According to Kreider, Wilborb, Campbell et al. (2010), insufficient protein intake results in reduced muscle adaptation and recovery after exercise. A convenient and concentrated source is whey protein. Liquid based protein such as that of a protein shake is far more readily absorbed compared to food based protein and can deliver the equivalent of 1 ½ chicken breasts or 1 ½ tins of tuna in less than 300ml fluid. The benefit of ingesting a protein shake after training is very well documented, and if they are going to be a staple of your diet and training routine, why not spruce it up a little? Here we suggest 8 simple and delicious ways for you to not only enhance your shakes taste and palatability, but also give it more nutritional oomph!
1.) Add some oats- Place the raw porridge oats in with the protein powder and water/milk and blend with a hand blender (purchased from any electrical store or supermarket for under £10). You will notice a slightly thicker, fuller consistency which will help to fill your stomach stave off hunger pangs until your next meal. Oats are an invaluable source of soluble fibre delivering slow release, sustainable energy to your muscles and energy systems! On top of this, the fibre aids digestion which increases the transit rate of fat through the digestive tract, helping to physically reduce the absorption of fat and helping to reduce overall cholesterol levels!
2.) Add some fruit- Chuck in some wild berries, banana, cherries or strawberries to any shake (vanilla is the most neutral flavour we offer) for a refreshing, nutritious blend. The fruit provides you with numerous antioxidants needed for recovery and the prevention of overtraining. The skin and flesh of the fruit delivers both soluble and insoluble fibre which is integral to digestion, reducing total fat absorption and cholesterol. The fructose in fruit is a source of quick release carbohydrate, increasing insulin levels (an anabolic hormone (growth)) which in turn enhances the absorption of protein.
3.) Stir in some honey and/or peanut butter- Strangely, honey (try acacia honey) and peanut butter (try also almond, brazil, cashew, pistachio) go amazingly well together, not just for the appetising sweetness they deliver, but also for the quick release carbohydrate, cardio-protective mono and polyunsaturated (omega-3) fat and soluble fibre too. Nuts also help protect against heart disease and elevated cholesterol, but also provides an additional ~ 3-5 grams of protein courtesy of the peanut butter, and the antimicrobial properties and antioxidants that help protect the immune system and stave off overtraining. Similarly to fruit, honey is also a quick release carb helping to increase insulin levels and thus protein absorption.
4.) Mix in some yoghurt- The addition of yoghurt will increase the shakes thickness which can satisfy hunger, whilst adding a healthy creaminess which some might find appealing. The sweet/sour taste of yoghurt also makes for a refreshing change, especially if it’s the sweetness of the shake that is too much for some.
5.) Add more water- The simple addition of more liquid will change the consistency of your shake. A thinner beverage often makes the shake less filling (psychologically) as a thick shake can feel more like a meal....which some people might appreciate. The added benefit of more fluid is that you increase your overall liquid intake for the day, whilst at the same time reducing the osmolarity of the shake, which can reduce the overall work load placed on your kidneys.
6.) Add some crushed ice- A simple but effective addition to your shake. Ice can be added to all of the above if you wish for its cooling effects (especially during the summer months) and for a pleasant, alternative consistency to your usual shakes. The added ice will make your shake similar to an ice cream or frappe type beverage, whilst increasing your total fluid intake for the day.
7.) Try using milk- A reasonably large proportion of people will use water in their shakes be it for convenience, taste, cost effectiveness or because they want to limit overall calorie intake. So if you have only ever had your shake with water, swapping it with milk can turn it into a creamy tasting, extra nutritious shake!
8.) Try adding 1-2 tablespoons of omega/flax oil- This blend of essential and non-essential oils can deliver an excellent source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega-3) which have anti-inflammatory, cholesterol lowering and immune protective effects. The taste and consistency of the shake remains much the same, but we would recommend consuming it very soon after mixing to prevent the oil from separating!
Kreider, R, B., Wilborb, C, D., Campbell, B., Almada, A, L., Collins, R., Cooke, M et al, (2010). ISSN exercise & Sport Nutrition Review: Research & Recommendations. Journal of the international society of sports nutrition. 7: 1550-2783.