How to add carbs to your protein shake

How to add carbs to your protein shake

Claire Muszalski

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If you’re new to the workout scene, you might be surprised to see everyone walking out with their blender bottle after their workout or posting their morning smoothies on Instagram. Everyone seems to be using protein powder, but what ’ s the best way?

With so many protein powders on the market, once you finally choose one you like, what ’ s the best way to use it? Although many powders can be made into a recovery shake by just adding water, there are lots of ways to bump up the nutrition and make a variety of tasty snacks or even meal replacements.

How to add carbs to your protein shake

What is a protein shake?

A protein shake is made from a protein supplement (typically a powder) that ’ s mixed with a liquid (like water) and sometimes other ingredients to make a drink like a smoothie or milkshake. They can be made simply in a shaker bottle or blended in a blender if you’re adding other ingredients. Protein shakes are usually taken after exercise to help repair and build muscle, but they can also be used as a meal replacement or a healthy snack any time of day.

How do you make a protein shake?

While protein is key to helping muscles build and recover, you can add other nutrients to your protein shakes too — like carbs, healthy fats, and fib re — by adding more ingredients. The liquid component of the shake is required — whether its water, milk, coffee, etc. — you need something to dissolve the protein powder in.

If you just want to boost the protein content, mix your protein powder with milk in a blender bottle instead of water. If you want to get more complex, you can use a combination of frozen ingredients (like frozen fruit or ice cubes), fresh ingredients like spinach or yogurt, or sources of fat like nuts or nut butters, and liquify it all in a blender. It’s easy to experiment with different flavo u rs . For even more protein, you can add yogurt to your shakes too .

What are the benefits of protein shakes?

Protein shakes provide extra protein to help build and repair your muscles after your strength training workout. 1 Adequate protein in your diet, like you get in protein shakes, can actually help prevent muscle damage and promote faster recovery during endurance exercise too — like running, swimming, or cycling. 1

High – protein diets have been popular for years for good reasons. Having adequate protein in your diet can also help with weight loss — protein makes you feel fuller and more satisfied , which can help prevent over-eating. A diet high in protein also protects your lean body mass when you ’ re trying to lose weight by creating a calorie deficit. 1

What are good protein shake recipes?

The following list of recipes can be modified based on your goals and range from basic to complex in terms of ingredients. Play around with frozen and fresh fruits and vegetables for different textures. The recipes below are all best mixed in a high-powered blender.

For Weight Loss or as a Meal Replacement

When trying to lose weight, it ’ s important to still obtain balance with your nutrition. Try these recipes to obtain a good mix of protein, healthy carbohydrates, and heart healthy fats. Unsweetened or low-fat milk options are the best choice to manage calorie intake. Using Impact Whey Protein is a low – carb, high – protein choice that fits perfectly here.

Very Berry Green Shake

Adding a few handfuls of fresh spinach might make your shake green, but we promise you won’t taste it. The extra fib re and nutrients you get from the greens is a great natural boost.

  • 1 scoop Strawberry Cream Impact Whey Protein
  • 1 cup skim or unsweetened almond or soy milk
  • 1 small frozen banana
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 tbsp. almond butter

Mocha Frappe Shake

This is a great option for after an early morning workout. Add in some leftover coffee or cold brewed coffee for a tasty treat that fuels your muscles and your brain.

  • 1 scoop Chocolate Impact WheyProtein
  • 1 frozen banana
  • ½ cup chilled coffee
  • ½ cup skim or unsweetened almond or soy milk

To Build Muscle

When building muscle, you need plenty of calories but also don’t want to overdo it. Use these recipes and T HE Whey to get the most muscle building benefits. The “milk” in these recipes can also be soy, rice, almond or another alternative.

Peanut Butter Banana Builder

This shake is so good it tastes like dessert! It’s a simple combination of ingredients — you can also add spinach here for more nutrition.

  • 1 Scoop Peanut Butter Cup T HE Whey
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 cup milk of choice

Strawberry Banana Blast

Frozen fruit-based smoothies can also be made with juice instead of milk, but juice adds some carbs and sugar.

  • 1 Scoop T HE Whey + Strawberry Milkshake
  • 1/2 fr ozen Banana
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup milk of choice

To Gain Weight

When you want to bulk up, you can add additional sources of fat and protein to really boost the calories in your shake. Swap out different fat sources (nuts, seeds, coconut oil, avocado) or add 100% fruit juice for new flavo u r combinations. You can also use a weight gainer protein that usually contains carbohydrate as well as protein.

