Even premium protein powders can result in a drink with a distinctly unpleasant after-taste. What can you do to make your protein shakes taste better though?
In this article, I’m going to give you some tried and tested tips for significantly improving the overall flavor and consistency of your protein shakes.
Let’s start with the main problem here though, so we know what we’re trying to fix.
(Head back to my massive home juicing and blending guide when you’re done for more help with this side of kitchen life!)
Why Do Protein Shakes Taste Bad?
There are two problems with the typical protein shake.
First, many brands make use of artificial sweeteners. These often leave an unnatural, chemical after-taste to the drink. It doesn’t matter what else you do to improve the flavor, these have a tendency to overpower everything.
The second problem comes from something known as mesh count. This basically determines how fine your protein shake powder is.
If it’s not fine enough, the powder will have a tendency to clump together, which means the bad taste gets magnified. This problem occurs most frequently with plant-based protein powders.
Before we even start on improving the flavor, then, we have two immediate ways to improve the basic taste of a protein shake:
Eliminate Artificial Sweeteners – If you start with a blank canvas, you’ll find it much easier to improve the flavor of your protein shakes using the methods I’ll cover in the rest of this article.
Get A Finer Mesh Count – The finer the powder is, the less clumping you’ll get. That’ll do a lot by itself to reduce the overall impact of that unpleasant taste.
So, once you’ve got your protein shake base sorted, what else can you do to improve the overall flavor?
#1 – Get The Right Tools For The Job
One of the big problems with protein shakes comes from the lumpiness that often remains after you’ve finished making the mix.
If you’re simply adding powder and water to a bottle and then shaking the contents, you’ll struggle to properly dilute the mixture.
It’s worth investing in a proper mixer that includes a ball whisk. As you shake the bottle, this whisk does a great job of separating the powder, which stops it from clumping up.
#2 – Invest In A Better Protein Powder
Sounds obvious! As a general rule of thumb, the lower the price of your protein shake, the worse the taste will be.
When you’re focused on cutting costs, there’s not an awful lot of wiggle room for improving the flavor. You’ll also frequently find that the overall texture of these drinks is less pleasant too.
Your best bet when branching out is to try and get a few samples, and do so before you invest in a much bigger batch.
#3 – Add Your Favorite Fruits
Start by finding a high quality brand that doesn’t include any kind of flavorings at all. From here, you can add your preferred natural sweeteners – fresh fruit and honey are popular options.
It goes without saying that this is a lot easier to do if you’re making the shake at home, and I’ve got a guide to buying a good protein shake blender if you need some help choosing home equipment.
The good thing about adding fruit is you’re also adding extra nutritional value, without dramatically increasing the calorie count.
Popular options for this method include:
#4 – Dabble In Extracts
If you don’t want to bulk your protein shake out with fruits, consider a few small splashes of flavor extract instead.
You really don’t need to use a lot here, but just a drop or two of vanilla extract can make a big difference to the taste of your protein shake.
This is a much more convenient option than the last one, as it’s relatively easy to add this flavor enhancer while you’re out and about.
A little bit of cocoa powder is also well worth trying if you just want to add a little extra flavor to your shake.
#5 – Try A Spoon Of Nut Butter
You need to be careful here because you can drastically increase the calorie count without realizing it.
Still, this is a popular option because you’ll be adding an extra serving of protein along with a big dollop of flavor.
This is another method that works best when you’re using a blender, and for obvious reasons!
#6 – Mix Your Liquids Up
If you typically make your protein shakes using water, try switching to either milk or your preferred non-dairy alternative.
It’s a much subtler way of adding a little extra flavor to your protein shake. Personally I can’t stomach a water-based shake, and it’s the easiest option to switch if you’re the same.
Yogurt’s another good option to try as well, and does a good job of adding both flavor and texture depth to a protein shake.
#7 – Drink Quickly After Mixing
I’ve covered the shelf-life of protein shakes elsewhere on the site, but it’s always better to prepare them as and when you need them.
Although a protein shake typically lasts 2 hours at room temperature, or 24 hours in the refrigerator, they’re always more pleasant to drink right after mixing.
You’ll certainly notice an improved texture, which often goes a long way towards eliminating the problematic taste.
Give some of these easy fixes a go and I’m sure you’ll notice an immediate improvement in the taste of your protein shakes.
Experimentation is key here, and don’t be afraid to combine some of the tips as well.
Not everything will work together perfectly, but when you find the combo that works for you, you’ll never look back!
Mark’s a lifelong food fanatic and spent ten years working as an entertainment journalist. He now combines his love of food, drink and writing as the founder and editor of Viva Flavor. Read more