Which “milk” should you use for your Protein Shake?

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Protein shakes can be made from just water and protein powder, but that combination produces a rather watery, and (in my opinion) bland, shake.  To make your shake more exciting, but still low in carbohydrates, consider using one or a combination of the following “milks”:

  1. Coconut Milk – This is my favorite.  You can buy it fresh in stores like Wholefoods (look next to the regular milks) or buy it online, from Netrition.  Go for the “Unsweetened” version, as the “Sugar Free” ones contain a stevia extract that makes it taste odd.  Coconut milk is remarkably similar to the cow’s milk you’re probably used to, although it does taste faintly like coconut and is thicker than milk but not as thick as cream.

  2. Almond Milk – I often drink almond milk by itself, but I’m not as big fan of using almond milk in protein shakes.  Almond milk is more watery than coconut milk, and the almond flavor doesn’t go well with with every protein powder flavor.  Beware when buying almond milk as the “Original” flavor often contains sugar!  You have to buy unsweetened almond milk, like the Blue Diamond Unsweetened Almond Milk, which you can buy in bulk from Amazon or singly from Netrition.  You can also find it on shelves or in the refrigerated sections of many supermarkets.

  3. Coconut Almond Blend – I think this adds a lot of flavor to a shake.  It tastes slightly more like coconut than it does almonds and is not quite as watery as almond milk nor quite as thick as coconut milk.  I’ve started to see this sold in more and more stores, but if you can’t find it in a store, you can find it on Amazon if you want to buy in bulk, or singly from Netrition.

  4. Heavy cream and water – Heavy cream has practically zero carbs, which makes it great for shakes.  It has a mildly creamy taste and texture to your shake.  It also adds some fat to your shake, which will also help keep you full for longer.  Don’t add too much – heavy cream is not made to be drunk in large portions (too much will be both disgusting and also very high calorie)!  I suggest adding 2 tablespoons to a shake.

  5. Coconut cream – If you want to add some non-dairy cream to your shake to make it creamier and thicker, then coconut cream is an option.  It’s unfortunately difficult to find.  The only place I’ve found it is at the top of cans of coconut milk (if you leave the can still for a few days – the coconut cream settles to the top).  Many stores will sell this, and I would look for a can that contains the following ingredients:  coconut, water, guar gum.  Again, Amazon sells these in bulk, while Netrition sells them singly. 

  6. Milk – Although milk is not particularly low in carbs, you can add some to your shake if you really dislike all the other alternatives!   8 ounces of milk contains approximately 11-13g of carbs.

Caution:  Always read the nutritional information for whatever you’re buying to make sure it doesn’t contain any added sugar!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dana M. March 31, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Very helpful information- thank you! I have been using almond milk in my chocolate whey protein shakes and I have been adding almond butter and a banana to it in the blender since I didn’t like the shake alone. I’ll try making a shake without the banana and almond butter, and will give the coconut milk a try since they sell it now at my local Trader Joe’s. Thanks again!

-Dana

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LoCarbolicious March 31, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Adding coconut milk will probably not make it as thick as with the banana and almond butter, so you could add 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum with the coconut milk. This will make the protein shake thicker without adding hardly any net carbs or calories (it’s pretty much just pure fiber). http://locarbolicious.com/protein-shake-recipes/
Hope you like the switch!

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