You expect a protein shake to provide supplemental protein, but many premixed versions also include carbohydrates such as sugar. To get a shake without carbs, shop for a soy powder that contains no carbohydrates and mix it yourself. Only then can you be sure of the ingredients and its carb-free status.
Powders to Avoid
Even the purest isolate versions of whey and casein protein powder contain about 3 grams of carbohydrates per serving. Even unsweetened egg white protein contains 1 gram of carbohydrate per serving. Soy is the only vegetarian source of complete protein, meaning it contains all the amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own. Although many soy proteins contain ingredients that boost the carb content, you can find carb-free soy protein powders. Other plant-based protein, including brown rice, hemp and pea protein, naturally contain 3 to 4 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
When you go shopping for a soy protein powder, look at both the ingredient list and the nutrition label. The ingredient list should not list any added sugars, including dextrose, maltodextrin, sucrose, fructose or cane sugar. These sugars will add carbohydrates to the powder. If you aren’t sure about a particular ingredient, check the nutrition label and note that the line for carbohydrates lists zero. Flavored proteins aren’t necessarily off-limits because they may be sweetened with stevia or another artificial carb-free sweetener and contain carbohydrate-free flavoring additives.
Mixing protein powder with milk or fruit juice adds carbohydrates. Water is the only mixing option if you want your shake to be completely carbohydrate-free. Use a blender bottle with a spiraled metal ball to help break up any clumps in the powder and create a smoother texture. If you prefer a frothy shake, blend the protein powder with water and ice.
Fruit, nut butters and even flavoring extracts can add carbohydrates. If you choose an unsweetened protein powder, you may flavor it with a bit of aspartame, sucralose or stevia without adding any carbohydrates. You could add a pure fat to the shake, such as coconut oil or flax oil, without compromising the carbohydrate content. These fats provide beneficial nutrients, such as anti-microbial lauric acid or omega-3 fatty acids.