If you ever tried one of your mom’s weight-loss shakes when you were a kid, you probably remember them being chalky and disgusting. Well, these ain’t your mama’s shakes.
A good shake is all about nailing the right mix of simple, high-quality ingredients, says Andrew Abraham, MD, an integrated medicine doc and founder of Orgain protein shakes.
“When you’re trying to lose weight, protein is the most important nutrient,” he explains. “It increases satiety, prevents spikes in blood sugar, and helps build lean muscle, which will increase your metabolism.”
What are the best ingredients to look for in a protein shake?
You can use a plant-based protein powder (pea, chia, or brown rice) or an animal protein powder (whey, casein, or collagen), depending on your tastes, but make sure it’s free from hormones, additives, fillers, and ingredients you can’t pronounce, he says, adding that organic is best.
Don’t like protein powder? “That’s fine,” says Juliana Shalek, MS, RD, CDN. “But then there has to be a food source of protein in there, like peanut butter, almond butter, plain greek yogurt, a little cottage cheese, or chia seeds,” Shalek says.
The next most important ingredient for weight loss is fiber, Dr. Abraham says. It also helps keep you full, nixes cravings, and keeps your gut healthy. Fruits and veggies are the best source of fiber and nutrients.
What you don’t want: added sugars and other empty carbs. “Contrary to what you might think, you don’t have to add a lot of sweeteners to make a shake taste good,” he says. “If you use high-quality ingredients, it will taste good on its own.” It’s okay to add a sprinkle of stevia, monkfruit, or erythritol as these natural calorie-free sweeteners won’t mess with your blood sugar, but take a hard pass on artificial sweeteners, he adds.
It’s also important to keep in mind that smoothies and shakes should not be used as consistent meal replacements. Shalek sets a max of one meal a day, and even then, she suggests using your smoothie or shake as an “at-the-ready” alternative to other easy access processed foods (think: the fast food lunch option next to your job or the food cart at your kid’s baseball game). It’s good to have a smoothie or shake nearby for those close calls.
The greatest weight-loss benefits Shalek has seen come from smoothies and shakes are when her clients use them to transition into eating healthy. “For many of my clients who aren’t used to clean eating, smoothies tend to be a good segue into eating regularly balanced meals,” she explains. They can a) satisfy a sweet tooth without the added the sugar b) serve as a guaranteed source of protein c) take the place of those easy-to-make (but processed!) foods you’re used to consuming.
Sound complicated? Nope! These 30 weight-loss shakes will meet the nutritional requirements and taste amazing.
Healthy Nut Blueberry Smoothie
Eating Bird Food
Want a tropical smoothie that you can sip on and enjoy feeling guilt free? This healthy nut blueberry smoothie from Eating Bird Food takes your typical fruity beverage and packs in the protein by adding several scoops of protein powder (a must-have for Shalek) and almond butter, a secondary source of protein.
Recipe: Blend 1 frozen banana, 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 cup frozen mango chunks, 2 scoops (about 4 Tablespoons) vanilla protein powder, 2 tablespoons almond butter, 1 1/2 cup almond milk.
Nutrition: 350 calories, 20 g protein, 42 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 16 g fat
Superfood PB Banana And Cacao Green Smoothie
This superfood smoothie from SkinnyTaste is packed with antioxidants, fiber, and magnesium. Shalek recommends smoothies like this for your first meal of the day, especially for her clients who tend to skip breakfast.
Recipe: Blend 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 lose cup of baby spinach,2 teaspoons of peanut butter, 1/2 frozen ripe banana, 1/3 ozheaping tablespoon cacao nibs, ice.
Nutrition: 188 calories, 21 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 11.5 g fat
Strawberry Cheesecake Protein Shake
Fit Foodie Finds
Want something decadent but not looking to waste the calories? No problem. This strawberry cheesecake protein shake from Fit Foodie Finds recipe is one of those sweet-tooth shakes that Shalek recommends having in your back pocket when you’re craving something sweet. Plus, the smoothie calls for both food and powder protein sources, making it double hitter.
Recipe: Blend 1 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup frozen sliced banana, 1/4 cup vanilla protein powder (any kind will work), 1/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk.
