Are you struggling to get enough protein in your diet but don’t like protein shakes? Worry not, there are plenty of other ways to use whey protein if you just can’t stomach a shake!
If it’s the texture or consistency of shakes that you don’t like, you can get protein water, protein bars, protein mocha and even protein hot chocolate. Gone are the days of gloopy shakes being your only choice, these days you can get protein just about everything!
If you like to bake, there are loads of recipes that include protein powder, such as cookies, brownies, pancakes, and even ice cream. The only danger there is eating too many calories as lots of these just taste too good!
If you like the idea of the convenience of a shake but it’s flavour that you’ve struggled with, it might just be that you haven’t found the right one for you yet. There are so many different brands and flavours out there now that it’s worth giving a few a go. Again, things have moved on a long way since the days of limited choice and fake fruit flavours!
Some people find that whey protein doesn’t agree with them but get on well with plant-based protein. For some, whey protein shakes can make them feel bloated and cause digestive issues but plant-based protein does not cause the same issues.
Whey protein is a dairy product so for people with a cow’s milk protein intolerance it is not advisable to use it. Again, it is usually a case of trying out the different varieties and finding the right kind of protein powder for you.
So, we’re going to take a look at some ways to use whey or plant-based protein powder other than in shakes and at some of the other protein products out there that you can supplement with if you’re struggling to include enough protein in your meals to meet your target.
Before we continue, if you’d like to re-cap on why you need protein in your diet have a read of our blog 5 Reasons You Should Probably Eat More Protein. And for some ideas of how to get more protein naturally in your meals check out these articles:
Ten alternatives to protein shakes
- Other protein drinks
- Protein bars
- Protein pancakes
- Protein yoghurt
- Protein fluff
- Protein cookies
- Protein brownies
- Protein balls
- Protein ice cream
Protein drinks (other than shakes)
Protein drinks are a way to get more protein into your diet with minimal fuss, wherever you are. You can use protein powder, to which you add water or milk, or ready-to-drink protein shakes or protein water for ultimate convenience.
You can drink protein drinks at any time of day, not just after a workout, however most people choose to drink them after training to re-hydrate and get their protein in at an optimum time.
If you don’t like protein shakes, try protein water – MyProtein is just one brand that sells a couple of different flavours and even offers sample size bottles so you can try it before investing in a bulk buy.
Each bottle of MyProtein protein water contains 15g of protein, with zero sugar and zero fat – making it a good way to hydrate after a workout. Plus, it only contains 61 calories per bottle, a lot less than most protein shakes.
MyProtein also has a range of ‘clear whey’. This works like a shake in that it comes in powder form that you add water to but it mixes up to make protein water – a bit like squash, with a variety of flavours to choose from. If you drink a lot of protein water this is probably a more cost-effective way of buying it than ready mixed in bottles.
If you fancy upgrading your morning coffee to boost your protein intake, you could try a protein mocha. MyProtein mocha contains 15g of protein mixed with real coffee for an authentic taste.
And if you don’t want to mess with your coffee you could always opt for a protein hot chocolate a bit later in the day. MyProtein lean hot chocolate contains 8g of protein per serving, is low in fat and contains a blend of essential vitamins.
How you drink your protein just comes down to a matter of taste. And if you don’t like the idea of drinking it there are loads of ways to eat it!
There are loads of options when it comes to protein bars, so again it comes down to personal preference and taste.
Grenade makes all kinds of tasty protein snacks, including Carb Killer high protein bars in a wide selection of flavours – from Banana Armour to Dark Chocolate Raspberry to White Chocolate Salted Peanut, and loads of other tasty flavours in between!
If you are partial to a bit of chocolate but you’re watching your calories, Carb Killer bars are an ideal chocolate bar alternative. They are packed with up to 23 grams of protein and contain less than 2g of sugar per bar.
Other easy-to-carry snacks that Grenade offer include Reload protein flapjacks, which are packed with protein and slow release carbs from jumbo and rolled oats. They come in four flavours – Chocolate Browning, Coconut Chaos, Fused Fruit and Chocolate Orange. Each bar contains 15g of protein and a ratio of 2:1 carbs to protein. However, they are far higher in calories than Carb Killer bars.
Optimum Nutrition, Barbells, PhD Nutrition, and Battle Snacks are some other brands that sell good quality protein bars in a number of indulgent-sounding flavours. Most of these are available in Sainsburys and Holland and Barrett, and all of them can be ordered online from Amazon.
