Best Weight-Loss Foods for Protein Shakes
They’re fast, they’re easy and better yet, you can sip them on-the-go. But if you’re replacing full meals with a shake more often than not, you could be missing out on primo weight loss nutrients. But fear not, flat-belly friends! We’ve identified a number of key weight loss foods that can easily blend into a shake. Though most of them can be added into your go-to sippable without much thought, we’ve also provided ways to use each ingredient to help fuel your culinary creativity. Read on to get in the know and take your shake game to the next level!
Nutrition: 1 Tbsp, 117 calories, 14 g fat, 12 g saturated, 0 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 0 g protein
A tropical-tasting oil that can give you a beach bod? Sign us up! Dietary supplementation of coconut oil has been shown to shrink a fat gut (because it easily—and quickly—converts into energy), which is something most other oils cannot claim. The raw, unrefined, variety has a mild coconut flavor and scent, making it an easy addition to just about any muscle-building drink.
For more on waist-whittling fats, check out these 8 Best Fats for Weight Loss.
Blend This!: 1 frozen banana + 1/2 cup frozen mango + 1/2 cup frozen pineapple + 1 scoop protein powder + 1 Tbsp coconut oil
Nutrition: 1 tsp, 6 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g sodium, 2 g carbs, 1.4 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 0 g protein
With a quick shake of the wrist, you can transform a boring chalky shake into a flavorful, slightly sweet drink—all while improving blood sugar control and subsequent hunger. But that’s not all: Research also suggests that cinnamon may improve cholesterol levels, making this popular autumn spice a triple threat and a must-eat.
Blend This!: 1 cup skim milk + 1 frozen medium banana + 1 scoop protein powder + cinnamon to taste + 1 tablespoon nut butter
Nutrition: 1 cup, brewed from bags, 2 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 2 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 0 g protein
Not convinced that green tea would make a smart addition to your post-workout shake? Consider this: In one 12-week study, participants who worked out for 25-minute and drank 4-5 cups of green tea daily lost more weight and abdominal fat than non-tea-drinking exercisers. To reap the benefits, make sure you’re adding real green tea to your shaker, not the bottled, sugar-filled stuff. And blast fat—fast—just like our test panelists, who lost up to 10 pounds in one week on the 7-Day Flat Belly Tea Cleanse!
Blend This!: 1 frozen banana + ½ cup honeydew melon, 3/4 cup brewed green tea + 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1 scoop protein powder
Macadamia Nut Oil
Nutrition: 1 Tbsp, 130 calories, 14 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 0 g protein
You’ll have to hunt around the Whole Foods for it, but this bold and buttery oil may be the healthiest you’ll find: Eighty-four percent of the fat in macadamia nuts is monounsaturated, and it also has a very high percentage of omega-3s, a fat that’s been shown to help build lean muscle and turbocharging fat loss.
Blend This!: ½ cup skim milk + 1 scoop chocolate protein powder + 1 tbsp nut butter + 1 tsp macadamia nut oil + 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/2 medium banana + 1 cup ice
Nutrition: 1 cup, brewed from grounds, 2 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 5 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 sugars, 0 g protein
If you typically sip your shake while the sun’s still up, swapping water for a cup of iced coffee is a tasty, energy boosting way to upgrade your drink. For an added weight loss benefit, sip your buzzed out beverage before you hit the gym. Those who consume caffeine before hitting the gym burn about 15 percent more calories post-exercise than those who don’t down any caffeine, according to a Spanish study.
Blend This!: 8 oz. cold brew coffee + 2 scoops protein powder
Nutrition: 1 tsp, 6 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 mg sodium, 1 g carb, 0.5 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 0 g protein
Too much spicy food can be rough on your stomach, but a small shake of capsaicin, the compound that gives cayenne pepper its powerful kick, has been shown to shrink abdominal fat, suppress appetite and boost the body’s ability to burn food as energy. While it’s not a common protein shake ingredient, it’s worth trying if you’re a fan of hot ‘n spicy fare. Who knows, it may just become your new favorite add-in!
Blend This!: 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk + 1/2 cup frozen cherries + 1 scoop chocolate protein powder + 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Nutrition: 1 tsp, 2 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g sodium, <1 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 0 g protein
Ginger has been shown to banish boat and reduce post-workout muscle soreness by as much as 25 percent. Adding it to your shake can help you maintain a consistent workout regimen which is good news for your heart, blood pressure and waistline.
