If you’re not accustomed to mixing up protein shakes and using them as meal replacements or supplements, you may be overwhelmed at the variety of products available in stores and online. Since the taste and texture of shakes can take a while to get used to, it’s often best to start with homemade drinks that you can tweak to your own flavor preferences.
Whether you’re trying to gain muscle, lose weight or simply improve your health, protein shakes may be able to help. High-quality sources of lean and low-fat protein have natural satiating qualities, little to no cholesterol and low carbohydrate counts. They can successfully build and repair skin, blood, muscle and bone tissue, according to ChooseMyPlate, and they’re easy to use as base ingredients in homemade shakes. Primary examples include whey and soy protein isolates or protein powders, nonfat Greek yogurt, skim milk and nut butters.
Start out with a protein shake that has rich chocolate notes and lots of natural sweetness from fruit to mask any “off” flavor you might detect by using a protein powder. In a blender or food processor, combine a handful of crushed ice with one 30 gram scoop of unflavored whey protein isolate, a small frozen banana, 1 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries, 1 cup of skim milk and 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder. Use the shake as a meal replacement if you’re trying to lose weight or a snack if you’re trying to gain. A single shake has 365 calories and 35 grams of protein.
If you’d prefer a commercially produced protein shake to a homemade drink, consider your health or fitness goal as well as your preferences when trying to find the best choice. If you’re not used to the taste of protein powder, for example, it might be best to start out with a “drink mix” or prepared shake that has an appealing taste but a slightly lower protein count per serving than a shake made with protein isolate might have.
If your body isn’t used to getting a lot of extra protein, it can help to gradually increase the amount you eat. The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports reports that most people get sufficient protein in their everyday diets and do not need to use supplements or shakes. Getting too much protein, in fact, can bring on significant health risks, including elevated risk of liver and kidney problems, according to American Hear Association. A person following an average 2,000 calorie diet should consume 50 to 175 grams of protein a day.