If you are active, you have probably tried protein shakes or have considered it.
Having these drinks around is very convenient when you want to eat something after working out or if you need to keep yourself from being hungry throughout the day, but don’t have the time to make a full meal or snack.
We asked dietitians to share their top recommendations for finding an option with the ideal amount of protein that isn’t overloaded with sugar.
Why you might consider a protein shake
Protein shakes are not something that you need. eating a wide variety of foods is generally a good way to get the protein you need, according to Brooklyn-based registered dietitian nutritionist Maya Feller. “With protein, more does not always mean better.”
Protein needs vary from person to person, so it’s important to talk to a doctor to find out how much you need.
Feller suggested that people who want to gain muscle should have a protein shake with 20-25 grams of protein, and those who want to supplement their diet with additional protein might benefit from a shake with 12-20 grams of protein.
But protein alone isn’t enough to refuel post-workout. Both carbs and protein are vital for muscle recovery, according to Kim Rose, a Florida-based registered dietitian nutritionist.
If you don’t have time for a full meal, try a protein shake with a healthy carbohydrate to balance it out, registered dietitian Lauren Hubert suggested.
What to Look for in a Protein Shake
The experts agree that you should avoid protein shakes with added sugar.
“Consuming a high amount of added sugar can be deleterious to anyone’s health,” Rose says. “It has been linked to unwanted weight gain, increased triglyceride levels, and type 2 diabetes.”
This means using a high-quality protein powder that is low in carbohydrates and fats. You’ll want to make sure your protein powder is high quality and low in carbs and fat.
It is important to find a protein source that has all of the essential amino acids in order to promote proper nutrition, fullness, and muscle recovery.
Rose suggests whey and casein for people looking to increase muscle mass. Soy and pea proteins are good options for plant-based individuals.
Choose a protein powder based on the contents of the shake and whether it will fit into your lifestyle. For example, a loose powder that you mix in with water or milk, or a pre-made bottled shake that is easy to take with you when you are on the go.
You can mix protein powder with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables to make a smoothie. The powder will mix better with the other ingredients than if you just used water.
Dietitians recommend the following eight protein shakes:
1. Premier Protein 30g Protein Shake
This product has nearly 5,900 five-star ratings on Amazon and is also favored by dietitians and is a recommend this option as a go-to pre-made power shake.
Comes in different flavors like chocolate peanut butter and caramel so you can add them to smoothies or protein pancakes, or enjoy on the go.
2. Purium’s MVP Sport
Packed with 32 grams of protein from peas, pumpkin and brown rice, Purium‘s MVP Sport supports muscle-building recovery without the calories. Digestive enzymes and probiotics allow for easy digestion and assimilation. This organic blend also includes herbs, such as Turmeric, Maca and Chaga Mushrooms, to target joints for extra recovery support.
This protein shake has no added sugars. It is sweetened with organic Monk Fruit extract.
Contains Vitamin D, calcium, iron, potassium, Vitamins A, C, E, K and Zinc.
- High protein, low calories
- Natural source of digestive enzymes and probiotics
- May reduce cravings and appetite
Two flavors chocolate or vanilla.
3. NOW Sports Nutrition Pea Protein
Feller recommends protein powders that the consumer can mix with water or another beverage because they offer more customization options.
Any food that is packed with protein and doesn’t lose its flavor is an extremely versatile food. This food contains 22 grams of protein per serving, which is an ideal amount. This product does not contain any additional sugar, but does have a lightly sweet taste from stevia leaf extract.
Amazon reviewers report being satisfied and energetic after taking the supplement, with some saying it has helped them build muscle. Another shopper says that the powder mixes well with liquids and doesn’t have a gritty or chalky taste.
4. Ripple Protein Shake
For those who are looking for a dairy-free and plant-based protein shake, Ripple is made with pea protein and is a great option. This is the best option because it tastes great and has a good nutritional profile.
One serving of chocolate flavor contains 20 grams of protein plus 40% of the recommended daily value for calcium and 25% of the recommended daily value for iron, two minerals which are important for women’s health. We also appreciate that it provide a source of potassium and magnesium, two important electrolytes.
If you’re looking for a protein shake that doesn’t contain soy, nuts, or gluten, this is a great option.
Ripple is just like other ready-to-drink protein shakes and doesn’t need to be refrigerated until after you open it. This makes it a good option to take with you for a snack while you’re on the go.
If you want to use Ripple as a post-workout snack, you’ll need to add more carbs to your diet since one serving only contains 13 grams.
