Clear glass with a spoon stirring a protein powder

What Liquid to Mix with Protein Powder?

May 2024

When you're making a protein shake, one of the most important things to think about is what liquid to mix with your protein powder. Water, milk, and plant-based milks are the most common choices. But there are many other fun options that can make your shake taste better, feel different, and give you more good stuff for your body.

In this article, we'll talk about the best liquids to mix with protein powder. We'll cover the classics that everyone loves and some unique choices that can really kick your shake game up a notch. We'll talk about the good and not-so-good things about each one.

So, let's jump in and find the perfect liquid buddy for your protein powder!

Things to Think About When Picking a Liquid for Your Protein Shake

When you're making the perfect protein shake, the liquid you choose to mix with your protein powder can make a big difference in how it tastes, feels, and how good it is for you. Before you decide on a liquid, it's important to think about a few key things that can change the quality and how well your shake works.

Your Personal Goals

The liquid you choose should match up with what you want to do, whether you're trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or just be healthy. For example, if your main goal is to lose weight, you might choose water because it doesn't have any calories.

If you're trying to build muscle, you might pick whole milk, which has extra calories and protein to help your muscles grow and recover.

What You Like to Eat and If You Have Any Restrictions

What you like to eat and if you have any restrictions play a big role in figuring out the best liquid for your protein shake. If you're vegan or can't have dairy, plant-based milks like almond, soy, oat, or coconut milk can be great choices. They're creamy like dairy milk but don't have lactose and work well for plant-based diets.

What Tastes and Textures You Like

The liquid you choose can change how your protein shake tastes and feels. Some people like a thin shake that's easy to drink, while others like a thicker, creamier one.

Water will make a lighter shake and let the flavor of the protein powder stand out, while milk or plant-based milks will make it richer and smoother. Think about what tastes you like when picking a liquid so you really enjoy your protein shake.

Top Liquids to Mix with Protein Powder

Person scooping protein powder into a blue shaker bottle

Water: The Easiest Choice

Water is the simplest, easiest to find, and calorie-free way to mix with protein powder. It lets the flavor of your protein powder shine without adding extra calories or changing the taste.

To make water-based shakes taste better and feel different, try adding crushed ice for a cool twist or spices like cinnamon or nutmeg for flavor without adding calories.

Dairy Milk: A Classic Pick

Dairy milk is a popular choice for mixing with protein powder because it's creamy and has extra good stuff for you. Milk has protein, calcium, and vitamin D, which can add to the protein in your powder and help you stay healthy overall.

Whole milk will make a richer, creamier shake but also has more calories and fat. If you want to cut calories, skim or low-fat milk can be a good middle ground, giving you a thicker shake than water but with fewer calories. But if you can't have lactose, are allergic to dairy, or are vegan, you might want to try plant-based milks instead.

Plant-Based Milks: A Lactose-Free Option

Plant-based milks have gotten really popular lately, giving people who can't or don't want to drink dairy milk a lactose-free, vegan-friendly choice. Some common options milks are:

  • Almond Milk: Made from ground almonds and water, almond milk has a nutty taste and creamy texture that goes well with most protein powders. It's low in calories and fat, so it's great if you're watching your calorie intake.
  • Soy Milk: Soy milk comes from soybeans and has about the same amount of protein as dairy milk. It's creamy and has a mild flavor that works well with different protein powder flavors.
  • Oat Milk: Oat milk, made from whole oats and water, has a naturally sweet taste and smooth feel. It has more carbs than other plant-based milks but also has a lot of fiber and protein.
  • Coconut Milk: Coconut milk, which comes from the flesh of mature coconuts, has a unique, slightly sweet taste and a rich, creamy texture. It has healthy fats that can give you energy and keep your hormones in balance. Just keep in mind that coconut milk has more calories than other plant-based milks.

When picking a plant-based milk, go for unsweetened and fortified kinds to avoid added sugars and make sure you're getting important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.

Creative Liquids to Give Your Shake a Nutrition Boost

While water, dairy milk, and plant-based milks are the most common liquids for mixing with protein powder, there are some other options that can add unique flavors and health benefits to your shakes.

Coconut Water: A Hydrating Drink After a Workout

Coconut water is a great choice for protein shakes after a workout, especially after intense exercise. It's naturally full of electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, which can help replace what you lost through sweat. 

Coconut water has a subtle, sweet flavor that goes well with tropical protein powder flavors, like pineapple or mango. When choosing coconut water, look for unsweetened kinds that haven't been processed too much so you get the most natural product.

