The Final Protein Shake Information: When to Drink, What to Purchase, and the Finest Recipes

So you want to drink protein shakes but don't know where to start?

You're in luck because I've been drinking protein shakes for years and today I'm sharing all of my secrets with you (ah … most of them).

With part 2 of our Ultimate Guide to Protein, I am going to teach you:

Also read Part 1: "How Much Protein Do I Have to Eat Every Day?"

With that knowledge and a fantastic blender (which we are talking about here), you can make protein shakes a part of your daily routine.

Let's get ready to mess things up!

Protein 101: Are Protein Shakes Good For You?

Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps our bodies rebuild muscle and is an important part of our daily diet (“duh, Steve,” you say).

You can get protein from any number of real food sources, and you should prioritize real foods in your diet (aka "duh Steve").

Here are some examples of high protein foods:

  • Chicken, duck, other poultry
  • fish
  • flesh
  • Legumes (beans)
  • Eggs
  • Andean millet
  • nuts
  • milk

However, there are MANY cases when you may want to supplement your meal with a protein shake or protein powder (let's go):

  • You struggle to consume the recommended amount of protein each day (I describe this below!).
  • You're a thin person who needs to build up and need more calories in your daily intake!
  • You are trying to lose weight and want to replace an unhealthy meal with a protein replacement shake.
  • You crave the convenience of a protein shake instead of preparing another meal.

In these cases, protein supplements or protein shakes can be fantastic!

But don't just take my word for it. A systematic review of the studies revealed: (1)

"Protein supplement can improve muscle mass and performance if the exercise stimulus is sufficient."

Another study showed that among endurance athletes: (2)

"Adding protein can help rebalance muscle damage and promote recovery."

What this means for normal people: If you exercise and eat right, consuming enough protein will help you build muscle and perform better!

"Enough protein" in this context can include protein supplements and protein powders.

Remember that protein shakes are not a panacea for all of your ailments:

  • They are NOT required to be healthy.
  • But they could help you lose weight
  • You should just supplement (zing!) A healthy diet that can't be expected to do all of the "heavy lifting".

You still have to:

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  • Everything you need to know to get strong.
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How Much Protein Do I Need Every Day?

This section is from our guide "How Much Protein Do I Eat Each Day?"

Regardless of what the protein supplement advertisements tell you, you don't have to eat 500 grams of protein every day.

They are happy to tell you this so that you have to use their supplement faster and buy more.

Here's the real deal: The amount of protein required varies widely from source to source (and from athlete to athlete and from nerd to nerd). You are a unique snowflake, and your protein goals should align with your goals.

You want certain numbers, don't you?

Don't worry i got you

Although the current International Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.4 g per pound of body weight (0.8 g per kg of body weight) (3), this study (4) shows that this figure is too low and can be higher regardless should be your body composition.

You just want me to tell you how much to eat right? I figured.

You're in luck because we have a protein calculator for you to play with!


On the metric system? Click here.

Let's explain a little about some of them.

As points out in their heavily researched Summary on Protein: (5)

  • If you are overweight or obese, aim for 1.2 to 1.5 g / kg (0.54 to 0.68 g / lb).. You don't have to try to find out your ideal body weight or muscle mass (a.k.a. lean mass). Most studies in people with obesity report their results based on total body weight.
  • When you are at a healthy weight, active and want to lose fataim for 1.8–2.7 g / kg (0.82–1.23 g / lb)As you get leaner, or as you increase your calorie deficit (by eating less or exercising more), you are leaning towards the high end of this range.
  • If you are a healthy weight, active and want to build muscleaim for 1.4-2.4 g / kg (0.64-1.09 g / lb).
  • If you are an experienced lifterAn intake of up to 3.3 g / kg can help you minimize fat gain.

These are starting numbers to experiment with as you see your body change. As Examine points out in its protein research, (6) "higher protein intake in healthy people does not appear to have any negative effects". So, depending on your goals, aim for the higher end of the spectrum and adjust from there.

To make it short: C.Protein intake is an important part of life for everyone, both sedentary and athletic:

Personally, in a recent lean-out period, I consumed a significant amount of protein (240 grams of protein for a 190 pound body weight) that allowed me to reduce body fat while getting stronger and not feeling hungry.

In conclusion, a majority of your plate should be a source of protein each day.

If you're struggling to meet your daily protein goal from real food sources, consider adding a protein supplement.

You still need to have the right systems, nutritional strategy, and exercise in place, and then a protein shake can help you reach your goals a bit faster.

To help busy people like you stop wasting their time in the gym and actually get results, we created our 1-on-1 online coaching program.

Your NF coach will create an individual training program for you and offer nutritional advice for your specific situation.

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What is the Best Protein Supplement to Buy?

