How to make something that tastes good while still being good for you is a dilemma as old as both cuisine and health. If the thought of protein powders makes you think of a gritty and overwhelming slog, you aren’t alone. But a protein powder shake doesn’t have to be bad for you, and there are plenty of ways you can seek out a protein powder that’s well-matched to your taste buds.
Texture is Important
That grittiness we talked about above doesn’t have to be a certainty with a protein shake. The gritty consistency tends to occur more in plant-based protein powders because they’re derived from plants rather than milk. That said, the grit of a protein powder can vary, and some proteins like brown rice tend to be very smooth.
If you don’t like the texture of your protein powder, there are a few things you can do to make your shake more palatable. Toss it in the blender, change the ratio of powder to water, or try to mix in some ingredients that will help smooth out the texture. The protein content will be the same, so you may as well experiment to find a flavor profile you love.
So is Flavoring
The texture of different proteins may vary, but the taste is essentially a bland nothing no matter what protein is being used. Isolated proteins are essentially tasteless and defined solely by their texture. The trick for a protein powder manufacturer is to balance the need to add flavor without also adding in a bunch of sugars and carbohydrates that could offset the health benefits of using a protein powder in the first place.
The most common mistake when flavoring a protein powder is to pack it with artificial sweeteners. While these can do a basic job of approximating flavors like chocolate and vanilla, the end results are often chemical and don’t actually replicate natural sweetness. The market is positively flooded with dessert-flavored protein powders that are a chore to consume.
Temperature Matters Too
Protein powder is a powder first and foremost, and that means that it doesn’t just disperse evenly into water. While finer textures can help keep a more solid consistency and flavor, a protein shake or smoothie that’s been left to sit is still going to cause it to start to settle. Keeping your protein shake at a chill temperature and stirring it if it’s been sitting out is the best way to ensure that the flavor you’re tasting is the flavor the designer intended.
Variety is Essential
Having to eat the same thing day in and day out would drive a lot of people insane, and that’s especially true if your meal is just a shake or a smoothie. Even a delicious protein powder will likely taste worse when you have it day in and day out, and protein powders are usually packaged in huge containers.
You can remedy this issue by mixing up your formula. If you want to try stirring in fruit or other ingredients, you might be best off starting with a more neutral flavor that can support a variety of different combinations. Or you could invest in a protein powder that comes plain and is supplemented by flavor enhancers. Being able to dress your powder from scratch gives you a much larger canvas to work with.
It’s Ultimately Down to You
What makes a protein powder taste good is really just about what you think tastes good. Take the time to experiment, not just with different powders but by mixing in almond milk instead of water or sprucing it up with fruit or dark greens. With a little research and a little imagination, you can find the best tasting protein powder for your sensibilities.