesterol are very much in doubt, thanks to recent research).
User reviews of the MET Rx cakes are great, and often mention the slightly sweeter taste of these cakes: "The taste and consistency of the mix is good. They pretty much taste like a normal pancake but, a little sweeter. If you use butter or syrup, even though not that great for staying lean, they are no different then a regular pancake."
MET Rx cakes are an excellent addition to your protein pancake options.
Getting Older Means Losing Muscle -- Right?
First, the bad news: There is solid evidence that all humans have an automatic tendency towards age-related sarcopenia -- the loss of muscle mass that gets a little worse for us every year we're on the planet. The idea is that as we age we just naturally and unavoidably get scrawnier and weaker, until one day we just topple over and turn into a pile of dust.
The good news: You can fight back. Sarcopenia is real, but the really bad effects are largely avoidable. Of course you'd never know this if you read enough websites about sarcopenia and not enough about protein and weightlifting as ways to combat the loss of muscle.
The way to fight back and to keep, and in some case actually gain muscle, is to eat your protein and lift your weights. The evidence is strong that your body will get the message and preserve your muscle if it thinks it needs to.In other words, lifting weights and eating protein signals your body that the muscle is needed, and it won't let that muscle wither away if it's needed.
What this means for you, my dear aging friend, is that we need to eat our fish, chicken, Greek yogurt, and beans. It also means that we need to start lifting weights. Even if it's light weights at first, and even if it's a few days a week for 20 minutes at a time, it will matter to your body. Be persistent and don't give up, and you will be rewarded with a strong, age-resistant body.
3. FlapJacked Protein Pancake & Baking Mix
Love the name, even though I myself have never tried them. I included them in this guide due mainly to the excellent ratings this mix gets, and for the truly spectacular amount of protein per serving -- 20 grams! That's more than three eggs, and if you eat more than the recommended serving -- as I usually do, since I wake up really hungry every morning -- then you're getting a very serious protein bump before you even leave the house.
This is another mix that just asks for water, and has no added sugar , and is also very high in fiber (six grams, which is about the same as two slices of whole wheat bread and will definitely keep you regular, you know).
All Flapjacked products are GMO-free, and made using whole oats, sweet cream buttermilk and coconut flour.
Eat This, Not That -- Protein Pancakes Instead of Bread
I often make a huge batch of protein pancakes and then use them throughout the week instead of bread -- they make almost any sandwich better, especially peanut butter and jelly, and also turkey or ham and cheese. I will say that using protein pancakes for bread when you're making a tuna salad sandwich is not very tasty, though. That's one I'll probably not make again!
Otherwise, the trade-off between bread and a couple of protein pancakes from the fridge is a good one, and will give you a nice does of protein and spare you the simple carbs in the bread.
4. The Original High Protein Pancake Dry Mix, White Chocolate
My kids love chocolate chip pancakes, but for me they're just a little too sweet, especially when you then coat them in maple syrup -- unless you're twelve, please do not ever eat this! These cakes, while technically "white chocolate" (whatever that is -- is it like "dark vanilla?), are actually pretty good for you, and will deliver that hit of protein that you need to help your body keep muscle and burn fat.
One thing you have to give this brand credit for -- they pack an absolutely amazing amount of protein into each serving. At 28 grams of protein per two pancakes, you're getting up there, not just in terms of protein but also in terms of calories, which these pancakes have in abundance. Made with whey isolate, the gold standard for non-animal protein w\supplements, these guys are basically a protein shake on a griddle.
From the company's website:
"Growing up in the baking business, one thing we didn’t want to give up was bread. We wanted to develop a healthy line of bread products that not only helped us reach our fitness goals, but also was enjoyable to eat every day. Through the nutritional knowledge we gained and combining it with our bakery expertise, P28 was developed."
From one happy user: "The tiny white chocolate chip morsels are a pleasant surprise. Macro breakdown is also good. Great alternative when you cannot make your own protein pancakes from scratch."
Even though I myself prefer cakes without the chips, many people, my own children included, disagree with me wholeheartedly!
Birch Benders Protein Cakes
5. Performance Protein Pancake and Waffle Mix with Whey Protein by Birch Benders
This package is good if you have a lot of people to feed -- one pouch makes 24 pancakes. These pancakes have 16 grams of whey-isolate protein per serving, about the same as two eggs or a few slices of deli turkey. They're non-GMO and high in fiber, too.
All in all, Birch Benders protein cakes are right up there with my favorites in this guide. From a satisfied customer: "I cannot live without Birch Benders Protein Pancake mix. The consistency behaves perfectly in the pan every time and I'm not clawing around looking for more food within 2 hours of eating these. Taste absolutely magical."
Magical pancakes -- that's tough to beat!
Lose Weight, Not Muscle -- the Power of Protein
Recent studies support the idea that dietary protein, meaning protein that we eat as part of our meals, is essential for muscle fiber preservation and synthesis. Protein is especially for those of us enjoying what they call a "sedentary lifestyle" -- you know, more time on the couch than on your feet -- because when we don't use our muscles, the body stops building them and turns instead to storing fat.
Being overweight is the underlying cause of many serious, even deadly health problems, including but not limited to diabetes, coronary artery disease, and obesity-associated cancers. You know this, I know this -- but what do we do about it?
