If you're into post-workout or breakfast shakes, you probably already know that the addition of protein makes these drinks especially good for muscle growth. Protein powder mixed with milk or yogurt is the most convenient way to get the max amount of this important macronutrient in your smoothies. But there are other ways to up the protein content of your favorite drink.
The following ingredients will not only create a liquid-protein powerhouse, they'll also help you beat the dreaded protein-smoothie boredom.
Eggs, But Hold the Yokes
We're not suggesting you choke back a Rocky Balboa smoothie full of raw eggs, but some egg will infuse your blender drinks with an extra dose of protein. Look in the egg aisle at your local supermarket for cartons of 100-percent pasteurized liquid egg whites.
Egg whites contain a full range of essential amino acids, making them a particularly effective way to stimulate muscle repair and growth in response to training. A third of a cup of liquid egg whites is about the equivalent of two large eggs, or roughly 10 grams of protein. And they have almost no taste, so they won't overpower other flavors in your smoothie.
Chocolate Fudge Smoothie
Avocado gives this drink its fudgy consistency and plenty of extra nutritional firepower. The duo of protein powder and egg whites delivers a boatload of protein. This smoothie tastes so sinful you could mistake it for dessert.
What? Beans in My Smoothie?
That's right, you can slip beans into a smoothie for an added nutritional boost. Canned navy beans give shakes a creamy texture, not to mention plenty of good stuff like plant protein (5 grams in a quarter-cup serving), hunger-smashing fiber, and a wide range of essential vitamins and minerals including folate, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Researchers at Loma Linda University in California found that a diet that includes the regular consumption of beans can be just as effective as a low-carb diet at promoting weight loss, as well as improving your blood cholesterol numbers.
Navy beans are one of the most mild-flavored members of the legume family, so they won't make your post-training shake taste too, well…beany. Just make sure you give canned navy beans a good rinse before blending them to eliminate the beany-tasting liquid and excess sodium.
Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie
In addition to being one of the best carb sources on its own, sweet potato combined with navy beans makes a drink that would make a dietitian's heart jump for joy! The added sweetness of the potato—plus the perfect balance of carbs, protein, and fat—makes this smoothie a great way to recharge after a spirited workout.
Quinoa Flakes: Like Raw Oatmeal, Only Different
Okay, maybe you've already made quinoa (pronounced keen-WA) a staple in your diet, but who knew that you can also add the whole grain to smoothies? But instead of cooked quinoa, you're going to add quinoa flakes, which are just regular quinoa grains that have been pressed and rolled flat.
Quinoa in flake form delivers many of the same nutritional benefits as the whole grain, including a complete protein to help you carve out a lean physique. Add these flakes to a smoothie like you might add rolled oats. Just let your blender run for a bit longer than normal to remove some of the grittiness.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Smoothie
For a little nostalgia, here is a blender drink that tastes reminiscent of everyone's favorite school-yard sandwich. The cherries and strawberries add a healthy dose of antioxidants.
1. Tonstad, S., Malik, N., & Haddad, E. (2014). A high‐fibre bean‐rich diet versus a low‐carbohydrate diet for obesity. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 27(s2), 109-116.