Whether you’re a gym buff or just a gal looking to stay healthy, there are some pretty unique things to add to your protein shake to help you refuel and power up your nutrient intake. I always hated those cheap protein powders that you shake in a blender bottle and drink with water. Yuck! While I like certain protein powders, I never just drink them straight with water. Besides, there are so many tasty, healthy things to add to your protein shake that can really improve your health, and your recovery as well. Here are a few of my favorites, but be sure you let know if you have a favorite too!
1. Plant-based Protein
First, one of the most important things to add to your protein shake is plant-based protein. Plant-based protein, preferably from a raw brand, is the best form of protein to put in your body. I know many animal proteins like whey can have some nutritional benefits, but they’re still extremely acidic to your body. Never use soy though. This is one plant protein to avoid. Use hemp protein, my favorite kind, or a brand made of hemp, like Sunwarrior Raw Warrior Blend. These are some of the best kinds of protein you can put in your body, with all essential amino acids, incredibly high levels of protein, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and even omega 3 fatty acids. Avoid all protein powders with sugar, artificial ingredients, and any artificial sweeteners as well.
2. Ground Flax
I love adding 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed to my protein smoothies (or shakes, whatever you prefer), as well. Ground flax adds just enough fiber and omega 3s to up the nutritional value of your smoothie. It also increases the rate at which your metabolism digests food, since fiber increases metabolism, just through digestion. Plus, the omega 3s in flax will keep your skin in good shape as a bonus!
3. A Handful of Spinach
This super nutrient dense food is one you need to add to every shake or smoothie you make, because really, why not? Spinach is one of the most alkalizing foods you can put in your body, and your smoothie. With 5 grams of protein per serving, plus iron, magnesium, Vitamins A, E, and C, and folate, this powerful green will enhance lean muscle mass, help you lose weight or maintain weight, and you won’t even taste it! Spinach has a lovely sweet taste that is amazing in smoothies, so much so that you’ll actually start to crave it, believe it or not! Plus, alkalizing your body after a workout is crucial, since lactic acid builds up during exercise, promoting inflammation. Alkalizing foods combat inflammation, and help your muscles recover faster.
Cinnamon is also a fantastic ingredient to use in your post workout shakes or smoothies. Cinnamon lowers blood sugar, which can improve your glycogen levels and food cravings. It also contains B vitamins, magnesium, and is a calorie-free way to enhance the sweetness without the sugar.
5. Cocoa Powder
I’m all about the chocolate in my smoothies, and using it after a workout can actually enhance your recovery. Cocoa and raw cacao are two of the highest sources of iron and magnesium on the planet. Both of these minerals help your body recover from stress, promote healthy energy levels, and reduce your risk of many health problems. Magnesium also lowers your physical and mental stress, which is vital after you’ve worked out. Plus, it makes your shakes and smoothies taste delicious, and even has a bit of fiber to boot!
6. Green Powder
Okay, now I know many of you are thinking- what? A green powder? I know, but hear me out. There are many benefits to using a green superfood powder, and one of my favorite is they are very mildly cleansing, and help your body heal from the inside out. They can also help you maintain your weight, cleanse your skin, eliminate sickness, and help your workouts improve since they improve your overall health and energy. I like green powders that taste good though, as I certainly don’t want to drink something that isn’t tasty. My absolute favorite three favorite green superfood powders are: Amazing Grass Raw Cacao Green Superfood, Garden of Life Perfect Food Raw Cacao Infusion, and Bright Earth Foods Raw Green Superfood Smoothie.
Lastly, if you need a bit of sweetness without spiking your blood sugar, and want some extra nutrition, add about ¼- ½ cup of berries. Berries are excellent for you, and they’re low in sugar. They have Vitamin C, which can help increase muscle recovery, skin health, immunity, and heart health. Berries also host soluble and insoluble fiber to keep you regular. Better than that, they help to promote a lean body mass, especially in your abdomen. All berries count, with a special focus on superfood berries like acai, camu camu, goji, and maqui berries. If you use a powder form of berries like acai berry powder or camu camu, use 1 tsp. for every ½ cup of whole berries you would use in a recipe.
I have so many different fun ingredients to use in protein powders. I like to rotate them all on occasion, but the top suggestions I have for anyone looking to upgrade their protein smoothie or shake are the 7 above. They’re the first 7 I started using years ago, and ones I like to introduce others to when they’re just starting out. Do you have a favorite healthy ingredient you use in your protein smoothies or shakes?