The Healthiest Protein Shakes

Picking Healthy Protein Shakes

Protein shakes have surged in popularity in recent years for good reason - they offer an easy, nutritious option to help with goals like weight loss, muscle building, or simply getting adequate protein in your diet. However, with the market now flooded with seemingly endless protein shake options, it can be tricky to determine what makes for the healthiest pick.

What to Look for in a Healthy Protein Shake

A protein shake, meal replacement, or post-workout drink may brag about having lots of protein, but don't let marketing claims fool you. Here are the key elements to examine to determine if a shake lives up to its healthy promises:

High-Quality Protein Sources

Pay attention to the specific types of protein used in the shake. The highest quality options include:

  • Whey protein: Made from dairy, whey offers essential amino acids needed to repair and build muscle. Look for shakes featuring whey protein concentrate or isolate.

  • Soy protein: provides a complete amino acid profile shown to build muscle, promote fat loss, support heart health, regulate blood sugar, and be gentle for those who are lactose-intolerant or have kidney issues.
  • Plant proteins: Vegan shakes utilize proteins like soy, pea, hemp, or rice. These can be just as effective as whey for muscle gain and fat loss.

  • Blends: Some shakes combine dairy and plant-based proteins to optimize amino acid profile. An example is whey and soy or pea protein.

Ideally the protein comes from organic, non-GMO sources when possible for minimal contaminants.

Limited Artificial Ingredients

Watch out for shakes packed with added sugars, preservatives, stabilizers, and other fillers. Instead, the healthiest picks feature more natural, recognizable ingredients. Things like cocoa powder, nut butters, avocado, and fruits add nutritional value.

Important Vitamins and Nutrients

Quality protein shakes deliver more than just protein - they also contain vital micronutrients. These include:

  • Calcium and iron for bone health and oxygen circulation
  • B vitamins like B12 for energy and metabolism
  • Fiber to support digestive health
  • Heart-healthy fats like coconut or olive oil
  • Probiotics to nourish gut flora

Low in Sugar and Calories

Just because a shake has superfoods added doesn’t mean it’s healthy if it also contains excess calories or added sugars. When possible:

  • Select shakes with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving
  • Keep an eye on calorie counts depending on your goals
  • Avoid sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners

The Healthiest Protein Shake Options

Now that you know what properties make up a nutritious protein shake, let’s review some smart choices in different categories:

Our Favorite Healthy Shakes

We've researched the top healthiest protein shakes available. Our top picks include:

Cookies and Cream Shake - New Direction

Benefits and Reviews: The New Direction Cookies and Cream protein shake is a versatile and delicious meal replacement shake. It's not just a protein supplement but a delightful treat that complements a busy lifestyle. With its cookies and cream flavor, it offers a unique taste experience and can be enjoyed both as a shake or transformed into a creamy pudding, adding variety to your diet.

Nutritional Information:

  • Protein: Packed with 27g of protein per serving, supporting muscle growth and recovery.
  • Calories: Contains only 200 calories per serving, aiding in weight management.
  • Sugar: Low sugar content with just 4g per serving.
  • Fiber: Includes 3g of fiber per serving, beneficial for digestive health.
  • Other Nutrients: Fortified with essential vitamins and minerals for a well-rounded nutritional profile.
  • Special Features: Diabetic-friendly and suitable as a portion-controlled bariatric meal replacement. It's a convenient choice, with 7 servings per box, providing a week's worth of nutritious meals.

Chocolate Banana Frappe - Numetra

Benefits and Reviews: The Numetra Chocolate Banana Frappe is an excellent choice for a healthy protein shake, offering a high-protein (20g), low-calorie option designed for weight loss. This meal replacement shake is a favorite for its indulgent blend of rich chocolate and sweet banana, providing a satisfying and convenient option that's both diet-friendly and packed with essential nutrients.

Nutritional Information:

  • Protein: Each serving is high in protein, with 20g per serving, aiding in fullness and muscle health.
  • Calories: Contains just 160 calories per serving.
  • Flavor: Offers a delightful taste with its chocolate and banana combination.
  • Preparation: Easy to prepare, simply add water for a quick meal or snack.
  • Nutrients: Nutrient-dense, packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Versatility: Suitable as a meal replacement or snack, and designed for weight loss including bariatric and diabetic diets.
  • Bariatric-Friendly: An ideal choice for those on a bariatric liquid diet.

