Personal Nutrition Guide

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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 the same time.”

What to Put in a Protein Shake

Curious about what to put in a protein shake? First things first: selection of protein powder.

Our choice is Beachbody Performance Recover, which contains 20 grams of protein to help build muscle and pomegranate extract to help reduce post-workout muscle soreness.

But if you want to expand your nutrition far beyond just protein, you can also use a superfood shake like Shakeology. It’s packed with 16 to 17 grams of protein (depending on the flavor) and provides six grams of fiber and 26 essential vitamins and minerals.

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:

Next time, try adding some of these creative additions for a boost of nutrients (and to make your protein shake taste even better):

1. High-fiber fruits

assortment of fruits | What to Put in a Protein Shake

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, stick with high-fiber fruits, such as:

  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Pears
  • Oranges
  • Bananas

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 four grams of fiber, which “slows digestion and keeps you feeling satiated for longer periods of time,” says Smith.

2. Pomegranate arils

Overhead Shot of Pomegranate | What to put in a protein shake

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.

3. Nuts

nuts and nut butters | What to Put in a Protein Shake

As long as you’re not sensitive or allergic to nuts, nut butters are a great addition in to any 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.

4. Chocolate

Bowl of Cocoa Powder and Chocolate | What to put in a protein shake

A chocolate shake for breakfast or a snack? Yes, please. Adding unsweetened cocoa powder or dark chocolate (which is 72 percent cocoa or higher) is a great way to make any shake taste like dessert.

Plus, cocoa is packed with iron and phytonutrients like polyphenols, which are phytonutrients with antioxidant-like properties.

5. Avocado

Isolated Shot of Avocado | What to put in a protein shake

Most of the calories in avocados come from unsaturated fats (aka the heart-healthy kind), so they’re very filling. So whether you want to enhance the texture of your shake or make it more satiating, 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.

6. High-fiber vegetables

high fiber vegetables

Vegetables are another fibrous ingredient that can help you feel satiated for longer — a big advantage if you’re planning to add more ingredients to use your protein shake as a meal replacement.

Here are some that are especially high in fiber:

  • French green beans
  • Artichokes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots

Abbey personally recommends pumpkin purée, which is a tasty, low-calorie option that blends well into any protein shake. It’s packed with beta-carotene, a nutrient that is beneficial for both eye and skin health. Plus, it thickens your shake and provides that rich, creamy texture.

 Try pairing the pumpkin with pie spices like ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

7. Seeds

chia seeds and flax seeds | What to Put in a Protein Shake

Seeds are an easy addition to any shake and are full of healthy fats. Choose any of these healthy edible seeds to amp up the nutrition of your shake:

  • Flax seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

And while chia seeds are actually an ancient grain, 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.

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