Cherry Cheesecake Shake

  • 1 Scoop Vanilla Weight Gainer Blend
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 2 t bsp . cashews
  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup milk of choice

Chocolate Blast Shake

  • 1 Scoop Chocolate Smooth Weight Gainer Blend
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1 cup chocolate milk
  • ½ avocado

Take Home Message

Protein shakes can range from simple — just water and protein powder — to complex with over 10 ingredients. However, they can all taste great and help you meet your goals. We have a wide selection of protein powders that work well in any recipe — whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, or bulk up.

Sometimes, just throwing your protein powder into a glass of water or milk isn’t enough. Maybe you want more substance. Or maybe you’re just looking for some more flavor.

To try to solve this problem, most companies offer their protein powders in a huge variety of flavors. Here’s the problem, though: whey doesn’t naturally taste like strawberries. Or cookies. Or any of that stuff.

In order to achieve those flavors, manufacturers have to use a ton of artificial flavors and sweeteners – which are also usually accompanied by artificial dyes. What you end up with, then, is a product that is far removed from the original, natural source of the protein – in flavor, appearance and benefits.

Which is why Naked Nutrition offers our protein powders in their natural, unflavored state. But, what if you want to add some flavor to your protein shakes even when using our high-quality powders?

Fruit, Berries, Nuts and Such

Of course, if you’re looking to make a filling protein shake, you can simply add your desired flavorings directly to the mix and blend everything together.

How to add carbs to your protein shake

Options here could include things like fruit, berries and nut butters. Frozen fruit and berries have the added bonus of helping to thicken your protein shake, instead of having to use ice – which will water down the flavor.

You also have some options when it comes to the fluid you use in your shake. There are the obvious choices, like milk and water, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Coffee, tea and juice could work too. Especially if you try to avoid cow’s milk, you might use flavored versions of your milk-of-choice.

Keep in mind, though, that these ingredients can significantly change the nutritional profile of your protein shake. Fruit and juices, for example are fairly high in carbohydrates – which you might not want depending on your diet or what you’re using the shake for.

Nut butters and milk, as well, tend to be much higher in calories than many people realize.

When these things get tossed into the mix, then, you may be getting more total calories out of that shake than you planned.

How to add carbs to your protein shake

No- and Low-Calorie Options

So, what if you’re trying to get some flavor and limit the impact this will have on your shake? There are several no- to low-calorie solutions you could use.

We already mentioned things like coffee and tea – which, in addition to have no calories, carry the added benefit of caffeine. Particularly if you’re using that protein shake as a pre-workout snack, that little boost of caffeine could be exactly what you need.

But there are also less obvious options, like extracts and fresh herbs. Natural flavor extracts come in a huge range that are fairly inexpensive and, with just a few drops, can help to add tons of flavor to your protein shake.

While mint tends to be a favorite for things like this, any herb can be added to your protein shake for both flavor and a wide variety of benefits.

How to add carbs to your protein shake

Related Articles

  • How to Bulk Up With Protein Shakes
  • Can You Mix Whey Protein in Food?
  • Should You Drink a Protein Shake Before or After a Workout?
  • What Do Most Bodybuilders Use for Protein Powder?
  • What Does Protein Powder Do to You?

Low-carb, high-protein drinks can be a useful addition to your diet when looking to lose weight or if you’re just after a quick snack to help keep you feeling full without ingesting too many calories. Protein has a greater effect on satiety than fats or carbs, meaning that even a relatively low-calorie drink can fill you up between meals. If you don’t want to buy an expensive over-the-counter product, however, you can make your own.

Power Up With Protein

Some form of protein should form the basis of your drink. A protein powder is an easy addition, and the most popular type of protein powder is whey, according to dietitian Leslie Beck, who recommends looking for a whey powder with no artificial flavors, sweeteners or added sugars. You could also opt for a plant-based protein like hemp or pea, or even just use milk as a protein source. The only downside to milk, however, is that it is slightly higher in carbs, with 1 cup of skim milk containing over 12 grams of carbs.

