Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Liven Up Your Protein Shake

I drink a chocolate protein shake made with whey protein and skim milk after every workout. I drink chocolate protein shakes because it's the only flavor I've ever found palatable, but drinking them day in and day out gets old. I've found ways to liven them up without adding a bunch of extra sugar.

1. Coffee - I make extra strong coffee with my French press, almost like espresso, and add it to my shake sometimes. It adds flavor, and lots of antioxidants, without adding calories. Because it's so strong, I can add just a little and it doesn't water my shake down. With chocolate whey, it tastes like a mocha latte (I'm somewhat ashamed to know that).

2. Cinnamon - Cinnamon is one of the latest superfoods due to its apparent ability to reduce insulin response. It also makes my normal morning protein shake taste totally different, almost like chai, while adding only three calories.

3. Baking cocoa - 100% baking cocoa is loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids, and a half a teaspoon will only add 7 calories. The whey protein I recently purchased is very sweet, but not very chocolaty, so this pure chocolate flavor is great.


kimG said...

I sometimes add coffee to instant breakfast powder in the morning. Are instant breakfast powders really a healthy substitute for food?

Jeff said...


I got the nutrional info for Chocolate Carnation Instant Breakfast from I'm not a nutritionist, but I can safely say that the 5g of protein you're getting here isn't worth the 20g of sugar. That's a lot of sugar. A Snickers bar has 30g. You could take 2/3rds of a Snickers, blend it in water, and have nearly exactly as nutritious a drink.

However, although I wouldn't call those healthy, if you have to drink your breakfast, and you're lactose intolerant, you can probably get away with them in the morning just because your body wants to use the sugar to replenish after fasting. You can get away with more sugar in the morning and after a workout, which I plan on covering in a later blog post.

Ideally, you want something that provides protein, and a fiber-filled, slow-digesting carb. Oatmeal is good cause it provides all the above.

I drink whey protein mix, which has little added sugar, being almost entirely protein. I mix it in skim milk. Once again, not a nutritionist, so I don't advise that people drink extra protein. The average American diet has more than enough protein for a non-athlete. If you're lifting and have put on or are building a substantial amount of muscle, you may want to consider extra.