When it comes to protein shakes we’ve all tried the usual ‘mix with water or juice’ method but hands up if sometimes you fancy something a bit more interesting than just mixing with water. Go on be honest! We have too and over the years we’ve tried probably hundreds of different protein shake recipes, some delicious, some not so good. With this in mind we thought it was about time we put together a list of our favourite recipes along with why they’ll be extra good for you. We know that not everybody has a sweet tooth so we’ve included a few non-sweet shakes with ingredients such as oats, spinach and even coffee.
Why make your own?
Protein powders are brilliant on their own but with a few extra ingredient thrown into the mix you can not only boost the flavour but also supercharge the shake itself. For example if you after a good breakfast shake that’ll give you energy throughout the day adding things like bananas, dark chocolate and lentils will increase your energy levels. Of course adding them all to the same protein shake will undoubtably spoil the taste! This is where we come in, we’ve test driven all of the recipes and have only included the ones that will not just improve your health and fitness but also won’t damage your tastebuds.
Protein shakes for weight loss
When it comes to shakes to aid weight loss you not only want a shake that gives you all of the nutrients you need to sustain a healthy balanced diet but you also want one that will help keep you feeling full for longer. Pulses such as legumes (things like lentils) and beans are slow digesting and high in carbohydrates so will help keep you feeling fuller for longer but aren’t so good for drinking. For this reason we’d recommend things like goji berries and bananas instead. Both of them are great for energy but are also good at slowing down your digestion.
One of our favourite shakes for weight loss has to be our tropical shake. It takes you back to warm summers and is packed full of goodness.
- 2 scoops of your favourite vanilla protein powder
- Half a cup of chopped pineapple
- Half a cup of mango
- Half a glass of coconut milk
- 1 chopped banana.
Taking less than ten minutes to make this is so simple to do and can even be made fresh after your workout if you want.
Simply put all of the ingredients together in a blender and mix. In our opinion it’s best if you blend it until it’s completely smooth but that’s up to you. If you prefer a little bit if texture then you can add a tablespoon of shredded coconut as long as it’s unsweetened.
- Banana – Low in calories but high in potassium (which helps your muscles and nerves work as well as moderating your blood sugar levels) bananas are also known for their levels of protein and dietary fibre.
- Pineapple – Rich in vitamins and antioxidants pineapples also contain high levels of vitamin C and manganese which aids the development of connective tissue and bones.
- Mango – Packed full of vitamin A which is known to improve eye sight mangos also have an enzyme that helps to breakdown protein. A little known fact about mangos is that they aid good digestion and can help to prevent some stomach related diseases.
- Coconut milk – Evidence has shown that coconut milk not only aids weight loss but that it may also help to lower your cholesterol as well as strengthen your immune system and help you fight viruses.
Oatmeal & Banana Shake
If you’re after something that’s not quite a sweet as our tropical shake then you can’t go far wrong with our delicious oatmeal and banana shake.
- 1 cup of milk (any type of milk is fine)
- 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
- 1 banana
- Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
- Quarter of a cup of oats
- 3 or 4 ice cubes
Just like our tropical shake this is super easy to make as all you need to do is put everything in the blender at once and then blend. Best of all though you can freeze what you don’t have now and have it later. If you’d prefer not to have your shake quite so cold then just leave out the ice cubes.
- Banana – As well as the high levels of potassium we mentioned before bananas are also high in vitamin B (containing around 33% of the daily amount you need), vitamin C (around 11%) and other minerals.
- Cinnamon – Sometimes called a wonder spice cinnamon is known to reduce the risk of heart disease, contain anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and lower blood sugar levels which in turn aids weight loss.
- Oats – Being one of the healthiest grains on the planet oats contain an amazing amount of vitamins, minerals and fibre as well as protein.
Protein shakes for building muscle, bulking or weight gain
If you’re looking to enhance your protein shake for building muscle, protein is the most important ingredient. That doesn’t mean just any old protein will do, protein powder wise it depends greatly on the time of day. For example if you have a shake straight after a workout then you want a fast digesting protein (such as soya, whey or grain) that will be quickly transferred to your muscles, helping them to heal and preventing soreness. If, on the other hand, you have a shake before you go to bed then you want a slow release protein (such as micellar casein) that will be fed to your muscles while you sleep.
Spiced Custard Shake
A hint of nutmeg gives this shake a slightly spiced taste. It’s quick to make and tastes delicious.
- 3 scoops of sugar-free vanilla ice-cream
- 3 eggs
- A pinch of nutmeg
- 2 servings of unflavoured protein powder
As with the best shakes all you need to do it blend the ingredients until they’re smooth.
- Egg – Whole eggs are great for building muscle. Eggs are full of protein and recent studies have shown that contrary to what was once believed the yolks are also extremely high in protein so should be consumed too. On top of that eggs contain all eight essential amino acids as well as dozens of vitamins and minerals.
- Nutmeg – While nutmeg doesn’t specifically help to build muscle it enhances the flavour of this shake but does also have a number of other benefits that shouldn’t be sniffed at, for example it is often used to treat chronic pain and depression. A member of the myristicaceae plant family, nutmeg is very good at clearing your liver and kidneys from toxins that have built up over time.
