Protein shakes are a gym-goer’s best friend: they’re a tasty, convenient, and affordable way to easily nail your daily protein needs.

That said, the old protein powder + water combo can get stale after a few months. Plus, if you’re trying to gain muscle, mixing protein powder into shakes is a delicious and efficient way to boost your daily calorie intake. 

And that’s where high-protein shake recipes become clutch.

Good protein shake recipes give you endless flavor options, so you never get bored with the most important macronutrient. What’s more, they’re also a delicious way to squeeze in more fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds into your diet, which provide important vitamins and minerals necessary for maintaining optimal health. 

In this article you’ll learn why you need protein to gain muscle, what to add to a protein shake to make it taste great, 12 premier protein shake recipes, including the best protein shake recipes for muscle or weight gain, the best protein shake recipes for weight loss, and more!

Why You Need Protein to Gain Muscle

A protein is a large molecule made up of chains of smaller compounds known as amino acids

You can think of amino acids as the “building blocks” of muscle proteins—without the requisite amino acids, the body can’t construct new muscle protein, and thus you can’t get bigger or stronger.

The primary reason to eat protein, then, is to provide your body with adequate amino acids to continue building and repairing your body.

As you can imagine, regular weightlifting and exercise increases the body’s demand for protein, but adequate protein intake is important among the sedentary as well.

If sedentary folk don’t eat enough protein as they age, they lose muscle faster. And the faster they lose muscle, the more likely they are to meet an untimely demise. 

A good rule of thumb is that you want to eat about 0.8-to-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day to support muscle growth. You also want to ensure most of the protein you eat comes from high-quality sources, which contain an abundance of essential amino acids (those most involved in the muscle-building process). 

When it comes to protein powders, some of the highest-quality proteins are whey, casein, and pea or rice.

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What to Add to a Protein Shake

After several months of drinking the same flavor, even the most delicious protein powders can get boring. That’s why it pays to have a few plant or whey protein shake recipes up your sleeve to break the monotony.

Here’s a list of the best things to put in a protein shake that’ll keep the taste and texture of your shakes fresh and toothsome: 

  • Protein powders such as, whey protein powder, casein protein powder, and plant-based protein powder
  • Dairy products such as Greek yogurt, skyr, quark, cow’s milk, and cottage cheese
  • Sweeteners such as stevia, agave nectar, maple syrup, and honey
  • Plant-based milk such as almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, and oat milk
  • Nut butters such as peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter
  • Seeds and cereals such as hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, and old-fashioned oats
  • Fruit such as banana, strawberry, mango, and avocado
  • Flavorings such as vanilla extract, peppermint extract, and cocoa
  • Spices and seasonings such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt
  • Toppings such as nonfat whipped topping, sprinkles, and desiccated coconut
  • Coffee
  • Ice 

The 12 Best Protein Shake Recipes for Muscle Gain

Whether you’re looking for something that’s low-calorie, high-calorie, vegan, or just mouth-wateringly delicious, you’ll find a recipe (or five) that you want to try on this list of the 12 best protein shakes for muscle gain.

The instructions on how to make all of these shakes are the same: chuck all the ingredients in a blender and blend them until smooth. Easy! 

(Oh, and if you’d like more delicious, high-protein recipes, check out The Shredded Chef cookbook, which includes ​​125 “fitness friendly” recipes for building muscle, losing fat, and staying healthy).

1. Cinnamon Banana Bread Protein Shake

Banana protein shake recipes are a great go-to when you don’t have time to cook a well-balanced breakfast, because the starch in the bananas keeps you fuller for longer and gives the shake a thick, creamy, milkshake-like texture. This one mimics the flavor of baked goods with cinnamon, almond butter, and honey.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 small bananas, frozen
  • 1 cup unsweetened cashew or almond milk
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 scoops Cinnamon Cereal Whey+ protein powder (or similar)
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Nutritional Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 282

Protein: 25 grams

Carbs: 34 grams

Fat: 6 grams

2. Peanut Butter Protein Shake

Peanut butter is a good source of protein, but it’s also high in fat and calories, which means slathering some on toast isn’t always practical if you’re on a weight-loss diet. This peanut butter and chocolate protein shake for weight loss is a better way to go because it satisfies your cravings for peanutty goodness and it’s comparatively low in calories and higher in protein than the peanut butter concoctions most people consume.

Serves 2

Ingredients

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 240

Protein: 22 grams

Carbs: 20 grams

Fat: 9 grams

3. Dark Chocolate Peppermint Protein Shake

This is one of my all-time favourite chocolate protein shake recipes because it takes all the flavors of a marshmallow-topped ​​peppermint hot cocoa, and puts them into a protein-packed shake that’s perfect for dessert.

