One of the most common questions that we see is about protein shakes—they are one of the most common snacks that people use to fuel and recover from their workouts, but there are so many options out there, both homemade and store-bought, that it’s hard to decide what the best choice is for you.
So, we asked a few of our experts about their best protein shake recipes and why they think it is a great choice. Keep in mind dietary supplements like protein shakes are not necessary to help build muscle, or lose fat, but they can sometimes make life a little more convenient.
#1: Green Super Drink
Protein Shake #2: Strawberry & Banana
My protein shake includes 1 banana, 1-2 cups of strawberries, 1-2 scoops of vanilla whey protein (around 30-40 grams – just about any high quality vanilla whey protein isolate can work), 4-6 ounces of water, and handful of ice in a blender. If I wanted to add calories and slow down the digestion of the protein and make the shake more filling, I would add peanut, or almond butter. Tastes great every time!
Couple tips: Play around with the amount of strawberries, water, and ice. The less water, the thicker the shake will be. Blending the ice to the right consistency is the real trick to make the shake taste great. Also consider adding in some raw spinach to make the shake even more nutritious without sacrificing taste.
– Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT
Protein Shake #3: Almond Chocolate
Protein Shake #4: Berries & Veggies
Being a fitness guy for over a decade I have had the opportunity to try many different types of protein shakes from whey to egg to pea protein. Some are obviously better tasting than others but one thing that I have found is not all protein is created equal in the supplement world.
A couple years ago I decided to start doing some of my own research into what goes into some popular brands of whey protein. My only question was, “Does it really matter what brand of whey you use?”
Needless to say, I was shocked at what I found. Most companies use low grade whey from grain-fed cows and are loaded with fillers, chemicals and artificial sweeteners. For a society that is aiming for improved health and wellness this is really a step in the wrong direction if you ask me.
What I look for now is a good quality whey protein isolate that has few ingredients. A few that are acceptable are natural ingredients such as vanilla, cacao, and stevia. I choose whey protein isolate over concentrate as the filtering process will eliminate RgBH (a dangerous chemical found in grain-fed cattle). Isolate is filtered through an extra process and has also been found to be more readily available to your body. It is slightly more expensive but like anything else in life, you get what you pay for.
I have found Whole Foods to have a decent selection but some may be a little pricey. Personally I have found better deals online through various distributors. Some of the brands I stick too are EnergyFirst, Whey Cool, ProGrade and BiPro. For all of my vegan clients I recommend Sun Warrior which is great!
Protein Shake #5: Blueberry Banana
- 1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
- 1/2 serving plain unflavored Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- ¼ cup of blueberries
- ½ banana
- 1 scoop of unflavored 100% whey isolate protein powder (20-30 grams)
- 3 grams of glutamine + ice cubes
- Protein-25 grams
- Carbohydrates- 30 grams
- Fiber- 12 grams
A 2:1 or 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is ideal for refueling your muscles and replacing glycogen levels. Drink this shake within 30 minutes of your workout: a liquid meal, such as a protein shake, is absorbed more quickly than solid food. The fruit will help you restore your glycogen levels and transport protein to your muscles.
Using natural foods such as fruit and unflavored yogurt prevents a severe insulin spike that you get with most “store-bought” shakes due to the large amount of processed sugars and additives that are present. The combination of chia seeds, fruit, yogurt, and almond milk provides an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
One tip: Make your shake the night before and store it in the fridge to save yourself the hassle and cleanup in the morning.
Did you like any of these shakes? Do you have any favorites on your own? We would love to hear what you think, just leave a comment below.
For me, mixing so many things with protein powder defeats the purpose of a protein shake – convenience.
Instead, I’d like to ask, what is the easiest and most convenient way to make a bad tasting protein shake taste good? I think most of us have bought bad tasting protein shakes some time in our lives…..
@Peter – I thought my recommendation was pretty easy; some strawberries and a banana…or simply just one fruit with ice can make a difference.
I really like to take vanilla whey protein and mix with a little orange Gatorade mix and milk. It gives the shake an orange creamsicle taste, and most important it is extremely fast to mix and cheap too!
My favorite protein shake also gets in my ‘chocolate fix’: 1 scoop blended whey and casein protein – must be all natural with a digestive enzyme in it, and especially no sucralose + 1 cup unsweetened chocolate almond milk + 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt + 1 cup blueberries.
This shake has 344 calories 37.5 grams protein 35.5 grams carbs 9 grams fiber 5 grams fat. This is a good protein:carb ratio for post-workout.
Thanks for sharing, Barry.
When talking about isolates and effectiveness, how does Optimum Nutrition’s Gold series of whey and casein line up?
@Kent – I generally don’t opine on specific protein supplement brands because they are not regulated by the FDA. John Leyva in his whey protein article wrote about the things to look for in a whey protein isolate. If Optimum Nutrition Gold passes the test he offers, than it may be a good brand.