Nutrition: 206 calories, 19 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat
Blueberry Avocado Smoothie
Cook Nourish Bliss
This blueberry avocado smoothie from Cook Nourish Bliss uses Bob’s Redmill protein powder, Shalek’s go-to protein powder recommendation. “Bob’s Redmill has really wholesome ingredients,” she says. Combined with blueberry, avocados, and a few other superfood ingredients, you’ll get a thick, antioxidant-rich smoothie with plenty of protein to kick start your day and curb your hunger.
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Nutrition: 391 calories, 12 g protein, 20 g fat, 49 g carbohydrates, 14 g fiber
Avocado Banana Green Smoothie
“You have to be mindful of portion sizes if you want to make smoothies a part of a weight-loss plan,” Shalek says. “People tend to use way over the serving size of avocados especially and it tends to add up calorically.” But this avocado banana green smoothie from Minimalist Baker sticks to the recommended serving size, combining half an avocado with four other protein and fiber-rich ingredients to create the perfect smoothie to help you stick to your weight-loss goals.
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Nutrition: 146 calories, 6.9 g protein, 18.2 g carbohydrates, 5.3 g fiber
Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake
A Cup Full of Sass
Yes, you can eat chocolate and still lose weight at the same time! And this chocolate peanut butter protein shake from A Cup Full of Sass is the way to go. Combining whey protein powder and PB2 instead of peanut butter to account for fewer calories, this shake is a no-brainer.
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Nutrition: 250 calories, 15g carbohydrates, 36 g protein, 8 g fat
Meal Replacement Green Smoothie
Simple Green Smoothie
Shalek isn’t super big on replacing meals. But if you’re going to it, make sure you’re limiting the meal that’s being replaced to just one a day. “I have a bunch of clients that work a night shift or work crazy hours, so in some instances it’s appropriate,” she says. And smoothies like this green smoothie from Simple Green Smoothies will load you up on good-for-you foods. Oats for example, have fiber that can help keep you feeling fuller, longer, not to mention it will also keep your blood sugar stable, Jessica Cording, RD previously told WH.
Recipe: Blend 2 cups fresh kale, 2 cups almond milk (unsweetened), 2 cups berries, 1 banana, 2 tablespoons almond butter + ¼ cup rolled oats.
Nutrition: 320 calories, 8.3 g fiber, 8.6 g protein, 12.6 g fat
Premier Protein Shake
Skip the bowl of ice cream at night, Shalek says and try a premier protein drink instead. “The protein shake will satisfy your sweet tooth and keep you full,” Shalek says. She recommends it to her clients who usually like like to late-night snack. And if you’re a daytime snacker, too, this shake, in particular comes in an individualized to-go container that will allow you to keep moving and tide you over until your next next full meal.
Nutrition: 160 calories, 3 g fat, 30 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 1 g sugar
Banana Protein Shake
Everyday Easy Eats
This smoothie from Everyday Easy Eats is refined sugar free and simple to make at home. Made with a) bananas, a great source of potassium and dietary fiber and b) natural protein powder, which Shalek recommends this protein shake is a home run.
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Nutrition: 189 calories, 17 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, 2 g fiber
Love and Zest
If you’re not big on protein powder which Shalek understands,she recomends picking a shake or smoothie that has a food protein like almond butter or chia seeds. Lucky for you, this superfood smoothie from Love and Zest has both and will give you 17 g of fiber (thanks to chia seeds!) and 12 g of protein.
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Nutrition: 368 calories, 12 g protein, 17 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 19 g fat
Green and Lean Shamrock Shake
Most minty shamrock shakes are drool-worthy, but not at all diet-friendly. Quench your cravings and stay on track with your health goals with this creamy, fresh shake from Felicia Romero, nutrition and fitness expert on Lifetime’s From Fit to Fat to Fit. “The peppermint is refreshing and has been shown to reduce sugar cravings and the healthy fats give it a creamy texture while keeping you full,” she says.
Recipe: Blend 1/2 banana, 1 cup spinach, 2 drops peppermint oil, 1/2 avocado, 1 cup coconut milk, 1 scoop protein powder, and ice.
Nutrition facts: 257 calories, 16g carbohydrates, 27g protein, 8g fat
Related: 6 Things You’ll Have to Give Up if You Want to Lose Weight FOR GOOD
Berry Butter Shake
Peanut butter, berries, and spinach may seem like a strange combination at first, but when blended together the flavors combine in the best way, says Jennifer M. Brown, R.D., associate professor at Arizona State University’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion. “Who doesn’t love salty and sweet together?” she says. “Plus, you get four out of your five servings of daily fruits and veggies.”
