Learn how to make a whey protein shake at home with this quick and easy guide. Includes tips, ideas, and a customizable recipe for a DIY whey protein shake made with clean and healthy ingredients.
I love drinking whey protein shakes, because they are so convenient, satiating and are packed with nourishing ingredients. They make a healthy breakfast that will keep you feeling full and energized all morning. Protein shakes also help your muscles to heal and build after exercising and help refuel your energy.
What is Whey Protein?
Whey protein is the protein fraction of whey, which is a liquid that separates from milk during cheese production. It is a complete, high-quality protein that contains all of the essential amino acids. It is also very digestible, as it is absorbed from the gut quickly compared to other types of protein (source). These unique qualities make it one of the best dietary sources of protein available.
There are three main types of whey protein powder: Concentrate (WPC), Isolate (WPI), and Hydrolysate (WPH). Whey protein concentrate is the most common type and is also the least expensive. As a dietary supplement, whey protein is very popular among athletes, bodybuilders, and others who want additional protein in their diet.
Whey Protein Shake Ingredients
To make a whey protein shake, you will need:
- A cup of milk: I usually use whole organic dairy milk, but you can use any kind of milk you like. Unsweetened almond, coconut, soy, hemp, or any other type of plant-based milk are all fabulous options.
- A scoop of whey protein powder: If you can, choose organic whey protein powder that contains no additives, fillers, artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives. I love and use this one from Thrive Market.
- A banana: Bananas give smoothies an excellent consistency and are a great source of potassium and dietary fiber, so I always like to toss one in.
- One or two teaspoons of a natural, unrefined sweetener: I like to use honey, but you can substitute maple syrup or agave nectar. Alternatively, you can throw in a couple of pitted dates instead of a liquid sweetener.
- Half a cup of ice: I like to add ice because it helps thicken shakes. But, if I don’t have any ice in the freezer, I just make my shake without it.
- Optional add-ins: Any of the following ingredients can be mixed into a protein smoothie to give additional nutrition and/or flavor:
- Leafy Greens: Spinach and kale work very well in smoothies. Add about a cup per serving.
- Nut butter: Peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter add extra protein and healthy fats to shakes. Aim for one to two tablespoons per serving.
- Seeds: Chia seeds, ground flax seeds, and hemp hearts get blended nicely into shakes. Mix in one to two teaspoons per serving.
- Spices: A dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla taste delicious in smoothies.
- Fresh or frozen berries: Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries all work great. Add about half a cup per serving.
- Fresh fruit: Pineapple, mango, and peach are my favorite fruits to add to smoothies. Aim for half a cup per serving.
- Greek yogurt: I recommend using plain and unsweetened yogurt only, because a lot of flavored yogurts contain a ton of sugar. Alternatively, you could use plain cottage cheese instead. Add a quarter of a cup per serving.
- Collagen: Adding one or two scoops of collagen peptides to shakes and smoothies boosts their protein content further. Collagen is also known to improve the condition of skin, hair, nails, joints, ligaments, and is great for gut health. I recommend using one that is all-natural, unflavored, and unsweetened. I use this one from Thrive Market.
- Naturally-flavored powders: Raw cacao powder and matcha green tea powder are fantastic choices. Mix in one to two teaspoons per serving.
The ingredients I’ve linked to above can be ordered from Thrive Market, which is an impressive online store that sells healthy, organic food and natural products at 25-50% below retail prices. I like to think of it like Amazon (online retailer) meets Costco (low, wholesale prices) meets Whole Foods (all nutritious, junk-free foods).
If you want to purchase anything from them, you will need to sign up for a Thrive Market membership. However, if you’re a reader of my website, you will get an exclusive bonus when you join:
How to Make a Whey Protein Shake
To make a homemade whey protein shake, simply:
- Add the base ingredients and any of the optional add-ins to a blender.
- Blend until smooth and serve.
That’s it! A smoothie is quite possibly the easiest healthy meal to make at home. 🙂
How to Make this Recipe with Vanilla Protein Powder
If you want to use vanilla protein powder instead of plain protein powder in this recipe, you definitely can. I recommend using a high-quality vanilla protein powder that is naturally flavored and sweetened, like this one from Thrive Market.
