a man with out a shirt showing abs holding a protein shake

5 Ways to Make Protein Shakes Taste Better

In general, protein powder is not exactly what you could call sumptuous. All too often, protein powders make clumpy, gritty shakes that taste sour and heavy, and there’s no other word for it, gross.

Some athletes might not really care. You don’t really drink protein shakes for the flavor. They are not, afterall, milkshakes. Protein shakes are designed to do one thing, and one thing only; introduce high levels of protein into your bloodstream to aid in muscle growth.

However, some protein powders, because of their high levels of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, are often used as meal replacements rather than post-workout recovery. In this area, taste might be of more value to you. 

Regardless of your reasons behind drinking protein shakes, even if you don’t particularly care about taste, it certainly never hurts to make your daily protein shakes taste better.

Even if you are on a strict sugar-free diet, you do not have to resign yourself to drinking shakes that taste disturbing similar to mucus. There are a number of healthy ways to improve the taste of your shakes, five of which I’ll be exploring.

So, here it is, five crucial tips to making your protein shakes taste good. 

#1 Choose a Protein Powder That Actually Tastes Good

This might seem a bit obvious, but one of the best things you can do is start the process with a protein powder that actually tastes good. Here are a few options that are generally considered to be some of the better-tasting protein powders. 

NF Sports Nutriwhey

NF Sports Nutriwhey jarThis protein powder is designed to taste like a milkshake, and in that, it succeeds. It contains 23 grams of protein, 156 calories, and is relatively low in sugars, at around 6 grams per serving.

It’s an all-natural powder that also includes high levels of BCAAs, which are important in kickstarting the process of protein synthesis.

But the biggest benefit of this powder is in its taste. It mixes well and has a much more palatable texture, although it does include chocolate shavings, which some people may not like. 

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder jarWhile this powder contains more artificial ingredients than is optimal, it is lauded for its mixability and flavor, which over 10,000 reviews on Amazon and a rating of 4.3 stars – it definitely merits a mention.

It contains 120 calories and 24 grams of protein, as well as low sugar levels. It has a smooth flavor that is not overly rich, and is designed to be neither thick, gritty nor clumpy. 

It comes in more than 20 delicious flavors, and so provides a good option for good-tasting protein. 

Garden of Life Unflavored Protein Powder

Garden of Life Unflavored Protein Powder jarAs this article involves the process of improving the taste of your protein shakes, I feel it is important to mention a type of shake that is designed to be improved.

This Garden of Life product is a totally unsweetened, nutrition, vitamin, and mineral loaded protein powder that is unflavored. This may sound disgusting – if protein powder already tastes bad, how will removing the chocolate make it taste better?

Well, the point is that, depending on the methods you use to improve the taste of your shakes, having no flavor allows certain shakes to come out better. 

While this tip is important, some of the methods I’m about to explain make this unnecessary. Which brings me to my second tip: 

#2 Make a Fruit Smoothie

a fruit smoothie in a glass and 2 strawberries on the table

A great way to mask the taste of your protein powder while adding high levels of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to your diet, is to blend your powder into a fruit smoothie.

The great thing about this is that fruit is loaded with naturally-occurring sugar – this allows you to sweeten and dilute your protein powder without consuming more sugar than you should.

In these recipes, unflavored protein powder is often the best, as most flavored types will be overwhelming in a smoothie.

General recipes for these fruit smoothies involve your preferred fruit, ice, and some fruit juice to help thin it out. You can use water or milk instead, if you are trying to avoid added sugar. An example recipe looks something like this:

  • 1 quart strawberries
  • 1 banana (sliced)
  • 2 Peaches
  • 1 Cup Orange Juice
  • 2 Cups Ice
  • 1 Scoop of your preferred protein powder

Obviously, you can easily substitute with any fruit or berry you feel like using, and can easily increase quantity by increasing the amount of ice and liquid you add.

Especially if you use an unflavored protein powder, you probably won’t even taste it in this form. Clumpiness or grittiness won’t be a problem either, because it went through a blender. 

#3 Make a Shake

a hand holding a glass of milk shake

Shakes are a little different than fruit smoothies, so they deserve their own place. If you don’t feel like making a fruit smoothie, there are other options under that same umbrella.

The result will look and feel like a milkshake, but without the ice cream. One of my favorite shake recipes looks like this: 

  • 1-3 bananas 
  • Scoop of Nut Butter (to taste)
  • ½ -1 cup of yogurt (depending on the quantity you want)
  • Drizzle of raw honey (to taste)
  • ½ cup of milk (regular, almond, soy, etc.)
  • 1 scoop of your favorite protein powder

This is a pretty basic and generic recipe, but it is a solid go-to. It also has the additional benefit of already being high in protein, from the yogurt and nut butter, which increases your overall consumption.

This recipe can also be doctored to be sweeter if you want – a little cocoa powder or chocolate syrup goes a long way here. 

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that, no matter the output, if you put your protein powder through a blender, you eliminate one of the biggest problems of protein powder, which is texture. 

#4 More Water

water splashing from a wave

If you generally prefer to mix your protein powder with water, I get it. It is definitely much easier than using a blender. There’s also a lot less cleanup if you just mix it with water.

If your issue involves the strength of the protein powder, you might consider adding more water, to further dilute it.

Yes, this will mean you’ll have to drink a larger amount of the shake, but each sip should be more palatable. As excess water chemically dilutes the solution; more water particles means less protein powder particles are attached to each water particle. 

#5 Change the Medium You’re Using

4 hands holding different colored juices

If you’ve always been a staunch protein powder with water kind of athlete, consider mixing it just as easily, with other options. You can use milk instead, which results in a thicker, creamier shake.

Or, you can use any of a variety of fruit juices. This might sound gross, but, depending on the flavor of your chosen powder and the type of juice you’re using, this is worth a try. 

Protein powder doesn’t have to be nasty. You don’t have to force it down. There are easy methods to improve the taste of your protein shakes, which improves your protein-consumption experience. 

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Article by:

Daniel DeMoss

I’m a personal trainer based in Denver (Matrix Gym) and a true fitness nerd. If I’m not training clients or working out at my home gym, I’m probably skiing, cycling or hiking with my dog Rufus.  

Get in touch: [email protected]