Recipe: Blend 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries, 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 2 cups fresh spinach. Add milk of your choice until it reaches the desired consistency.
Nutrition facts: 286 calories, 34g carbohydrates, 10g protein, 14g fat
Creamy Chocolate Avocado Shake
Got a serious chocolate craving? This shake will scratch that itch and prevent cravings later in the day when your willpower is weaker, says Amy Shapiro, R.D., C.D.N., and Truvia dietitian. “The avocado adds creaminess and heart-healthy fats and fiber that will keep you full and your skin glowing, too,” she says. “The cacao is a powerful antioxidant and the chia seeds provide a dose of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, protein, and hydration so this smoothie will keep you going all day long.”
Recipe: Blend 1/2 avocado, 1/2 cup fresh coconut water, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 1 tablespoon honey, ice, and 2 packets Truvia or other stevia-based sweetener.
Nutrition facts: 290 calories, 21g carbohydrates, 27g protein, 11g fat
This simple swap will make your smoothies so much more filling:
Strawberry Pea Shake
Peas? Before you channel your inner 5-year-old and rule this one out, know that peas have powerful weight-loss benefits, say Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D.N., and Lyssie Lakatos, R.D.N., the Nutrition Twins and authors of The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure. Like all pulses, peas can aid in weight loss even when calories aren’t restricted, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Pea protein was found to be more effective than whey protein at preventing hunger, according to a second study in Nutrition Journal. And you won’t even taste it, thanks to the antioxidant-rich strawberries and blackberries.
Recipe: Blend 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup frozen blackberries, and 1 scoop pea protein.
Nutrition facts: 256 calories, 35g carbohydrate, 23g protein, 5g fat
Gut Love Shake
The gut is often called the gateway to health because its delicate mix of bacteria can affect everything from your mood to your weight. Think of this shake as a “multi-vitamin” for your gut bacteria, providing protein, fiber, and nutrients to help the good bacteria flourish while banishing the bad, says Lauryn Lax, a naturopath and nutrition expert. The coconut milk gives you a healthy dose of fat for staying power.
Recipe: Blend 1 cup bone broth, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1 frozen banana, 1 scoop collagen protein powder, 2 tablespoons carob powder, pinch of salt. Optional: Add stevia, maple syrup, or other sweetener of your choice.
Nutrition facts: 210 calories, 25g carbohydrates, 33g protein, 4g fat
Green Banana Chocolate Shake
Miss your favorite fast food shake? This blend tastes just like it, but minus all of the junk, Lax says. This recipe is perfect for a sweet fix without the sweets, and the absorbable protein will help build lean muscles which can rev your metabolism, helping you lose more weight over time, she adds. Why the green banana? It’s a great source of resistant starch, another nutrient shown to help with weight loss.
Recipe: Blend 1/2 cup milk of choice, 1/2 green banana, 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 1 tablespoon almond butter, and 2 teaspoons cinnamon.
Nutrition facts: 330 calories, 31g carbohydrates, 26g protein, 13g fat
Green Warrior Shake
Creamy Greek yogurt provides satiating protein, ginger, and pomegranate juice to fight inflammation (a common cause of weight gain). And pistachios are the perfect secret ingredient since they contain a satisfying trio of fiber, plant protein, and healthy fats, explain Shames and Lakatos. “You’ll feel full so you won’t end up overeating at the vending machine soon after,” they add.
Recipe: Blend 3/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup green grapes, 1 cup pineapple pieces, 1 cup packed spinach, 1 inch fresh peeled ginger, 1/8 cup shelled pistachios, and ice.
Nutrition facts: 170 calories, 22g carbohydrates, 13g protein, 5g fat
Java Buzz Shake
Sometimes all you need to power through the high-stress/low-willpower hours just before dinner is a little jolt of caffeine. This smoothie, from David Zinczenko, nutrition expert and creator of Eat This, Not That!, will give you a little buzz while also providing a healthy dose of filling protein to help you stay strong through dinner.
