7 Delicious Ingredients You Can Add to Your Protein Shake
When it comes to meeting goals like losing weight, building muscle mass, and getting your nutrition on track, protein shakes can be a big part of your strategy.
As a macronutrient, protein has numerous benefits. But it’s not always easy to get the right amount every day. That’s where protein shakes can come in handy, says Natalie Allen, MS, RD, an instructor of biomedical sciences at Missouri State University.
“Food is always your best choice for the majority of your protein, but shakes can be a convenient way to round out your nutrition,” she says. “Plus, because you can use a protein shake as a base for other ingredients, it’s a quick, fun way to get more nutrients and play around with flavors at that same time.”
What to Put in a Protein Shake
Curious about what to put in a protein shake? Start with Openfit Plant-Based Protein Shake, which includes 20 grams of pea protein, plus 7 grams of fiber and 26 essential vitamins and minerals. Or use Ladder Whey or Plant Protein, which help increase muscle protein synthesis and reduce post-workout muscle soreness. Add either to 8 ounces of water, or get creative and swap in your favorite milk, plant-based drink, or even coconut water.
Then comes the fun part! Beyond the usual berries, bananas, and dark, leafy greens, you have plenty of options when whipping up your own protein shakes at home. Here are a few of our favorite recipes that are great with chocolate powder:
- Thin Mint
- Chocolate Strawberry
- Chocolate Banana
- Chocolate Blueberry
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana
- Spiced Chocolate Almond
Next time, try adding some of these creative additions for a boost of nutrients (and to make your protein shake taste even better):
Nearly any type of fruit is delicious when paired with protein powder and put into a smoothie or shake. If your focus is weight loss, apples are a particularly good choice, says Kristen Smith, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“Apples are full of fiber, especially if you keep the skin on, yet they remain lower in calories,” she says.
A medium apple offers 4 grams of fiber, which “slows digestion and keeps you feeling satiated for longer periods of time,” says Smith.
Although we often say pomegranate “seeds,” it’s technically pomegranate “arils” — that gelatin-looking covering that’s over the tiny seed — that is the real treasure, says Michelle Abbey, RDN, of The Nature Nutritionist.
“These arils are rich in vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols,” she notes. “You’ll get fiber and extra nutrients from the seeds, too.” They’re also easy to throw in the blender, and give your protein shake an extra kick of nutrition and tart sweetness.
As long as you’re not sensitive or allergic to nuts, they’re awesome in a protein shake, says Smith. Not only can they add a bit more protein, but they also bring healthy fats and even more fiber into the mix, too.
Also, if you’re on the go and have a blender bottle, peanut butter powders mix well into a protein shake. Read the label, cautions Smith, to make sure they don’t also have added sugar.
A chocolate shake for breakfast or a snack? Yes, please. Check out this recipe for a mint chocolate protein shake that uses a surprising amount of healthy ingredients for a drink that’s truly delicious. From black beans to Greek yogurt to cottage cheese, you have plenty of options to make your shake more filling (especially helpful when you’re trying to lose weight).
Adding unsweetened cocoa powder or a small amount of semisweet chocolate chips is a great way to make any shake taste like dessert. (And, it’s worth noting, Openfit Plant-Based Protein Shake is chocolate-flavored!)
Most of the calories in avocados come from unsaturated fats (aka the heart-healthy kind), so they’re very filling. When you’re trying to gain weight in a sustainable way, avocados are the perfect creamy addition to your protein shake.
Plus, some research suggests avocado can help you lower your “bad” cholesterol. Want even more reasons to add it? Another study found that after three months of avocado consumption, study participants improved their brain function.
Those cans of pumpkin aren’t just for Thanksgiving pies. Pumpkin purée is a tasty, low-calorie option that blends well into any protein shake, Abbey says. It’s packed with beta-carotene, a nutrient that is beneficial for both eye and skin health.
Plus, it’s another fibrous ingredient that can help you feel satiated for longer — a big advantage if you’re using a protein shake as a meal replacement. Try pairing the pumpkin with pie spices like ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Although they might seem like a new discovery, chia seeds are actually an ancient grain, according to research. These tiny seeds are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, and they offer numerous benefits, like improving digestive health.
In addition to putting chia seeds in your protein shake, you can also use them as a breakfast option. This recipe for overnight chia pudding with fresh berries will make you want to wake up early!
The sky’s the limit when it comes to protein shakes. These are just a few of the many add-ins you could choose. If you consume shakes on the regular, Allen recommends switching things up with different spices, plant-based milks, and more fruits and vegetables.
That way, you’ll get the protein you need, as well as other nutrients, too. Get started today by ordering a tub of Openfit’s Plant-Based Protein Shake!