And speaking of your ticker, to ensure it stays in prime condition, be sure you’re eating these 7 Best Foods to Decrease Heart Disease.
Blend This!: 1 cup frozen mango + 1 frozen banana + 1/2 cup shredded carrots + 1 tbsp fresh ginger + 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut water + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
Nutrition: ½ cup, cooked without salt, 114 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 1 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 7.5 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 8 g protein
Beans are good for your heart, but they’re also great for uncovering your abs. A ½ cup serving provides 8 grams of protein and 7.5 grams of fiber, two non-negotiable flat-belly nutrients.
Apprehensive about adding them to your shake? Trust us, you won’t even taste them and you’re sure to love their amazing creamy texture.
Blend This!: 1 frozen banana + ½ cup black beans + 2 medjool dates, pitted + 1 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1 scoop chocolate protein powder + 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
Nutrition: 1 cup, canned without salt, 83 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 12 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 8 g sugars, 2.7 g protein USDA
This natural appetite suppressant and fat burner is filled with satiating fiber and bicep-building protein. And it might help you get to the gym more often: After running a series of animal tests, researchers discovered that eating pumpkin can ward off the production of lactic acid—the compound that’s responsible for making your muscles ache the day after a challenging workout.
Blend This!: 1/2 cup pumpkin + 1 frozen banana + 1 cup almond milk + 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup + 1/2 cup ice + 1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1 scoop protein powder
Nutrition: ¼ avocado, 57 calories, 5 g fat, 3 g sodium, 3 g carbs, 2.3 g fiber, 0 g sugars, <1 g protein.
Avocado might not be a traditional protein shake ingredient, but we’re convinced that it should be—it is a perfect weight loss food, after all. The calories come primarily from monounsaturated fat, the good stuff that protects your heart, helps banish hunger and prevents body fat distribution around the belly. Add to that an impressive fiber load and you have the makings of a seriously satisfying ingredient addition.
Blend This!: 1/2 avocado + 1 scoop chocolate protein powder + 1 frozen banana + 1 tsp raw cocoa + 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1 Tbsp honey
Nutrition: 1 Tbsp, no salt added, 98 calories, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 3 g carbs, 1.6 g fiber, <1 g sugars, 3 g protein
Ounce for ounce, almonds are one of the most nutritious nuts. Though they’re packed with a plethora of vital nutrients, the most notable is one is manganese. The reason: The mineral is vital to a healthy metabolism. To see which brands of almond butter are ETNT-approved, click through to The 16 Best Nut Butters for Weight Loss.
Blend This!: 1 scoop protein powder + 1 frozen banana + 1/2 cup frozen blueberries + 1 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1 Tbsp almond butter
Nutrition: 1 cup raw, 7 calories, 0 g fat, 24 g sodium, 1 g carbs, <1 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 1 g protein.
Adding a bit of green to your shake doesn’t alter the taste and can elevate its weight loss benefits exponentially. In fact, recent research suggests that compounds in spinach leaf membranes called thylakoids may serve as a powerful appetite suppressant. A recently published long-term study found that having a drink containing thylakoids before breakfast could significantly reduce cravings and promote weight loss, so consider the Blend This! recipe below your go-to if you’re an a.m. protein shake sipper.
Blend This!: 2 cups raw spinach + 1 tbs almond butter +1/2 cup ice + 1/4 tsp cinnamon + 1 pear (peeled, cored, and cut) + 1/2 cup Greek yogurt + 1 scoop protein powder
Nutrition: 1 oz, 70-85% cacao solids, 170 calories, 12 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 6 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 6.8 g sugar, 2.2 g protein
Good news for your sweet tooth: Chocolate can help you flatten your belly. Dark chocolate, that is. A recent study found that when men ate 3.5 ounces of chocolate two hours before a meal, those who had dark chocolate took in 17 percent fewer calories than those that ate the milk variety. The researchers believe that this is because dark chocolate contains pure cocoa butter, a source of digestion-slowing stearic acid. Consider the ingredient a must-add if you typically blend up a shake to tide you over between meals.
Warning: Not all dark chocolates are created equal. Before whipping out your blender, pick up one of these Best Fat-Burning Chocolates.
