Many people find their protein shakes either watery or too thin. It means they can’t enjoy drinking them as much as they want to.
Thankfully, there are several ways to make it thicker. Below are some of my all-time favorites because they are filling and are good for gut health. Ready to shake? Let’s get started!
10 Gut-Friendly Ways to Make Protein Shakes Thicker
1. Add a Fresh or Frozen Fruit
Adding fresh or frozen fruit to protein shakes will give you more nutrients, fiber, and calories. It will also make your protein shake thicker.
It is denser than fresh fruit. So, it thickens the milkshake instantly. However, this option works better for smoothies made with a high-speed blender than protein shakes.
That said, you can use fresh fruits instead. Opt for those that are already ripe and soft, like a ripe banana. This fruit blends well and is packed with potassium, giving you that thick, creamy texture.
Studies have also shown that bananas may be suitable for post-workout recovery because of their magnesium and potassium levels. These minerals alleviate muscle soreness and cramps associated with workouts.
Fresh and frozen avocados are also a great option to make your protein shake thicker. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats that give your shake a buttery and creamy texture.
2. Add a Xanthan Gum
The next method, which is the popular way among fitness enthusiasts, is to add xanthan gum. It’s a food additive that works as a stabilizer or thickener. If you add it to a protein powder, you’ll get a smooth or almost creamy texture protein shake.
Corn syrup is another ingredient with the same effect as xanthan gum, but it may not be a good choice for anyone losing weight and athletes. The simple carbs can mess up their fitness goals. Plus, corn syrup contains gluten, unlike xanthan gum.
So, stick with this alternative if you prefer gluten-free protein shakes to avoid an upset stomach.
3. Use Full-Fat Milk
Milk contains fat, giving the shake a thicker consistency. To lose weight, look for low-fat or skim milk instead.
Use skim milk or full-fat milk when blending your shake. Then, adding about four ice cubes per scoop will give you a thicker shake without adding extra fat or calories.
Related: Best Muscle Milk Flavors
4. Blend Some Ice
Ice is a readily available ingredient for thickening up different kinds of drinks, not just protein smoothies. It will also chill down your protein shake and keep it close to the original recipe.
The downside, however, is you’ll only have a short time to enjoy the drink if you use this method. The shake will thin down and become more dilute once the ice melts.
5. Add Oat Flour to Your Protein Powder
Oats are an easy and affordable way to make them thicker. You can easily find them in most health food stores and supermarkets. Plus, they are gluten-free, so that you can enjoy them regardless of your dietary requirements.
Add oat flour or oats into your shake at around 1/4 cup per serving to achieve a thicker consistency.
6. Use Coconut Milk or Almond Milk
Blending protein powders with full-fat coconut milk is another way to thicken your protein shake. They add healthy fat to your shake, keeping you full longer.
However, this is not to be confused with coconut cream. Both are made from the same ingredients (water, coconut, and sometimes guar gum), but coconut milk has lower fat content than coconut cream (more coconut, less water). Hence, the latter is thicker.
You may also use almond milk, which is high in healthy fats and Vitamin E. Drinking it regularly can benefit your heart.
7. Add Flaxseed or Chia Seeds
Flaxseed or chia seeds thicken a protein shake nicely and are good sources of fiber. And as you know, fiber thickens the shake without altering its flavor. These absorb liquid and thicken into a paste-like consistency.
If you prefer this method, add one to two tablespoons of these seeds into your blender with ice cubes, milk, and your favorite protein powder. You can also pre-soak them and only add them to your smoothie after 20 minutes.
8. Use Nut Butter Powder or Nut Butters
Drinking a watery protein shake is worse, but you can make it thicker by adding some nut butter powder or nut butter. These products are thick in texture. So, use them sparingly to avoid changing the flavor too much.
A few of my favorites are peanut butter, cashew butter, and almond butter. They thicken a protein shake without adding too many calories. These also provide up to 8g of protein per serving.
9. Use Green Powder
Mixing the green powder with protein powder makes an excellent post-workout recovery drink, especially for active individuals. Mix the greens first and then add a scoop afterward.
You must prepare your smoothie because two powders mix at different rates. Adding green powder makes your shake thicker and tastes better.
10. Add Yogurt to Your Protein Shake
Many people like to add yogurt to their protein shakes to make them thicker. To add creaminess and thickness to your smoothie fast, freeze your yogurt in an ice cube.
Two good options are Greek yogurt and coconut yogurt. If you prefer gluten and sugar-free yogurt with an extra probiotic boost, go for coconut yogurt.
Meanwhile, Greek yogurt is easily digestible. It may also support healthy body composition and muscle recovery since it contains protein.
The Quality of Your Protein Powder Matters
The quality, efficacy, and purity of protein powders vary significantly. It can be challenging to decide which is suitable for you between collagen, plant-based, and whey proteins.
To make a more informed choice, look for brands with full transparency of their ingredients. Choose one with fewer ingredients, essential for people with autoimmune conditions and leaky gut to avoid GI distress, like gas and bloating.
Meanwhile, plant-based protein powders accommodate people with different lifestyles and dietary restrictions. They are lower in fat and higher in fiber than animal-based proteins. They make a good choice if your goal is to promote muscle growth and get enough nutrition.
Expert Fitness’ Takeaway
Using any of these methods is the key to creating a satisfying and thick smoothie.
Having the right blender likewise makes a difference. Invest in one powerful enough to slice through and crush hard frozen ingredients, so you’ll always have a smooth consistency.
Want more smoothie ideas? Check out our other posts at ExpertFitness.org.
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.