Ive just recently started taking working out seriously. I bought some protien bars, but they just taste so horrible that it takes me about 10 minutes to eat one. After reading this I think Marc Perry’s is the most convenient protien shake, cause most of those ingredients are already in my kitchen lol, and probly tastes the best too judging from the ingredients.. Next time I go to the store ill buy the rest of the ingedients and ill be set. P.S. I love your guys website so many of my questions have been answered, and I’ve gotten my best workouts from you guys, keep up the awesome work.
@Christian – I think that sounds like a smart idea. My opinion is that if you are going to have a protein supplement, buying a whey protein isolate and adding natural ingredients to a shake is the way to go. Protein bars on average have a lot of chemicals etc. in them. Thanks for the kudos about the website! We like to think we are just getting warmed up in terms of creating an awesome resource for you guys.
My favorite shake is simple: water, tons of spinach, ice, 1-2 scoops of whey protein, cinnamon, tablespoon of coconut oil, and a banana. Taste delicious and is so simple to make! Will be trying some of the ones above soon too. Thanks!
@Dennis – Thanks for sharing.
I discovered this one and I have it for breakfast, and it fills me up til lunch (I add 10 almonds on the side, too)
mix four ice cubes with 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
add 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cup frozen cherries
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1 tsp of cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
handful of spinach (can’t taste it and great way to add a veggie)
then add 1 tbsp each of hemp hearts, ground chia, and flax seed oil, then the unflavoured or vanilla flavoured protein powder and gently blend.
Thick, tasty and nutricious, and filling!
@Lillian – thanks for sharing. I hope more people share a bunch more recipes!
I have a challenge for the fitness / health food community. I want to make a protein drink that has NO soy / nuts or legumes. I am allergic to this family of foods. Is it possible? After I work out I want a healthful drink but I have been unable to find a protein source that I can use that is completely without these products. Good luck, and thanks!
@Alisa – thanks for letting us know. I added your question to our Q&A database so we’ll try our best to get it answered! If anyone else can chime in, that would be great.
@Ailsa – Your best bet would be a brand called Plant Fusion Protein shake. It’s my favorite vegan brand protein powder, made without soy, nuts or legumes. It’s a blend of 4 different plant proteins with comparable BCAA’s and glutamine as whey. I’ve read some reviews about the taste on Amazon, but personally think it tastes amazing also. Hope that helps.
Thanks John. I went to their website and looked at the ingredient list and unfortunately for me there is Pea Protein Isolate included. Peas are legumes of which I am allergic. I appreciate your efforts. I will keep looking.
@Ailsa – You’re right, I forgot that peas are legumes. My other vegan protein source is Rice Protein Concentrate. I haven’t found a brand that is “delicious” by itself, but if you mix it with other things, the taste should be fine. Hope that helps.
Ailsa, take a look at the classic protein from sun warrior – the protein source is sprouted whole grain brown rice. I can’t say that I have tasted it, but have heard some very good things about the company from people who are vegan and want a protein supplement.
My favs include:
1. Chocolate Cherry
6-8 oz almond milk
Handful frozen cherries
1 packet stevia
1 scoop protein powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder (I prefer dark chocolate)
2. Orange Julius
6-8 oz almond milk
2-4 oz OJ (lots of pulp)
Dash ginger powder
1 scoop protein powder
3. Tropical Breeze
6-8 oz almond milk
2-4 oz OJ
Handful of frozen fruit – mangos and peaches
1 & 3 require a blender due to the frozen fruit. For almond milk, I use Silk unsweetened.
My recipe for protein shake is:
Pure coconut water mixed with water
1tablespoon of chia seeds
1tablespoon of flaxseeds
Couple of shakes of cinnamon
And two scoops of pHd whey isolate -vanilla cream flavour
Sorry forgot to say this made immediately after training .. The coconut water is used to replace your glycogen levels
Some great suggestions here. And I agree, keeping it simple is the way to go, as in your strawberry and banana recipe.
I use skim milk and a mix of fresh berries – whatever’s in season, and frozen strawberries because that makes it ice cold without being too watery.
I also add half a cup of Greek yogurt which makes it thick and creamy and provides even more protein so you don’t have to use so much protein powder.
Keep up the great work!
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Love all the shake ideas. If you want to have a great shake that is easy and high quality, I have found the best plant based shake and organic raw super greens. No need to add one vegetable when you get it all in one scoop. This will give you the right about of minerals, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and protein and alkaline your body. I add the super greens in my water throughout the day for added energy.
Do these shakes taste good?
They are very good. Just had one!
Ailsa – I will talk to Green Organics to see about creating a shake without legumes. For those looking for a great tasting, high quality plant based protein, this is the very best I have ever had.