The 5 Best Protein Shakes Aren’t Just Good For You
For a quick protein fix to replace a meal or to maximize a workout, turn to ready-to-drink (RTD) protein shakes that taste great. For these shakes, taste is paramount to their effectiveness because you won’t stick with it if they taste terrible.
To not waste your time or money, all of the shakes we’ll look at score within the top 5 for taste across different websites and magazine rating systems.
Protein – whether it’s delivered in shake, powder, or bar – is essential to your daily living as well as to building muscle. Whey proteins can help jumpstart your metabolism and create new muscles while burning off fat.
Shakes will differ in their mix of protein and calories; and a good rule of thumb is that more protein leads to more muscle mass while higher calories lead to overall weight gain.
Make sure you’re picking a shake that aligns with your needs before you add it to your workout or even daily regime.
Grocery Store Protein Shakes
One appeal of protein shakes is that they don’t require the effort of measuring and mixing powders. This also means that they’re sold in places that don’t need to specialize in protein powder, such as GNC stores.
Some great protein shakes will grace your grocery store shelves, allowing you to pick up a package that looks similar to a fruit drink instead of a weight-gaining protein powder. These shakes also tend to focus on consumers looking for a meal replacement to help them diet. Grocery store shakes are a great way to go for feeling better about you and getting a healthier body.
Four of the top grocery aisle items include:
- Odwalla shakes: One of the most-common brands for protein shakes is Odwalla. It offers a regular Super Protein drink that stays vegan while delivering 15 grams of protein in each shake. It packs 290 calories and offers a lot of good vitamins thanks to its fruit bases. The company’s Protein Monster – which has a great chocolate version – jumps up to 25 grams of protein and 320 calories, so it’s a good meal replacement to use in combination with workouts. Check the bottle if you have dietary restrictions as some flavors will use just soy proteins while others add in dairy for a higher count and a little more fat.
- FRS Healthy Protein: If you’re open to exciting flavors, FRS may be the brand for you thanks to offerings like its Blackberry Acai blend. Each 12 oz. bottle has about 25 grams of whey protein and 190 calories. These shakes are often promoted to those with digestive issues since it uses a prebiotic fiber inulin that will help balance out your tummy and encourages the growth of good digestive bacteria. The flavors use stevia for a natural sweetener, so make sure that agrees with you before picking up a bottle.
- Orgain: For your organic fix, check out the four flavors of Orgain’s organic protein shakes. The brand’s chocolate fudge, vanilla bean, and café mocha flavors are all gluten-free; the brand also offers a strawberries and cream treat. The shakes pack 16 grams of protein along with 255 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and a mix of 24 vitamins and minerals. They’re a good supplement for meals or workouts and can also boast ecofriendly packaging that keeps them fresh for more than one year.
- Get Svelte: CalNatural offers a Svelte brand that’s free of gluten and dairy while also being kosher and vegan. These are aimed at active moms because of each flavor contains 35% of a woman’s needed daily calcium amount. The shakes also pack 16 grams of protein, 260 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 30% of the vitamin D you need each day. It’s another brand that uses stevia and erythritol as natural sweeteners.
Muscle Builders and Weight Gainers
Protein shakes designed to build and tone muscle without adding a lot of weight are going to be high in protein and in the mid to low range for their calorie count. Those mass-builders with high calories, on the other hand, will serve as a great meal replacement.
Since RTD shakes tend to use whey protein and not casein, you’ll want to take them as close to your workout as you can stomach. They won’t be good for a long-haul recovery such as an overnight snack.
Five of the top muscle building shakes include:
- Pure Protein Shake. If you’re looking for a can of protein, look no further than the Pure Protein Shake from Pure Protein. Each can contains 35 grams of protein, 150 calories, 1 gram of carbs, and about 90% of your daily needed calcium. The company markets them as both workout supplements and meal replacements; though you may need more calories than one can supplies. These shakes are great for building lean muscle, but not picking up girth.
- Lean Body RTD. There’s magic to Labrada’s Lean Body RTD shakes, beyond its name, because consumers pick this as one of the best-tasting RTD protein drinks around. The company’s five flavors offer no sugar but all get rave reviews for taste and a quality, creamy texture. Each drink will give you 40 grams of proteins, using a fast-release and slow-release blend to help power through workouts and recover for the long haul. Depending on how you use them, these can operate as either a meal replacement or a muscle builder that promotes weight gain. The shakes have 260 calories, about 80 from fat, and pack on the Sodium and Potassium, plus 25% of your daily needs for 22 different vitamins and minerals. You can get cut and slim down using it as a meal replacement or pack on muscle weight if you use it just as a workout enhancer.
- Monster Milk. CytoSport has an option for those of you looking to put on a lot of weight as you build muscle mass: Monster Milk RTD. This protein shake combines 45 grams of proteins with 320 calories for a big post-workout boost. It combines whey and casein proteins for a quick and slow absorption rates, making it a good shake to also take before bed. Users swear by its vanilla and chocolate offering, which come with 100% of six essential vitamins and minerals. Each contains about a quarter of your daily sodium, so it’s best to watch your other meals when using one or two of these each day.
- The Marked Gourmet. Marked offers a gourmet line of protein shakes that provide 35 grams of long-lasting proteins as well as 24 essential vitamins and minerals. This is designed mostly as a recovery drink with a good taste that’s light enough to go down and stay down smoothly. It uses 4.6 grams of glutamine and sustamine to support muscle recovery along with 240 calories to help you build up muscle as you sleep. These are best served ice-cold because once they warm up users don’t seem to be as fond of the taste. While some stores list them in the weight-gain section, you’ll have to take a lot more than the normal 1 or 2 servings to increase your weight instead of just defining your muscles.
- Body Fortress, Super Protein. This segment is going to have a lot of niche products, such as the Body Fortress Super Protein Shots. These RTD drinks don’t have the same bulk or consistency as most of the other shakes but they do include taste and plenty of protein. They’re concentrated, so you’re looking at roughly 3 ounces compared to 12 or 20 ounces. However, these shots are as close to pure, drinkable protein as you can get. Each has 26 grams of protein, 120 calories, a good blend of amino acids, and 95 mg of sodium, with virtually nothing else. These are great if you’re a fan of drinking your protein but not of the bulky shakes.
What’s essential about all of these shakes is that you match it to your workout needs and your daily diet. If you’re skimping on the nutrients you need and replacing too many meals with these shakes, you run the risk of starving the muscles you’re trying to build; keeping them small while also eating away at your fat reserves. This can lead to health problems if you do it over a long period of time.
Make sure to meet your daily calorie requirements and to adjust these up from the normal level if you’re working out or if you plan to increase your workout. These shakes provide a good mix of benefits, but you’ll be burning through much of their calorie count so you’ll want to take that into consideration.
As with all workout supplements, be sure you lift harder and smarter. These shakes can help you recover from the burn quicker, but don’t improve your recovery from injuries beyond muscle strains.
The good news is that these options all taste great and can help you add the right balance of protein and power to your day.