As a vegan, one of the most straightforward ways to get more protein into your diet is by consuming a protein-packed shake.
The quickest way to whip up a vegan protein shake is by simply adding a scoop of protein powder into non-dairy milk or water.
However, if you’re looking to supercharge your nutrient game, satisfy those hunger cravings, or simply make your smoothie taste epic, there are some extra ingredients you can add to help you do just that.
Homemade vegan protein shakes, opposed to shop bought, can also be a great way to ensure you’re covering your vitamin and mineral needs. And in an easy to consume form without any nasty extras - meaning you can be in control of what goes in.
Check out this guide to making amazing, healthy, vegan, protein-packed shakes that are perfect as an addition to your post-workout vegan bodybuilding recipes catalog or as an early breakfast treat.
Choosing Your Protein Powder
Protein powder is one of the easiest ways to up your protein intake on a vegan diet. This isn’t only relevant for those following a vegan bodybuilding diet or high performance athletes. Protein powder is a great and delicious way for anyone to add extra nutrients into healthy smoothies and shakes.
Protein powder is used to help build muscle, recover tissues, and create enzymes and hormones within the body. That makes it an essential nutrient that’s popular within the health supplement market. Protein powder contains branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are the building blocks of protein and are used for muscle growth.
When choosing which protein powder is best for you, check out these top three details on the product’s nutrition label before making your purchase:
Look for 20-25g of protein per serving. The Dietary Reference Intake is 0.8g of protein per kilogram of weight, amounting to 56g of protein per day for the average man and 46g for the average woman. If you’re active or trying to build muscle, you’ll need a bit more, see the table below for more info:
It’s worth keeping an eye on how the protein is made. Look for fermented protein, which is key to beating the bloat. That’s because fermented protein contains bioactive nutrients that help the gut and digestive system’s absorption rate. Play close attention to heavy metals within protein powders, as many are formulated with complex, unknown ingredients that pose health risks from the contamination of heavy metals. Once your body contains metals like mercury and arsenic, there is no way of getting rid of them. It is suggested to check your protein powder’s heavy metal toxin rating on the Clean Label Project's website.
Here is the Clean Label Project’s guideline on heavy metal testing that you should be aiming for when purchasing protein powder:
Try a 100% plant-based fermented protein powder, like PERFORM. It’s made with 25g protein and 6g BCAA per serving, to help you reach your protein intake from your shake. However, if you are more interested in a simple protein powder, you can check out RITUAL. That’s a vegan fermented protein powder that contains 20g per scoop and is made only with pea, hemp, and quinoa.
Check out these vegan bodybuilding tips from some of the best vegan bodybuilders to help you reach your fitness goals.
Vegan Milk Alternatives
There are various plant-based milk options you can use to give your smoothie a creamy texture and make it even more nutritious.
If you are after a high calcium vegan milk alternative, try adding 1 cup of Cashew, Pea, or Oat milk to the mix to get 300 - 400mg of calcium from your vegan shake. These plant-based milk options are high in calcium and also rich in vitamins and minerals. For instance, Cashew and Pea milk are both high in vitamin D and beneficial for bone and heart health, as well as strengthening your immune system. Oat milk is an excellent source of fibre that can lower cholesterol levels, maintain bowel health, and help to control blood sugar levels.
Vegan Almond and Soy milk both contain a tremendous amount of protein, ranging from 9-21g per cup. They’re ideal options for ramping up your protein intake within your protein-packed shake.
Fruits and Vegetables
Consuming lots of fruits and vegetables is essential to maintaining a healthy diet. Fruit and veg can also make shakes or smoothies delicious and packed full of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Here are some fruits and veggies you can add to your smoothie:
Strawberries and bananas are always a great addition to any drink. Strawberries contain a high amount of vitamin C, fibre, and antioxidants. They are among the top 20 most antioxidant rich fruits out there! One serving of strawberries also has more vitamin C than an orange. That particular vitamin is necessary for the development and repair of all tissues within the body.
Bananas are a great source of potassium, which helps to regulate your blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and muscle contractions. Bananas are also high in magnesium, which is an essential mineral for over 300 enzyme reactions within the body. Toss the bananas into the mix frozen or fresh, and you will get a delicious creamy texture.
Apart from fruits, leafy greens such as kale and spinach are also full of nutrients and are easily blendable, so you won't even taste when they are there. These vegetables are packed with vitamin K and folate. Folate plays an essential part in producing red blood cells within the body. Vitamin K helps prevent blood clotting and regulate the levels of blood calcium within our bodies.
Bottom line, fruits and veggies are filled with essential nutrients that are critical for our health. By throwing a handful of greens and fruits into your protein shake, you will be amazed at what benefits you’ll reap.
Flavour and Add-ins
The final step to making amazing, vegan, protein-packed shakes is introducing the additional ingredients to make your shake a nutritional powerhouse. If you’re looking for a rich chocolatey taste, try adding cocoa powder to the mix. It contains a great source of iron and potassium, as well as helping you to get a really tasty shake. To make things a little sweeter, you can also try maple syrup, as it is a natural sweetener and high in antioxidants.
Cinnamon and turmeric are two spices that can add further delicious flavour to your shake. They are especially important to your health as they have antioxidant properties and help reduce inflammation.
To make your smoothie even more protein-packed, add in a spoonful of nut butter or seeds like chia or sunflower. That helps add extra healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and up the protein content. To meet your DHA intake, omega 3 fatty acid is what you want to be paying attention to. You can also try adding liquid algae oil drops or a multivitamin, which contains a blend of vitamins, minerals, and 10 million probiotics to support a healthy diet.
Whether you will be making high protein smoothies as a post-workout snack or for your breakfast tomorrow morning, this guide will point you in the right direction. It will lead you towards creating amazing, healthy, vegan, protein-packed shakes. If you want more high protein ideas, check out these 11 useful and delicious vegan bodybuilding recipes. They can help you cook up even more protein-packed meals for your vegan bodybuilding diet.
About the Author
Charlotte Cliffe is the marketing manager and in-house nutritionist at the leading plant-based protein and vegan supplement brand: Vivo Life. They were voted the UK's best vegan superfood and supplement brand in the VegFest awards.