I see it all the time: I’m scrolling through social media and I come across recipe after recipe for protein shakes that all look surprisingly aesthetically pleasing for a load of blended up ingredients. Frosted glasses of silky smooth wonder, served in silver platters in an ancient woodland, with a garnish of the ripest looking fruit - I might be exaggerating slightly, but you know the type of thing I mean. Then, when I give it a try in my kitchen at home, it never comes out looking quite the same, which leaves me feeling somewhat deflated. Especially as recreating an ancient woodland in a suburban kitchen takes a lot of effort and many trips to the garden centre.
Of course, it’s not the look of the shake that’s important, it’s the taste, texture and the benefits it can offer to your health and wellbeing. So I thought, why not put together a guide on how to make an amazing protein shake - is there one way that’s better than another? Do you need to have fancy equipment and loads of knowledge about macros? In short, no. All you really need is water, your protein powder of choice, and a shaker.
Without further ado, here are my top tips for how to make the best protein shakes:
- Pick your product. It’s really helpful to pick a product which matches your intentions. If you’re on the more athletic side or looking to build lean muscle tone, then choosing a protein powder with BCAAs and a higher protein content per serving will help with your recovery as well as your gains. However, if your exercise regime is a little lighter, then you might want to look for an everyday protein, like Vivo Life’s VEGAN PROTEIN, which contains 21g of protein per serving.
- Read the instructions. Honestly, I can’t say this enough. Make sure you know how much powder to use, how much liquid to use, and the best method to make it up according to the packaging. It can make life so much easier - obviously if you prefer your shake a little thicker, then you can always add less liquid to begin with.
- Put the liquid in first! One of the worst things is a lumpy protein shake with little bursts of unmixed powder everywhere that clag up your mouth. Whether you’re using a blender or a shaker, putting the dry ingredient into the wet one helps to ensure a better consistency for your shake and stops it sticking at the bottom (same with hot chocolate - you can thank me later!!)
- Shake for plain, or blend with other things. If you just want a straight up protein shake, then stick your water (or plant-based milk) straight into your shaker, make sure the lid’s on tight and then dance around your kitchen shaking away! Just me that does that? Fine. But it takes only a few short moments to get your shake ready, and it also gets your blood pumping and your arms working. If you fancy adding anything else into your shakes, especially whole foods like berries or oats, then a shaker isn’t going to do much to break those down - even if you’ve got arms like Arnie in his heyday! This is where a blender is useful; not only does it whizz up your shake in seconds, it also helps with consistency, mixing flavours, and the flexibility to tailor your shake to suit your macros!
- Milk or water? That’s your call. Using a plant-based milk as a base for a protein shake will change the nutritional content, and this might affect your regimen, but you will often find that the packaging contains nutritional information for making up a shake with water or with a plant-based milk, so you can decide for yourself which is best! I usually use plant milk as I prefer a creamier consistency.
- Can I add anything else? Yes, you can add whatever you like to your shake. Peanut butter is a great option, as are greens - but you can tailor protein shakes in a similar way to meal replacement shakes to be the best flavour for you.
Finally, in a twist and turn that even the greatest movie buff wouldn’t see coming (okay, maybe they would), protein powder doesn’t only have to be used in shakes. If you’re not a fan of shakes and smoothies, even delicious ones like this Salted Caramel Gingerbread Smoothie, there are so many ways to use protein powder in cooking and baking, so you don’t miss out on getting all the good from a plant-based protein powder. These apple crumble protein muffins are delicious and can be made in advance for snacks. I love snacks, especially when they’re good for me.
Remember, friends, that taste is subjective. If you’re not a fan of sweet things, but still want an extra protein boost at lunch time, what can you do? You can add a scoop of unflavoured VEGAN PROTEIN into a savoury dish, like this pea and broccoli soup!
I hope you have a whole load of fun experimenting with what you can do with protein powders, and create some amazing flavour combinations.