Every cell in our body contains protein, so much so that it is known as a “building block” of life. It is needed for repairing cells, producing new cells and building muscle.
This is crucial for everyone but it’s even more important when it comes to exercise. Eating protein beforehand gives energy to the muscles and builds endurance, especially for higher intensity exercises.
When protein is eaten after a workout, it helps muscles to recover after working out.
It also helps to reduce appetite, increase satiety levels and reduce the potential for snacking. This makes it easier to lose weight and to maintain a certain body weight.
Protein is an important nutrient for health and fitness, and an easy and convenient way to get enough of it is to incorporate it into a protein shake.
When to Take Protein
The type and amount of food before eaten before exercising matters in terms of how soon to eat after working out.
Taking in some protein in the hours before exercising can help to maintain muscle mass, reduce potential for muscle damage. This doesn’t need to be solid food – sipping a protein shake in the hour before working out is just as effective and is often a lot more convenient too.
Not eating much before working out or eating more than a few hours beforehand makes the timing more important than if food is eaten closer to workout time or not at all.
5 Homemade Protein Shake Ideas
The obvious ingredient in a protein shake is protein powder and it’s true that most protein shake recipes will include this in abundance.
There are lots of foods that naturally contain protein too so protein powders aren’t absolutely necessary, although doing this obviously increases protein intake a lot more.
Protein shakes don’t have to be on the dull side as the right combination of ingredients can create delicious but healthy shakes that are even a lot like desserts. Ideal for a protein boost that can be seriously enjoyed!
Here are my favorite five combinations for natural, homemade protein shakes that are a little different to the traditional vanilla and chocolate flavored versions.
Pro Tip: to make these shakes at home, use a blender such as these. Make sure that the blender is designed to handle ice and frozen ingredients, if you prefer your shakes chilled.
#1 Peach and Cinnamon
It’s not the most obvious combination but it gives a delicious dessert like feel and taste to a protein shake.
In terms of nutrition, you get a protein boost from the peaches and you can also add Greek yogurt, which contains more protein than regular yogurt, to help you feel fuller for longer and to create a creamier texture.
#2 – Almond Butter and Banana
Nut butters are an easy way to add protein to shakes and also provide a deliciously nutty taste.
Combined with banana, this makes for a great post workout protein shake, especially if it is downed in the 20 to 30 minutes after exercising.
Banana contains carbohydrates and potassium, both of which are essential after exercise.
#3 Coconut Water & Vanilla Protein Powder
If you don’t want to use milk in a protein shake, coconut water is a much more hydrating option than pure water and is even on a par with sports drinks. It adds potassium, an electrolyte that is important for healthy fluid balance in the body.
This makes it a great choice as part of a post exercise protein shake for restoring fluids. The coconut flavor adds a tropical twist and goes a lot better with vanilla protein powders than you might expect!
#4 Almond Milk, Banana & Greek Yogurt
Combining almond milk with banana and Greek yogurt gives natural sweetness and creaminess to a protein shake.
Almond milk isn’t the best source of protein by itself, and doesn’t contain as much protein as regular milk, so you’ll want to add some protein powder to turn this into a real protein shake.
#5 Watermelon and Vanilla Protein Powder
Think watermelon is just hydrating? It’s actually got a lot more nutrients than many people realize. It’s rich in vitamins A and C and also contains potassium. Plus, it’s loaded with antioxidants. It has a small amount of protein but it goes well with vanilla protein powder.
Recipe – Natural Homemade Protein Shake
So, how can you incorporate some of these ideas in a homemade protein shake? Here’s an easy recipe I really like, that includes a few of the combinations we’ve talked about:
- 1 banana
- 1 peach
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- 8 0z almond milk (preferably unsweetened)
- Add all of the ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Serve and enjoy a natural protein boost!