Our muscles need protein. That is a scientific fact. So, as time has gone on, us humans have collectively come up with great tasting protein shakes. To help you get the additional protein that you might not be able to get from food. But can they be made even better?
We think the answer could be yes. Depending on your goal, there are a number of things you can add to get extra vitamins, fats and other micro and macro nutrients.
Of course, you could just get an all in one protein, but here goes anyway.
Perfect for: Vitality
Whether frozen or fresh, fruit will add extra nutrients and vitamins to your protein shake. You will probably need a blender, for this, but it’s worth it.
If you are using frozen fruit, then you are moving more into protein smoothie territory, and on a hot summer’s day, that is no bad thing. Using fresh fruit, such as bananas, which are a mainstay of homemade fruit smoothies, then why not add ice to get that coolness you crave? An ice cold chocolate and banana protein smoothie on a hot day is nearly, nearly, as good as cold beer.
Be careful though. Fruit is good for you, but like anything, it should be eaten in moderation. There is a lot of natural sugar in fruit, and unused sugar turns into fat. So carefully decide what fruit to use.
Perfect for: Size and strength, lean muscle and conditioning
Adding creatine to a protein shake is as easy as whacking it in, and chugging away. Creatine is tasteless and is proven to work. But what does creatine actually do?
When you supplement with creatine, you increase the skeletal muscle cells ability to resynthesize ATP, ATP fuels all muscular movement so a more efficient reformation of it offsets the onset of fatigue and can also increase maximal strength.
Dominic Swift MSc Strength and Conditioning – Former Huddersfield Development Squad Strength and Conditioning Coach and owner of a cat called Yorkie
For even more info on creatine, see our guide to what is creatine?
Perfect for: Recovery, muscle growth and general health.
Like creatine, the amino acid glutamine is naturally occurring and is pretty much tasteless, so it doesn’t matter what you add it to, and it doesn’t matter how you add it to your protein shake. Glutamine helps with recovery, and other assets of your training, so here is Dominic Swift again, to explain it all properly.
L-Glutamine is key for enhancing the anabolic environment of your body, as well as playing a vital role in muscle cell volumisation and even improving the body’s immune system. When you put your body under stress, glutamine is taken from your muscles, so supplementing with it can stop this happening and stop catabolism.
For even more info on glutamine, see the above embedded blog.
4. Powdered greens
Perfect for: Vitality and general health
Yet another one you can simply throw in your protein shaker, powdered greens are a great way real goodness into your system, in a fast and easy way.
Broccoli, kale, spinach; all foods that offer vitamins and minerals that are key for health, but if (like me) you aren’t a fan of the taste, or if you have a specific diet regime where it is hard to get those foods in, powdered greens offer a nice way to get that goodness.
One thing where powdered greens do fall down, is the taste. With all that goodness, it is hard to get it to taste of deliciousness. So by adding it to a shake, you are hopefully making it more palatable.
5. Peanut butter
Perfect for: Size and strength
Back to the blender. Yep, it’s time for the elixir of life, known as peanut butter. When added to a protein shake it adds good fats, and also offers an extra hit of protein from the nuts.
Of course, you will want to use smooth, unless you have the world’s most intense blender.
Perfect for: Size and strength,and weight loss.
Once again, it’s best to get a blender for this, unless you want a rather odd protein shake. A cup full of oats is usually enough, and if you are looking for a homemade mass gainer, then go for milk as your fluid.
If looking to use oats and a protein shake as a meal replacement, then you may want to stick to water, in order to reduce your calorie intake.
Whatever you decide, make sure you keep mixing your shake as you drink. The oats, even if blended, do have a tendency to sink to the bottom. Swirl, drink, repeat.
7. Coconut milk, water and a plethora of other fluids
Perfect for: Vitality, rehydration and allergies
Water and milk are awesome. The former is kind of important if you want to live, and the latter is creamy, full of calcium and adds gives you a boost of protein and fat (the latter is a bit more subjective). But there are other fluids you can use.
Almond milk for example is becoming more and more popular as it is lower in calories and is perfect for those that have lactose intolerances. If re-hydration is what you are after, then coconut water is seen as a top choice. It is low in sodium and calories, but high in electrolytes, which good for replenishing your body after your sweat.
Mixing these different fluids might not be the best idea, but mixing it up from time to time will create different flavours, and feed your body with additional nutrients that you might lose on out normally.