MyProtein also makes a whole selection of protein goodies (the name kind of gives that away!), including cookies, cereal bars, brownies and flapjacks.
Its Protein Brownies contain 23g of protein and claim to contain up to 75% less sugar than standard supermarket alternatives. Its Protein Flapjacks contain 20g of protein and are crammed with carbs to support recovery after training.
It also makes High-Protein Bars, Protein Light Bars and Layered Protein Bars. The High-Protein Bar contains 30g of high-quality protein, 263 calories, and comes in three flavours – Chocolate Coconut, Chocolate Orange, and Vanilla and Honeycomb. While the Protein Light Bars contain 20g of protein but 198 calories. They come in Caramel Peanut, Chocolate, and Cookies and Cream.
The Layered Protein Bar falls in the middle of the High and Light bars in terms of calories, containing 20g of protein per bar and 219 calories. They feature six layers of taste and texture and come in delicious flavours, such as Birthday Cake and Lemon Meringue.
Protein + Oats = Proats
Oats are a good source of complex carbohydrates and very popular in the mornings. You can include oats in your breakfast in porridge or overnight oats, and you can add protein powder to both of these for an extra dose of flavour as well as protein.
You can add any flavour of protein powder that you like to your oats but a scoop of vanilla works well if you like your porridge with berries. Adding a spoonful of Chia seeds as well makes for a healthy balanced breakfast, as they contain fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. But watch your portion size as Chia seeds are calorie dense!
Top tip: if you are adding protein powder to porridge, mix it into a paste with some water and stir it into your porridge after you have cooked it!
And if you’re tracking calories, be aware that protein powder will also add calories as well as protein.
Check out this overnight oats recipe for a simple protein-packed, healthy, balanced breakfast:
- 180g old fashioned, rolled oats
- 1 level scoop (35g) protein powder – flavour of choice
- 250ml milk of choice (animal or plant-based)
- In a medium-large bowl combine all ingredients, mixing well.
- Either leave mixture in the bowl or divide into smaller containers to eat each day.
- Let sit for at least 1 hour in the fridge, ideally overnight.
- Add whatever toppings you like in the morning or before demolishing (berries, bananas, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, etc) and enjoy!
- You can increase or decrease the amount by using the ratio of 1/2 cup oats to 1/3 cup milk
- Adjust protein powder to taste – adding more will thicken the mixture!
- If you don’t have protein powder you can sub with 100-200g fat free greek yoghurt.
Protein pancakes make for a delicious, healthy, well-balanced breakfast … or snack at any time of the day! They are super easy to make and there are loads of variations you can try. And if you can’t be bothered to make your own mixture most supplement companies sell ready-made mixtures these days.
You can make banana protein pancakes, chocolate protein pancakes, fruity protein pancakes, cinnamon and maple syrup protein pancakes, coffee and walnut protein pancakes, and even sweet potato protein pancakes. The list of flavour combination ideas is endless… just Google protein pancake recipes and you’ll find loads to try – some more appealing than others!
For a first attempt or go-to simple recipe, try this simple banana protein pancake recipe:
- 1 large ripe banana
- 2 large eggs (or 4 egg whites if you’re looking to reduce calories and fat content)
- 1 level scoop (35g) vanilla or banana flavour protein powder
- 1 level scoop (35g) rolled oats
- Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat (medium heat is key here – if it begins to smoke, it’s too hot).
- Add your banana and eggs to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
- Add the protein powder and rolled oats to the blender and process until smooth (Make sure you add these after the bananas and eggs to prevent the powder from getting stuck at the bottom of the blender).
- Pour a quarter of the batter into your preheated frying pan, into a pancake around 5″ wide. If you like, you can make the pancakes a little thicker – just wait 20 seconds from pouring the batter in and pour a dribble more batter on top.
- Wait around 30 seconds (or until golden on the bottom), then use a spatula to flip the pancake over and cook for a further 30 seconds. Repeat until you have no batter left.
- Top with your favourite toppings (for example, blueberries and sugar-free maple syrup, or mixed berries and a dollop of natural yoghurt).
Fat free Greek yoghurt such as Fage Total 0%, Liberte 0% or supermarkets’ own 0% brand is already high in protein but lacks a little in flavour. Unfortunately, opting for some flavoured yoghurts causes the calorie content to shoot right up. So why not create your own flavour by adding a scoop of protein powder to plain fat free Greek yoghurt and bumping up the protein content even more?!
