9 Easy Ways to Make Protein Powder Taste Good

Illustration of Blender and Mixing Bowl

Protein shakes are a great way to maximize your workout. However, usually protein powder tastes bad or has unhealthy artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame. Luckily, it's very easy to make unflavored whey protein, pea protein, casein protein, or vanilla protein powder taste better.

1. Adjust the ratio of water to protein powder.

The simplest way to make protein powder taste better is to mix it with more or less water/liquid. There are two common opinions on this:

  1. Use the least amount of water needed to dissolve the protein powder. This is our personal preference. We prefer to simply get the shake over with as fast as possible. This is particularly true with pea protein powder, which is tough to improve the taste of.
  2. Add more water to dilute the protein powder. This makes it taste less pungent but also makes it take longer to finish.

2. Mix the protein powder with milk or juice instead of water.

Milk pairs well with both unflavored whey and casein protein. Some people even swear by chocolate milk as a recovery drink.

Juice is a little less conventional but coconut water could be worth trying as it improves taste and helps replace electrolytes lost during exercise. Harmless Harvest always tastes great but almost feels wasted when mixed with the chalky or earthy taste of protein powder. Amazon's Solimo Coconut Water is a nice combination of taste and price.

3. Make sure you have a decent tumbler.

A quality tumbler ensures the protein powder doesn't clump together. It also makes your protein shake smoother and easier to drink. We recommend anything stainless steel as plastic tumblers are known to leach hormone-like chemicals into water.

4. Add protein powder to yogurt, soup, or other types of food.

Adding protein powder to food might be the best option for pea protein as it's earthy taste goes well with soups like lentil soup or french onion soup. Whey protein or casein protein goes well with yogurt or as an add-in for tomato soup.

The downside of adding protein powder to food is it's not as fast and convenient as simply mixing with water. However, adding to food is also far more effective at hiding the taste of protein powder.

5. Improve taste and rehydrate with some electrolytes.

A flavored electrolye mix like Nuun or Pedialyte will make protein shakes taste good and help replace electrolytes lost during exercise like potassium, magnesium, and sodium.

If you're simply looking to rehydrate after a workout, LyteShow might be for you as it has no additives, sweeteners, or taste.

6. Add some nut butters or PB2.

Mixing peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter in a tumbler might be tough. However, PB2 is a powdered version that's very easy to mix with protein powder.

7. When in doubt, add a sweetener.

Natural sweeteners with fast-acting carbohydrates also help your body recover glycogen levels faster. Fast-acting carbohydrates (like fruits and pasta) are carbohydrates that are quick to digest and provide you energy faster than other carbs, fat, or protein. It's generally good to prefer slow-acting carbohydrates (like oats) except after a workout. Fast-acting carbohydrates help refuel glycogen fast, which helps you recover faster. As long as you consume them in moderation, natural sweeteners can be a productive part of your pre or post-workout routine. Here's a few ideas:

8. Add real vanilla beans, chocolate, or cacao nibs.

A list of the best-selling protein powders at Amazon consists almost entirely of chocolate or vanilla flavored protein powders. They taste pretty good but they also contain questionable ingredients like acesulfame potassium and artificial flavors. Acesulfame potassium is an artificial sweetener that makes food taste sweeter with fewer calories than a natural sweetener. An artificial sweetener is a replacement for sugar or other sweets that attempts to provide the same sweet taste with fewer calories. However, artificial sweeteners might actually make us hungrier and make us crave sweets. This debate is still ongoing. However, whether it's good for you or not is still up for debate. The USFDA says it is. Other studies claim it may be carcinogenic. Why go with an artificial flavor when you can use the real thing?

There's a ton of ways to avoid artificial vanilla flavoring. You can use raw vanilla beans, alcohol-free vanilla extract, or vanilla powder to name a few.

Chocolate is another way to make protein shakes taste good. It also helps aid recovery and re-energizes you thanks to small amounts of caffeine. However, chocolate can also be high in calories. If you're looking for a lower calorie option, cacao nibs are a solid alternative. They're less processed than chocolate, much lower in sugar, and closer to real cacao.

9. Invest in a better blender.

With some ingredients you don't even need a blender. All you need is some protein powder, some liquid, and your favorite tumbler. But if you want to make protein shakes with fruit or nuts, you'll get much better results with a high-end blender.

About 10 years ago we purchased a 64-ounce Vitamix Blender to make vegetable juice purees and we think it's an investment that's been well-worth the price tag. It's powerful, has a huge capacity, and the model we purchased has been extremely durable. It's so powerful you can use it to make almond butter, non-dairy milk, soups, and homemade flour in addition to standard blended drinks.

We've also heard good things about Ninja Blenders, which are available at a much lower price point. But check out the video below to get a feel for a few of the things that a Vitamix can do.

Trying to eat healthier but craving food that tastes better?

Try our free Diet Optimizer Quiz and get quick, customized ideas like:

  • Healthier options than soda that taste better than water.
  • Alternatives to french fries, potato chips, or other fried foods.
  • How to get your chocolate fix without the junk ingredients in candy bars.
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