Amp Up Your Protein Shake: 4 Essential Tricks

Protein shakes pack a muscle-building punch.

Protein shakes can boost your athletic performance, no matter what kind of workout you’re into. Pumping weights, running, swimming, catching alligators on Swamp People — you name it! But don’t just follow the boring protein shake recipes printed on the label of your protein powder. To really boost your performance, amp up your protein shake’s health power with a few fitness tricks.

Start with nonfat milk for an instant mineral and electrolyte boost compared to plain old water. If you’re interested in reducing your animal protein intake, opt for unsweetened almond milk — it has less starch than traditional soy milk, and also counters any fears you may have about the hormone effects of soy protein.

Add a scoop of your favorite protein powder. If you’re going the traditional whey protein route, choose a protein powder made from whey protein isolate. It has the purest, most concentrated form of protein. For example, whey concentrate often ranges between 30 and 40 per cent protein while whey isolate can hit 95 to 99 per cent. If you’re a plant-based athlete, try a protein powder like Vega that is manufactured from sprouted grains and hemp protein.

Mix in two tablespoons of peanut butter. This imparts some thickness and rich flavor to your protein shake and matches almost all the protein shake flavors out there, especially berry- or chocolate-flavored shakes. This small addition increases your shake’s protein numbers by approximately eight grams, while also slightly increasing your carb intake by six grams — this tiny carb boost may help you to absorb more protein. Plus, peanut butter has heart-protecting healthy fats.

Blend in a tablespoon of flaxseed. It may sound weird, but this health food store staple gives your protein shake 1.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. In a randomized trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011, researchers found that omega-3s increased muscle protein synthesis. Meanwhile, a 2011 study in London’s Clinical Science journal noted that oemga-3 fatty acids augmented muscle protein anabolic response.

With these four tricks, you’ll improve the taste, texture and appeal of your ordinary protein shake while also enhancing its ability to help you recover from your workouts and experience increased physical gains.

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Joshua Duvauchelle is a writer and editor specializing in health and wellness topics. He earned a nutrition certificate from Cornell University in 2011, although his passion for fitness started when he was five and his parents told him carrots were a dessert. In his spare time, you can usually find Josh at a Bikram studio in Vancouver.

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