Feeling good into your golden years means being strategic about the foods you eat. Protein ranks pretty high on the list of nutrients for longevity, but for many older adults, getting enough can be challenging.
Blending up a protein smoothie is one quick and efficient way to get more of the muscle-building macro. Ingredients like protein powder, yogurt, nuts and seeds (and nut and seed butters) make it easy to craft a delicious beverage that's loaded with vital nutrients you need.
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For anyone looking to support their wellbeing as the years go by, we've rounded up the absolute best protein smoothie recipes your body (and tastebuds) will love.
Why Getting Enough Protein Is So Important as You Age
Protein isn't just for building or maintaining muscle — it's involved in almost every cellular function in your body and plays a role in the structure, function and regulation of all your tissues and organs, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM).
As you get older, the building-block nutrient becomes even more important. Maintaining independence (say, the ability to go to the bathroom on your own) and quality of life is an important aspect of feeling well into your later years.
Unfortunately, almost half of adults over 50 aren't meeting their daily requirements for protein, according to a February 2019 study in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging.
Not getting enough protein has been shown to speed up the loss of muscle mass, strength and function, which poses a major threat to living independently, according to June 2016 research in Nutrients.
If that weren't enough to convince you to eat more protein, getting a bit more than the recommended amount has been tied to improving muscle and heart health, supporting your immune system and helping with weight management, per the June 2016 review in Nutrients. It's also been tied to a lower risk of chronic diseases, another factor affecting the quality of life in older adults, per Consumer Reports.
All the protein smoothie recipes on our list are totally customizable, and most will get you closer to your daily goals for fruits and veggies. Plus, they taste great!
15 Protein Smoothie Recipes for Healthy Aging
1. Coffee Lovers' Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 25 grams
Amp up your morning java by turning it into a protein-rich smoothie that'll keep you full and energized for hours. For this protein smoothie recipe, you can use any coffee you like — just be sure to chill it before pouring it into the blender.
This smoothie only really requires four ingredients: Banana, your favorite brewed coffee, unsweetened milk and vanilla-flavored protein powder. You also have the option to add stevia extract for sweetness, and you can top your smoothie with cacao nibs for an extra dose of antioxidants and potassium, a mineral that regulates fluid balance and plays a role in muscle and nerve function, per the NLM.
Get the Coffee Lovers' Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Love & Zest.
2. Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 27 grams
Chocolate lovers won't have to convince themselves to eat more protein after trying this smoothie recipe. Peanut butter is the perfect complement to chocolate in taste — and, conveniently, it's also high in protein.
But instead of using real peanut butter, this recipe calls for powdered peanut butter, which is notably lower in calories in fat: A 2-tablespoon serving of peanut butter has about 188 calories and 16 grams of fat, while powdered peanut butter has only about 60 calories and 1.5 grams of fat, per the USDA.
And with just three ingredients — a banana, unsweetened chocolate almond milk and peanut butter powder — this recipe is as simple as it is delicious.
Get the Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Love & Zest.
3. Peanut Butter Mocha Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 28 grams
Another perfect protein smoothie recipe to get your day started, this one combines chocolate and peanut butter with cold brew coffee for a taste that's worth swooning over.
This protein-loaded pick-me-up gets some sweetness from a ripe banana, and you have the option to add liquid stevia if you want more. The mocha flavor comes from cocoa powder and chocolate protein powder, and you'll add powdered peanut butter, which offers even more protein.
This recipe calls for unsweetened coconut milk, which contains beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants and lends a creamy texture that blends well with coffee. If you're making this smoothie often, just watch out for the saturated fat, as getting too much can raise your heart disease risk, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
Get the Peanut Butter Mocha Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Love & Zest.
4. Peaches and Cream Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 17 grams
For those that like a little tang, this fruity smoothie recipe will tantalize your tastebuds. Made with fresh, juicy peaches (which you can always swap for frozen) and creamy, protein-loaded cottage cheese, this beverage is a nutritious treat that tastes just like dessert.
