How to Make Protein Shakes Taste Great
We've all been there—it's 30 minutes after your workout, and you're trying to force yourself to drink a protein shake that promised to taste like chocolate but instead tastes like liquid chalk.
It doesn't have to be that way; in fact, after a few experiments, I transformed my daily protein shake from a chore to something I look forward to every morning as part of my early exercise routine.
So let's take a look at five simple tips that can turn that a protein shake into a delightful post-workout pleasure.
Tip 1: Make It Ice Cold
There are few things that taste worse than room temperature water, doubly so when it's full of protein powder. After a hard workout, your body is going to be trying to cool down, so why not help it out by having an ice-cold protein shake. Generally, what I do is blend the protein shake with a handful of ice in order to make it into more of a cold smoothie in texture.
On days I can't get back to the house to blend the protein shake I simply add the ice in then place a cool-pack beside my shaker bottle in my gym bag. Generally, by the end of my workout, some of the ice will have melted, but the cool-pack makes sure the protein shake is still refreshingly cool.
Tip 2: Use Milk
Water is boring; let's be honest, and it really doesn't do very much to mask the chalkiness of protein powder. Milk is a quick and easy way to help mask the taste of the protein powder and turn into more of a milkshake, pair this with blended ice, and your protein shake might just taste half-decent.
If like me you're a vegetarian or you just don't want all the calories associated with regular milk then try some plant-based milks. My personal favourite is dark chocolate almond milk as it has only 200 calories in the serving size I need for my entire protein shake, and the dark chocolate taste comes through nicely.
My recommendations for plant-based milks would be (in order of preference):
- Dark chocolate almond milk
- Chocolate oat milk
- Regular coconut milk
- Regular almond milk
- Regular oat milk
- Boring old soy milk (avoid this, it is just as chalky as the protein itself)
Tip 3: Add Fruit
Now I am not saying add any fruit, far from it. In fact, most fruit tastes terrible in a protein shake, trust me I've tried tonnes of combinations. There are however two main fruits I regularly use that are great in protein shakes (especially with more neutral-flavoured powders):
Berries are an amazing addition to almost all protein shakes and really help give it the feeling of a smoothie instead of a chalky supplement. Frozen berries are incredibly cheap to buy and are perfect for blending into your shake, not only do the berries help cut through the dryness of the protein powder but the fact they are frozen means you are basically adding ice as well. Two tips for the price of one!
A single banana is more than enough for one protein shake; it will make it much thicker and also adds some more nutritional value to the shake such as potassium. Usually, I just blend them straight into the shake, and that's it, but sometimes you look at the banana, and it seems overly ripe (maybe a little brown).
What you want to do with overly ripe bananas is chop them up, stick them in a seal-able food bag and then freeze them. Next time you go to make a protein shake use the frozen banana chunks instead of ice cubes, you can thank me later.
I only recently found out these are a fruit (facepalm), but I have been using them in my protein shakes for a while now. If your avocado appears overly ripe and you don't want to use it yet just copy what we did with the bananas and freeze the chunks.
An avocado alone won't make your protein shake taste better but pair it with some chocolate spread and peanut butter and all of a sudden you have a sweet but earthy protein shake that gives you all the benefits of an avocado as well. This one isn't for everyone, but it's worth experimenting with.
Tip 4: Add Chocolate Spread
It's one of the biggest sins in bodybuilding to add sugar to your protein shake. But fear not because there is actually an alternative to standard Nutella or other name brand chocolate spreads.
The brand "Grenade" have a line of products called "Carb Killa" that aims to replicate high carb foods such as chocolate spreads using less carbs. Their chocolate spreads comes in three flavours:
- White Chocolate
- Plain Chocolate
- Hazelnut Chocolate (use this if you love Nutella like me)
Although still not technically the most healthy addition to your protein shake, these spreads will certainly make it taste sweeter and mask that chalkiness we all hate. They're also significantly better than just throwing Nutella in like I did before I discovered these alternative spreads. They boast "86% less sugar than leading brands" so you can be sure you're doing better than I did previously. I have included the estimated nutritional information of the standard chocolate flavour below.
Tip 5: Add Peanut Butter
If chocolate spreads aren't your thing and you want something less sweet, then consider adding a spoon or two of peanut butter to your protein shake. The earthy taste of the peanuts almost completely gets rid of the protein powders chalkiness, and the thickness of peanut butters helps the texture of your protein shake approach that of a smoothie. The peanut butter is best paired with another of the tips; personally, I always use some frozen banana when using peanut butter. With its high calorie content, I often use peanut butter in breakfast shakes as it keeps me sustained until lunchtime.
What Do I Use?
I hope these tips were helpful; feel free to comment below your own advice and always keep experimenting with different flavours of protein powders and adding interesting new ingredients.
My personal recipe for my morning shake is:
- 2 scoops of chocolate hazelnut protein powder
- 1 tablespoon of chocolate hazelnut spread
- Half a banana in frozen chunks
- 350ml of dark chocolate almond milk
You can probably tell I really like chocolate and it resulted in me creating a protein shake that is as close to a chocolate milkshake as I can possibly make it. When I want to be a little healthier or the store was sold out of chocolate protein powder this is my alternative recipe:
- 2 scoops of unflavoured, vanilla or strawberry whey protein powder
- 1 full banana
- 2 cups of frozen berries
- 350ml of plain oat or almond milk
- Add honey or agave nectar for sweetness to your own tastes
Hopefully, these tips and recipes allow you to start enjoying your protein shakes and help along the way to you meeting your fitness goals.
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.