Fruit Juices: A Sweet and Healthy Addition

Adding fruit juices to your protein shakes can give them a burst of natural sweetness and extra vitamins and antioxidants. Some popular fruit juices are:

  • Orange Juice: Fresh squeezed orange juice has a lot of vitamin C and can help hide the earthy flavors of plant-based protein powders like pea or hemp. It goes really well with vanilla protein powders, making a refreshing "orange creamsicle" taste.
  • Apple Juice: Apple juice has a mild, sweet flavor that can go with a lot of different protein powder flavors. Look for organic, cold-pressed apple juice with the pulp and skin still in for added fiber and nutrients.
  • Cranberry Juice: Cranberry juice has a tart, refreshing flavor and is full of antioxidants. It can be a great addition to fruit-flavored protein powders or those with a neutral taste.
  • Pineapple Juice: Pineapple juice adds a tropical twist to your protein shakes and pairs well with coconut or vanilla protein powders. It's also a good source of vitamin C and manganese.
  • Pomegranate Juice: Pomegranate juice is known for its antioxidants and can give your shakes a bright, slightly tart flavor. It can help balance out the earthy notes of plant-based protein powders like pea or hemp.

When adding fruit juices to your protein shakes, be mindful of the sugar content. Fruit juices have a lot of natural sugar, so it's best to use them sparingly or water them down to keep your sugar intake in check. You can also choose 100% fruit juices with no added sugars to get the most nutrition.

Kefir and Yogurt: Options with Probiotics

Kefir and yogurt are fermented dairy products that give your protein shakes a creamy texture and tangy flavor. They also have a lot of probiotics, which are good bacteria that help your digestion and immune system. Kefir, in particular, has a slightly bubbly quality that can add a unique, refreshing element to your shakes.

When choosing kefir or yogurt for your protein shakes, go for plain, unsweetened kinds to avoid added sugars. If you can't have lactose, kefir may be a better choice because it has less lactose than regular milk thanks to the fermentation process.

Unique Liquids to Mix Things Up

Tall glass filled with a creamy white liquid surrounded by containers of protein powder

If you want to add some variety to your protein shakes or try new flavor combinations, consider these unique liquid options:

Teas: Additions with Antioxidants

Brewed teas can add a special flavor and give your protein shakes antioxidants. Some options to think about are:

  • Green Tea: Chilled green tea can add a subtle, earthy flavor to your shakes and has catechins, a type of antioxidant that may help burn fat and recover from exercise.
  • Chamomile Tea: Chamomile tea has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and has apigenin, an antioxidant that may help you relax. It goes well with vanilla or honey-flavored protein powders.
  • Mint Tea: Mint tea can add a refreshing, cool taste to your shakes and may help with digestion. It works well with chocolate or vanilla protein powders.
  • Ginger Tea: Ginger tea has a spicy, slightly sweet flavor and has gingerols, which are compounds that can reduce inflammation. It can add a warming element to your shakes and may help ease sore muscles.

When using teas in your protein shakes, brew them stronger than you would for drinking so the flavor comes through. Let the tea cool before blending it with your protein powder and other ingredients.

Coffee: A Protein Boost with Caffeine

For those who need an extra energy boost, mixing chilled coffee with your protein powder can be a game-changer. The caffeine in coffee can give you a pick-me-up before a workout, while the protein helps your muscles recover and grow. When choosing a coffee for your protein shakes, think about these options:

  • Cold Brew Coffee: Cold brew coffee has a smooth, less acidic taste than regular brewed coffee. It's a great choice for blending with protein powder, especially if you're using a vanilla or chocolate flavor.
  • Espresso: A shot of chilled espresso can add a bold, strong flavor to your protein shakes. It goes well with chocolate or caramel protein powders for a rich treat.

When adding coffee to your protein shakes, keep an eye on how much caffeine you're getting, especially if you're sensitive to it. You can also choose decaf coffee if you like the flavor but don't want the caffeine boost.

Vegetable Juices: A Savory and Healthy Twist

While fruit juices are more commonly added to protein shakes, vegetable juices can give them a unique, savory twist and pack in extra nutrients. Some options to consider are:

  • Tomato Juice: Low-sodium tomato juice can add a rich, umami flavor to your shakes and has lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. It goes well with savory protein powders or those with a neutral taste.
  • Beet Juice: Beet juice has a slightly sweet, earthy flavor and is full of nitrates, which may help with exercise performance and blood flow. Use it sparingly in your shakes, as the flavor can be quite strong.
  • Carrot Juice: Carrot juice has a mild, sweet flavor and is high in beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. It can add a bright color and subtle sweetness to your shakes.

