DIY: How To Make A Perfect Protein Shake
Protein shakes are my go-to “on-the-go” breakfast option– and they also make a terrific between-meal or post-workout snack. Here are some guidelines for shaking things up properly:
Begin with a base.
Your liquid base can make or break your smoothie – in taste, and also in caloric content. You can walk into a smoothie shop, and depending on what you order, your liquid base will help determine whether that smoothie is a 150-calorie snack or a 1,000-calorie mega-meal. That’s one of the reasons I love to make mine at home.
My go-to base is unsweetened almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk – of if I’m looking for an extra energy boost, I’ll go for unsweetened iced green tea. They provide the same creamy texture as regular milk, but without all the unwanted saturated fat (and, for the lactose-sensitive, digestion issues).
– unsweetened coconut milk
– unsweetened cashew milk
– unsweetened vanilla almond milk
– unsweetened almond milk
– unsweetened green tea
Pick a protein.
Choose a protein powder (not a meal replacement powder) that’s low in carbohydrates and sugar (less than 3 grams of sugar per serving), and high in protein (at least 15 grams per serving). Whey is a terrific dairy base (and low lactose) option, but for vegetarians, rice or pea-based protein powders work well, too.
– whey protein
– pea protein
– pure beef protein
Have fun with fruit.
Stock up on frozen raspberries, blueberries and strawberries to add fiber, antioxidants and natural sweetness to your shake, along with that signature icy-smooth texture that makes smoothies so refreshing.
Don’t be afraid to go green.
If you’re not a fan of kale, this is a perfect opportunity to change your tune. Finely-chopped kale (you can pre-chop if you are using a hand-shaker, or let y
our power-blender do the work for you) makes a terrific protein shake add-in. It’s a nutritional powerhouse, loaded with fiber, vitamins A, B, C and K, iron, and a host of cancer-fighting antioxidants and phytonutrients. And like a true chameleon, kale blends surprisingly well with frozen fruit – especially raspberries and mangoes – taking on their sweet, creamy texture, and making it that much easier for you to go green.
In fact, there are tons of great green-up options, from spinach to arugula, parsley to kale—each one adds a unique flavor, so you can experiment to find your favorite combinations. For that matter, you can add in whole vegetables like celery stalks or cucumbers, and pack your shake with extra phytonutrients.
Last but not least…
A tablespoon of flaxseed oil or fish oil is a great way to boost the EFA (healthy Essential Fatty Acid) content of your shake in the form of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. EFAs area heart-healthy fats that may reduce inflammation and the risk for chronic disease – not to mention that the oil adds a nice velvety smoothness to your shake! Another Omega-packed option is ground flaxseed or chia seeds.
– chia seeds
– 1/4 avocado
– Fish oil
– hemp seeds
– freshly ground flaxseed
– Barlean’s omega swirl