Choose Your Carbs

Going for a low-carb drink doesn’t mean it has to contain zero carbs, just that the carbs fit into your daily allowance. Typically, a diet containing less than 130 grams of carbs per day is regarded as low-carb, so your drink needs to fit into your daily diet as a whole. If you’re eating three meals that each contain 30 grams of carbs, plus two drinks per day, each drink should contain no more than 20 grams each. Good carb choices would be low-sugar fruits, such as blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, or even green vegetables such as spinach, kale or broccoli.

Blitz, Blend and Additions

If you’re using fruits and vegetables in your drink, you’ll need a blender to help blitz everything and make it drinkable. For an extra protein hit, try adding some low-sugar Greek yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese. If you want a little healthy fat in your shake as well, crushed nuts or a small spoonful of almond, peanut or cashew butter are all fine, as they add some fat, along with a bit more protein without many carbs.

Easy Examples

The easiest, quickest low-carb, high-protein drink is simply a protein powder mixed with water or milk. If you have a little more time on your hands, though, try a drink made with vanilla protein powder, low-sugar yogurt, frozen blueberries and spinach. Switch the flavors around for a chocolate drink containing chocolate protein powder, a little cocoa powder, almond milk, spinach and crushed hazelnuts, or go for strawberry protein powder, fresh strawberries, kale and crushed ice.

  • Technische Universität München: Dietary Protein and Satiety – Food Effects in the Gut and in the Brain
  • The Globe and Mail: Are Protein Supplements a Good Idea?
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database: Milk, Nonfat, Fluid, With Added Vitamin A and Vitamin D (Fat Free or Skim)
  • Diabetes.co.uk: Low-Carb Diet

Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.

The humble protein shake has become an almost essential part of the gym rat’s diet, thanks to the simple and cost-effective way of adding muscle-building protein to your daily routine. While there are various different kinds of protein powder out there, they all essentially perform the same function – helping you get more protein in your diet.

Those who consume protein shakes on a regular basis can take advantage of the nutritional benefits of various healthy foods which can easily be incorporated into their diet by simply adding them to their daily shake. Here we’ll look at some of the best foods to add to a protein shake.

Ground Flax

Ground flax is an ideal way of adding some fibre and omega 3 to your diet. It has been linked to better digestion and even increased metabolism, and the fibre and protein will help keep you full if you’re trying to cut weight. The omega 3 has numerous benefits as well, including better joint health and improved skin.

Spinach

Packed full of nutrients and one of the most alkalizing foods out there, spinach is one thing that most of us could do with more of in our lives. It can help reduce inflammation and can improve post-workout recovery, and has a ton of other health benefits. While some people may struggle to get things like spinach and kale into their diet daily, adding it to a protein shake it about as easy as it gets. Just add a handful to your blender when making your shake for a nutritional boost.

How to add carbs to your protein shake

Berries

While protein shakes are one of the most efficient ways of meeting your macronutrient goals, it’s pretty rare that you’ll find one that tastes great. One way of vastly improving the taste without the addition of sugar or any other potentially unhealthy additives is to throw in a handful of berries. They’re sweet, low sugar, full of vitamin C and fibre to give you a healthy and nutritious addition to your shake.

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Powdered Avocado

Avocado is very much the darling of the health and fitness community at the moment and it’s hard to argue with that reputation. They pack a huge nutritional punch, are full of healthy fat and fibre, can help lower cholesterol and there are many more benefits of adding avocado to your diet. Avocado powder is a fairly new product, so there are only a few places to get it online at the moment, but expect this to be big next year.

Almond Butter

Almond butter has really taken over from peanut butter as a go-to healthy fat source over the past couple of years, largely because of the increased levels of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, as well as more calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. While it may not be as well known as peanut butter, it’s popularity is rising and it should be available at most health food stores. Adding a tablespoon to your protein shake will help you to load up on healthy fat, and it tastes absolutely fantastic. Try it with vanilla or chocolate protein for a desert-like snack.

How to Add Fiber Without Causing Gas

Fiber, a type of carbohydrate, is an essential nutrient that has a number of health benefits. A diet high in fiber may help to lower the risk of heart disease and your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Eating a high-fiber diet also prevents constipation. Most people do not get enough fiber in their diet, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The Institute of Medicine recommends adult women until the age of 50 consume 25 grams a day and adult men consume 38 grams per day. With one or more ingredients, you can increase the amount of fiber in your protein shake.

