10 Delicious Protein Shake Alternatives for Your Workout

Berry smoothie: an alternative for protein shake

 

Whether you're aiming to build muscle, aid in muscle repair, or simply refuel after a grueling gym session, protein is your ally. Protein shakes have long been hailed as a convenient and effective means of replenishing protein stores - but what are some protein shake alternatives?

If you're seeking variety or have dietary preferences extending beyond traditional shakes, you may be looking for an alternative for protein shakes. That’s why we’ve created a list of 10 delicious protein shake alternatives for your workout. 

While protein shakes undeniably hold their place in the fitness world, our exploration goes beyond the blender, showcasing easy ways to get more protein without sacrificing taste or nutritional value. 

10 tasty protein shake alternatives to try 

From yogurt-based smoothies to nut butter blends and inventive uses of ingredients like cottage cheese and tofu, there's a world of protein shake alternatives waiting to be explored. Here are some of the best protein shake alternatives:  

1. Whole food smoothies

Whole food smoothies offer a refreshing and nutritious alternative for protein shakes, providing health benefits beyond just protein. 

Incorporating ingredients like yogurt as a protein source adds creaminess and a tangy flavor profile while delivering essential amino acids crucial for muscle repair and growth. Plus, yogurt contains probiotics that support gut health, enhancing overall digestion and nutrient absorption. 

Protein shake alternatives: green juice smoothie

Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are an excellent low-calorie protein source to add to smoothies. While not typically considered high-protein foods, they contribute a notable amount of protein to your diet. Leafy greens contain about 2-3 grams of protein per cup (raw). 

Some leafy greens that are relatively higher in protein include: 

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Swiss chard

Plus, leafy greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which fortify the body's defense against oxidative stress and inflammation and promote optimal recovery post-workout. 

How do you prepare a protein-packed smoothie? Blend yogurt with leafy greens and other nutrient-dense ingredients like fruits, nuts, and seeds. Mix in water or milk as desired to achieve your preferred consistency. 

2. Nut butter blends or mixed nuts

Nut butter blends and mixed nuts are a nutrient-rich alternative for protein shakes, offering health benefits and versatility. Nut butter, made from almonds, peanuts, cashews, or other nuts, contains essential nutrients including protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. 

These creamy spreads elevate the flavor profile of post-workout drinks and provide a substantial dose of satiating protein to support muscle repair and recovery. 

Protein shake alternative: almond nut butter

Mixed nuts also offer a convenient and portable option for high-protein, dairy-free snacks, making them an excellent choice for individuals with dietary restrictions or preferences. 

Packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants, mixed nuts provide sustained energy and promote feelings of fullness, making them ideal for refueling after exercise or as a convenient on-the-go option. 

Whether enjoyed on their own or blended into smoothies or shakes, nut butter blends and mixed nuts offer a flavorful and nourishing solution for those seeking protein shake alternatives that cater to their dietary needs.

3. Cottage cheese 

Cottage cheese is a versatile, protein-rich ingredient that can seamlessly transition into a protein shake alternative. With its high protein content, cottage cheese is an excellent option for those seeking to elevate their post-workout routine or incorporate more protein into their diet. 

Half a cup of cottage cheese can provide around 14 grams of protein, making it a powerhouse ingredient for muscle repair and recovery.

Protein shake alternative: cottage cheese in a bowl and berries

Incorporating cottage cheese into smoothies presents a creative and delicious way to enjoy its benefits, but cottage cheese with salt and pepper or even mixed with peaches is still a delightful way to get more protein. 

To make a protein smoothie with cottage cheese, blend it with fruits like berries, bananas, or mangoes for a refreshing and protein-packed beverage. 

For a thicker consistency, use frozen fruit or add ice. You can also experiment with adding other ingredients like spinach, cocoa powder, or nut butter to enhance flavor and nutrient density.

Whether enjoyed solo or combined with other nutritious ingredients, cottage cheese offers a convenient and versatile option for protein shake alternatives. 

4. Tofu and silken tofu shakes

Tofu is a great plant-based protein shake alternative. It is derived from soybeans and has an impressive protein content, making it an excellent choice for individuals looking to increase their protein intake without relying on animal products. 

With its neutral taste and smooth texture, tofu is a blank canvas for crafting satisfying shakes that cater to diverse taste preferences.

Silken tofu, in particular, lends itself well to blending into smoothies, adding a creamy consistency similar to yogurt. Whether blended with fruits, vegetables, or other ingredients like nut butter, tofu-based shakes offer a convenient and delicious solution for meeting protein goals for weight loss or muscle building.

5. Oatmeal protein bowls

Oatmeal protein bowls are a hearty and satisfying way to meet your protein needs while indulging in a comforting breakfast or post-workout meal. While oats are commonly known for their fiber-rich and filling properties, they also contain a notable amount of protein.

Protein shake alternatives: oatmeal bowls with delicious fruits and fresh berries

On average, one cup of cooked oats contains around 6 grams of protein. This protein content may vary slightly depending on the type of oats (e.g., rolled oats, steel-cut oats), cooking method, and any additional ingredients added.

Add protein-rich toppings or mix-ins such as Greek yogurt, nuts, seeds, or nut butter to boost the protein content of oat-based meals or snacks. Alternatively, blend oats into a smoothie bowl with yogurt or tofu, fruits, and nut butter for a refreshing and nourishing post-workout treat.

6. Quinoa 

Highlighting quinoa's protein and nutrient profile reveals its potential as a valuable addition to your diet, particularly for those seeking protein shake alternatives. 

