Do you enjoy your protein shakes? Or does the thought of slamming back another chalky protein shake make you cringe? If you fall into the latter group, then I’ve got the ticket to doctor up your daily shake so that you can enjoy your gains.
Who knows, they may become your favorite meal! I will show you some of the best ways to add variety to your daily shake. Now that 10lb bag of protein powder can turn into hundreds of different options instead of 100 servings of the same old shake.
1. Change Up The Protein
Protein shakes have come a long way in regards to taste and mixability. I remember struggling through some of my first protein shakes when they started to become more popular. It wasn’t pretty. Now there are so many awesome, quality protein powders to choose from, so it’s important to pick the one that suits your tastes and goals.
I prefer whey protein isolate or whey protein hydrolysate. Both of these proteins are fast digesting milk based proteins that are filtered to be free from fat and lactose. If you're sensitive to dairy you can consume these without fear of spending the rest of the day in the restroom.
Whey hydrolysate is faster digesting than whey isolate because the proteins have been split up into smaller peptides which take less time for your body to break down and assimilate. Both of these proteins tend to be on the bland side which makes them perfect for mixing into shakes with other ingredients.
If you choose to avoid dairy, you also have the option of using plant based proteins which are becoming more popular and better tasting. Your options include pea protein, brown rice protein, hemp protein, soy protein, or a blend. These also mix well with other ingredients especially fruits and vegetables. Beware of differences in texture if you are making the switch from milk based to plant based as plant based proteins have more of a grainy texture than whey and casein.
No matter which protein you choose, just remember that it has to mix well with other ingredients in your shake. If it tastes awful, it will be difficult to cover up. Your protein should either be bland or taste great by itself if you want to use it as part of a recipe for a shake. Choose wisely!
2. Mix Up Your Liquid
Using a different liquid in your protein shake is the biggest way to change and add flavor to your shakes. Choose a liquid that complements the flavor of your protein powder. For example, using green tea as your liquid is great with naturally flavored plant based proteins, but not so good with cookies and cream whey.
You must also take into account the amount of calories that your liquid adds to your shake. You can add all the black coffee and different types of teas you want to your shakes for big boosts in flavor without any extra calories. But when you start adding juices and milk to your shake, the calorie count can start to climb pretty quickly.
Some of my favorite liquid additions are Green tea, Chai tea, various nut milks, rice milk, coconut milk, fruit juice, and coconut water. These all provide big flavor and most provide minimal calories. Save the higher calorie/carbohydrate containing liquids for a post-workout shake. The caffeinated liquids are great for pre-workout protein shakes! Pick the liquid based on the type of shake you are making!
3. Add Fruits & Vegetables
There is more to nutrition than just macros! Most people eating for muscle gain or fat loss tend to ignore micronutrients or think that the occasional cup of broccoli is enough. Consider your long term health and wellness, as well as your gains, by ensuring that you are getting enough of the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients found in whole fruits and vegetables.
It’s not uncommon to see people throwing a banana into their protein shakes. It’s actually one of my favorite fruits to add in to a shake, but I want you to look beyond the banana! Add in berries to get a great boost in flavor and antioxidants. Throw in dark leafy greens like spinach and kale to get all of their phytonutrients and minerals.
Pineapple is another great addition to your shake because it's high in digestive enzymes and tastes great too.
Some of my other favorites are sweet potato and pumpkin which you can even buy as canned pie fillings. Try to get one to two servings of vegetables and fruit in your shake, especially if you are using it for a meal replacement.
4. Boost the Fat
Another way to add great flavor and make your shake more of a meal replacement is to add a source of high quality fat. My absolute favorite way to add fat to my shake is peanut butter or almond butter. Your shake just becomes so much better when you throw in a tablespoon or two of your favorite nut butter! You do have more options than nut butter if you are looking to add a fat source.
You can also add in a tablespoon or two of heavy cream, coconut oil/ MCT oil, or half of an avocado. These are all great sources of healthy fats and give your shake a nice, smooth texture.
You can also add in an omega 3-6-9 oil which is a great source of healthy fats and has a nutty flavor. Finally you can toss in a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds or hemp seeds to boost the fat and protein content of your shake. These are all great choices for bringing your shake to the next level and providing a full spectrum of macro and micro nutrients.
5. Give Your Shake a Flavor Bump
Once you have finished assembling the primary ingredients of your shake, there are still ways to add a little extra flavor bump.
My top three add ons for my shakes are vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg. Some other great additions are Cacao powder/nibs, which are like dark chocolate except way more intense. Or if you are okay with the added sugar you can go for actual dark chocolate chips! These are all great ways to finish off your protein shake masterpiece for very few extra calories!
Don’t get stuck drinking the same shake day in and day out. Especially if it's the difference between drinking a shake made from high quality ingredients or eating a fast food meal loaded with fillers and preservatives. A shake that includes all of the above steps is a great way to save time and enjoy your protein shakes instead of power chugging them.
What are some of your favorite tips that take your shake game to a whole new level?