Step 1

Add psyllium to your protein shake. Psyllium is a soluble fiber, primarily used in over-the-counter laxatives. However, you can find psyllium by itself in dry form or husk form. Both of these forms can be included in your protein shake to ramp up the fiber. Add 1/2 teaspoon of psyllium to your 8-ounce protein shake at the beginning. You can slowly increase the psyllium to 2 teaspoons as your body adjusts to the fiber. Psyllium is flavorless but can become thick if it sits in your protein shake for too long.

Step 2

Include raspberries in your protein shake. Although all fruit is a good source of fiber, MayoClinic.com states that raspberries contain the highest amount. In a 1-cup serving size, raspberries supply 8 grams of fiber. They are also tasty and will help make your shake sweet.

Step 3

Use 1 teaspoon of bran powder or cooked bran in your 8-ounce protein shake. You can use any type of bran, depending on your taste. Bran is a good source of fiber, with a 1-cup serving size of cooked oat bran containing 5.7 grams.

Step 4

Add flaxseeds to your shake to increase protein and fiber. Ground flaxseeds contain 1.9 grams of fiber per tablespoon. Use a coffee grinder to grind the seeds before adding them to your protein shake, to make them easier to digest.

Step 5

Include peanut butter in your protein shake. Peanut butter not only adds delicious flavor and protein, it also has fiber. Just 2 tablespoons of peanut butter have 1.9 grams of fiber.

When you’re just going about your day and you slowly start coveting all the rich, delicious flavors of your favorite high protein low carb snacks, I’m sure a low carb protein shake isn’t exactly what comes to mind…

But let me tell you, this is one of the best low carb smoothies out there! There aren’t too many low carb breakfast recipes that taste like a sweet, dreamy milkshake – and honey – you just hit the motherload!

Forget those low carb recipes that have you snacking on enough lettuce to feed a herd of goats! Have yourself a divinely inspired low carb protein shake instead!

Come see what it’s all about!

How to add carbs to your protein shake

What I Love About This Low Carb Protein Shake

The awesomely incredible characteristics of this delicious low carb protein shake cannot be overstated, and I’m totally serious about this! Its creamy, dreamy, cold and delicious but here are some other reason to love it too:

  • Heavenly flavor
  • Ready in 5 minutes flat
  • Virtually no clean-up required
  • Totally nutritious
  • Versatile recipe
  • Easy to ‘eat’ on the go
  • Shall I keep going?How to add carbs to your protein shake

Healthy Smoothies Recipe Notes

Healthy smoothies don’t have to be green to be nutritious. As a matter of fact, this one is chocolate peanut butter flavor. How yummy is that?!

Loading the blender properly is also important to ensure all ingredients blend well and nothing gets stuck under the blades. It may sound far out but it’s true! You should start with liquid first, then powder and solids from smallest to largest. Ice typically comes last.

One last thing — If you’re anything like me then you probably enjoy a tasty little treat at the bottom of your protein shake! Instead of blending the sweet luscious raspberries into the smoothie, mush them up on the bottom of the cup and pour your shake on top.

Then as you’re finishing your scrumptious shake, grab a spoon and go to town!! (Of course, this is totally optional.)

Ingredient Notes

There are a few things you should know…

Protein Powder – It’s really important to make sure that you like the taste of your protein powder before you make your smoothie. Concocting a low carb protein shake with yucky protein powder will give you a terrible tasting smoothie. Don’t do it! (Plus, you’ll waste all the other nutritious ingredients).

Fruit – Now, if you prefer to blend your raspberries into your low carb protein shake then you should probably use frozen ones. Frozen fruit just makes a better smoothie because it adds a thicker, creamy quality and drops the temperature of your shake considerably.

Veggies – Storing spinach in the freezer actually does the same thing and it makes it last longer. The spinach in this recipe is optional, but you can’t taste it (promise) and it’s a great way to sneak in some greens in your healthy recipes.

Tools To Make

Making a protein shake is so simple you won’t believe it! All you really need is a blender and maybe a straw to slurp it up with! Just don’t go so fast you get brain freeze…

Storing Tips

Storing your low carb protein shake isn’t difficult but there are some things you can do to maintain optimal flavor and nutrition.