Overnight Recovery Shake
For a bedtime recovery shake this is perfect. It’ll help your body recover from a workout but will also help you sleep.
- 1 serving of your favourite micellar casein protein powder
- Ice cubes
- Tablespoon of cocoa powder
- Tablespoon of flax oil
- Milk (either dairy or dairy-free) or water
It’s best to make this just before you’re ready to drink but as you can combine all of the ingredients together in a blender at that same time it doesn’t take long. If you prefer a thinner texture to your shake it’s best to use water, otherwise you can use milk.
- Micellar Casein – A slow release protein micellar casein is ideal for taking before bed. It will help your muscles to repair while you’re sleeping.
- Banana – While most people will tell you about the protein levels of bananas not many people know that it can also help you to sleep. That’s because it contains potassium and magnesium, both of which are natural muscle relaxants.
- Cocoa powder – Like bananas cocoa powder also contains L-Tryptophan which the brain turns into serotonin which then works to relax you.
- Flax – Being high in L-Tryptophan and magnesium flax is excellent for helping you to not only fall asleep but also have a good quality of sleep. Magnesium has been proven to prevent restless leg syndrome and night terrors both of which can interrupt you sleep.
Protein shakes for energy
Energy protein shakes should have a good serving of protein but be higher in carbohydrates. Protein helps your muscles to grow and will give you a certain amount of energy but it’s the carbohydrates that your body uses for energy. When adding foods to the shake to give you extra energy ingredients such as blueberries and oranges are not only high in carbohydrates but are also delicious.
Morning Energy Booster
If you’re looking to start the day off with a high energy shake then you can’t go far wrong with this delicious shake. It’ll help keep your energy levels topped up all day long.
- Half a banana
- Two thirds of a cup of almond milk
- Chopped kale
- 3 tablespoons of Greek yogurt
- Tablespoon of almond butter
- 1 serving of protein powder
- Tablespoon of ground flax seed
Blend all of the ingredients until you have a smooth liquid. If you prefer a thicker shake then you can add some ice cubes.
- Banana – Banana’s are one of the best foods for energy. They are high in potassium, vitamin B6 and carbohydrates all of which are known for their ability to boost the bodies energy levels.
- Almond – Both almond milk and butter are great source of healthly fats that not only help balance your blood sugar levels but can cut your risk of cardiovascular disease. Oh and did we say that they’re high in protein too which will sustain your energy levels.
- Kale – Packed full of energy boosting vitamins and minerals kale also has a high concentration of calcium (one serving contains around 10% of the daily amount needed).
- Greek yogurt – Lower in sugar than regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is packed with enough nutrients and vitamins to make it not only healthier for you but also great for energy. It also contains a lot of probiotics which play a key role in boosting your immune system as well as increasing your energy levels.
- Flax – Flax is one of those rare foods that not only contains omega-3 and 6, both of which are crucial for brain function but are also vital for energy production.
Avocado and Matcha Vanilla Shake
Packed full of energy this shake is especially great if you’re looking for a vegetarian or vegan energy drink.
- Teaspoon of matcha powder
- Cup of almond milk
- Half an avocado
- 1 serving of rice or pea protein powder
- Ice cubes
As with the best shakes all you need to do it blend the ingredients until they’re smooth.
- Matcha powder – Meaning fine powder tea, matcha is sometimes referred to as green tea although it’s actually the finely ground powder of dried green tea. Containing alkalising caffeine rather then acidic caffeine (as found in coffee) matcha has no effect on your adrenal glands so is far healthier for you than coffee but gives you just as much energy if not more.
- Almond milk – A great alternative to cow’s milk, almond milk has naturally high levels of vitamin E. It’s often enriched with vitamin D which, sometimes called the sunshine vitamin, is used by the body to maintain energy levels.
- Avocado – Containing double the amount of potassium as that of a banana avocado’s are excellent for energy. They’re also rich in vitamins A, C and E which are known for their anti-ageing properties as well as their ability to protect against heart disease and cancer.
Protein shakes for general health
Protein shakes can be good for your general health too, yes they’ve become synonymous with body builders and fitness fans but they don’t have to be solely restricted to those groups. Adding things like spinach provides so many vitamins and minerals that they deserve their title of superfood.
Superfood Super Smoothie
For general health you can’t really get better than our superfood super smoothie. It’s packed full of goodness and tastes delicious.
- 2 Cups of leafy greens such as:
- Bok Choy
- Swiss chard
- 2 Cups of coconut or almond milk
- 3 Cups of fruit like:
- Hemp Protein Powder
- Put the spinach, kale, bok chow, Swiss chard, collards, dandelion in the blender, add the protein powder along with milk and then blend.
- Next add the fruit and blend again before serving.
If you want to add extra goodness to this then you could add cinnamon or seeds such as chia or flax.
- Spinach – Truly a superfood, spinach is packed full of vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium along with vitamins E, C and K to name but a few. The benefits of spinach aren’t to be sniffed at either and range from reducing stress and blood pressure levels to helping prevent some cancers.