Hazelnut Cocoa Shake - AmBari Nutrition

Benefits and Reviews: The Hazelnut Cocoa protein shake is an healthy option for those looking to manage their weight while satisfying their cravings. This shake is celebrated for its delicious blend of roasted hazelnut and cocoa flavors, making it not just a nutritious choice but also a delightful treat. Its formulation is designed to support weight loss by being low in calories and high in protein, along with being enriched with essential vitamins and minerals.

Nutritional Information:

  • Protein: Contains 15g of protein per serving, aiding in muscle maintenance and satiety.
  • Calories: Low-calorie content with only 100 calories per serving.
  • Flexibility: Can be enjoyed as a pudding or a shake, adding versatility to your meal options.
  • Other Nutrients: Rich in vitamins and nutrients, contributing to overall health.
  • Special Features: This shake is popular in the bariatric community and supports weight loss goals as a healthy meal replacement. It mixes easily with water or non-fat milk, making it a convenient option.

Lemon Razzy Protein Fruit Drink

Benefits and Reviews: The Lemon Razzy Protein Fruit Drink is a refreshing and healthy protein shake choice for those managing medical weight loss and diabetes. This drink stands out with its unique blend of tart lemon and sweet raspberry flavors, offering a sugar-free option that doesn't compromise on taste. It's a delightful alternative for those who want a fruity and flavorful protein boost without added sugars.

Nutritional Information:

  • Protein: Each serving provides 15g of protein, essential for a balanced diet.
  • Calories: It's a low-calorie option with only 70 calories per serving.
  • Fat and Sugar: Contains 0g of fat and less than 1g of sugar, making it a smart choice for a healthy diet.
  • Other Benefits: Specifically formulated as a diabetic-friendly protein fruit drink and suitable for bariatric liquid phase diets, it combines nutrition with convenience, offering 7 servings per box.

Bariatric Advantage Protein Shakes

Benefits and Reviews: Bariatric Advantage HPMR Protein Shakes are a popular choice for those seeking a nutritious meal replacement. These shakes are praised for their convenience, available in 28-serving bags with a measured scoop for precise dispensing. They are specifically designed to cater to individuals with milk sugar digestion concerns, being lactose-free. The premium whey protein isolate, a key ingredient, ensures a high-quality protein supply without the inclusion of soy protein, making these shakes a top pick for health-conscious consumers.

Nutritional Information:

  • Protein: Each serving delivers a substantial 27g of protein.
  • Calories: With only 150 to 160 calories per serving, they are an ideal choice for calorie control.
  • Carbohydrates: Contains 11g of carbohydrates, including 5g of fiber and only 1g of sugar.
  • Fat: A low 1.5g of fat per serving.
  • Other Nutrients: These shakes are fortified with 23 essential vitamins and minerals, covering 15 to 50 percent of the daily value.
  • Variety and Use: Available in multiple flavors like Banana, Chocolate, Cookies & Cream, Iced Latte, Orange, Strawberry, and Vanilla. They are perfect for various meal replacements and are ideal for pre-surgery preparation and post-surgery nutrition.

DIY Protein Shakes

You can easily craft satisfying and healthy protein shakes at home too. Blend a scoop of your favorite protein powder with nutritious mix-ins like:

  • Frozen berries + almond butter + greens powder
  • Cocoa powder + avocado + collagen peptides
  • Chia seeds + coconut milk + vanilla protein

The options are endless! Get creative.

Shakes for Specialized Diets

People following specific diets or with certain health conditions may benefit from tailored shakes. For example:

Key Takeaways

When you're looking for healthy protein shakes, carefully check the ingredient list and nutrition panel instead of hype-filled marketing claims. Prioritize options with high-quality proteins, beneficial superfoods instead of artificial additives, and essential vitamins and minerals. There are plenty of options to choose from, and AmBari Nutrition is a great resource to keep researching protein shakes or to make a purchase!

Writer: Carrie H.

Carrie is a dedicated health and nutrition writer with a strong background in medical and scientific research. She is driven by a passion for helping others lead healthier lives, diving into the latest scientific research. Combining evidence-based knowledge with practical advice, Carrie strives to provide accurate and valuable information on health, nutrition, and wellness. Her ultimate aim is to empower readers, enabling them to make informed choices about their well-being.

Edited & Reviewed By: Dr. Huffman

Dr. Kevin D. Huffman, D.O., is a leading board-certified bariatric physician with extensive expertise in treating obesity. He has trained countless healthcare providers and founded American Bariatric Consultants to develop protocols and training materials sought by medical societies, pharmaceutical companies, patients, and hospitals. Dr. Huffman's impact extends beyond patient care as he prepares physicians for board certification, expanding access to this vital treatment.

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