You can make your low carb smoothie in the morning and keep it in the fridge for a meal or healthy snacks later in the day. Just ensure that it’s kept in a glass container with a secure lid and as little air as possible.

Can You Freeze This?

Yes!! It’s a low carb protein shake, also known as a smoothie, so half of the ingredients are frozen anyway. It also makes great popsicles in the summertime!

Meal Prepping Tips

Well, there isn’t a lot to making a low carb protein shake to begin with, but if you want to save some time…

Prep all the solid ingredients in individual baggies, and store them in the freezer. When you’re ready for high protein low carb snacks, empty the contents of your baggie in the blender (along with your milk) and blend away!

How to add carbs to your protein shake

Low Carb Drinks Recipe Variations

Oh!! The places you’ll go! Changing the flavor of your healthy frozen low carb drinks is a cinch, and there are so many options it’s just crazy!

Using vanilla protein powder instead of chocolate will give you a totally different flavor and so will opting for other low carb fruits. You can also garnish with hemp seeds or blend them directly into your low carb protein shake.

Adding shredded coconut or substituting other nut butters will give your low carb protein shake a subtle flavor twist. You can also toss in a handful of low carb nuts or use them for garnish. Fresh herbs, like mint, work well too.

I like to add a little bit of cold coffee and garnish with dark chocolate shavings for dessert!

What Fruit Can I Add To This Healthy Breakfast?

A great tasting low carb smoothie makes an incredibly healthy breakfast and you can eat it on the go! Kids especially seem to love these for breakfast, and they’re a great way to fuel up for a busy day.

Substituting other low carb fruits are a fantastic way to change the flavor profile and up the nutrition ante — this low carb strawberry smoothie is one of my favorites. Sometimes I make one for dessert!

How Can I Add More Greens To This Low Carb Smoothie?

I do have a recipe for a low carb green smoothie that’s out of this world! This is not one of those green spinach-tasting smoothies — It’s got a decadent creamy mint flavor and it’s chocked absolutely full of top-notch nutrition.

Can I Turn This Into Low Carb Meal Replacement Shakes?

Yes!! Since you’re adding protein, your low carb protein shake can be a low carb meal replacement shake.

These low carb protein shake recipes make great low carb snacks AND low carb breakfast. Just because these smoothies have protein in them doesn’t mean that they must be eaten in place of a meal.How to add carbs to your protein shake

What Should I Add To Make These Low Carb Shakes Creamy?

I have a recipe for a decadently delicious low carb peanut butter smoothie that’s incredibly creamy but there are also other ways to make your low carb protein shake thick and velvety.

Adding an avocado to your low carb protein shake will make a divinely inspired nutrient dense silky-smooth concoction that closely mimics a low carb milkshake. Using Greek yogurt will do the same thing, but keep in mind that using either of these additional food items will change the flavor of your low carb protein shake.

Use this simple formula.

How to add carbs to your protein shake

When you think of protein shakes, you might think of gym bros downing a bottle of sludge made from powder and water. And, sure, that’s one way to get a quick dose of protein on the go—but it’s not the only way, and it’s definitely not the most delicious. With a little know-how and a few simple ingredients, it’s possible to make a protein shake so delicious you’ll actually crave it.

How to make a protein shake

Stop thinking about protein shakes as nothing but protein powder and water, and start looking at them as high-protein smoothies. Then, it’s just a matter of mastering a simple formula, and customizing it however you want.

The simplest formula? 1 serving Greek yogurt or protein powder + 1 cup frozen fruit + enough milk or dairy-free milk to get your blender going. (This packs 20-40 grams of protein.)

“To make the perfect protein smoothie, be sure to include a carbohydrate source (think fruit or oats) and a protein (think protein powder or greek yogurt),” says Elizabeth Hurley, R.D. She adds you should aim for around 20 grams of protein for a pre- or post-workout smoothie, or even for a small meal.

For reference, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese pack around 20 grams of protein per serving, while protein powder has anywhere from 20 to 40 grams of protein in a scoop.

How to add carbs to your protein shake

How to add carbs to your protein shake

How to add carbs to your protein shake

A cup of fruit will add filling fiber and energizing carbohydrates, while boosting the flavor. Blending with dairy milk will add another eight grams of protein per cup; non-dairy milk will only add about one gram of protein—which one you choose depends on your goals and preferences.