Including peaches in your smoothie will give you a dose of vitamins C and A, and small amounts of a few other vitamins and minerals. The protein comes from cottage cheese, which also gives this blend a velvety, creamy texture.
You only need a little vanilla extract, a tablespoon of your choice of sweetener (the recipe calls for maple syrup) and a bit of ice to complete the recipe.
Get the Peaches and Cream Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Love & Zest.
5. Coconut Cream Pie Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 21 grams
If you love the tropical flavor of coconut, this protein smoothie recipe is for you. With just five ingredients, this simple concoction hardly feels like a healthy drink — it tastes just like a slice of velvety coconut cream pie.
The coconut milk you'll use for this protein smoothie will give you minerals like manganese, magnesium, iron and copper. Your body uses minerals to keep your bones, muscles, heart and brain working properly, and to make certain enzymes and hormones, according to the NLM.
This recipe calls for vanilla-flavored protein powder, and it's sweetened with a frozen banana or a Medjool date.
Get the Coconut Cream Pie Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Love & Zest.
6. Almond Joy Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 43 grams
If the idea of biting into an Almond Joy bar brings back feelings of nostalgia, you'll love this candy bar-inspired protein smoothie.
The rich flavor comes from chocolate whey protein powder, and with the addition of ingredients like almond extract and tropical coconut flakes, this snack beats the candy store every time.
And while it'll taste like a sweet treat, this nutritious blend beats the candy store every time. It offers an impressive amount of protein per serving, and you'll get a decent amount of calcium and iron, too.
Get the Almond Joy Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Love & Zest.
7. Simple Vegan Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 27 grams
If you're looking to add a dose of fruits and veggies to your daily routine, reach no further than this beautiful protein smoothie recipe.
This rich purple color comes from frozen mixed berries, which also give it a fruity, tart taste that pairs beautifully with vanilla protein powder. Not only that, berries are high in inflammation-fighting antioxidants, which are linked to a lower disease risk (an important part of aging well), per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Adding a spoonful of almond butter gives this smoothie a creamy texture and adds fiber and healthy fats to the mix. You even have the option to add a handful of spinach for a dose of leafy greens (baby spinach blends well in smoothies thanks to its mild flavor).
Get the Simple Vegan Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
8. Pitaya Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 17 grams
No, that's not artificial food coloring — the bright hue of this protein smoothie comes from dragonfruit, or pitaya, which grows natively in Central and South America, per the USDA. Interestingly, though we call it a fruit, the plant is actually a cactus.
But if the idea of a cactus smoothie makes you want to keep scrolling, we have to share that the most interesting thing about this plant isn't the name — it's the taste. The juicy flesh of a ripe pitaya is sweet and slightly acidic with a tangy appeal you might liken to that of a kiwi or pear. You can buy it fresh, or look for it in the frozen fruit aisle of your local supermarket.
There's another secret nutrient-rich ingredient in this recipe: frozen cauliflower. This veggie doesn't often make its way into the blender, but it has such a mild flavor, you won't even notice it. Plus, it gives the blend some additional fiber and vitamins C and K.
Get the Pitaya Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Feel Good Foodie.
9. Coffee Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 26 grams
While we love our java for the jolt of energy it faithfully provides, coffee is also tied to longevity benefits, like a lower risk for heart disease and cognitive issues.
What you'll love about this coffee protein smoothie is the taste. Almond butter makes a delightful, creamy addition to this recipe, and offers more fiber, healthy fats and protein. A dash of cinnamon brings the flavor up a notch. (Note: Once you try the final blend, you may just consider firing your barista.)
Get the Coffee Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
10. Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 30 grams
With an impressive 30 grams of protein, this satisfying smoothie is sure to keep you full until your next meal.
Peanut butter is full of protein, and it also has healthy unsaturated fats, which have been tied to a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Healthy fats are particularly important when it comes to aging. Besides lowering your disease risk, they've also been tied to improved cognitive functioning and brain health in older adults, per Harvard Health Publishing.
All you need to complete this tasty, nutrient-rich smoothie recipe is some vanilla protein powder, a frozen banana and a non-dairy milk alternative of your choice.