Quinoa is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids necessary for muscle repair, growth, and overall health. It is also packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it a wholesome and nourishing option for fueling your body.

Protein shake alternative: quinoa tabbouleh salad with tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers

Blend cooked quinoa with fruits like berries, bananas, or mangoes, along with your choice of milk or dairy-free alternatives, to create a creamy and protein-packed smoothie. 

By incorporating quinoa into protein shake alternatives, individuals can enjoy a nutrient-dense beverage that supports their protein goals and provides a range of health benefits.

7. Hard-boiled eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are a convenient source of complete protein that supports muscle recovery. They contain essential amino acids vital for repairing and building muscle tissue, and there are 6 grams of protein per large egg.

Protein shake alternative: whole grain toast with avocado, egg, white cheese

Consider blending hard-boiled eggs with ingredients like milk or dairy-free alternatives, fruits, vegetables, and a touch of honey or maple syrup for sweetness. This creates a smooth and satisfying beverage, but depending on your chosen ingredients, it may retain an eggy flavor. 

Many people prefer to eat hard-boiled eggs independently as a snack, on a salad, on whole-grain toast, or with whole-grain crackers. 

8. Protein-packed fruit blends

High-protein fruits like bananas and berries provide a sweet and satisfying flavor and a boost of plant-based protein. 

Bananas, for instance, offer approximately 1.3 grams of protein per medium-sized fruit, while berries like strawberries and raspberries contribute about 1 gram of protein per cup.

Protein shake alternatives: mango strawberry banana fruit shake

Fruit-based shake recipes offer endless possibilities for creating refreshing post-workout beverages that cater to your tastes and dietary needs. Still, fruit alone likely won’t help you meet your protein goals. For an extra boost, combine high-protein fruits with ingredients like yogurt, almond milk, spinach, and hemp seeds. 

Hemp seeds are considered a rich source of a complete plant-based protein. On average, a 30-gram serving of hemp seeds contains around 9-10 grams of protein. They are also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health and reducing inflammation.

9. Beans

Beans have a high protein content and fiber-rich composition and provide a sustainable energy source, promoting feelings of fullness and satiety. Whether you prefer black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, or lentils, there's a bean variety to suit every taste preference and dietary need.

Protein shake alternative: salmon with white beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, and arugula salad

Incorporating beans into your diet as protein shake alternatives can be as simple as blending them into savory or sweet beverages, using them as a spread or dip, or making a bean salad. 

Try creating a creamy black bean smoothie with cocoa powder, banana, and almond milk for a delicious and nutritious post-workout treat. Or whip up a refreshing chickpea-based shake with mango, coconut water, and a hint of lime for a tropical twist.

By harnessing the power of beans as protein shake alternatives, you can enjoy a convenient and satisfying option that fuels your body with essential nutrients and supports your fitness goals. 

10. Liquid collagen protein shots

Liquid collagen protein shots provide a quick and efficient way to boost your protein intake on the go. They are designed to deliver a concentrated dose of protein in a compact and portable form, making them ideal for busy individuals or those looking for a convenient post-workout refuel. 

The benefits of liquid collagen extend beyond protein supplementation. Collagen is a vital structural protein that supports skin, joint, and connective tissue health. 

Protein shake alternatives: Frog Fuel liquid collagen protein shots

Liquid protein shots provide your body with essential amino acids for muscle repair and growth but also promote overall wellness and vitality.

With their convenient packaging and potent protein content, liquid collagen protein shots offer a convenient and effective option for those seeking protein shake alternatives. 

Enjoy one as a quick post-workout boost or as a convenient snack between meals. Liquid protein shots provide a convenient and efficient way to meet your protein needs while supporting your active lifestyle.

FAQs about protein shake alternatives

Do protein shake alternatives offer the same benefits as protein shakes?

Protein shake alternatives can offer similar benefits as traditional protein shakes, depending on their nutritional content and how they fit into an individual's diet and fitness goals. 

While protein shakes are often convenient and provide a quick source of protein, alternatives like yogurt-based smoothies, liquid collagen protein, nut butter blends, or whole food options may offer additional nutrients and dietary variety. 

Consider protein content, ingredients, and personal preferences when determining which option best supports your health and fitness objectives.

Is it possible to build muscle without protein powder?

Yes, building muscle without relying on protein powder is entirely possible. Whole foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts, eggs, tofu, legumes, and seeds are excellent sources of protein that can support muscle growth and repair. 

These foods provide essential nutrients and protein contributing to overall health and fitness. A well-balanced diet that meets individual protein needs, regular resistance training, and adequate rest is key to building muscle effectively without the need for protein powder supplementation.

Can I substitute protein shakes for my meals?

While protein shakes can be convenient meal replacements in certain situations, they should not replace whole-food meals entirely. 

Whole foods provide a broader range of nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals essential for overall health and satiety. Regularly replacing meals with protein shakes may lead to nutrient deficiencies and an imbalance in dietary intake. 

However, protein shakes can serve as occasional meal replacements or snacks when whole foods are unavailable or inconvenient. Still, it's essential to prioritize a diverse and balanced diet for optimal nutrition and overall well-being.

Athlete drinking Frog Fuel liquid collagen protein - one of the protein shake alternatives

What are some easy ways to get more protein? 

Incorporating protein-rich foods into your diet is an easy way to boost your protein intake. 

Include sources such as: 

  • Lean meats
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Liquid collagen 
  • Legumes
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Edamame

With various options available, increasing your protein intake can be both convenient and delicious.


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