Other protein yoghurt brands, such as Arla, Grahams or Kvarg, or Alpro if you don’t eat dairy, make delicious high-protein yoghurts. Most of these protein yoghurts contain around 17-20g of protein per portion, so it’s a great way to add additional protein to a meal or eat as a snack, on its own or accompanied by a small bowl of cereal or some fruit.
Quark is another handy high-protein product that can be used instead of yoghurt and is low in calories and fat. Quark is officially a cheese but it looks a bit like yoghurt and can be swapped into all sorts of recipes to cut back on fat and calories when replacing yoghurt or cream.
Most Quark varieties contain no added salt or sugar and it’s naturally lower in both than most other dairy products, meaning it’s considered a healthier alternative to some yoghurts. It’s also high in calcium to help with keeping bones, hair and teeth healthy, contains lots of Vitamin A and plenty of B vitamins, which support our nervous systems.
Quark also contains no rennet, which some other cheeses do, meaning that it’s suitable for vegetarians.
Quark can be used in lots of sweet and savoury recipes that use dairy ingredients like cream cheese, yoghurt or cottage cheese. Quark can also be eaten on its own or with fruit and granola for a high-protein low-fat breakfast option, or spread on toast for a creamy topper.
OK, so the name isn’t that appealing as it sounds like something you might find in your belly button but protein fluff is the fitness community’s best kept secret.
It’s a low-carb, high-protein dessert recipe that’s perfect for a super-filling weight-loss snack. If you haven’t tried protein fluff before, you really are missing out!
Protein fluff is simply made from your favourite protein powder mixed with a splash of milk (plus a few optional extras), whisked up to a monstrous volume to keep you full for hours. It’s a great way of keeping you full if you’re trying to cut calories while increasing protein and if you’re struggling with satiety and hunger.
There are loads of different protein fluff recipes out there, including delicious desserts such as vanilla ice cream protein fluff, protein fluff trifle, rocky road protein fluff, and blueberry cheesecake protein fluff but here’s a recipe for a (slightly) healthier sounding breakfast protein fluff pudding:
- 75g frozen berries
- 1 scoop (25g) casein protein powder (use your favourite flavour. Other protein powders work too but casein is best!).
- 5g Xanthan Gum (not essential if you haven’t got any, but this ingredient will make your fluff creamier).
- 280ml diet cream soda (or Almond milk).
- Try adding your favourite fruits and toppings to this protein fluff recipe.
- Place the berries into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds until they begin to release a little juice. Place into the fridge or freezer (but don’t allow it to freeze) to cool down while you make the fluff.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the casein protein powder and xanthan gum.
- Add one third of the diet cream soda and mix for 2-3 minutes using an electric whisk.
- Gradually pour in the remaining soda whilst whisking. Whisk for around 10 minutes in total and watch your fluff quadruple in size.
- Layer the protein fluff with your berry mixture and consume straight away!
Protein cookies sound too good to be true, right? Well, that can actually be the case with shop-bought ones as most of them contain a lot of calories. However, if you make your own you can keep the calories down with the right recipe.
Try making these easy peanut butter chocolate chip protein cookies for a healthy(ish) post-workout snack or a treat at any time. Rather than containing around 300 calories each, like shop-bought ones, they contain just 112 calories each, plus 7g of protein. Eat two (as who can just eat one?!) and you are up to 14g of protein – not bad for a delicious treat. And this recipe is gluten-free too.
- 60g peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
- 30g coconut sugar or light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg white
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 30g vanilla whey protein powder
- 2 tbsp coconut flour
- 3 tbsp mini chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and place a rack in the centre of your oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, coconut sugar, salt, egg, egg white, and vanilla extract. Mix briskly until the ingredients are well blended. Sprinkle the baking soda over the top. With a rubber spatula, work in the protein powder and coconut flour until well combined. The mixture will seem very dry at first but will continue to come together as you stir and push. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- At this point, judge your dough, as the amount of moisture may vary based on the brand of protein powder and nut butter you use. It should be slightly sticky but not totally mushy. If you need a firmer dough, add a bit more protein powder. For a looser dough, wet the batter with a splash of milk (any kind of milk) and fold it in with a spatula until the dough comes together.
- Portion the cookie dough by tablespoonfuls and drop onto your prepared baking sheet (you will have 12 to 14 cookies total). With your fingers, gently flatten the tops of the cookies, as they will not spread but will puff up during baking. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes, until the edges are barely golden brown and dry to the touch but the middles seem fairly doughy. Do not overbake!
- Place the cookie sheet on a wire rack and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring them directly to the wire rack to finish cooling.
