Plain protein powder contains up to 5 grams of protein per tablespoon; it helps repair your muscles after a tough workout. Unfortunately, protein powder can have an unpleasant, bitter flavor and metallic aftertaste. Use healthful ingredients to flavor plain protein powder to mask the bitterness and make it more enjoyable.
The natural sugars in fruit disguise the taste of protein powder. Since fruit is low in calories, add enough to thicken your protein shake as well to hide the common gritty texture of the powder. If you use frozen fruit, your shake becomes even thicker. A cup serving of raspberries, for example, has just 64 calories with the bonus of 1.5 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber. Use your favorite fruits in conjunction with the water or milk called for on the protein powder’s packaging.
Plain, fat-free yogurt has a pleasant tang that complements the bitterness of protein powder. It takes some getting used to, though. If you don’t enjoy plain yogurt, use your favorite flavored low-fat variety. If you're not in the mood for a shake, combine the protein powder and yogurt in a blender and eat the mixture with a spoon. Alternately, add a bit of milk or water to thin the consistency, making the mix drinkable. Adding ice, in contrast, will make it thick enough to eat like ice cream.
You shouldn’t add chocolate syrup to protein powder, but unsweetened cocoa powder is healthy. Add 1 tablespoon for 12 calories, 1 gram of protein and 2 grams of fiber. Mix the cocoa and protein powders in advance for convenience or blend the cocoa into a prepared protein smoothie. If you don’t like unsweetened cocoa, a fat-free hot chocolate mix should do the trick. Like protein powder, cocoa doesn’t blend well without vigorous mixing. A blender or blender bottle is required for a smooth consistency.
Oats seem tasteless, but if you blend them with a protein shake, they impart an earthy flavor. Oats work best in smoothies that are mixed with milk, but water-based protein shakes benefit from them as well. Use 1/4 cup of rolled oats for 77 calories, 3 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. If the oats make your shake too gritty, boil them as many as three days in advance and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to make your shake. Cooked oats puree to a smoother consistency.
A drop of extract in your protein shake can make all the difference. Plain protein powder is neither sweet nor savory, so you can add whatever you want. A drop of vanilla extract is a simple choice. Pair it with almond extract for an indulgent appeal. Alternately, mint, cinnamon, coconut, anise, lemon, orange or coffee extracts are tasty on their own. To flavor your protein powder in advance, stir a drop of extract with the dry powder and shake it to blend thoroughly. You add about 10 calories with 1 teaspoon of extract.
Serena Styles is a Colorado-based writer who specializes in health, fitness and food. Speaking three languages and working on a fourth, Styles is pursuing a Bachelor's in Linguistics and preparing to travel the world. When Styles isn't writing, she can be found hiking, cooking or working as a certified nutritionist.