A few weeks back a friend of mine sent me this text:

“I got a life coach! And part of what I am going to do is drink a protein shake each morning. So I tried it this morning. Protein shakes taste like @$$. Please tell me you have any sort of tip to make protein taste even a little better.”

The good news for her, and you too is: I love protein shakes and smoothies! I rarely start a day without one, and over the years, I’ve perfected the art of making them at home.

Now, I’m not going to give you protein shake or smoothie recipes, because you can find tons of those all over the internet. Instead, I’m going to shortcut you past all the pitfalls that I’ve seen so many people fall into, myself included.

Pass on the Chocolate Powder

That’s right ladies and gentlemen, when buying your first tub or bag of protein powder, resist the temptation to buy chocolate.

Here are the main two reasons why:

  1. I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t taste like real chocolate…at all.
  2. It limits the other ingredients that you can mix into your protein shake. Pineapple and chocolate, anyone?

So, apart from not tasting very good, you can’t mix chocolate powder with many other ingredients outside of milk and maybe peanut butter (if you have a major sweet tooth). I prefer to buy vanilla protein powder, and then I can add in chocolate if I want to.

My favorite protein smoothie recipe is Vanilla Muscle Tech powder, frozen strawberries, half a banana, and some pineapple. You can’t have that tropical blend using chocolate powder. If you want to make your protein shakes taste better, go with vanilla.

Mix it with Something Tastier than Water

The next issue I see so many people make is that the throw a couple of scoops of powder in a blender bottle and mix it with water.


I’ll admit it, I’m not tough enough to drink that terrible concoction every morning.

You can use a variety of liquids for your smoothie, but I prefer almond milk. It has fewer calories than real milk but still makes your protein shakes taste much better than using water. If you’re going the blender bottle route, use chocolate almond milk and vanilla powder. It seems backward, but it tastes so much better.

You can also use coconut milk, cashew milk, or whatever liquid floats your boat and if you’re using a blender, you could also try ice or yogurt.

Get Creative with Your Ingredients

Fruits are by far my favorite go-to ingredients to make my protein shakes taste better because I don’t eat very much fruit otherwise and there are so many to choose from.

I buy frozen strawberries at Sams’s Club because they’re my favorite and that’s the cheapest place I’ve found, but I also buy frozen mangos, canned pineapples, fresh bananas (that I let get overripe and then freeze), to name a few.

If you go the fruit route, watch out for getting heavily seeded fruits such as blackberries or raspberries. The seeds tend to get stuck in your teeth and make for a gritty texture. Blueberries also have the same effect because the skin tends to leave black specks on your teeth. It tastes great but can make for an awkward meeting.

photo of austin bollinger's protein smoothie ingredients

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

This tip is simple yet so many people find one recipe they like, wear it out, and stop drinking smoothies altogether. Be sure to try different ingredients, different amounts of your ingredients, for example, more banana than strawberry or more pineapple than banana, and look up recipes online.

I once tried a coffee-based smoothie (#coffeeaddict), which didn’t go well, but I’ve also tried things like squeezing some lemon in my strawberry/banana smoothie. It added a whole new flavor without being overbearing. I also like yogurt in my smoothie from time to time.

I also once used chocolate almond milk and peanut butter for a super sweet protein shake, but I’m sure that wasn’t a healthy option.

Check Out Some Pro Tips

Get an Awesome Blender

I’ve tried a number of cheap blenders from WalMart and Target, you know, the kind with the single blade in the very bottom. I always found it so frustrating that the blades would be spinning 100 miles per hour, but the ingredients inside didn’t even move!

Then, my wife bought me a Ninja for my birthday! Holy smokes it is fantastic, and it only cost about twice that of the cheap ones I had been buying!

I’ve been using my Ninja blender five mornings per week for several years, and it is still going strong. And, the triple blades make blending just about anything a piece of cake. A great blender, combined with your favorite ingredients, is a sure fire way to make your protein shakes taste better.

Whey Protein vs. Calcium Caseinate

There are tons of different types of protein out there, and Healthline covers the best seven types of protein, along with what they’re best for, but I want to quickly mention the two most common types: Whey Protein and Casein Proteins.

Some studies show that Calcium Caseinate is digested more slowly, which promotes a steadier absorption rate, but I’ve found that this kind of protein gives me pretty bad stomach cramps. I’ve researched this, and it seems common for some people, so check your ingredients if you start experiencing stomach cramps. Calcium Caseinate is most likely the culprit.

Whey protein, on the other hand, seems to be much more comfortable on my stomach. It’s more quickly digested and promotes building and maintaining muscle. When in doubt, go with Whey.

Okay, so this isn’t as much about how to make your protein shakes taste better as much as it is about watching out for a potential tummy problem, but if you’re sensitive to Casein, you’ll thank me.

Add Some Greens

If you’re anything like me, you don’t eat as many veggies as you probably should. Sorry, mom! That’s why I add Amazing Greens to my smoothies. It adds loads of vegetables with practically no taste, honest!

So, there you have it, my list of common protein pitfalls and how to make protein shakes taste better. Pretty simple, right?

What about you? Do you have any funny or awful protein experiment stories? Did this article help you? Drop me a comment below and thanks so much for reading!

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

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