When using vegetable juices in your protein shakes, start with a small amount and adjust to your taste. You can also mix vegetable juices with fruit juices or other liquids to balance out the flavors.

Picking the Best Liquids to Mix With Your Protein Powder

If you're using a plant-based protein powder, like pea, hemp, rice, or brown rice protein, you might find that certain liquids go better with these powders than others. Plant-based protein powders can have distinct flavors, ranging from earthy to nutty, which can be brought out or hidden by the right liquid choice.

For example, pea and hemp protein powders tend to have a stronger, earthy flavor that can be balanced out by the sweetness of fruit juices or the creaminess of plant-based milks. Rice and brown rice protein powders have a milder, slightly nutty taste that pairs well with almond or coconut milk.

When choosing a liquid for your plant-based protein powder, think about the following:

  • Flavor Compatibility: Pick a liquid that goes well with the flavor of your protein powder. For example, vanilla pea protein might pair well with almond milk, while chocolate hemp protein may work better with hazelnut milk or cold brew coffee.
  • Texture Preferences: Plant-based protein powders can be a bit grittier than whey or casein protein. Choosing a creamier liquid, like oat milk or coconut milk, can help make a smoother, yummier shake.
  • Nutrition Goals: Think about your overall nutrition goals when picking a liquid for your plant-based protein powder. If you want to keep calories low, water or unsweetened almond milk may be your best bet. If you're trying to gain weight or need a boost after a workout, go for a higher-calorie option like coconut milk or a mix of fruit juices.

Wrapping Up: Finding Your Perfect Protein Shake Mix

two packages of EarthChimp Organic Vegan Protein Shake Mix

At the end of the day, the best liquid for your protein powder is the one that works for you. It depends on what you like, what you're trying to do, and if you have any food restrictions. Whether you stick with a classic like water or milk or branch out and try something new like tea or veggie juice, there are tons of tasty and healthy options.

If you're in the market for a top-notch, plant-based protein, give EarthChimp a look. This 100% organic vegan protein powder is made from a mix of pea, pumpkin, sunflower, and coconut proteins. Plus, it's got gut-friendly probiotics and none of the stuff you don't want, like artificial flavors, GMOs, added sugars, dairy, or gluten.

With EarthChimp, you can feel good about whatever liquid you mix it with. So go ahead, have a blast, and enjoy exploring the yummy world of protein shakes!

Frequently Asked Questions: Mixing Liquids with Protein Powder

What if I'm lactose intolerant or vegan?

If you can't have lactose, are allergic to dairy, or follow a vegan diet, plant-based milks like almond, soy, oat, and coconut milk are great alternatives. They offer a creamy texture similar to dairy milk. Choose unsweetened and fortified options for added calcium and less sugar and fat.

How can I make my protein smoothie more refreshing?

Coconut water is an excellent mixer for protein shakes, especially after intense workouts. It helps replace lost fluids and electrolytes like sodium and potassium. Unsweetened coconut water with minimal processing is naturally rich in electrolytes and minerals, making it perfect for rehydrating post-workout.

What's a good liquid for a unique protein shake flavor?

Low-sodium tomato juice, beet juice, and carrot juice can add extra nutrition and interesting flavors to your protein smoothies. Chilled green tea, chamomile tea, mint tea, and ginger tea are also fun options that provide antioxidants and various health benefits when mixed with protein powder.

How can I make my protein shake less thick?

Regular water helps thin out thick smoothies, while naturally carbonated mineral water gives a fizzy texture and provides added calcium and magnesium for bone health. Just be careful with heavily carbonated varieties to avoid excessive foaming.

What's the best way to mix protein powder into my shake?

Using a blender to make protein smoothies ensures a clump-free consistency. If you don't have a blender, you can use a shaker bottle or mix the powder into the liquid gradually with a spoon or whisk to help break up any clumps.

 

References:

  • https://www.healthdigest.com/826815/what-liquids-should-you-mix-protein-powder-with/
  • https://www.wickedprotein.com/blogs/nutrition/what-to-mix-protein-powder-with-10-ideas
  • https://uniconutrition.com/blog/fitness-hacks/the-best-liquids-to-mix-your-protein-powder-into
  • https://www.trufoojuicebar.co.uk/single-post/5-best-liquid-bases-for-protein-smoothies#google_vignette
  • https://www.transparentlabs.com/blogs/all/what-to-mix-protein-powder-with
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26228533/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6472148/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6155401/
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/kefir-vs-yogurt

Disclaimer:

This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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