The only downside of this shake is that it contains 9 grams of added sugar. The recommended amount of added sugar per day from the American Heart Association is 24 grams for women. That being said, it’s important to think about how this shake would fit into your diet before you add it to your daily intake.
Ripple is available in three flavors—chocolate, vanilla, and coffee. Both the chocolate and vanilla flavors are without caffeine while the coffee flavor offers 75 mg of caffeine per serving.
5. Slate Milk Protein Shake
Slate Milk is a high protein shake that also delivers your morning caffeine. In addition to getting 175 mg of caffeine from one serving of Mocha Latte flavor, you’ll also get 20 grams of protein.
Slate Milk is a lactose-free protein shake with no added sugar. This product is not sweetened with regular sugar; instead, it uses allulose, a calorie-free type of sugar known as a rare sugar. A single serving also contains a high percentage of the daily value for calcium and vitamins A and D.
If you’re looking to use Slate Milk as a post-workout recovery drink, you might want to consider adding another source of carbohydrates. One serving of Slate Milk only contains 16 grams of carbs.
If you are avoiding caffeine, you have the choice of two additional flavors of chocolate milk that do not contain caffeine: dark chocolate milk and classic chocolate milk.
6. Fairlife Nutrition Plan Protein Shake
The Fairlife Nutrition Plan is a protein drink that uses ultra-filtered milk as the main ingredient.
Ultra-filtration of milk results in a higher concentration of milk protein and calcium per fluid ounce, as compared to regular milk. The protein shake contains 30 grams of protein in each 11.5 fluid ounce bottle.
This Fairlife Nutrition Plan contains 60% of the DV for calcium and 25% of the DV for vitamin D. This shake contains multiple sugar substitutes including acesulfame potassium, monk juice, stevia, and sucralose which makes it only have 2 grams of sugar per serving.
The Fairlife Nutrition Plan only has 4 grams of carbohydrates per serving, making it a poor source of carbs. If you want to use this shake to recover after a workout, you should add a source of carbohydrates to help you replenish your glycogen stores.
There are four flavors of the Fairlife Nutrition Plan–vanilla, chocolate, salted caramel, and strawberry.
7. MVP Family
Not only if this drink super delicious it is loaded with vitamins, minerals and protein, whole food based, made only with organic, non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free ingredients and delivers calm, sustained energy! Purium’s MVP Family is packed with plant-powered protein and other whole food nutrients for optimal absorption and all-day energy. Its natural chocolate flavor is delicious
Contains 3 grams of carbohydrates. No sugars and no added sugars. Loaded with Vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. 100% non-GMO. Delivers calm, sustained energy.
8. Orgain Plant Protein Shake
The Orgain Plant Protein shakes are a good choice for vegans, as each serving provides 20 grams of protein.
They’re not only in a convenient bottle that doesn’t require refrigeration; they’re also made without added sugar, making them our top pick for a no-added-sugar protein shake. Instead, this shake is sweetened with monk fruit extract.
One shake of this drink provides 50% of the recommended daily value of iron, making it an excellent source of the mineral for women. There is some evidence that suggests that many women may be at risk for iron deficiency, especially during pregnancy. This is because iron is necessary for oxygen transport.
This protein shake has a high amount of sodium per serving. The high sodium content in this food may be good for you if you have lost a lot of sodium through sweating from a workout.
Orgain Plant Protein shakes do not contain gluten, dairy, or soy, making them a good choice for those with allergies to these common ingredients.
However, these shakes only come in one flavor, chocolate, so if you do not like chocolate then you should not get these shakes.
Ingredients and Potential Interactions
Ready-to-drink protein shakes are available in a wide variety of flavors and types. You can find shakes made from animal or plant-based protein sources.
It’s best to have a clear understanding of your goals for choosing a shake and knowing what to look for on the label.
Be sure to check the ingredient list on protein shakes before buying them. Protein shakes can contain a variety of different protein sources. When reading food labels, look for allergens and nutrients that should be limited, such as sugar.
In addition to checking for calories, also note if other nutrients are added to the shake, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, or herbs. This will help you evaluate how the shake fits in the context of your diet.
There are no known potential interactions for healthy individuals when it comes to protein. Protein is an essential macronutrient for health and is necessary for a variety of bodily functions.
If you take too many protein shake additives, or if you take them with a medication that they shouldn’t be mixed with, you may have some negative effects.
Because of this, you should double-check the ingredients list and talk to a health expert before adding a protein shake to your diet.
Purium’s Women’s Defense is a synergistic blend of herbs and whole foods that have been chosen for their specific value to women`s health. May help increase energy, vitality, and endurance. Supports healthy immune function. May support healthy blood glucose levels.