The amount of liquid you need depends on your other ingredients, so start by adding about a half cup to your blender, then slowly pour in additional liquid until you get the consistency you want.

Be mindful about adding fat.

If you’re drinking your shake pre-workout, Hurley suggests keeping it simple and skipping a fat source. “Our bodies digest fat a little slower, which can leave you feeling too full or uncomfortable during your workout,” she says. If you’re whipping up your shake post-workout or any other time of day, a tablespoon of nut butter or ¼ avocado will add healthy fats to keep you full for longer.

Steer clear of hidden added sugars, too.

Pre-made protein shakes often come packed with added sugars, so making your own is a great way to avoid the sugar trap. “Be mindful of sources of added sugars,” says Hurley. “Choose plain Greek yogurt over flavored, and read the label on your frozen fruit to make sure it doesn’t contain any added sugars. If you’re using a dairy alternative like almond milk, choose the unsweetened kind!” If you opt for protein powder over Greek yogurt, try and find a brand without added sugar.

Need a little help learning the ropes before building your own protein shakes? These seven recipes are easy, tasty, and packed with protein.

How to add carbs to your protein shake

1. Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Chocolate protein powder and powdered peanut butter give this smoothie a whopping 39 grams of protein.

Per serving: 347 calories, 11 g fat (2 g saturated), 30 g carbs, 10 g sugar, 147 mg sodium, 39 g protein

How to add carbs to your protein shake

2. Strawberry Chia Seed Protein Shake

Another powder-based smoothie, this one has a dose of healthy fats and fiber from chia seeds.

Per serving: 195 calories, 3.5 g fat (1 g saturated), 19 g carbs, 9.5 g sugar, 179 mg sodium, 7 g fiber, 22.5 g protein

How to add carbs to your protein shake

3. Protein-Packed Blackberry Smoothie

This smoothie gets its protein power from a container of plain Greek yogurt. If you don’t have blackberries, substitute whatever kind of frozen berry you’d prefer.

Per serving: 178 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 22 g carbs, 16 g sugar, 196 mg sodium, 5 g fiber, 18 g protein

How to add carbs to your protein shake

4. Banana Protein Shake

With a combination of Greek yogurt and protein powder, this simple smoothie packs a serious punch.

Per serving: 362 calories, 10.5 g fat (0 g saturated), 32.5 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 209 mg sodium, 6 g fiber, 38 g protein

How to add carbs to your protein shake

5. Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie

If you want peanut butter flavor without the fat, you can blend powdered PB or plain peanut flour into smoothies. This one is nostalgia in a jar, and gets protein from Greek yogurt.

Per serving: 417 calories, 11 g fat, 41 g carbs, 27 g sugar, 6 g fiber, 41 g protein

I f you’re trying to navigate the wild world of protein supplements, we know it isn’t easy. With so many products and enormous amounts of information out there, I’m sure you’re asking questions like, “What type of protein powder is the best for me?” or “When should I drink a protein shake?” We’re happy to step up and share our expert advice to help you understand how protein shakes can help you produce your desired health and fitness results.

Best time to drink protein shakes

Protein shakes can be helpful if you aren’t able to meet your minimum protein requirement through food. The best time to drink protein shakes depends on your lifestyle, habits and unique wellness goals. For instance, if you’re juggling kids and your commute to work in the morning, or if your stomach churns just thinking about eating before your morning workout, a protein shake may be right for you. Another instance where drinking protein shake may prove useful is when there’s a lot of time between your meals and your workout.

With all that said, to get the best results and ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need, we recommend having meals and snacks made up of whole foods — fruits, veggies, whole grain carbs, lean protein and healthy fats. To keep your metabolism running and your energy high, we suggest aiming for three meals and one snack per day. Also, remember to stay hydrated by drinking at least 2-3 liters of water per day to help your body function to the best of its ability and can help it filter out extra waste.

Here are some scenarios when a protein shake can come in handy:

Breakfast

Whether or not breakfast is a morning must is still up for debate. It all depends on what your body is used to and what works best for you. Also, as you might have an inkling, there’s a big difference between eating sugar-coated cereal or juice-forward smoothies and eggs with whole grain toast. After an entire night of sleep (i.e. “fasting”), your body quickly absorbs simple and refined carbs, leading to a spike and eventual crash in blood sugar. To avoid this crash, it’s best to eat a balanced meal with complex carbs, healthy fats and protein. Protein in the morning is linked to appetite control and more sustained energy. If you don’t have an appetite when you first wake up or don’t have any time for a meal, try a protein shake.