Get the Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
11. Cinnamon Oatmeal Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 24 grams
If you love a bowl of sweet and spicy oatmeal for breakfast, consider this your high-protein alternative. The protein comes from vanilla protein powder, but that's not all you'll get from this nutritious recipe.
Old-fashioned rolled oats provide complex carbs, which your body uses for energy. More specifically, they're high in fiber, and getting enough of this gut-supporting nutrient can help you keep your heart healthy, manage your blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight as you age, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
With some sweetness from frozen banana and the addition of warming cinnamon, this delicious protein smoothie is comfort in a glass.
Get the Cinnamon Oatmeal Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info from Eating Bird Food.
12. Strawberry Vanilla Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 21 grams
Fresh, juicy strawberries make this protein-loaded smoothie taste like a treat. Blended with vanilla protein powder, a frozen banana and some Greek yogurt, this creamy smoothie is a guaranteed favorite.
Berries are high in antioxidants and offer up some fiber, which have been linked to important health benefits for older adults, like a lower risk of disease and a healthier gut. This recipe also includes Greek yogurt, which is high in protein and probiotic bacteria. Probiotics play an important role in your digestive and immune health, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Get the Strawberry Vanilla Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Feel Good Foodie.
13. Green Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 17 grams
Most people could benefit from including more leafy greens in their diet, and this protein smoothie is the answer. Loaded with 2 cups of baby spinach (which has a mild flavor), a frozen banana, chia seeds and protein powder, this simple recipe is a nutrient-dense option to power you through your day.
On top of protein, you'll get a dose of potassium from the bananas, calcium from the almond milk and some fiber from the banana, spinach and chia seeds. Bonus points: The chia seeds in this recipe offer omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with a lower risk of mental decline, according to an October 2014 review in Nutrients.
Get the Green Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Eating Bird Food.
14. Oatmeal Raisin Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 27 grams
This protein smoothie recipe is a cookie lover's dream. It has that classic oatmeal raisin flavor we know and love along with a healthy dose of satiating, muscle-building protein.
Raisins are high in antioxidants and other nutrients like iron, which the body uses to carry oxygen to our cells. Iron is especially important for older adults, who are more prone to iron-deficiency anemia — a condition in which the body isn't producing enough red blood cells, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. This smoothie offers 5 grams of gut-supporting fiber, too.
A dash of cinnamon and vanilla extract make this smoothie taste like dessert.
Get the Oatmeal Raisin Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info from Dishing Out Health.
15. Blueberry Cheesecake Protein Smoothie
- Protein: 18 grams
Speaking of dessert, few things compare to a decadent slice of cheesecake. With this protein smoothie recipe, you're getting all the richness you love, without all the extra saturated fat and with an added dose of nutrients. If that isn't a good deal, we don't know what is.
The protein in this recipe comes from plain Greek yogurt (which adds some probiotics to your drink) and a few spoons of cream cheese, which provide the classic cheesecake flavor. Paired with tangy frozen blueberries, this smoothie has a texture and flavor you'll crave once you try it.
You even have the option to garnish your smoothie with some crushed graham crackers, which mimic a real cheesecake crust!
Get the Blueberry Cheesecake Protein Smoothie recipe and nutrition info at Cupcakes and Kale Chips.
- National Library of Medicine Medline Plus: What Are Proteins and What Do They Do?
- Consumer Reports: How Older Adults Can Meet Their Protein Needs
- Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging: Low Dietary Protein Intakes and Associated Dietary Patterns and Functional Limitations in an Aging Population
- National Library of Medicine Medline Plus: Potassium
- Alzheimers Society: Omega-3 and Dementia
- Harvard Health Publishing: Healthy Eating for Older Adults
- Harvard Health Publishing: Why is Peanut Butter Healthy?
- Nutrients: The Role for Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acids Supplementation in Older Adults
- Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health: Antioxidants
- The Cleveland Clinic: Probiotics
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Anemia
- National Library of Medicine Medline Plus: Minerals