Recipe: Blend 4 coffee ice cubes (freeze your favorite coffee in an ice cube tray), 1 can unsweetened coconut milk, 1⁄4 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1⁄2 frozen banana, and 1 scoop chocolate plant-based protein powder.
Nutrition facts: 208 calories, 17g carbohydrates, 24g protein, 5g fat
Related: The 8 Best Bedtime Snacks for Weight Loss
Mango Matcha Shake
This shake is packed with filling ingredients but the secret weapon is the matcha powder, says Maria Marlowe, certified nutrition and health coach and author of The Real Food Grocery Guide. It’s full of an antioxidant, EGCG, which has been shown in some studies to aid in weight loss. “Anecdotally, my sister has been having this mango matcha smoothie bowl nearly every day for the past three weeks, as part of an overall healthy diet, and has dropped 11 pounds,” she says. In addition, the hemp and avocado provides satiating fat while the fruits are full of flavor.
Recipe: Blend 1 cup butter lettuce (or other leafy green), 3 tablespoons hemp seeds, 1/2 cup coconut water, 1 frozen banana, 1/2 avocado, 1 cup mango, juice of 1 lime, 1 teaspoon matcha powder, and ice.
Nutrition facts: 386 calories, 47g carbohydrates, 13g protein, 18g fat
Mexican Chocolate Shake
Take your plain chocolate shake next level by adding powerful spices. Not only do the cinnamon and chili add an exotic flavor but they also have some weight-loss benefits, helping to stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings, Zinczenko says.
Recipe: Blend 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 banana, 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil, 1 scoop chocolate plant-based protein powder, and ice.
Nutrition facts: 296 calories, 39g carbohydrates, 30g protein, 11g fat
Hot Chilly Superfood Shake
Need a quick pick-me-up? This shake, from Zinczenko, will jolt you awake while also giving you a healthy dose of antioxidants in the fruit, veggies, and spices. The healthy fats in the avocado will help keep you full. Lemon juice will quell hunger pangs and ginger can improve digestion, he adds.
Recipe: Blend 1/2 cup milk of your choice, 1 cup chopped kale leaves, 1/2 small cucumber, 1/2 avocado, 1 chopped nectarine or peach, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2-inch slice of peeled ginger, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 10 ice cubes.
Nutrition facts: 240 calories, 17g carbohydrates, 24g protein, 9g fat
Pumpkin Pie Shake
Pumpkin pie spice isn’t just for fall—enjoy the delicious flavor with this recipe from Suzanne Fisher, R.D., founder of Fisher Nutrition Systems in South Florida. Nutrient-dense ingredients boost the protein, fat, and fiber content, which promotes satiety and could prevent the unhealthy snacking and breakthrough hunger that so many dieters complain of, she says.
Recipe: Blend 1/2 frozen banana, 2 small figs, 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup organic pumpkin puree, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 2 scoops pea protein, 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin spice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 8 ounces milk of your choice, and ice.
Nutrition facts: 375 calories, 28g carbohydrates, 33g protein, 16g fat
Related: 7 Supplements That Melt Fat
Sweet Potato Bake Shake
Sweet potato casserole is the ultimate comfort food, but it’s also a calorie bomb. This shake has all the flavor, but without the marshmallows and sugar crash afterward. “This smoothie has slow-releasing carbohydrates combined with lots of fiber from the sweet potato to stabilize blood sugar and kickstart your metabolism in the morning while curbing cravings later in the day,” says Charlotte Press, nutritionist at Press Start Nutrition. A single shake will score you everything you need at for the first meal of the day.
Recipe: Blend 1/2 cup milk of choice, 1/2 frozen banana, 1 cup sweet potato puree, 1-2 Medjool dates, 2 tablespoons tahini, protein powder of choice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
Nutrition facts: 513 calories, 53g carbohydrates, 30g protein, 20g fat
Chocolate Peppermint Shake
Indulge your craving for this classic flavor combo but in a healthy way with this recipe from Mae Badiyan, a naturopath and wellness expert in LA. “The greens and healthy fats will keep you fuller longer which may help with weight loss and the collagen is great for hair, skin, and nails as well as helping to heal your gut,” she says. “Plus, the cinnamon can help to stabilize your blood sugar and the peppermint aids in digestion.” If you’re trying to up your fat intake to burn fat, this shake’s for you.