- Kale – Like spinach kale has a huge number of benefits too numerous to mention in a couple of lines, but the most impressive ones are that it can reduce the risk of heart disease, helps to fight cancer, protect your eyes, lower cholesterol and help you to lose weight.
- Bok Choy – Closely related to the cabbage, bok choy contains beta-carotene which is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce the risk of lung, breast and prostate cancers. It can also repair DNA. Bok choy is also high in phosphorus and magnesium, both of which are known for their ability to protect the heart and clear arteries.
- Collard greens – Being a great source of dietary fibre collard greens can work wonders for your digestion but their high levels of vitamins A and C can encourage healthy hair and skin while choline in them can help improve your sleep and mood.
- Dandelion – Often over looked as a food stuff dandelion leaves are just as good for you as the other ingredients we’ve already mentioned but recent studies have shown that they can protect the liver from harmful toxins although more research needs to be done in this field.
- Banana – If you’re not sure of the benefits of bananas you can read why they’re so good for you in the benefits for our tropical shake or oatmeal & banana smoothie above.
- Mango – Originating in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar mangos aren’t called the king of fruits for nothing. They’re high in vitamin C which and boost your immunity to colds and flu, are rich in beta-carotene which promotes healthy eyes and good vision and also contain more than enough fibre pectin to reduce the bad cholesterol known as LDL.
- Berries – Containing a large number of antioxidant such as anthocyanins and ellagic acid, berries (especially blackberries, blueberries and raspberries) will help protect your cells from damage and reduce your risk of disease. They are also a great source of dietary fibre.
- Oranges – We all know that because of their vitamin C content oranges are good at helping you to fight off colds and flu but they are also rich in vitamin B6 which supports the production of haemoglobin, this in turn helps to keep your blood pressure under control.
- Avocado – Sometimes referred to as the ‘alligator pear’ avocados are extremely high in oleic acid (around 75% of an avocado is oleic acid), the monounsaturated fatty acid that is known for its health benefits. Benefits such as reducing inflammation, lower bad cholesterol and decreasing blood pressure.
- Peach – A good source of zinc, peaches contain anti-aging properties and have even been linked to the reduction of hair loss. Like oranges they are also high in vitamin C although not to the extent that oranges do.
- Pear – Pears are really high in dietary fibre which has so many benefits ranging from maintaining a healthy digestive track and preventing constipation to lowering your bad LDL cholesterol and regulating your immune system.
- Apple – There’s a lot more truth in the saying that ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ than you may realise. For starters they contain antioxidants and phytonutrients that actively reduce your risk of developing cancer, heart disease and diabetes. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Food Science found that eating apples daily can protect neutron cells from oxidative stress. Protecting against this stress can help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
- Pineapple – Favoured by frequent fliers for their bromeliad levels which help to reduce excessive blood coagulation and therefore reduce the risk of blood clots pineapples are also noted for the amount of manganese they contain. This is essential for the development of strong bones and can also help to prevent osteoporosis.
- Grapes – Having been popular with ancient civilisations who used them to make wine, grapes contain potassium which can help reduce blood pressure and maintain healthy bones. They also contain around 28% of the vitamin we need each day, along with nearly 30% of the amount of vitamin K.
- Chia/Flax – Both chia and flax seeds contain high levels and protein and are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) fatty acids which are one of the two essential fatty acids that the human body needs, the other being linoleum acid (omega-6).
Coffee, Coconut and Banana Smoothie
Perfect for breakfast this shake is a great source of protein, carbohydrates and fat. It’s so good you’ll want it anytime!
- 1 Scoop of your favourite protein powder
- 180ml of coconut milk
- 120ml of coconut water
- 1 teaspoon of cacao
- 1 teaspoon of coconut oil
- 25g oats
- 1 teaspoon of almond butter
- Shot of espresso
If you want to add extra chill to your shake then you can add a couple of ice cubes to the mix otherwise it really is a case of adding the ingredients to a blender and then blending until everything is mixed together.
- Coconut – Available in a variety of forms coconut contains natural saturated fat which is known to increase your HDL levels (good cholesterol) as well as decreasing your bad LDL cholesterol levels. Coconut oil contains a high amount of medium-chain fatty acids that can boost your metabolism and are burnt quickly as energy rather than remaining in your body.
- Cacao – More commonly associated with chocolate cacao is often called a wonder food,. It contains phenethylamine which enhances your mood, serotonin which is known to boost your brain levels, it’s dietary flavanols have also been shown to improve the blood circulation of your skin which can help protect it from harmful UV rays and thus helping to defend again skin cancer. It has recently been discovered that cacao thins the blood so can help to prevent blood clots.
- Oats – Oats can not only help to improve your cholesterol by increasing you good HDL levels while also reducing the bad levels but they contain beta-glucan which help to lower your blood sugar levels.
- Almond butter – Both almond and peanut butter are very good for you and if you’d prefer to use peanut butter that’s fine although almond butter does contain more vitamins, minerals and fibre. Both are high in protein and have been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Espresso – You might not know that espresso has been shown to improve your long-term memory and concentration and well as giving you extra energy. On top of that it’s extremely low in calories with less than 5 per shot.