Protein shakes are a great way to get in extra protein, supplement a healthy diet or even replace a meal for weight loss. But if the shake is grainy and tastes bad, you won't likely stick to your new healthy habit and that container of protein powder may go to waste. Knowing a few tricks will help you create a creamy, delicious protein shake every time.
When you're mixing a protein shake, the order you add ingredients and the way you mix them together is significant. Whenever possible, use a blender to mix your shake. It ensures all ingredients are broken down well and it will disperse the protein granules evenly in the shake. The Food Network website notes to put milk in the blender first, followed by the powder on top. If the powder is at the bottom of the blender, chunks can build up on the bottom and side of the blender and may leave the texture less than desirable. Another alternative is to put in the milk, turn on the blender and then gradually add the protein powder into the running blender through the small hole on the top of the blender cap.
Types of Liquid
If a grainy protein shake discourages you from drinking it, try using a different milk or adding yogurt. Using water with your protein powder will tend to make the shake runny, thin and gritty in texture. Sometimes fat-free milk can make shakes watery and grainy as well. If using non-fat milk, try substituting 1/3 of the total volume of liquid with non-fat or Greek yogurt. Since yogurt is a good source of protein, you'll stay low in calories, high in protein and get an extra creamy mouth feel. Another alternative is to use a non-dairy milk, such as almond milk, which naturally has a creaminess to it.
Sometimes getting the texture right on a protein shake can be accomplished by adding other ingredients. An emulsifier can help to disguise the gritty nature of protein powder and make the shake smoother. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, an emulsifier keeps different liquids and particulates suspended evenly in one another and improves the consistency of the product. A banana or a tablespoon of creamy peanut or almond butter make great emulsifiers to add to the shake in the blender.
Another thing that can make your shake gritty is if it sits to long. Think about a bottle of salad dressing. When it sits, the layers begin to separate -- oil on the top and water on the bottom. You have to shake the bottle well to mix the layers. The same will be true of your protein shake. The molecules of powder are held in suspension in the shake. As it sits, the heavier molecules begin to settle out. This makes the texture more uneven and grainy. So for the best texture, consume your shake immediately after mixing and if it sits for too long, blend it again.
Erica Kannall is a registered dietitian and certified health/fitness specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine. She has worked in clinical nutrition, community health, fitness, health coaching, counseling and food service. She holds a Bachelor of Science in clinical dietetics and nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.