A protein drink can replace a meal to help you eat healthier or lose weight. Although ready-to-drink shakes are convenient, they often contain added sugar or a sugar substitute such as aspartame. Many protein drinks also contain soy protein. By making your own protein drinks, you can control the ingredients and use protein sources other than soy.
Aspartame is a common artificial sweetener, often packaged under the brand names Equal or NutraSweet. According to the American Cancer Society, manufacturers make aspartame by combining two amino acids. Since aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than regular sugar, less of the sweetener is needed. This lowers the calorie content of food and beverages. Although people have associated the use of aspartame with various health conditions, including cancer, no research has concluded that high doses of the sweetener cause any health problems.
Whey is one of the two main proteins found in cow's milk. Whey protein is a collection of individual proteins that are isolated from whey. The Dairy Council reports that whey protein is a complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids. Whey protein can help to increase the rate that the body makes lean muscle mass, which is why bodybuilders often add whey protein to their diets. Whey protein is available as a supplement. It is sold as a drink mix or as a powder that you can add to foods and beverages. You can buy flavored or unflavored whey protein powder.
Although many people use whey protein, there are other types of protein powders that are available, depending on your taste. Casein is a slow-digesting protein also found in milk that has a thicker taste than whey protein. Wheat protein is an alternative to milk and egg protein. It is lactose and cholesterol free. Egg whites, which contain high levels of essential amino acids, can added to protein drinks. Other types of proteins that you can use in protein drinks include goat milk protein, pea protein and complete milk protein, all of which are sold as powders.
Homemade Protein Drinks
With a few ingredients and a blender, you can make your own protein drinks at home. Mix whey protein powder and skim milk in a blender. Add vegetables to add taste and nutrients without sugar; good choices include spinach, chard and collards. Herbs such as cilantro and basil are also sugar free. If you prefer a sweeter protein drink, add other artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, which doesn't contain aspartame. Blend until the protein drink is smooth and creamy.
- American Cancer Society: Aspartame
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Liquid Calories, Sugar, and Body Weight
- Muscle & Strength: Protein Supplements Guide
- USDA Nutrient Database: Nutrient Data for Spinach, Raw
- National Dairy Council: Whey Protein Health Education Kit
- USDA Nutrient Database: Nutrient Data for Chard, Swiss, Raw
- USDA Nutrient Database: Nutrient Data for Collards, Raw
- USDA Nutrient Database: Nutrient Data for Coriander (Cilantro) Leaves, Raw