Blend This!: 1 frozen banana + 1/2 cup spinach leaves + 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1 scoop protein powder + 5 mint leaves + 1 Tbsp dark chocolate, chopped
Nutrition: 1 Tbsp, ground, 37 calories, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 2 mg sodium, 2 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 1 g protein
Flaxseeds are overflowing with ALA, an essential omega-3 fatty acid that can aid weight maintenance and ward off fat-storing inflammation. It’s also jam-packed with fiber (in fact, it’s one of these 11 Best High Fiber Foods for Weight Loss), so adding a scoop of the stuff to your shake can boost your meal’s satiety factor, helping cut your overall daily caloric intake.
Blend This!: 1/2 cup 1% milk + 1 scoop protein powder + 2 Tbsp flaxseed + 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter + 1 frozen banana + 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Nutrition: 1/2 cup, 32 calories, 0 g fat, 1 mg sodium, 7 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 0 g protein
All berries are good for fat loss and cancer prevention, but black raspberries are the very best. They contain a lot of A’s: antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic compounds, plus a fourth A that gives them an edge. “Black raspberries contain a unique form of anthocyanin that has been strongly linked with reduced rates of cancers of the upper respiratory system and digestive tract,” says nutritionist Carolyn Katzin. If cancer prevention is your primary diet goal, be sure you’re also eating these 7 Foods That Fight Cancer.
Blend This!: 2 scoops chocolate protein powder + ½ cup black raspberries + 1 cup 1% milk
Baked Sweet Potato
Nutrition: 1 small potato, 112 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 72 mg sodium, 26 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 2 g protein
A belly-burning “slow carb,” sweet potatoes are high in fiber and have a low glycemic index, which means they’re absorbed slowly and keep you feeling full longer. They’re also rich in carotenoids, powerful antioxidants which help stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance, which prevents calories from being converted into fat. Peel and bake ‘em and throw them in the blender to give your daily protein shake a fall-inspired flavor profile.
Blend This!: 1 small sweet potato (peeled, cubed, cooked) + 2 cups unsweetened almond milk + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 1 tablespoon maple syrup + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract + ½ teaspoon ground coffee + ice, to taste
Nutrition: 2 Tbsp, 76 calories, 1.3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, N/A sugar, 2 g fiber, 3 g protein
Want to thicken the consistency and staying power of your A.M. shake? Add raw oats. Studies show that people who consume oatmeal for breakfast feel full longer—even four hours after they eat! The more satiated you feel the less likely you’ll be to reach for that mid-morning vending machine snack. If you’d rather eat your oats with a spoon, be sure to check out these 7 Mason Jar Oatmeal Recipes—they’re all packed with weight loss nutrients.
Blend This!: 1 cup frozen berries + 1 Tbsp all-natural peanut butter + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 2 Tbsp rolled oats + 1 cup milk
Nutrition: 1 Tbsp, 69 calories, 4 g fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 2 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 2 g protein
“Chia seeds give you stable energy because of their great ratio of protein, fats and fiber combined with the fact that they’re low-carb,” says New York City-based dietitian Carolyn Brown, MS, RD. “They won’t cause spikes and drops in blood sugar or insulin levels, preventing cravings and overeating later.” Add them to your shake to keep your hunger in check all day long.
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1 cup frozen strawberries + 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 1 Tbsp chia seeds
Nutrition: 1 medium, 95 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 2 mg sodium, 25 g carbs, 4.5 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 0.5 g protein
Apples are one of the very best fruit sources of fiber (and one of these Best Fruits for Fat Loss), which studies have proven to be integral to incinerate belly fat. A recent study at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years. Sounds like a convincing reason to add the naturally sweet fruit your flat-belly shake to us.
Blend This!: 1 apple, peeled and diced + 1 Tbsp honey + ⅓ cup unsweetened almond milk + ½ cup oats + 1 scoop protein powder + 1/4 tsp cinnamon + 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Nutrition: 1 cup, sliced, 54 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 2 mg sodium, 13 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 1 g protein
Frozen strawberries are cheaper than the fresh kind and contain the same amount of nutrients. Add them to your shake to reap their heart-protective, fat-cell shrinking benefits. A recent study found that mice who consumed three daily servings of berries decreased the formation of fat cells by up to 73 percent. Even if the results don’t hold up in humans, you’ll still take in a host of health-protective nutrients (like vitamin C and fiber) by adding them to your drink.
Blend This!: 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 1 frozen banana + 1/2 cup frozen strawberries + 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp nut butter