I’m sure you’ve gone over in the grocery store post-workout to search for some muscle fuel only to be overwhelmed, disappointed or shocked at the amount of sugar these ‘healthy shakes’ actually have. Or maybe you’ve made your own and have been upset that an hour later you’re hungry again, and this just didn’t make you full until lunchtime like that recipe you found promised. Look – grainy, artificial shakes BLOW. That’s why I’m here to help with my tips on how to make your protein shake taste better.
1.) Why am I Drinking this Protein Shake?
Let’s start here. Are you drinking this because a) you think you should b) you’re trying to grow lean muscle c) you’re looking to bulk up calories in your day d) just a girl trying to up her protein intake? Once you figure out your WHY, you can figure out WHAT to actually put in it.
2.) Start with Your Base
Juice, milk and water are all great places to start. If the point of the shake is to focus on the protein instead of making this a total meal replacement, look for lower calorie liquid options such as almond or cashew milk, (Tropicana Trop50 is a personal favorite for a juice option) coffee, water, or chilled tea. As someone that enjoys shakes as a way to add more protein to my overall diet, I try to keep my liquids under 50 calories per shake.
3.) The Gain Event
There are tons of proteins out there. Whey, casein, pea, soy – the list goes on! How do you know where to start?! Find some of the most common options you’ll see on the shelves below:
Actually a byproduct of the cheese-making process. How groovy. Basically milk is heated up to kill off bacteria and gunk, and when the milk gets hot enough it separates to form your curds (chomp) & whey. That being said, it may retain a bit of lactose which some people may have trouble digesting, digests quickly (super post-workout option), & is a complete protein source (meaning it provides all 9 essential amino acids your body can’t produce itself, rock on). For my favorite proteins below, check out IdealLean.
Also comes from the same cheese-making process/milk, casein a slow-release protein meaning your body digests wayyyy slower than whey (hello nighttime beverage shake!), reduces the rate of muscle protein breakdown, is again is a complete protein source. I’ve been an IdealLean whey & casein protein shake lover for YEARS. They just don’t disappoint when it comes to flavor options.
Another complete protein source, egg protein is easily digested, dairy-free, decreases appetite, and is a fabulous lower calorie option.
Banging source of iron and gluten-free, pea protein is a great option for vegetarians & vegans, may help you feel fuller for longer periods of time
4.) Do We Chug this Now?
Depends! If you are trying to slam some protein post-workout solely for the added protein in your day (whey with almond milk is my personal preferred) now is your time to shine.
If you are turning this shake into a breakfast or meal replacement, here are my tips to making it taste better / keeping you full longer / make the effort worth your while:
1.) Something Fresh!
Bananas and berries will always be fantastic options as they are flavor-forward, but if you are looking for added vitamins avocados and spinach are game-changers. If I am low on fruit, this is where I like to add the Trop 50 calorie OJ into my shake for vitamin C. I always save my fruit that is on the edge and throw it into the freezer for smoothies which brings me to my next point…
2.) Something Frozen!
Ice! That element that actually makes this shake taste refreshing. Frozen fruit is usually my go-to, but frozen spinach or just plain ol’ ice cubes work just as well. It’s also a sneaky way to get more water into your day!
3.) Something Creamy!
A ripe or personally preferred frozen banana, avocado, or Greek yogurt are my top 3 options here. This will help your shake not become chalky gross and bind your healthy wonderful life-changing ingredients together.
4.) Now let’s Make it Super!
For my chocolate and peanut butter protein people, PB2 is a lifesaver. Peanut butter is very calorie/energy-dense, and if I am trying to get my calories for the day elsewhere PB2 is a fantastic substitute. 2 tablespoons come in at 45 calories, 5g Carbs, 5g Protein and 1g Fat. Comparing that to your basic 2 tablespoons of Jif peanut butter coming in at 190 calories, 12g Fat, 15g Carbs & 8g Protein it’s a no brainer. I usually do one tbs of each to make sure I am getting my fats in. A meal replacement should have a balance of protein, fat & carbs to actually keep you full.
Extra Protein: Greek yogurt, milk, oats, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs (YES!), goji berries
Extra Carbohydrates: fruit, veggies, oats
Extra Fat: avocados, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, peanut/almond butter, coconut milk, pumpkin seeds
If any of the above tips worked for you, I’d love to hear it! Comment with any of your tried and true shakes, I’m always on the hunt for a great recipe. For my favorite favorite proteins, be sure to check out IdealLean.