Recipe: Blend 1/2 cup cashew milk, 1/2 frozen avocado, 1 small frozen banana, 1 tablespoon cacao powder, 1 tablespoon coconut butter, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, handful frozen spinach, 1 tablespoon cacao nibs, 1 scoop collagen peptides, and 2-3 drops peppermint essence.
Nutrition facts: 315 calories, 29g carbohydrates, 12g protein, 22g fat
Peanut Butter and Jelly Shake
Craving your favorite childhood snack? This shake, from Badiyan, will help you lose weight like a grown-up while feeling as free as you did as a kid. “This smoothie is perfect because it sneaks in greens without any taste,” she says. “The healthy fats from the avocado and protein from the peptides will help to keep you full.”
Recipe: Blend 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 tablespoon nut butter, 1 handful frozen spinach, 1/2 frozen avocado, 1 scoop collagen peptides, and 1/2 cup frozen strawberries.
Nutrition facts: 348 calories, 29g carbohydrates, 13g protein, 22g fat
Kefir and Greens Shake
When it comes to health foods, probiotic-heavy kefir and vitamin-rich leafy greens are superstars. Get your fix, along with satiating healthy fats, in this recipe from Mike George, nutritionist at Lateral Fitness. If you’re trying to lose weight, he recommends drinking this shake first thing in the morning, even before your daily coffee because coffee may inhibit the absorption of some nutrients.
Recipe: Blend 1 scoop vegan protein protein powder, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup unsweetened kefir, 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter, 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil, 1 cup frozen fruit, 1 tablespoon chia seeds.
Nutrition facts: 318 calories, 29g carbohydrates, 13g protein, 21g fat
Choco-Peanut Butter Smoothie
“I drink this shake every day for breakfast,” says Holly Del Rosso, fitness and nutrition expert in San Francisco. “This shake is essential for women as we are often lacking B12, magnesium, and iron which causes fatigue and can also inhibit weight loss and muscle gain.” This shake is packed with 40 grams of protein and plenty of fiber, so you’ll feel fuller for longer and your blood sugar will be stable, unlike drinking orange juice or eating a doughnut for breakfast, she adds.
Recipe: Blend 1 cup kale, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 frozen banana, 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 2 tablespoons PB2 (powdered peanut butter), and 1 tablespoon spirulina.
Nutrition facts: 230 calories, 22g carbohydrates, 30g protein, 5g fat
Related: This Is The Diet Jessica Alba Used To Lose 11 Inches In 4 Months
Blackberry Cottage Cheese Shake
Cottage cheese is a highly underrated source of affordable, quality protein, plus nutrients like calcium, says Laura Rutledge, R.D.N., assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. “Women, in particular, need adequate protein intake to help preserve muscle mass, especially if you’re restricting calories to lose weight,” she adds.
Recipe: Blend 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1/4 cup milk of your choice, 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2 cup frozen blackberries, 1 handful fresh spinach, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 splash vanilla extract.
Nutrition facts: 158 calories, 27g carbohydrates, 15g protein, 1g fat
Green Goddess Shake
Oatmeal is a breakfast staple but you don’t have to eat it as cereal. The high-fiber, super-filling, whole grain is the secret ingredient in this shake from Shawn M Talbott, Ph.D., C.N.S., L.D.N., nutritional biochemist and author. “The combination of fiber and flavonoids in this recipe helps to feed and protect the good bacteria in your gut,” he explains. These good bacteria can go on to produce more “feel good” neurotransmitters in the brain which in turn help with mood and weight loss.
Recipe: Blend 1/2 pear, 1/2 banana, 1/4 avocado, 1 cup kale, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 cup milk of your choice, and 1/2 cup raw rolled oats.
Nutrition facts: 295 calories, 35g carbohydrates, 9g protein, 17g fat
Chocolate Peanut Butter Chickpea Cookie Shake
Chickpeas in a “cookie” recipe? Legumes are great for your gut and your waistline, Talbott says. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a great source of filling protein and fiber. Oh, and you can’t even taste them, he adds.
Recipe: Blend 1/2 avocado, 1 banana, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1/4 cup rolled oats, 2 tablespoons chickpea protein powder, 3/4 cup milk of your choice.
Nutrition facts: 460 calories, 41g carbohydrates, 23g protein, 27g fat
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