For those who have searched far and wide for the best protein shake to stick beside them through thick and thin...we're sorry! We know it's been a long road with some bumpy trails. And on that journey you've probably come across some protein brands with some bad tasting protein, leaving the awful taste in your mouth, and the lingering question in your head: "Why do so many protein shakes taste like crap?"
Well we're here to help answer that question, and to give you some things to look out for so that you can choose some great tasting protein!
The Quality of the Protein Powder
Protein usually falls into two camps: Whey or Plant Based. Whey protein is dairy based and can vary in concentration of protein and lactose, which is the sugar in protein. Vegan protein can vary in its protein content as well depending on the type of plant based source is used, whether it's pea, rice or soya.
Where the differences come are in the quality of said ingredients of both whey and vegan. The quality of whey varies A LOT depending on the company you choose to go for, with many companies opting for lower qualities of whey concentrate to get as much as possible for as little cost as possible.
What's more, there are different versions of whey that can sometimes influence the taste. Whey isolate tends to be a higher quality of whey, with less lactose and a higher protein content, which helps to reduce feelings of bloatedness and generally have less of a "protein" flavour
Same with vegan powders, low cost, high volumes, bad quality! High quality vegan protein sometimes have more than one type of protein, as the combination leads to a better taste and texture, such as pea & white hemp or pea and brown rice protein
What to look out for: Find a company that has a good balance between price and quality of protein powder. With whey, choose an isolate
Sweeteners are an acquired taste, so choose the best
Sweeteners are zero calorie alternatives to sugar, and there's a lot out there. You have artificial sweeteners such as Sucralose or Aspartame, and natural options like Stevia. Clinical research into sweeteners show that they are safe to consume, but each sweetener has its own individual taste profile, and can taste a bit weird for some.
Also, the naturally occurring sugars in your shake can affect the taste of your sweeteners, and therefore the entire shake. Lower quality sweeteners tend to have a very strong and distasteful aftertaste, which can put some people off straight away. So you need to make sure that you can try a sample before committing to a shake.
What to look out for: Similar to the quality of protein powder, look for a good sweetener in the ingredients of your shakes. Stevia is plant based if you are looking for something as natural as possible.
Flavour is Everything
Has anyone tried a plain protein powder? It's definitely an experience we could do without 😅. This is what made us vow to never have another plain shake again! But more importantly, it made us realise that flavour is everything. Companies can go a lot of different ways with this. They sometimes load up on the sweetener, giving the protein a weird artificial taste.
The best powders have natural flavourings in their ingredients list, and the best ones (like us!) go the extra mile to make a chocolate flavour special by using raw cacao for a richer, indulgent taste instead of regular degular cocoa powder.
What to look out for: Check the ingredients list for keywords like "natural flavourings" and pay extra attention to what some shakes have that others don't.