To make your shake, simply make the recipe as written below (using a scoop of vanilla protein powder instead of unflavored protein powder), but omit the sweetener and don’t add any vanilla extract. If your protein shake is not sweet enough after you’ve blended it, then feel free to sweeten it to taste with a natural sweetener.
Tips for Making Whey Protein Shakes
Here are my top recommendations for making homemade whey protein shakes:
- When adding your ingredients to your blender, always add the liquid first near the blades. This will help your blender to run a bit more easily whenever you are making a shake.
- Use a good-quality, high-powered blender such as a Vitamix or a Ninja that will easily break up frozen fruit, vegetables, ice, and any other dense ingredients into oblivion.
- If you don’t think you need a high-powered blender, an individual-sized blender such as a Magic Bullet is a great alternative. The biggest benefits of using a small blender are that it will help you save time on clean-up, it takes up less counter space, and it’s much less expensive than a big fancy countertop blender.
Homemade Protein Shake Recipes To Try
Looking for some homemade protein shake inspiration? Here are some of my favorites:
- Banana Protein Shake
- Chocolate Protein Shake
- Green Protein Shake
- Strawberry Protein Shake
- Vanilla Protein Shake
Whey Protein Shake FAQ
Here are some common questions (with answers!) that you might have about whey protein shakes:
Are whey protein shakes good for you?
Absolutely! Whey protein shakes are an terrific choice for breakfast, a snack, or meal replacement. All adults need around 46-56 grams of protein each day (source) and protein shakes are an excellent way to meet that requirement. Whey protein also promotes muscle growth, helps reduce hunger, may lower blood pressure, may help reduce inflammation, and can help you lose weight (source).
For maximum health benefits, make sure the whey protein powder you use is free from additives, hormones, artificial sweeteners, and fillers. Lastly, always remember that organic is best. As I stated earlier, my favorite whey protein powder is this one from Thrive Market.
Are whey protein shakes good for weight loss?
As long as protein shakes are made with clean, junk-free ingredients, they can aid weight loss. Increased consumption of protein may promote fat loss by:
- Suppressing appetite, which leads to reduced calorie intake (source).
- Helping to maintain muscle mass while losing weight (source).
- Boosting metabolism, which helps you burn more calories (source, source).
Whey protein may have even greater effects on weight loss than other types of protein (source, source). So it is an excellent way to get complete, high-quality protein into your diet, which can help you to lose weight.
Should you drink a protein shake before or after a workout?
Many people consume protein shakes along with their workouts, as protein is necessary for muscle repair and growth. However, the ideal time to have a protein shake is a largely debated topic. Some people believe it is best to drink a protein shake before a workout, while other people argue that after a workout is a better choice.
Interestingly, recent research suggests the amount of protein you consume per day is more important than when you consume it for gaining muscle mass (source). Therefore, as long as you consume protein around your workout, it doesn’t matter if it’s before or after training. I always like to have a protein shake after exercise, but that’s just what works for me.
If you make this Whey Protein Shake recipe, let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating ★ below, because I love hearing from you! ♡
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How to Make a Whey Protein Shake
- 1 cup milk, of choice
- 1 banana
- 1/2 cup ice
- 1 scoop plain whey protein powder
- 2 teaspoons honey, maple syrup or agave nectar
- Spinach or kale
- Any nut butter
- Chia seeds, ground flaxseed or hemp hearts
- Vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg
- Fresh or frozen berries/sliced fruit
- Plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese
- Collagen peptides
- Raw cacao powder or matcha green tea powder
- Add base ingredients and any of the optional add-ins to a blender.
- Blend until smooth and serve immediately.
- For easy blending, add the milk first near the blades when adding the ingredients to your blender.
- Vanilla protein powder can be substituted for the plain protein powder. If you’re going to do that though, I recommend omitting the natural sweetener from the recipe and not adding any vanilla extract.
- Nutritional facts below are calculated using only the base ingredients (none of the optional add-ins are included).
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