How to Make the Perfect Protein Shake

Too hot to cook? Enjoying those sangrias, mojitos, and corn on the cob? Need a simple healthy way to make nutritional amends?

I’ve got you covered, with the right shake to fit every palate and diet, and the recipe template I’ve perfected for my clients over the past 24 years. It works like a charm to vanquish hunger and cravings, boost your energy and metabolism, and help balance your hormones. In fact, as my clients have enthusiastically confirmed for over 2 decades, having a healthy balanced shake for breakfast is key to staying on track with eating all day long.

But only if you make it right.

What does that mean? The right ingredients, in the right balance, deliver the right metabolic and hormonal information to your body and brain. Change the formula and you’ll be conveying something else entirely, like “store fat”, or “feed me again right NOW”.

Start with a clean, healthy protein powder  In my practice, I rely primarily on either bone broth powders (from free range chicken or grass fed cows), or rice/pea proteins. The bone broth powders are the least allergenic.

By the way, as with all my supplements, I am not loyal to a particular brand. Which means I’m not limited to a particular brand. Instead, I vet a large number of products to come up with a few that are “best in show” for each category, whether that’s protein powders, probiotics, or magnesium. That means you benefit by my investment of time and money, and I’ll select from a range of top quality products, depending on what’s optimally formulated and, if you’re my client, what’s exactly right for you as a biochemically unique individual. All the companies I work with voluntarily work to pharmaceutical standards.

If you’re using your own powder, rather than one I offer, read the label. Here are the 2 most important things to check:

  1. 5 grams or less of sugar per serving. Sweeteners like stevia, monkfruit, xylitol and erythritol have no to minimal impact on blood sugar, and are fine. Be careful of added fructose, or any of the innumerable other forms of sugar-in-disguise. And puhlease avoid artificial sweeteners, which not only don’t work to curb appetite or sugar cravings, but are toxic.
  2. Around 20 grams of protein, give or take a few grams. More can throw your blood sugar and hormones off and make you hungry too soon. Too little won’t provide the nourishment you need for a meal – and your shake should be a full meal. Of course if you are a body builder or an active 25 year old man, you may need more.

My thoughts about other protein sources

  • I tend to avoid whey, because dairy is a relatively common sensitivity, and most people do better keeping it to a minimum, if not avoiding it altogether. That said, some people do fine with dairy, but it still tends to be more inflammatory and risk setting off cravings. If you do use whey, avoid whey isolate, and look for whey from grass fed cows. You can find options on my website like PaleoMeal.
  • Soy? That’s a hard NO. Soy is suppressive to the thyroid and estrogenic in ways you probably don’t want.
  • Hemp and spirulina. I find most people who consume these regularly develop an intolerance to them, which means you’re not able to absorb the nutrients any longer.
  • Egg Whites <sigh> This holdover from the days of low-fat dieting will cause you problems in the long run. Eggs are great for most people, but please don’t skip the yolks. In fact, if you want eggs in your shake, and have a fresh and healthy local source, try popping a yolk or 2 in there. But egg whites by themselves? Nope!

Q: Can I have a shake for lunch and dinner too?

A: Sure, occasionally it’s fine to have 2 in a day, but please don’t make it a habit, or use it as a “diet” to avoid having to eat food. I always want people to learn how to eat real food, to understand how to make the best choices in any and every circumstance. Even though the way I suggest putting your shake together includes plenty of real food ingredients, having shakes instead of real food is no way to live! If you’re doing it to lose weight, you’ll still have to grapple with choices at some point. (If you need help with understanding how to truly nourish yourself, and want support transitioning to happier, healthier eating, with no cravings, please consider my 6 Week Success Program)

Q: Can I use a shake every day? For how long?

A: Sure! I have clients who’ve used them for years, with occasional variations and breaks. Why not? Made the way I recommend, it’s dense nourishment, takes the decision-making out of one meal a day, and helps to keep you focused, satisfied and steady for 4-6 hours. That’s a winning combination!

Q: Are shakes okay for kids?

A: Absolutely! Certainly it’s better than skipping breakfast, or having a bagel, donut or cereal. My kids thrived on them all through middle and high school, when the brief time between waking and leaving for school was generally spent on their appearance, not their plate. But hand them a tasty shake to have while they’re getting ready? Problem solved! And for kids, as long as they’re not overweight, you can include more and sweeter fruits; they’ll burn them up a whole lot faster than you or I would.

There have been several recent research studies indicating what to me is patently obvious: better nutrition is effective in improving academic performance, sports performance, and emotional stability for kids.

Q: What?! No kale or spinach?

A: Nope. I don’t recommend anyone eat them raw, because they’re high in oxalates, which increase inflammation. The best way to eat spinach and kale is to blanch them, dump the water, and then cook them with a healthy fat like pastured butter or ghee.

So – ready for that recipe?

1 serving of your protein shake powder plus 4-6 oz of unsweetened coconut milk (*see below)

with TWO of these options:

  • 1/4 cup berries (frozen fine but make it organic, as berries are a heavily sprayed crop)
  • 2 tablespoons of chia, sunflower, and/or pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons nuts or nut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon of Coconut Oil or MCT Oil
  • 1/2 avocado (adds fiber, healthy fat and potassium, and makes your shake extra creamy)

Add water/ice to taste, and blend. Ice will make it thicker. If you are hungry in less than 4 hours, try adding one more option. This is a full meal and should keep you full for 4-6 hours.

*A note about Coconut Milk I like Aroy-D in aseptics because it’s 100% coconut milk, no additives, no cans, or SO Delicious in refrigerated cartons if you’re buying at the supermarket (because they’ve removed the carrageenan). Almond and other nut milks are okay, but without the same nutritional benefits unless you make them fresh.  Rice milk is essentially sugars.

Got questions or comments? Please leave them here!

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