9 Hacks to Make Your Protein Powder Taste Better (2024 Upd.)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 27, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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Most fitness supplements, including protein shake powder, have an awful taste.

This has been the trend for the past 10 to 15 years.

Some manufacturers have gone the extra mile to introduce flavored protein powder. However, this isn't enough for some people.

Fear not, I've personally experimented with various methods to enhance the flavor of protein shakes.

Every tip I share is born from my own experience, ensuring you not only reap the nutritional benefits but also genuinely relish each sip.

Quick Summary

  • To improve the taste of protein powder, consider natural sweeteners, blending with fruits, or using almond milk instead of water.
  • A significant trend in fitness supplements is the poor taste of protein powders, often due to artificial sweeteners and flavors.
  • Studies published by PubMed suggest that natural ingredients not only enhance flavor but may also contribute to a lower prevalence of metabolic disorders.
  • Personally, I find that sticking to simple, classic flavors like vanilla or chocolate and avoiding overly sweet or artificial options makes for the best-tasting protein shakes.

Making Your Protein Shake Taste Better

Ever wondered why certain flavors resonate more with our taste buds? Our taste buds have specific receptors that respond differently to various flavors. The science of taste is fascinating.

When we talk about enhancing the taste of protein powder, it's not just about masking the blandness but understanding how our taste system works.

By adding certain ingredients, we're essentially stimulating these receptors in a way that makes our protein shakes more palatable.

For those with dietary restrictions or allergies, it's essential to be aware of ingredients that might trigger allergies.

For instance, while adding nuts can enhance flavor, they're not suitable for everyone. But don't fret.

There are numerous alternatives available that cater to specific dietary needs. It's all about finding the right balance between taste and health.

So, as already promised, I have gathered some ideas over the years to come up with recipes to make whey protein shakes taste better.

1. Sweeten things up a bit

A spoon of honey

Now, I know what you’re thinking; I just mentioned that protein powders often taste bad because they have too many sweeteners.

But I was specifically referring to artificial sweetener options in protein shakes, and those tend to have a bad taste and can also pose some health risks.

I’ve discovered that a touch of natural sweetness can transform the taste of your whey protein shake.

By adding just a half spoon of organic honey, not only did the flavor profile enhance, but it also added a rich texture, making each gulp a delightful experience.

Just be careful not to add artificial sweeteners to your whey protein shakes as, according to the National Library of Medicine, it increases your risk of diabetes [1].

2. Make it a smoothie

A chocolate flavor smoothie on a glass

Part of my morning and breakfast routine is making a smoothie, and sometimes I make protein shakes taste better by combining them with them.

Each mix is a careful selection, ensuring not just taste but also a powerhouse of nutrition, making every sip a step towards a healthier you.

What you can do here is just make an extra cup or two, and once you have poured out part for your breakfast, blend the rest with your whey protein powder.

You’ll be surprised how little effort it takes to make protein shakes taste better with smoothies, and I usually have this part of my day done before my French press coffee is ready.

And here’s a little bonus tip: try adding a few spoons of peanut butter into the protein shake mix.

By the way, check out how Joe Duff transforms his boring powder into a sumptuous shake by watching the video below.

youtube

3. Create a milkshake

A cold glass of milkshake

While most whey protein powders are designed to be mixed with water, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t consider turning protein shakes into a milkshake.

In my experiments, I discovered that adding dairy milk improves flavor and boosts protein content, making each sip tastier and healthier.

Some studies revealed that the consumption of dairy products is associated with decreased prevalence of metabolic-related disorders [2].

Yet, being mindful of the calorie and fat intake, my personal pivot to sugar-free almond milk has been a game-changer.

One of the benefits of doing this is that almond milk substitute just seems to have a nicer consistency than water, and if you get a protein shake powder that mixes easily, then it will be a lot more pleasant to drink.

One big reminder, though, creating protein milkshakes doesn’t mean you can add ice cream.

4. Blend it with fresh fruit

fresh fruit smoothies on a table

The best part is that you can do a protein shake the night before and place it in the freezer.

Here’s what I usually do. I take a load of berries, bananas, and watermelon and then add some ice cubes.

This is all mixed in a food processor that is powerful enough to crush the ice cubes up as well.

Through my interactions and personal trials, adding yogurt or milk has always been a popular choice. However, the challenge of keeping it cool, especially post a rigorous workout, led me to innovative solutions that ensure each sip is as refreshing as it is nutritious.

5. Avoid the fancy sounding flavors

Two flavors of protein powder on a scoop

In my personal journey, I've tried many flavors, but I often prefer classic vanilla and chocolate. Even artificial vanilla flavor isn’t that bad at all.

What I mean by fancy-sounding is things like tropical passion fruit and mango in protein powder shakes.

If the protein shake ingredient sounds like something that belongs on a cocktail menu at a beach bar, then chances are that it’s just some dodgy artificial ingredients that make the protein shake incredibly sweet.

Alternatively, just stick with unflavored protein powder and use the above ideas to make it taste nice.

6. Mix unflavored protein with cocoa powder

cocoa powder on a spoon

I have found that some of the chocolate protein shakes taste better, but they then contain a fair bit of sugar as well. That can mess with your diet, and if you’re trying to get the reins on your body weight, then that just creates a hurdle.