- The consistency of the dough may vary based on the brand of protein powder and nut butter you use. It should be slightly sticky but not totally mushy. If you need a firmer dough, add more protein powder. For a looser dough, add a splash of milk (animal or plant-based).
- No other flour can be substituted for the coconut flour. Coconut flour is incredibly unique and therefore needs to be used in this recipe.
- Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months, then thaw a few at a time. Don’t microwave them to defrost, as this tends to dry them out.
Yes, protein brownies are as delicious as they sound! And while plenty of supplement companies sell them, they are way better if you make your own. Try this super easy protein brownie recipe and you’ll never look back!
These brownies are moist, gooey, grain-free and loaded with chocolate. The protein in them is just a bonus. And kids tend to love them too!
Just bear in mind that each brownie contains approximately 274 calories and only 4g protein (the calculation is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used). To get a lot of extra protein you’ll be taking on a lot of extra calories. If you just fancy a tasty dessert with a little extra protein, these are perfect!
- 40g cup almond flour
- 1 scoop (35g) chocolate flavour whey protein
- 180g cups chocolate chips
- 60g coconut oil
- 80g cup coconut sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4. Line an 8×8” square pan with foil and coat with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the almond flour and protein powder.
- Place 1 cup of the chocolate chips and the coconut oil in a bowl and microwave for 30-second increments until melted. Stir until smooth.
- Add the coconut sugar to the chocolate mixture and stir until combined.
- Add the eggs and vanilla to the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth.
- Fold the almond flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until thoroughly mixed.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining ½ cup chocolate chips over the top.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool, then cut into squares and serve.
- If you don’t have any almond flour you can replace it with any other healthy flour.
Protein balls are a quick, simple and tasty way to get some extra protein on-the-go. You can pop them in a tupperware and take them with you to eat on the way to work, post-workout or as a bite-size snack at any time of day.
If you Google protein ball recipes you’ll find lots of flavour combination variations so it’s worth trying a few to find your favourite. But you could always start with this tasty recipe for coconut protein balls.
It’s super easy and there’s not even any cooking required!
- 30g soft prunes
- ½ banana
- 40g MyProtein sticky toffee pudding whey protein (or your favourite flavour)
- 3 scoops (75g) rolled oats
- 10g desiccated coconut
- Mash the banana and mix with the prunes.
- Put in the microwave for 2 minutes and mash again.
- Add the oats and protein then mix well (if too thick add a drop of water).
- Roll the mixture into 8 bite-size balls.
- Lightly wet the outside of the protein balls and roll in the coconut.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Protein ice cream
And leaving the very best for last, you can even buy and make your own protein ice cream.
Most supermarkets these days stock at least one brand of protein ice cream, the most popular seeming to be Halo Top. It comes in all sorts of delicious flavours and seems almost too good to be true as it’s not only high in protein (for ice cream) but also low in calories.
Flavours include Strawberry Cheesecake, Cinnamon Roll, Sea Salt Caramel, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Birthday Cake, Cookies and Cream, Peanut Butter Cup, Candy Bar, and Blueberry Crumble.
The only slight downside to this seriously delicious dessert is the price tag … but making your own is cheaper and easy, so it’s an absolute winner. You can eat it on its own or as an accompaniment to some delicious homemade chocolate protein brownies!
All you’ll need for this protein ice cream recipe are four simple ingredients and a spare 30 seconds. It’s healthy as it contains no added no refined sugar, and can be made vegan too!
- 500g frozen bananas
- 4-6 scoops vanilla whey protein (substitute for vegan powder if you want to)
- 250ml fat-free yoghurt (use dairy-free for vegan)
- 50ml milk of choice (anima or plant-based)
- Blend all ingredients together until they’re smooth. Be careful not to overprocess the mixture though as it will begin to warm up and become too liquified, which means you won’t be able to eat it straight away.
- Next, warm a spoon under the hot tap, then scoop out the ice cream into a bowl and you can eat straight away.
- Pour the remaining ice cream into a sealable Tupperware container and freeze for more servings.
- To keep your protein ice cream creamy, mix it up every hour for the first 4 hours of freezing. You can skip this step if you like and simply thaw it out for 15 minutes every time you want some protein ice cream.
- Top with your favourite healthy toppings like cinnamon, berries or sugar-free syrup.
- To freeze bananas, simply peel your bananas first, chop them in half and pop them into a freezer bag. To prevent them from sticking together when frozen, you can freeze them on a tray first without allowing them to touch, then transfer them into your freezer bag once frozen.