When buying a protein powder or choosing a protein shake, you will come across a few options:

1) Whey protein is the most popular, readily available, and cheapest protein supplement on the market. Whey contains all of the essential amino acids and is one of the by-products of curdled and strained milk. It occurs in both "concentrated" and "isolated" forms. Whey is absorbed faster by the body than its counterpart casein (next), making it a great solution for immediately before / after a weight training session.(7)

2) Casein protein is the other by-product of milk and also contains all of the essential amino acids. Because it is more slowly absorbed by the body than whey, many people consume casein before bed, provided it leads to improved muscle growth during sleep! However, this study (8) shows that total protein consumption during a day is more important than protein timing!

3) protein Powders are made from the protein in eggs – which means they can be a great alternative if for some reason you can't use whey or casein.

Brief review: Whey and casein proteins both come from milk and can help build muscle. Whey is more easily absorbed by your body and is usually cheaper than casein, making it our preferred form of protein for cost and ease of consumption.

I personally prefer whey. I find casein protein less tasty and it doesn't mix either.

Also, don't worry about the timing of post-workout whey and casein for sleep. In my opinion, you are just too complicated.

Pick the ones you enjoy and focus on getting enough protein in a day – that way you are 99% on the right track to building muscle in all the right places!

IF YOU ARE PLANT-BASED: These are our recommendations for plant-based protein powders (from our guide to plant-based nutrition).::

  • Pea protein. A good choice for vegan protein powder is peas, especially the protein-rich yellow split pea. A quarter cup (28 grams) gets you about 21 grams of protein and about 100 calories. There is evidence that it might be comparable to whey in building muscle. (9) NAKED Nutrition has a great 100% Pea Protein Powder for you to check out.
  • Rice protein. A quarter cup of rice protein has 22 grams of protein and contains 107 calories. Not too shabby. When you combine it with pea protein, you also get a complete amino acid profile that is necessary for human growth. (10) A good brand to check out would be Growing Naturals.
  • Hemp protein. While it doesn't contain as much protein as peas or rice (one cup is 12 grams of protein and 108 calories), what it lacks in this department is made up for by its nutritional profile. Hemp protein is extracted from the seeds of the cannabis plant, but grown so that it does not contain THC. What it will offer you, however, is a decent source of iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids that vegans are typically deficient in. Nutivia sells a good hemp protein if interested.

What about soy protein? Soy is a complicated animalalthough, in our opinion, soy fears are exaggerated.

As Examine points out in its Soy Protein Supplementation Review: (11)

“Whey protein was absorbed faster than soy protein and stimulated muscle protein synthesis by about twice the amount of soy protein. However, No differences in overall body composition was observed between groups. "

In other words, you do, Boo. If you consume soy and are struggling to meet your protein goals, consuming a soy supplement can help. If you are unsure about soy, consider getting your protein supplement from one of the sources listed above!

Whichever protein you choose, what you need to know about protein shakes, based on the collective wisdom of Team Nerd Fitness' 15 full-time trainers:

  1. When buying protein powders, buy a product with minimal other "substances". A.I'm for one that starts with "whey protein concentrate" or "whey protein isolate" on the ingredient label, followed by a small number of ingredients – one of which will likely be "artificial or natural flavors".
  2. Choose a taste you like! Protein powders generally come in several flavors: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, etc. I'm as simple as they come, so vanilla protein is my jam.
  3. Take a look at the ingredients and find one from a reputable brand. Always do your research, even if it is one of the most popular brands (e.g. Muscle Milk). Some of them had metals contained therein such as arsenic(12)
  4. Many popular protein powders just don't live up to their promises. Read the rating of this laboratory review on "high qualityProtein powders that meet This Reddit protein powder measurement result thread. There are a lot of scam things out there so make sure you keep yours Sherlock Holmes hat on while shopping!

Steve's protein brand recommendations

Over the past 15 years of my education, I've tried dozens of protein powders and keep coming back to two brands that suit my style and budget:

  1. Jay Robbs Grassfed Whey Protein: my current favorite and absolutely delicious (I go with vanilla) … but VERY expensive. This comes from grass-fed cows, so it's much harder to come by. I think it's the best protein powder I've ever tried and the best taste too.
  2. Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein: The whey I've used for years (my previous favorite). Optimum Nutrition is well known in the fitness space and I have used their product for almost a decade with no problems. If you're on a tight budget and can't afford grass whey protein, go for Optimum Nutrition.

How To Use Protein Powder (How To Make Protein Shakes Taste Better?)

The back of each protein powder jar says it mixes well with 8 ounces of water.

This applies to some protein powders.

To others, it will taste like you've choked recently mixed concrete.

Note: Do not use lightly mixed concrete. You're welcome.

So step 1 with your newly purchased protein powder is to mix it with water and see how it tastes.

By just mixing protein and water, you are adding minimal calories to your daily intake while increasing your protein intake for the day.


NOW, depending on your calorie goals or if you want to make a meal replacement shake, you can start the following experiments and make your own protein shakes:

  • Add fruit: Bananas, strawberries, blueberries – look for the frozen berry medleys in your grocery store.
  • Add a serving of vegetables: stir in frozen spinach – you can't even try it!
  • Try a different liquid: Almond milk, reduced calorie orange juice, skimmed milk or whole milk.
  • Healthy calories: Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter.
  • Seeds like chia seeds or sunflower seeds.

