Building muscle on a student’s budget when you aren’t exactly a chef de cuisine and are crunched for time between classes is hard.
Shakes are a great answer to this problem. They’re cheap, they’re easy to make and there’s no better way to boost your protein intake than with a shake built from the ground up to give your body the protein supply it needs.
Here’s what you’re going to need for a protein-rich and delicious shake:
1. Protein powder (Vega is a good brand for vegan readers):
This is really the best way to get as much concentrated protein into your shake as possible. Be sure to check the label beforehand; different brands have different concentrations of protein, and oftentimes the container will be intentionally oversized. Take a look at the actual concentration of protein and the amount of powder inside to make sure you get your money’s worth.
2. Yogurt (go for almond yogurt if you don’t consume dairy products):
I like to go for Greek or unsweetened, nonfat yogurt because that will help give you the slimmest muscle growth and the least calories to burn off if you’re trying to get rid of any love handles. Buying in bulk can help cut down on cost.
3. Milk (again, almond milk is a good non-soy vegan option):
2 percent generally adds the best flavor, in my experience, but you can go for skim if you’re really watching your fat intake.
4. A whole banana:
This is optional. Feel free to play around with the fruit you use. Adding a little bit of fruit to your shake will improve the flavor and add some extra nutrients. Getting enough vitamins and nutrients throughout the day will help make sure you’re in tip-top physical and psychological condition when you hit the gym. I use bananas for their flavor and texture; they’re also rich in potassium, which prevents muscle contraction.
Beyond these, feel free to experiment with other minor ingredients or different flavors of protein powder, but try not to add anything with too many calories in it. Dumping a bag of chocolate chips into your shake might make it taste better, but it won’t do your body any favors in the long run.
Make your shake by following these steps:
1. Set up your blender.
2. Add the banana. Slicing works well, but you can break it apart into chunks with your hands since it’s about to be blended into a pulp, anyway.
3. Add 2–4 large scoops of yogurt.
More scoops will give you bigger portions and more protein.
4. Add your protein powder. Refer to the packaging to see what an appropriate portion size is for the powder that you’re using. Sometimes I add an extra scoop or two to give my shake more kick.
5. Pour the milk in. I usually fill it up as high as I can without spilling any once I start blending, but less milk will give you smaller, denser portions if you don’t have much of an appetite. Too little, though, will leave your shake dry and gooey.
6. Blend it. The exact amount of time you need to blend for will depend on the blender, but it’s best to leave the machine running until your shake has an even, undifferentiated appearance.
7. Enjoy. Drink that shake right up! If you pour it into a glass (or two) and refrigerate it for about 15 minutes the shake will taste the best.
Depending on your portion size and the quality of your ingredients, this recipe can make a shake with anywhere from 60–100 grams of protein in it. It makes for a delicious—and nutritious—treat to reward yourself with after a tough workout session, so enjoy it! You’ve earned it.