Customization Tips for Protein Shakes

Chocolate Protein Shake
Chocolate Protein Shake | Source

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Protein shakes are not just a fad drink. Many athletes love them; some vegans depend on them; and those who don't have much time in the morning enjoy them as a breakfast on the go. Ready-made protein shakes packaged in neat little bottles are available in most supermarkets. Muscle Milk, Odwalla and Lean Body are some of the popular brands. Keep in mind, though, that not all of these ready-to-drink products are created equal. Some offer a substantial amount of protein while others consist mostly of carbohydrates with a not-so-impressive protein content. Plus, packaged protein shakes tend to be on the pricey side and don't always deliver a perfect flavor for your personal liking. To save some bucks and have a healthy drink that actually tastes delicious, it is best to make your own. A foolproof way to customize protein shakes is to understand the pros and cons of available protein ingredients, then choose the ones that best suit your conditions and goals. Sweeteners and other flavoring ingredients also shouldn't be taken lightly. As the famous saying goes: you are what you eat. Be very selective of what you put in your blender!

Protein shakes are great for athletes
Protein shakes are great for athletes | Source

Who may benefit most from drinking protein shakes?

  • Athletes and those who are regularly engaged in vigorous exercise, such as weight lifting, running and any competitive sports - Although protein shakes alone do not increase muscle mass, they can enhance muscle strength and facilitate the repair of muscle damage that may occur during a strenuous workout. In other words, drinking protein shakes may help improve stamina and allow athletes to recover faster from minor injuries.
  • Vegans and vegetarians - Due to the lack of meat in their diets, these individuals may not get enough protein from their regular meals.
  • People whose diets are not very stellar - There's no need to worry about protein deficiency if you eat well-balanced meals on a regular basis. Those who usually don't have time or resources to maintain proper eating habits, however, might be able to improve their health by supplementing their diets with protein shakes. For example, instead of grabbing three donuts for breakfast, only take one with a big glass of protein shake that is low-sugar and vitamin-rich. This will give you more energy without causing a sugar crash later in your day or a giant spare tire later in your life.

Different Types of Protein for Protein Shakes

Ingredient
Plus Points
Minus Points
Almond milk
Antioxidant-rich, low-fat and packed with vitamins and minerals
May not be safe for those with nut allergies
Casein protein powder
Low in fat and carbs, may enhance protein synthesis in the body and protect colon cancer
Its slow digestibility may not be ideal for athletes who want to quickly replenish their bodies with amino acids after a strenuous workout
Eggs
Provide several nutrients including calcium and vitamins
Contain cholesterol and could be a source of foodborne illness, such as Salmonella infections, if not pasteurized
Ground flaxseed
Good source of dietary fiber, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids
It's a mild laxative and not a low-fat ingredient, therefore may not be good for the body if consumed in large amounts.
Milk
Prime source of calcium, patassium and vitamin D
Contains cholesterol and is a bit high in calories (unless you choose a fat-free or low-fat versions)
Peanut butter
Flavorful and rich in dietary fiber, calcium, vitamins and minerals
Certain brands may contain high amounts of fat and sugar
Rice milk
Cholesterol-free, rich in vitamin B, and promotes cardiovascular health
High-carb and doesn't provide as much protein as cow's, soy and almond milk
Soy protein powder
Easily digestible, cholesterol-free and low-carb
May exacerbate some thyroid disease symptoms
Soy milk
Packed with nutrients and may help lower bad cholesterol
May aggravate symptoms in people with thyroid problems
Tofu
Cheap, antioxidant-rich and may help lower bad cholesterol
May worsen thyroid problems and contains a distinct aroma that can be off-putting to some
Wheat Germ
Packed with iron, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins
Harmful for people with celiac disease
Whey protein powder
Fast-absorbing, very low in fat and carbs, and may help increase protein synthesis in the body
Pricey
Yogurt
Comes in various flavors and offers many nutrients, such as calcium and vitamins
Contains cholesterol (unless it's a fat-free version) and possibly a high amount of added sugar, depending on the brands
Add color to your protein shakes
Add color to your protein shakes | Source

Additional Ingredients for Protein Shakes

To make it sweet - fruit juices, fresh fruits, canned fruits, honey, syrup, sugar, artificial sweeteners

To add texture - fruits, vegetables, ground oats, coconut flakes

To add color - fruits, vegetables and juices with bright color (oranges, carrots, beet juice, strawberries, etc), green tea powder, turmeric powder

To add aroma - cocoa powder, fruits or fruit juices, fresh or dried herbs, green tea powder, brewed tea, brewed coffee, any flavoring extract you like