The obvious answer is "lose weight." Okay -- so you go on a calorie-restricted diet and you begin to lose weight. That's a great start! But it's not quite that easy, because along with losing fat, you're also losing muscle. And losing muscle, especially if you're a little bit older, is the LAST thing you want to be doing.
Your solution: start lifting weights, and start eating protein. This will tell your body, "wait -- we suddenly need that muscle! Don't burn it for energy!" If there's enough protein on hand through your daily diet, your body will successfully preserve your muscle, and you will lose more fat than muscle.
It's never quite that tidy, of course -- in my own experience, I always lose a little muscle when I lose fat. But lifting and eating protein is a smart and overall effective way to keep your muscle and lose your fat.
6. SDC Nutrition About Time Protein Pancake Mix, Chocolate Chip, 1.5 Pound
I have already made my feelings about chocolate chip pancakes clear elsewhere in this guide. But again, I realize that lots of you actually prefer chocoalte chip pancakes over regular, non-chipified cakes. So be it. Here is another good, protein-amplified pancake mix with chocolate chips in the mix.
One thing about this brand -- they do have a ton of protein. Their pancakes boast between 21 and 27 grams of protein per serving -- about the same as 4 eggs or one can of tuna with a tablespoon of mayo.
One note for some of us purists -- these are sweetened with Stevia, a naturally occurring plant sweetener that has very few calories and apparently does not trigger your insulin response (which would cause you to store more of the calories in your meal as fat). To me, though, Stevia has a distinctive taste that I do not like. Others may not notice at all!
Added bonus: this product is gluten-free.
7. Bob's Red Mill Protein Pancake & Waffle Mix
My wife uses Bob's Red Mill flours and other mixes all the time, and the results are consistently good, so this protein pancake mix already has a good company name going for it. Bob's Red Mill is another water-only mix that get protein from plant and animal sources -- whey and legumes -- and offers 15 grams of protein per serving.
This is also among the more affordable mixes out there, although none of the products in this guide are going to put you in the poorhouse.
8. Wholesome Chow Organic Gluten Free Hi-Protein Pancake & Waffle Mix
This mix is so good for you that it actually has me a little suspicious, even though the reviews say that the flavor is good.The other things you should know about this mix is that it calls for more than just water, unlike the other mixes on the list. To make these protein pancakes you need not just milk, but apple cider vinegar. I'm not sure where they're coming from with this, but I have to remain a little skeptical about this one.
Still, the ingredients are spectacular and they're gluten-free, so I have them here because they're obviously really trying to come with a revolutionary protein pancake here.
Make Protein Pancakes in Advance and Have Them on Hand for Weeks
This is mentioned elsewhere in this guide as a smart way to save time and energy, and still have protein cakes as an option every single day. And, you know, eating healthy is all about options -- if you have it on hand, you can include it in the day's intake.
It's actually kind of fun to make a million pancakes and/or waffles, pack them up in freezer bags, and pop them in your big basement freezer so you can go grab one when you're putting together the day's meals. (What? You don't have a big basement freezer? Time to fix that, if you want to really give yourself as many whole-food options every day...).
9. Julian Bakery Paleo Pancake & Waffle Mix (Low Carb & Gluten Free)
Does anyone else find the phrase "paleo pancakes" humorous? I see a caveman wearing his big fur blanket, with his tangled dirty hair and beard, crouching over a smokey fire and flipping hotcakes with a stone spatula. No, of course there's no such thing as a pancake in an actual paleo diet -- there's just a whole lot of roots, eggs, and insects. But no one's going to make money hyping a handful of squashed grasshoppers as part of a hot new celebrity fat-loss diet. Instead you get pancakes with, I assume, a little butter and syrup. Grog like!
About the product:
- Waffle & Pancake Mix
- 9g Protein per serving
- Gluten Free, Grain Free, GMO Free
- Ketogenic (low carb)
These caveman cakes are also among the few protein pancake mixes in this guide to require more than water to make. They also need an added fat, and the manufacturer recommends using coconut oil or grass-fed butter. You know, like cavemen eat.
There are a couple of issues with flavor as well. From one reviewer: "The mouthfeel of cardboard with a heavy essence of potash. You can smell the potash before you even take your first bite. My husband said they taste like you got a bit of charcoal in your mouth, but that might be because he overcooked them."
Okay, now that I'm done ragging on these poor pancakes I have to say that the paleo diet is very close to my own habits, and of all the mixes on this list, this is the one most likely to fit perfectly into a paleo diet, which I think has the right idea about what humans should be eating today.
Who Wants Pancakes?
10. Mancakes High Protein Pancake Waffle and Baking Mix, Buttermilk
I actually should move these guys up higher, since I really like them and they have an absolute ton of protein -- 23 grams! Also, of course, they sport the best name since Flap Jacked, so...
Mancakes protein pancakes are made with "6 super food ingredients: whole grain oats, whey protein isolate, almonds, egg whites, flaxseed, garbanzo & fava beans." I am highly skeptical of money-making dietary catch-phrases like "super foods," so this feature doesn't automatically sway me. However I have to admit that those 6 ingredients are all things that I eat in a typical day (black beans instead of fava beans), so Mancakes fit well with my diet.
One of the reviewers of these protein pancakes suggests making the entire box, freezing them, and then popping them in the toaster one at a time. This really fits with the way I cook and store food, so if this makes sense to you, go for it!
Stay Strong, My Friends!
The following sources were consulted for this article:
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.