15 Easy Ways to Up Your Protein Intake in Your Next Smoothie
Dietitians weigh in with some unique ways to boost your favourite smoothies with whole foods and plant-based options.
Cow’s milk is the protein winner with 12-grams of protein per cup. Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN opts for milk in smoothies because it provides calcium, vitamin D and potassium, three nutrients that many folks lack in their diet. But, if you’re lactose intolerant (these are the signs to watch out for), you can swap in a dairy-free milk alternative.
Thick Greek yogurt can pack a powerful punch of protein with 18 to 20 grams per cup. Not all yogurts are created equal, so be sure to read the labels carefully when making your pick. (Here are 10 ways to enjoy Greek yogurt for breakfast.)
Surprised? It adds a creamy, cheesecake-like flavour along with 25 grams of protein per cup. When you see Greek yogurt or tofu in a smoothie recipe, you can use cottage cheese instead.
Want to supercharge your morning? Try one of our low-calorie smoothie recipes.
Kefir is a probiotic-rich, yogurt-like drink that gets my stamp of approval. Simply substitute kefir in place of milk, yogurt or non-dairy alternatives in your smoothie. I like to blend 1 cup kefir, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, 1 tablespoon cocoa, 1 cup spinach and 1 banana. (Learn how to make your own coconut kefir.)
Next time you blend a smoothie, start by whirring up 1/4 cup raw oatmeal. Once the oats look like fine flour, add in your remaining ingredients and you’ll be surprised by the cookie-like taste!
Love oats? Then you’ll love this Make Ahead Breakfast Bowl recipe.
If you feasted on quinoa the night before and have some leftover, try blending 1/4 cup into your smoothie. This protein-packed grain makes for a nutty and slightly chewy texture. Plus, quinoa is one of the many essential food items that should be on your vegan shopping list.
Edamame or Tofu
Edamame gets New York City-based Amy Gorin, MS, RDN‘s thumbs up. “This vegetarian protein offers 17 grams of satiating protein per cup, and has a neutral flavour in smoothies,” she says.
Looking to get more out of your workout? High protein smoothies are a great option to fuel up on protein and fibre. Here’s what else you’ll want to eat before and after your workout.
In general, fruits don’t typically boast much protein, but 1 cup of this tropical fruit actually has 4 grams. Guava is also high in vitamin C, vitamin A and folate. Sure, pineapple may be the favoured tropical fruit, but try guava next time you crave the tropics. (These healthy fruit smoothies make for an easy breakfast.)
San Diego based Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CPT adds flaxseed to smoothies. “Just one tablespoon boosts omega-3 fatty acids, fibre and protein in a smoothie,” she says. “Flaxseeds contain lignans, a plant compound that has antioxidant proprieties that can improve one’s total health!”
Much like fruits, the protein content in most vegetables is relatively small. However, adding a cup of kale or spinach to a smoothie recipe can boost the protein by almost 3 grams, in addition to adding loads of vitamins and minerals.
Nuts and Nut Butters
San Diego-based dietitian Amanda Hibshman uses nuts for a protein boost in smoothies. Amanda says adding almonds to a smoothie provides great texture, like chocolate chips, but they are full of calcium, protein and healthy fats instead of sugar.
Curious about the nutrition benefits of nut milk? We’ve broken it down for you here.
Philadelphia-based dietitian Kelly Jones, MS, RDN, CSSD is a big fan of shelled hemp seeds in smoothies. Hemp adds plant-based protein, healthy fats and iron. It also creates a nice, smooth texture.
Lots of fibre, plant-based protein and omega-3 fatty acids make these little black seeds a perfect addition to any smoothie. If the texture makes your skin crawl, blend them up first, then add in remaining smoothie ingredients. Not in the mood for a smoothie? Check out our super simple Vanilla Chia Pudding recipe.
Like edamame, other beans can be disguised in a smoothie. Elizabeth Ward, MS, RDN and author of Expect the Best: Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, and After Pregnancy says adding 1/4 cup of beans is a great way to boost protein and fibre.
Wheat germ doesn’t get the love it deserves! By adding two tablespoons of wheat germ to your favorite smoothie, you can boost the protein by over 4 grams, plus add fibre, folate, phosphorous, magnesium and manganese. Next, learn six healthy smoothie add-ins that should always be in your kitchen.