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Many ready-to-drink meal replacements and high-sugar smoothies today taste so temptingly good, they can easily fool you with false claims of nutritional value, but are actually poor in quality.
It can be confusing to figure out what truly works best for you and your nutritional needs. But if you’re serious about building muscle or staying lean, making your own protein shakes is your best option.
Here are some tips on how to make protein shakes that are truly healthy, yet still tasty.
Table of Contents
Use a good protein source
Protein is essential to building muscle mass and maintaining and repairing body tissue. It may also help you lose weight, too. Popular sources of protein for shakes are whey and pea protein.
But Healthline’s list of delicious high-protein foods features other good sources you can use on your shakes — like eggs, almonds, oats, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, milk, and peanuts.
Another good protein source you might overlook is collagen, having been known more for doing wonders for the skin. Collagen actually burns more fat and builds more muscle than whey.
And though Pretty Me’s Frozen Collagen review highlights its benefits for the skin, the same substances that promote a youthful glow and combat fine lines can actually improve hydration and joint health — both very important when you’re looking to build muscle.
Since collagen is the key component for structural support in our body, comprising 90% of our connective tissue — joints, ligaments, tendons, and fascia — it’s the perfect post-workout recovery protein to help build and repair muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage that are stressed during exercise.
Add greens and veggies
Greens and vegetables are not in our food chain as much as they should be due to convenience factors, cost, and the abundance of additive-filled convenience food.
The best way to get the phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that you need for your daily nutrition, is to add green food powder or a few cups of different leafy greens to your protein shake.
This can certainly make up for the lack of nutrients in consuming unhealthy fast food, overcooked veggies in restaurants, or missed meals.
Greatist’s feature on tasty veggie smoothies includes a super green recipe that masks spinach and kale well in a tasty matcha frappe-like smoothie.
And who says you can’t make sweet veggie smoothies, when you can combine ginger, mint, romaine, and carrot with dates and oranges?
Don’t forget the good fat
We used to have this crazy fear of fat, but luckily, mainstream media has been updated with the reality that fat can actually be good.
The benefits behind omega-3 fatty acids and other essential fats are critical for brain function, reducing inflammation, and improving other cellular functions in the body.
In general, fats found in nature are very beneficial, as they’re not pumped with hormones and antibiotics.
Plant-based fats and unprocessed marine oils work best for these super shakes. However, you may want to avoid vegetable oils that are high in omega-6 fatty acids.
Different nut butters also offer some great monounsaturated fats and provide great taste to mix with your shakes.
You can use whole nuts, which is actually even better since it’s their most natural state, but nut butters tend to blend a little better with your smoothies.
Extra virgin coconut oil (EVCO) is also a great choice, as it has unique properties, like having abundant amount of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) that the body uses to produce energy.
The health benefits include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion, and metabolism.
Avocados are also high in monounsaturated fat, which is good fat that helps lower bad cholesterol.
A good meal recipe, high in both protein and good fat, is the baked egg avocado recipe here on Student’s Fitness, which complements your protein shake perfectly.
Swap fruit juice for whole fruit
Just like with nuts, whole fruits are a much better option than fruit juice. With juice, you miss all the phytochemicals and fiber found in the flesh and skin of the fruits.
Fruit juice also adds a lot of calories fast in the form of sugar. The only way to use fruit juice is for masking green food flavors, if you decide to add some to your shake.
Good “juice-only” options are tart cherry juice and pomegranate juice, as they provide many antioxidants with fewer calories.