Protein shakes are great for bodybuilders and anyone regularly hitting the gym, as they are a fantastic source of protein. If you are an avid weightlifter, chances are that you will need the extra protein in order to gain optimum muscle mass as your diet might not quite 'cut it'. Although a great source of fast-acting protein, these protein powders are not always so flavorsome and some can actually taste quite bitter and 'chalky'.
The good news is that it really doesn't have to be this way; there are plenty of ways to improve the flavor of protein shakes, all you need is a bit of a creative flair in the kitchen. Not only is it quite easy to improve the flavor, but you can also increase the nutritional value of your protein shake pretty easily too, so it's a win-win situation.
Here are a few ways you can make those gritty protein powders more enjoyable:
#1 – Add Fresh Fruit
Adding fresh fruit to your protein shake is perhaps one of the best, most nutritious ways to improve flavor. Fruit will not only give your shake a bit of a sweeter edge, thus making it a lot more pleasant to drink, but it will also improve the consistency as it will increase thickness. Fruit will also add a number of carbohydrates, essential vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants that your body needs on a daily basis. With much discussion as to whether or not protein shakes are bad for you, adding fruit will surely increase the nutritional value and put any claims to rest.
All you need to do is prepare your protein shake as normal then add it to a blender with a handful of fresh fruit (whatever you fancy). Give it a quick whirl and you're good to go.
Note: This method will probably work best with a vanilla protein shake, although other flavors are often good too.
#2 – Add Ice
Ever wondered why your beer is always served cold? It's because cold drinks typically taste better and are easier to consume. By adding ice to your protein shake and giving it a quick blitz in the blender, you will lower the temperature and thus, improve the flavor slightly.
You can also combine this tip with the tip above by adding frozen fruit to your protein shake to improve both flavor and nutrition whilst also lowering the temperature.
#3 – Add Nuts
Nuts are packed with protein and also have a pretty strong taste. Try preparing your protein shake as normal and then adding it to a blender with a handful of nuts. This will improve both the taste and the protein concentration of the shake.
This is especially good for minimizing the aftertaste of your protein shake which as we know, can often be pretty nasty.
#4 – Add More Water
A really quick tip for improving the flavor of your protein shake is to add more water than it says on the tub. By doing this, you will weaken the intensity of the flavor and also, make the protein shake last a bit longer too.
There have been many reports that the human body can only digest a certain amount of fast-absorbing protein per hour (such as Whey protein) so consuming your protein more slowly should improve results too.
#5 – Add Cocoa Powder
Sure, a lot of you probably have protein powders that are chocolate flavored already but often, these flavors can still be quite chalky and not very flavorsome.
Adding cocoa powder to your shake will be sure to make it taste amazing. Unlike chocolate, cocoa powder has a strong 'chocolaty' flavor but isn't high in fat or added sugar. A small spoon will be enough.
#6 – Add Yogurt
Adding a small quantity of yogurt to your protein shake will increase thickness and flavor for sure. It will add a small amount of sweetness to the beverage too, which most people will enjoy and it will also help quell those sugar cravings.
Note: Make sure you choose a natural yogurt rather than a yogurt high in added fats, sugars and preservatives.
#7 – Add Milk Instead Of Water
Most protein shakes will give the option to mix with either milk or water. If you're looking to improve flavor, milk is the way to go. Try to avoid using full fat milk if you're trying to keep those extra pounds off and if possible, opt for skimmed rather than semi-skimmed.
If flavor is your number one priority, full fat milk will probably give the best flavor but remember, it is also the most fattening.
#8 – Add Food Extracts
Food extracts are a great way to improve protein shake flavors as they are highly concentrated. Adding a couple of drops of banana, vanilla, peppermint or even almond extract will vastly improve the flavors of your protein shake.
If you really want to get creative, try a combination of flavors or try combining this tip with some of the other tips mentioned in this article.
Remember, although protein powders are a great way to supply your body with the extra protein it needs, you must ensure that you do not over consume as this can be damaging for your kidneys and other vital organs. It doesn't matter how good they taste with the implementation of our great tips, you must ensure that you stick to recommended daily protein allowances.
For a good overview of the amount of protein you should be consuming on a daily basis, check out the UMMS Protein Calculator. This takes into account your age, height, frame and daily physical activity and gives you a personalized protein intake recommendation.
Author Bio: Joshua Hardwick is a fitness and bodybuilding fanatic with a particular interest in nutrition. He firmly believes that a healthy diet doesn't have to be boring or tasteless and is in fact tastier than many unhealthy alternatives.