Pre- and post-workout protein shake

When we fast and don’t eat for long periods of time, our glucose levels deplete and, to get the energy our body needs, it starts to break down muscle reserves. Therefore, if you haven’t eaten in a while and are about to train intensely, it’s a good idea to have some quick-absorbing fuel or a protein shake to get the most out of your workout.

If your goal is to lose weight and your planned workout isn’t intense, you don’t have to worry about immediate pre- and post-workout fuel. Forget the protein shake and instead focus on eating balanced meals throughout the day — including a complete meal two to four hours before working out plus by a snack or main after the workout.

If you’re doing intense, long workouts (i.e. 45 minutes or longer) or your goal is to gain muscle, preparing your body correctly can help prevent muscle tissue loss, decrease your recovery time, and give you extra energy during your workout. Whole foods are always the best option, but depending on how much time you have before a workout, protein shakes may be your best — and only — option. Bonus: The shake gives your body branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), which help maintain your muscle energy stores.

Throughout the day

Recent studies show that the total amount of protein and carbohydrates you eat over the course of the day is more impactful on performance than the exact time you consume the macronutrient. That means drinking a protein shake immediately before or after a workout doesn’t really matter. Remember, one of protein’s primary functions is to give you energy. To stay energized all day, space out your meals and snacks and be sure to include protein with all them.

If you have a particularly active day or you train regularly, you’ll need more carbohydrates to sustain your energy levels. Add in an extra snack or a protein shake to your meal plan.

Protein powder for weight loss

Protein is a key ingredient for weight loss, as your body uses more energy to break it down and absorb it compared to fat and carbs, especially when eating non-processed types of protein. Protein also fills you up and keeps you satisfied, curbing hunger and cravings.

Review the ingredient list and if it’s very long, or contains ingredients that you don’t know how to pronounce, don’t buy it.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should run to the nearest store and grab the first protein powder you see because not all protein powders are created equal. Studies show that some proteins are highly insulinogenic (i.e. produce insulin). For example, the insulin response after consuming whey protein is higher than the insulin response after eating white bread. Protein powder quality can also vary based on the ingredients, processing and the amount of added sugar and artificial ingredients. When choosing a protein powder, aim for purity, minimal ingredients, and one that doesn’t lead to any digestive upsets.

Here are some other protein powder guidelines:

Purchase a powder that is at least 70% protein

One serving, typically one scoop (about 0.8 ounces or 23 grams), should contain at least 0.6 ounces or 16 grams of protein.

Not a fan of processed powders? Low-fat, unsweetened Greek yogurt is the best substitute. So if your recipe calls for one tablespoon of protein powder, replace it with two tablespoons of low-fat Greek yogurt.

Protein powder recipes

Don’t drive yourself crazy searching for the best protein shake or spending hundreds of dollars for something your body can’t properly absorb. Do your body and wallet a favor and focus on whole ingredients and make your own protein shakes at home. Add these 8fit recipes to your meal plan as a breakfast snack or post-workout smoothie.

Green smoothie power bowl

We recently collaborated with the amazing food blogger, The Colorful Kitchen, to add this plant-based smoothie recipe to the 8fit app, which you can be enjoy in a glass or a bowl. To set yourself up for success, we suggest you portion out mango, banana, berries and spinach ahead of time, then freeze each portion in freezer-safe containers or bags. This way, you”ll always have the ingredients ready to blend.

Chunky sesame banana smoothie

Open Sesame! Sesame seeds are high in protein, vitamins and minerals. For a more nutty flavor, we recommend roasting your sesame seeds before adding them to your smoothie. All you need to do is heat a pan to medium heat and add your seeds. Keep them spread out and shake the pan often so they don’t burn.

Apple pie protein smoothie

Peanut butter is one of our favorite protein-boosters as it contains heart-healthy fats that keep you satiated all while tasting delicious. Always check the ingredient list before you buy a jar, to avoid sweetened versions with hydrogenated oils. Top this apple pie smoothie off with some high-fiber oats to keep you full for longer.

Every 8fit meal has the protein you need to meet your wellness goals. Sign up and give our personalized meal plan a go.