In a world that’s constantly on the move, just remembering to eat is nearly half the battle. Americans often turn to convenience foods they can just grab-n-go or drive up to order. While it’s totally OK to eat what’s handy, it’s also important to pay attention to what you’re putting in your body. Plus, there’s no reason to sacrifice nutrition when there are so many awesome protein supplements available like ready to drink protein shakes.
Like you, we’re obsessed with packing our pantry with the best supplements around. To do that, learning about the ingredients listed on nutrition shake labels is a must. Many of the ready to drink protein shakes on the market are often high in calories and loaded with fillers that don’t help with muscle recovery or provide a quality dose of protein. So if that doesn’t make it hard enough to navigate the protein supplement market, your head will definitely spin over the options: plant or animal protein, pay more or pay less, the list goes on. We’re here to clear the air; let this be your go-to guide for choosing the best ready to drink protein shake.
And keep reading for a bonus recipe at the end!
Should I choose a vegan or animal-based protein shake?
Animal-based protein shakes are comprised of milk proteins, casein and whey. Dairy proteins often contain lactose, a milk sugar that some people have trouble digesting. You may also find egg and egg white proteins available on the market.
Plant-based proteins are made up of amino acids derived from plant sources. Sometimes you’ll find one single variety of plant protein, while other nutrition shakes may have a blend of plant proteins. Plant-based protein supplements are considered vegan and vegetarian and are naturally lactose free.
Which nutrition shake will help the most with muscle recovery?
Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle. We need the amino acids that make up proteins to aid in muscle recovery and fuel workouts. Without those specific amino acids you may be blunting your potential. Special attention should be given to the amino acid Leucine, which is the rate limiting amino acid required for growth and muscle recovery. If your protein shake is not rich in Leucine you may want to send it back.
Why do some protein supplements have so many ingredients?
News flash, poor quality protein powders don’t taste good. Nor do they have an enjoyable mouth feel or easy mixability. For that reason, supplement manufacturers often use fillers, binders, preservatives, colors, flavors and sweeteners to improve these qualities. On top of that, those *extra* ingredients can significantly reduce the cost. That puts more money in the pockets of the supplement companies’, not yours.
While some additional ingredients are beneficial to the final product, not all of them are needed. Like food products, sometimes the best supplements are the ones with a shorter ingredient list, which means a better quality health product for you.
What ingredients do I look for in a vegan protein shake?
Vegan protein shakes should be void of any ingredients derived from animals like egg, shellfish, fish, dairy, and the like. Take it a step further by picking a vegan protein shake that is also free from allergens including soy, rice, nuts, tree nuts, artificial flavors and colors. In addition, make sure the plant proteins used in your nutrition shake are high in Leucine -- the most important amino acid required for muscle recovery and growth.
Pea protein is a high quality plant protein that is made by extracting the proteins from yellow peas. It contains all 9 essential amino acids including Leucine, and is also rich in iron – bonus! Plus, the digestibility rating for pea protein is at the top of plant protein list – which means your body can use more of it. Picking a protein shake with pea protein as a main ingredient is a solid choice for protein supplements and muscle recovery.
What are the top 5 things to pay attention to when it comes to the perfect ready-to-drink protein shake?
When shopping for a Ready to Drink Protein Shake, always consider the following:
- Choose a shake that follows your personal taste, preferences, lifestyle and health needs. If you don’t like it, you won’t drink it, which means it won’t work for you anyway. So you’re better off picking a nutrition shake with ingredients that are important to you, not based on price point.
- In order to build muscle and recover from your workouts at max potential, you need an abundance of the amino acid Leucine in your diet. Choose a protein shake that is rich in Leucine like Pea protein.
- Look for nutrition shakes with short(er) ingredient lists. This will help insure you’re getting quality ingredients without extra unnecessary fillers that only put money in the manufacturers pockets.
- Choose a vegan protein shake that is rich in pea protein – it will be easier to digest and can aid muscle recovery after a strenuous workout.
- Pick a protein shake that is low in calories. Ready to drink protein shakes are a convenient protein source. That means they shouldn’t have extra ingredients like fats and carbs that ramp up the calorie content. Find a shake that is a healthy dose of protein without the rest. Equally as important is a delicious flavor and creamy texture.
What is the best time to use a ready to drink shake?
Ready to drink protein shakes are a convenient dose of protein you can use in a pinch, or any time you choose. Did your meeting run late, right through lunch? Stuck in traffic and starving on the way home from work? Are you always rushed in the AM and need a quick dose of protein with your coffee and toast for breakfast? Or toss one in your gym bag as your pre- and/or post-workout fuel. Ready to drink protein shakes are perfect on the go because there’s no blender needed and many don’t need to be refrigerated. Yet if you are feeling adventurous, you can give it a whirl in your blender with your fave fruits, natural sprinkles (chia seeds, hemp or flax), nut butters and even some dark chocolate.
Grab a PlantFusion 12-pack of both our creamy vanilla bean and rich chocolate vegan protein ready to drink shakes today and pop ‘em in your fridge at work for a no-excuses convenient protein shake that will get you through the day, right to your workout and sooth sore muscles.
Try delicious PlantFusion creamy vanilla bean as a non-dairy, low-sugar coffee creamer. Stir it in your morning brew and watch it bring on the smiles.
Iced Pumpkin Spice Vegan Protein Latte
3 teaspoons instant espresso or instant coffee
¼ cup 100% pumpkin puree
1-teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Blend ingredients (except ice) in blender. Pour over ice. Enjoy! For a smoothie consistency, blend the ice into the rest of the ingredients to desired consistency.