Premade protein shakes


With so many options in the sea of protein supplements from protein and collagen powders to protein bars and premade protein shakes, it can be very overwhelming knowing what to pick. Below are the results from my premade protein shake search.

What should you be looking out for in a protein shake? Find out! #saslife Click To Tweet

Ingredients to be Aware of

We all have different nutrient needs, and if you need to avoid certain ingredients for health reasons, like food allergies, then that’s one way to narrow down the options. Otherwise, here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a protein shake. Always read ingredients!

  1. Highly processed ingredients: For the most part, look for shakes that have ingredients that are familiar and do not contain artificial ingredients (especially artificial sweeteners). The less processed the better.
  2. Sweeteners: Assuming you’ve already eliminated shakes that contain artificial sweeteners (see #1), search for the sweetness source. Most shakes have some form of added sweetener. It might be sugar alcohols, stevia, monk fruit, allulose or a combination of these sweeteners. Be aware that sugar alcohols can cause GI symptoms like gas, bloating or diarrhea in some people.
  3. Added fibers: A lot of protein shakes also have added fibers, with the most common being chicory root fiber. You may also see corn fiber, agave fiber or acacia fiber. While in theory, this additional fiber sounds great, for many of us, chicory root (inulin) can cause gas, bloating and cramping, especially if you are not used to eating it.
  4. Type of protein: Most of the protein shakes I found had either whey, pea or rice protein. A few also had pumpkin seed protein, chickpea protein and hemp protein. (Take a look at how to pick a protein powder for more details.)
  5. Caffeine: Be aware that many coffee flavored shakes have caffeine, some as high as 175mg (about 3 shots of espresso).
  6. Other additives: Several of the protein shakes I tried had added herbs and/or vitamins. It’s important to be aware of all the ingredients since some of these may not be right for you.

Protein Shake Taste Test

On a search to find the best premade protein shake, I narrowed down my selection to the following protein shakes that met these criteria:

  • Contains at least 15g of protein
  • Does not have any artificial sweeteners (like sucralose)
  • Contains less than 30g carbohydrates
  • Does not have to be ordered online (I got most of these at Whole Foods or Harris Teeter, but they are also sold in other stores.)

Prices ranged from $2 to $5 for a 10-12oz serving.

*Click on the image to view larger + activate hyperlinks. 

Making Your Own Protein-rich Smoothie

Obviously making a smoothie yourself is the best way to guarantee that it only contains the ingredients you want it to. There are so many recipes out there for smoothies, but what I have found is that many of them are either too high in carbs or too low in fat, both of which will likely mean you will be hungry again soon. If you are using a smoothie as a meal, it needs to have adequate protein, fat and fiber and not too many carbs. Check out the recipe below for my “go-to” balanced smoothie recipe.

Final Thoughts

While there are many reasons we might choose to supplement our protein intake with protein bars, shakes or powders, ideally, we would get all the protein our bodies need from real, whole foods which also provide vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and many other beneficial nutrients. Just keep in mind that these products are supplemental to a real, whole foods diet. Food first!


Berry Tahini Smoothie

Makes 1 serving

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup frozen wild blueberries
½ cup frozen raspberries
2 Tbsp flax
1 Tbsp tahini
1 scoop protein powder


  1. Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.

Nutrition Information

  • With the protein powder I’m currently using (a grass-fed beef protein isolate), this smoothie comes out to about: 470 calories, 20.1g fat, 34.1g carbs, 12.7g fiber and 41.8g protein. (about a 30/35/35 macro split - carb/pro/fat).
  • With a scoop of typical whey protein isolate, this smoothie comes out to about: 460 calories, 21.1g fat, 37.1g carbs, 12.7g fiber and 33.8g protein (about a 30/30/40 macro split).



About Author

Kelly Gehle, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP


Kelly is a Nutritionist at the HCC at SAS Institute Inc. in Cary NC. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Arizona State University and her Master of Science degree in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner. Her areas of expertise include functional nutrition, health and wellness education, prenatal nutrition, food allergies and intolerances and culinary nutrition.

Leave A Reply

Back to Top