Just pretend you're a scientist and create a different invention each time. Write down your ingredients and amounts until you find the perfect mix (heyo) of macros and flavors that fits your goal!

HUGE CAVE: Your body still obeys the laws of thermodynamics. Just because you call it a "healthy smoothie" doesn't mean the 1,000 calories in it don't count!

When you can't lose weight, you are eating too many calories. This means that you should know how many calories are going into your fast-consuming protein shake.

If your goal is to build or gain muscle, creating your own high-calorie protein shake is a great way to add extra calories to your day.

I'm on the rise right now. Here's my patented post-workout shake that I consume on a daily basis (okay, it's not really patented).


  • Ice cold water: 16 oz
  • Quaker oats: 3 servings (120 g)
  • Whey protein: 2 servings (62 g)
  • Frozen spinach: 1.5 servings (120 g)
  • Frozen berries: 0.8 servings (120 g)

Here are the macronutrient and calorie distribution of this shake: 795 calories, 68 g protein, 106 g carbohydrates, 13 g fat:


I've just used one for over a decade cheaper blender like this one on amazon!

Also, depending on your budget, you can go to your Walmart, Target, Kroger, Publix, Sam & # 39; s Club, Stop & Shop, etc. and buy a blender for $ 20.

I'll say that as I got older and higher disposable income, I became a Vitamix fan. They're expensive, but you get what you pay for.

I've probably burned the motors out of 10+ cheap mixers and since switching to a Vitamix it has crushed my Powerbomb shake ingredients in seconds twice a day.

If you have the money, it's well worth the investment.

You can also buy a cheap shaker bottle (here is the type I use).. Personally, I've found that these things don't mix nearly as well as a blender does. However, if you're on the go and there is no blender option available, a shaker bottle can be very helpful.

Note: If you're using a shaker bottle, pour the water in first, then add the protein shake!

Here is my "Staying Healthy While Traveling" strategy for protein:

  • Measure out 2 servings of protein powder and place in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Place your sealed plastic bag in an empty shaker bottle.
  • When you're done, remove the plastic bag of protein and add water to the bottle.
  • Then add protein.

If you put the protein in first, I can guarantee that no shaking will mix all of the protein into the liquid!

Should I drink my protein shake before or after training?

Conventional wisdom tells us that we must consume our protein shake IMMEDIATELY after a workout for maximum gains.

It also tells us that to get maximum protein synthesis by our muscles, we need to consume protein every few hours.

But what does science actually say?

According to this summary: (13)

"In general, pre AND post workout protein supplement increases physical performance, workout recovery, muscle mass, muscle hypertrophy, and strength. However, the specific gains differ depending on the type and amount of protein. "

And in this excerpt: (14)

"These results refute the widely held belief that timing of protein intake in and around an exercise session is critical to muscle adaptation, and show that consuming enough protein in combination with strength training is the key factor in maximizing muscle protein accretion."

WHAT THAT MEANS: The amount of protein you consume in a day is more important in building muscle than the timing of your protein. Consuming a protein shake before or after training leads to increased physical performance and muscle hypertrophy – provided you train properly!

If you exercise and then have to go to work and you can't eat your protein until later in the day, do what works best for you!

Some people may hate exercising on an empty stomach. Therefore, it is beneficial to consume the protein shake before training.

Personally, I exercise on an empty stomach (which we cover in our guide to intermittent fasting), so I don't consume my protein shake until after I exercise.

So stop worrying about protein timing and instead focus on your exercise, total calories, and daily protein intake.

Not sure if you are exercising properly?

Work with a nerd fitness trainer who can put together an exercise program and help you with your diet!

A nerd fitness coach can help you decide if you need to add protein at all!

Getting started drinking protein shakes

Let's summarize for you some of the key points about drinking protein shakes:

  1. Protein supplements can complement a healthy diet, but should not replace it.
  2. My recommendation is to buy a tub Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein online when you are on a tight budget, whatever flavor you want.
  3. When you have more money, pull that Jay Robbs Grassfed Whey Protein (my favorite).
  4. Consider mixing in a protein shake before or after your workout. Timing isn't as important as total protein consumption over the course of a day when it comes to building muscle and recovering.
  5. Think of a shake as a way to get good protein when you can't afford / don't have time to prepare a good meal.
  6. A cheap blender will do if you have no other options, but if you are on a budget I would recommend get a Vitamix – You will have it for the next 30 years.

Hopefully this is where you should start! Try different flavors and combinations of ingredients in your smoothies to make them something you really look forward to!

Do you have any favorite protein shake recipes?

Any questions about protein powders and dietary supplements?

Let us know in the comments!


PS: Check out the rest of our protein range:

PPS: Still overwhelmed? Still not sure whether you are exercising right or eating right? Do you want to know which diet supplements are worth and which are a waste of money?

I hear you.

These questions, and people like you, are the reason we started ours 1-to-1 coaching program: to help busy people get out of the noise and easily gain muscle, get leaner, and feel better.

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