Customization Tips for Protein Shakes

  • If you like your protein shakes to be on the thin side, be generous with liquid ingredients, such as milk and juice. Avoid overusing thickening agents, such as peanut butter, tofu, yogurt and ground oats.
  • If you prefer it thick, don't be afraid to use a lot of texturing ingredients. It might be easier, though, to start with a thin shake, then add more ingredients until the desirable consistency is achieved.
  • To make your healthy shake light and refreshing, be sure to utilize citrusy fruits or juices as your main ingredients. Plus, try adding some aromatic herbs, such as lemongrass, basil or mint.
  • If you're diabetic, choose ingredients that are fiber-rich and low-sugar. Flaxseed and wheat germ are great choices of protein whereas rice milk is something to avoid. Ground oats and fresh veggies are also very diabetic-friendly. To sweeten your protein shakes, stick with 100% natural fruit juice, fresh fruits (non-starchy) or artificial sweeteners.
  • For athletes, it might be wise to invest on whey protein. It is, according to WebMD, the most fast-absorbing protein supplement that effectively replensishes the body after strenuous workouts.
  • If you have heart problems or want to lose weight, go with low-fat protein sources, such as protein powder, reduced-fat or fat-free milk, tofu, wheat germ, or pasteurized egg whites. Whole milk, fat-laden peanut butter and whole eggs are not your friends. Flaxseed, although not low in fat, could also be a heart-friendly ingredient if used in moderation.
  • If you're on a gluten-free diet, avoid wheat germ, oats and flavoring extracts that contain grain alcohol. The other mentioned ingredients are inherently gluten-free.

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Comments 15 comments

Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 3 years ago from United States

Great information, Om.

I usually put in flax-seeds! voted up as useful.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I prefer thick smoothies so I like oats and almonds in my smoothie. I also enjoy yogurt and fruit. I know raw eggs add protein (with risks), but I'd rather eat them cooked since I enjoy them that way! These tips are very useful and there's a wealth of information here. Voted up all the way across and shared!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for all the useful information, Om. I like drinking thick protein shakes. You've given me some interesting ideas for new ingredients!


torrilynn profile image

torrilynn 3 years ago

Hi Om Paramapoonya,

thanks for this hub and for helping me on ways

to make milkshakes.

thanks again and Voted up


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago Author

@Ruchira - Thanks for dropping by! Always glad to hear from you.

@vespawoolf - I like putting oats in my protein shakes, too. And I'm with you on the eggs; even if they're pasteurized and safe to be eaten raw, I still prefer them cooked!

@AliciaC - Glad you find these tips helpful, Alicia. Thanks for the feedback!

@torrilynn - You're very welcome. Glad you enjoyed the hub!


tebo profile image

tebo 3 years ago from New Zealand

I have recently started making shakes and your suggestions are going to make my attempts a lot healthier as well as making them a complete protein. Thanks f0r sharing.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 3 years ago from California

Just bought a Bullet Blender. It is really sweet for making shakes. Thanks for the ideas. Love frozen fruit in my shakes. I have a wicked sore throat and a frozen protein shake sounds wonderful. It will also help boost my immune system. Thanks.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago Author

@tebo - You're very welcome. Glad you found these protein shake tips helpful!

@tirelesstraveler - Yep, protein shakes with fruits and vegetables can definitely boost your immune system. Plus, they're yummy, too :)


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Lately I've been using flax seed in a lot of low carb breads I've been making. I've never thought of putting it in a protein shake and will try this. I just got up and I think I'll make one now.

Great hub and very useful.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Good information. I keep flax seed around and add it to different foods or put in the fruit smoothies I make. Voted up.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Makes me want to blend up a protein shake right now. That fruit picture is wonderful.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago Author

@Just Ask Susan - Thanks a lot, Susan. I bake with flaxseed sometimes, too! :)

@moonlake - Thanks! I agree flaxseed is a nifty ingredient to have in the kitchen; we can use it in many different ways.

@PegCole17 - Glad you enjoyed this hub and hope you give some of these protein shake ideas a try soon :)


SidKemp profile image

SidKemp 3 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

This is a great hub. I thought I was the only one out there tinkering with my shakes! Seriously, though, I would add three items: 1) If you are hyperallergic or sensitive (especially to glutamate), pure rice protein powder (80% protein; 100% rice), unflavored, is safest. 2) A teaspoon to a tablespoon of green algae, spirulina, or similar is a real boost. 3) It can be healthier to buy the plain protein powders and add your own vanilla extract!

Voted up and useful!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 3 years ago Author

Thanks for the helpful suggestions, Sid! I've heard a lot about spirulina but haven't tried it yet. Glad to know you also like to make protein shakes. :)


CyclingFitness profile image

CyclingFitness 2 years ago from Nottingham UK

I love adding oats and fresh fruit like banana into protein shakes. It makes for a great filling breakfast and is a great way to get one of my 5 a day as we're led towards a healthier lifestyle.

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