One way around that is to use unflavored protein shake products and mix in some raw and unsweetened cocoa powder.

According to "Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease" research published in the National Library of Medicine, it can reduce your chances of getting diabetes [3].

If you get a really good quality cocoa powder, then the strong flavor means that you only need a very small amount to create nice tasty protein shakes.

7. Try adding more water or almond milk

Almond milk on a glass

One problem I have often found is that the instructions say to mix a scoop of protein powders with 8 ounces of water.

That can make the protein shake very thick and difficult to drink, especially when you’ve just finished a gym session and are thirsty.

So, how much water per scoop of protein powder do you need?

In many cases where I found the consistency a bit sickly or sweet, mixing it with 12 or 16 ounces of water improved things a lot, making the protein shakes taste better.

As your body will need the fluids anyway, it’s a good start to your recovery routine.

8. Invest in a good blender

A blending with smoothie mixed

Whether you’re mixing fruit, vegetables, or other food sources, a blender is going to be one of your best assets for a tasty protein shake.

No matter what diet you’re sticking with, you can provide yourself with the best possible start to the day along with healthy snacks in a matter of minutes.

As a fitness instructor, I always tell my clients that spending some money in this way is as important as having decent running shoes.

You’ll make it so much easier to create meal replacements, making protein shakes taste better that you’ll be looking forward to drinking.

9. Avoid the cheapest proteins

Chocolate Flavor Protein Powder

I’ve seen numerous individuals, in their quest for fitness, reach out for the most budget-friendly option on the supermarket shelf.

However, I always emphasize the importance of quality over price. It’s not just about filling your body but fueling it with the right nutrients for optimal performance and health.

Not only do these protein shake products most often taste the worst, but they also often contain proteins that were extracted using chemicals.

These types of protein shakes are inferior from a nutrition perspective, and I would generally recommend avoiding adding them to a fitness and diet regime.

Related: Fitness Hacks for a Healthy and Toned Body

Why Do Some Protein Powders Taste Bad?

There are two main reasons I have found that are early indicators that you’re in for not having such a pleasant experience with certain protein shakes.

First of all, if there are a lot of artificial sweeteners added to the protein shake, and the nutrition label has very difficult-to-pronounce chemicals on them, then 9 times out of 10 they will have that sickly sweet taste to them.

"For the average consumer, these sweeteners are not easily identified on a food label. Most processed products will be labeled “sugar-free,” but will contain an artificial sweetener."
- Dr. Peter Osborne

The other thing a lot of protein shake brands do is save production costs by not using natural flavors. Even the common vanilla, chocolate, and coffee protein shake options are often full of artificial flavors that simply taste nothing as you would expect.

Related Articles:

How to Make Pea Protein Powder?

If you want protein powder that tastes good, try and make your own pea protein. The great thing about making your pea protein powder is that you can add further ingredients to tailor it to your taste and dietary needs.

Materials Needed:

  • High-speed blender/food processor/spice grinder
  • Large glass mixing bowl
  • Organic green peas
  • Large baking tray
  • Sealable container
  • Paper towels

Preparation:

  • Rinse fresh organic green peas and soak overnight in a bowl of water.
  • After soaking, drain and rinse the peas, then spread them on wet paper towels in a bowl, cover, and allow to sprout at room temperature for 48 hours, away from direct sunlight.

Drying:

  • Preheat the oven to 115°F.
  • Spread the sprouted peas on a baking tray and dry in the oven for 12 hours until crunchy.

Grinding:

  • Blend the dried peas on high speed for 30 seconds until you get a fine powder, stirring if necessary.

Storage:

  • Store the pea protein powder in a sealable container.

FAQ

Protein Powders on a scoop

Can You Make Your Own Unflavored Protein Powder?

Yes, you can make your protein powder at home. However, the processes of drying and pulverizing the protein shake source ingredients can be quite tedious and time-consuming.

Having tried making protein shakes before with limited success, I generally advise buying a good quality protein shake product instead.

How Do You Add Flavor to Unflavored Protein?

You can add flavor to unflavored protein powder by adding it to a smoothie, mixing it with some yogurt, or blending it with a cup of mixed fruit. You can also add it to your favorite food, and a lot of athletes would mix the protein shake with breakfast cereal.

Can You Add Sugar in a Protein Shake?

Yes, you can add sugar to a protein shake, however, this would not help with any weight loss goals you have. A better option to sweeten it up a bit is to add a small amount of organic honey.

Does Protein Shake Powder Taste Better With Milk?

Yes, most people think that protein shake powder tastes better with milk than with water. My personal favorite is almond milk and a little bit of fruit as it gives it a smooth protein shake texture that is easier to drink.

What Is the Best Liquid to Mix With High-Quality Protein Powder?

Water is the best liquid to mix with high-quality protein powder from a nutrition perspective. Unlike almond milk, water won’t make the digestive absorption process of protein slow down, and after training, you want to get the amino acids to your muscles as fast as possible through the protein shake.

For more info, read our article on the best ways to mix your protein powder.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2951976/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3703276/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4696435/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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