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 large banana, frozen
  • 3 large ice cubes
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop Mint Chocolate Whey+ protein powder (or similar)
  • 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 297

Protein: 32 grams

Carbs: 41 grams

Fat: 5 grams

4. Cake Batter Protein Shake

Having a hard time saying no to everyone else’s birthday cake at the office? Indulge in this sippable version instead. There’s no icing, but you’ll be surprised how much this vanilla protein shake recipe satisfies your cake cravings, and since it has protein instead of simple carbs, it’ll fill you up instead of weighing you down. It’s also a perfect recipe for Birthday Cake Whey+!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup nonfat whipped topping
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 scoop Birthday Cake or French Vanilla Whey+ protein powder (or similar)
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  • 1 teaspoon rainbow sprinkles

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 259

Protein: 25 grams

Carbs: 30 grams

Fat: 1 gram

5. Strawberry-Mango Protein Shake

If you’re looking for fresh, fruity, and healthy protein shake recipes, this strawberry mango layered fruit smoothie is a gem. It also works with pretty much any two-fruit combination you can think of, so feel free to experiment (banana-pineapple and blackberry-watermelon are two of my favorites).

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mango chunks, frozen
  • 2 cups strawberries, frozen
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/3 cup whole plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 scoop Strawberry Banana Whey+ protein powder (or similar)

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 299

Protein: 14 grams

Carbs: 36 grams

Fat: 12 grams

6. Coffee Protein Smoothie

Turn your morning coffee into breakfast with this weight-loss protein shake recipe. It’s a great way to enjoy the perks of coffee—including increased metabolic rate and improved physical performance—all while getting a serving of protein.

Serves 1

Ingredients

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 218

Protein: 35 grams

Carbs: 13 grams

Fat: 2 grams

7. Aloha Bliss Pineapple Protein Smoothie

Turn your post-workout protein shake into a taste of vacation with this fruity protein smoothie. It might not help you escape the workweek, but it’ll do something about your cravings for piña coladas.

Serves 3

Ingredients

  • 2 scoops French Vanilla Whey+ protein powder (or similar)
  • 1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks in juice
  • 1 mango, peeled and chopped
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup lite coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened orange juice
  • 1 cup ice

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 349

Protein: 27 grams

Carbs: 55 grams

Fat: 5 grams

8. Peach Cobbler Protein Shake

Turn your favorite summer dessert into a healthy way to cool off with this low-calorie protein shake recipe. It doesn’t taste quite as indulgent as ice cream, but it has half the calories and ten times the protein. That’s a fair trade when you’re still able to enjoy fresh peaches and cream—not heavy cream, of course, but low-fat cottage cheese.

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 scoop French Vanilla Whey+ protein powder (or similar)
  • 1/2 cup peaches
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or butter extract)
  • 2 packets stevia
  • 1/2-to-1 cup water
  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)

Nutritional Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 217

Protein: 41 grams

Carbs: 14 grams

Fat: 1 gram

9. Strawberry Cheesecake Shake

If you run out of protein powder or want to stick to whole foods instead, this strawberry cheesecake shake with cottage cheese is one of the best homemade protein shakes for muscle gain.

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup strawberries, frozen
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Stevia to taste

Nutritional Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 164

Protein: 11 grams

Carbs: 18 grams

Fat: 5 grams

10. Cinnamon Roll Protein Shake

If you’re looking for protein shake recipes for weight loss, look no further than this cinnamon roll protein shake. ​​It uses egg white, almond milk, cinnamon, and maple syrup to recreate the essence of a Cinnabon. But instead of a whopping 880 calories per pastry, this cinnamony shake adds up to less than 200 calories yet has 33 grams of protein.

(With only seven grams of carbs, it’s also one of the best low-carb protein shake recipes, too.)

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons liquid egg whites
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 scoop Cinnamon Cereal Whey+ protein powder (or similar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 small scoop stevia
  • 1 cup ice

Nutritional Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 189

Protein: 33 grams

Carbs: 7 grams

Fat: 2 grams

11. Chocolate Hazelnut Protein Shake

If there’s one cocoa combo that challenges chocolate+peanut butter, it’s chocolate+hazelnut. This version includes half a banana and a handful of hazelnuts for flavor, and a mix of hemp, flax, and chia seeds for a big nutritional boost.

The final result doesn’t taste exactly like Nutella, but if that’s the flavor you’re after, you can always add a tablespoon of the hazelnut chocolate spread to the recipe. Doing so adds around 100 calories and makes this an excellent protein shake recipe for weight gain.

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 scoop Dutch Chocolate Whey+ protein powder (or similar)
  • 1 teaspoon shelled hemp seeds
  • 1 teaspoon flax seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Nutritional Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 525

Protein: 39 grams

Carbs: 38 grams

Fat: 27 grams

12. Avocado Mint Protein Smoothie

Think you’ve tasted every possible fruit smoothie combination? Think again. This avocado mint protein shake recipe with vanilla powder contains a unique blend of creaminess and freshness that’s perfect for livening up your protein shake rotation. Be aware, though, this one’s high in calories, so it’s best suited to people looking for weight gain protein shake recipes.

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sliced banana, frozen
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled
  • 3 dates, pitted
  • 4 leaves fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 scoop French Vanilla Whey+ protein powder (or similar)

Nutritional Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 525

Protein: 39 grams

Carbs: 38 grams

Fat: 27 grams