Whether you're trying to build muscle, hit your macros, or improve your recovery, there's no better way to do that than a good protein shake! Protein shakes can help satisfy your cravings, keep you full longer, and most importantly, help you reach your fat loss or muscle-building goals. However, they aren't a catch-all solution!
You have to learn how to make a protein shake that will help you reach your goals. Although the steps to making it are pretty straightforward and simple, there are some mistakes that can turn your healthy high-protein shake into a glorified milkshake. So, to help you get the most out of yours, here are protein shake mistakes you should avoid...
Buying the wrong protein powder
There's no wrong type of protein powder, there's only the wrong one for you. There are various different kinds of protein powder which can make choosing one a little difficult, but simply knowing how they work will help you determine which one is the best for you.
Here's a brief breakdown of the three main types of protein powders:
- Whey Protein: This is by far the most popular and well-known protein powder there is. Whey protein is an animal-based protein that is produced from the watery portion of milk that separates from the curds when cheese is made. It's a complete protein, which contains all nine essential amino acids. A complete protein is ideal because it has all the necessary nutrients for muscle protein synthesis and repair. But what sets whey apart from other kinds is that it contains the greatest amount of leucine (a key driver of MPS) compared to casein and plant-based protein. It's also acid-soluble, meaning it is digested quickly which increases amino acid delivery into the blood and muscle tissue. So, if you're not following a vegan diet or aren't lactose intolerant, whey protein is ideal for anyone trying to build significant muscle or lose fat.
- Casein Protein: Casein is another animal-based protein that is derived from milk like whey is. It also is considered a complete protein, making it ideal for muscle building and repair. However, the differences are that casein contains more milk protein than whey and it's absorbed in a slower rate. So, instead of getting an immediate stream of amino acids delivered to your bloodstream and to your muscles, it's more of a gradual and steady stream. The advantage of this is that it helps reduce the rate of muscle protein breakdown to help with better recovery. This makes casein protein powder ideal for those who work out at night or prefer to drink their protein shakes later in the day too!
- Plant-based Protein: There are four main types of vegan protein. There's soy, pea, hemp, and brown rice. Each of these proteins has a different combination of nutrients and amino acids. They are all great options for anyone following a plant-based diet, but the downside is that most aren't considered complete proteins. The only one that does contain all the essential amino acids is soy protein powder.
Choose the best one that fits your goals and lifestyle to find the right protein powder for your protein shakes.
You're making a meal of it
Someone with a busy schedule may rely on having a high-calorie protein shake in place of a meal, and although this is a great way to quickly get important nutrients in your diet, it shouldn't be your main source of protein!
Instead, use your protein shake as a filling snack to boost your protein intake. Using it as a meal replacement will lead you to miss out on the nutritional value of whole foods. High-quality protein, like meat, chicken, and eggs, contain essential nutrients that protein powder doesn't. So, always prioritize whole food before protein powder.
If you're really busy throughout the day, make an effort to plan and prep your meals the night before to ensure you don't skip out on breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
You use protein powder as the only protein source
Although you should avoid making a meal out of your shake, you shouldn't avoid using other high-protein ingredients in your shake – remember, you want to make it filling, but not as calorie-dense as an entire meal!
Use high-protein, low-calorie ingredients in your shakes, like peanut butter powder or other nut butters, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and even tofu. This will help take your protein shake from having 20 grams of protein to nearly 40 grams!
Also, add in some healthy simple carbs to help replenish your glycogen stores and sweeten up your shake, like bananas, berries, and coconut shavings! You can also add a touch of honey, or other natural sweeteners, just avoid using too much.
Drinking it at the wrong time
Although you can benefit from drinking a protein shake any time of day, there are certain times when it's best to drink one... So, when should you drink a protein shake?
If you want to reap the most benefits and maximize your training efforts then drink it post-workout! You don't necessarily have to chug your protein shake as you leave your gym, but have it within a few hours of your workout to give your body the essential muscle recovery and muscle-building nutrients needed.
You can also drink a protein shake before your workout as an energy-boosting snack! This will help curb your hunger before your session and also deliver essential amino acids to your muscles which is beneficial during and even after your workout. Just make sure to have it an hour or two before your workout so that you're not too full that it affects your training performance.
Using expired protein powder
Have you checked the expiration or sell-by date on your protein powder? If you haven't, it's time you do!
Using a protein powder that is past its sell-by-date is pretty much a waste. A protein powder past its sell-by date diminishes its muscle-building potential, making it ineffective. So, remember to use your protein powder before it expires! This can be a hard thing to do, but there are plenty of creative ways to use your protein powder that will help you get more protein in your diet in a delicious way!
Our favorite high-protein shake recipe
Follow the tips above to make the best protein shake that will maximize muscle growth and your recovery! But since we have our very own Protein Powder Collection, we want to share with you our favorite protein shake recipe. It'll taste like a rich chocolate and banana milkshake... but it's healthy and filled with protein 😉
- Set up your blender and put in a few ice cubes.
- Add 1/2-1 cup of almond milk (or any milk of your choice.
- Add a frozen banana.
- Add two tablespoons of peanut butter powder (or nut butter of choice).
- And finally, top it with a scoop of 373 Lab's Chocolate Cheesecake Whey Protein Powder.
- Blend until it's smooth and enjoy!
Who are we?
We're 373 Lab Supplements – nice to meet you! Founded by Iulia Danilova (Fit With Iulia), and with a team filled with fitness enthusiasts, we've worked hard to bring a trustworthy supplement to the market! Supplements that are designed to help you achieve your fitness goals by giving you only the nutrients you need – no unnecessary fillers or additives!
Find what your pantry is missing at 373 Lab Supplements.