The #1 Best Protein Shake for Stronger Muscles, Says Dietitian
Let's say you're trying to build more muscle, but your everyday meals and snacks just aren't covering all the bases or packing enough of a protein punch. Alongside resistance training, drinking protein shakes is a great way to help you get stronger and grow muscle mass. Plus, when you're short on time post-workout, you can easily whip up this shake and get your protein on the go!
Protein plays a huge role in developing and maintaining strong muscles, as well as curating lean body mass, according to Brittany Dunn, MS, RDN, CD, a registered dietitian on our medical expert board that specializes in sports nutrition.
"Protein provides amino acids…when engaging in strength training, the body creates microtears in the muscle [and] amino acids will then surround the tears to repair them," she explains.
Here's how to build the best protein shake for your muscles, and for even more muscle-building tips, check out the Best Eating Habits for Stronger Muscles, Says Dietitian.
Find the right protein powder.
The first step in throwing together a protein shake that will serve your muscle-building macros is to pick up the best supplement: a protein powder add-in. Dunn says "BCAAs and leucine are good things to look for in protein powders. They both contribute to muscle mass, growth, and recovery."
Protein powders can also provide you with various vitamins and minerals—such as zinc, vitamin A, and glutamine—which will all "assist with the recovery phase of muscle growth," she goes on to explain. These components of protein powder are beneficial because they can help regulate wound healing, manage oxidative stress, support tissue growth, and maintain cortisol levels and inflammation.
One of the most highly used protein powders to strengthen and adjust body composition is Whey. It's a milk-based protein that is highly digestible for many people and has quick absorption properties, according to Harvard Health.
Blend in antioxidants, fats, and carbs.
Other ingredients to consider for your protein shakes are foods that fall under one of these three categories: antioxidants, healthy fats, and/or complex carbohydrates. These nutrients "promote muscle growth by fueling your cells, reducing exercise-induced inflammation, and enhancing recovery," Healthline reports.
This can be anywhere from spinach (or other leafy greens), nut butter, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, seeds, and even cinnamon powder. And depending on your mixing liquid of choice, you can substitute cow's milk for an alternative option—like almond, oat, soy, or coconut milk—to lower the overall calories of your shake without losing key nutrients (calcium for example).
Shakes can provide the necessary protein for muscle recovery.
How often should you be drinking your blended concoction to fuel better muscle growth? Research suggests that you should be consuming at least "20 to 30 grams of protein at one time to maximize protein synthesis," says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, another registered dietitian and a best-selling author in nutrition content.
You should always rely on incorporating more whole foods and foods high in protein first, Amidor explains, but when it comes to increasing muscle mass, using "a protein powder (in the form of a shake) can help."