Making your own smoothie or protein shake may seem simple, but it can actually get tricky; adding too much of a healthy ingredient or adding ingredients that you think are healthy but actually aren't can lead to calorie overload or a messed up macro ratio.
Shakes should fall around 350 to 450 calories for a snack and up to 600 for a meal. You should use ingredients that contribute nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and meet your goals, not just add empty calories, like fruit juices or sorbet. Here’s what to consider when blending a shake:
You’ve just finished a great pump session with Natalie and feel ravenous for nutrients. For a muscle-building shake, aim for a 40:30:30 ratio of macros, 40% carbs, 30 % fat, and 30% protein. Focus on the protein for this goal and get at least 30g protein per shake to help build muscle mass. Protein powder, dairy, and nut butters should be calculated into your protein and fat macro ratios. There is no need to double down on the protein powder though. Any more than 40g protein at a time is wasted. Your body cannot process more than 40g. Therefore, you’re more likely to clog up your kidneys and experience constipation. That’s why bowel issues are the biggest complaints for those on the Atkins or carnivore diets.
The carbs in your shake should come from fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, spinach, and carrots. Fruits and vegetables are the main source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Skip grains like oats or sweeteners such as honey. While these carbs also contain vitamins and minerals, they don’t have as many as actual fruits and veggies and will knock your macros out of proportion.
Still confused about which ingredients are best for you? Here are 10 ideas to make your shake healthier:
You shake should contain nutrient-dense ingredients for exercise recovery, muscle building, and cell nourishment. Get creative and make you nutrition powerhouse a perfect shake!
Jacqueline Corbett, MS RD LD
Registered Dietitian, NKFitSquad Dietitian