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Fruit smoothies and protein shakes can be a healthy choice for a meal or snack.  Being creative with ingredients such as fresh or frozen fruit, low-fat yogurt, crushed ice, milk or soy milk, leafy greens, and healthy fats like flaxseed, can make varieties of protein shake flavors almost endless.  Try some of the tips and recipes below to keep your protein shakes fun and interesting year-round!

Keep in mind that calories can add up fast in homemade versions, due to additions of fruit, milk or yogurt, peanut butter, and flaxseed. Always check the nutrition information on your protein product and add up the calories from additional ingredients in your homemade versions.  For example, a protein powder shake made with a banana, 2 Tbsp. peanut butter, and 1 cup of skim milk will have 380 calories before you even add your protein powder.

A good rule of thumb for calories from protein shakes is 300-400 if you are consuming your shake as a meal, and 100-200 if you are consuming it as a snack.

If you have had weight loss surgery, keep in mind that liquid smoothies may not be as filling as a meal or snack containing solid foods, and can lead to excessive calorie-intake.

If you are adding fruit juice to a smoothie, always choose 100% fruit juice to avoid added sugars, but keep in mind that just 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice has 60 calories.

Non-fat milk and unflavored soy milk are great sources of calcium and vitamin D, and mix well with most protein powders.  They will also make your shakes smoother and creamier.

For a thinner texture, always mix protein shakes with water. For thicker protein smoothies, add a few ice cubes to the finished product and blend well for several minutes.  Blending infuses more air into the smoothie, making it thicker. If you have had weight loss surgery and struggle with gas or bloating, adding more air to your beverages is not advised.

Another way to make smoothies thicker is to blend with frozen fruit, rather than fresh.

For extremely thick smoothies, use lite yogurt in place of milk or water.  Yogurt comes in a wide variety of flavors, so be sure and experiment with different combos of fruits and yogurt flavors to find your favorite, such as key lime pie yogurt blended with strawberries, lemon yogurt blended with raspberries, or peach yogurt blended with blueberries.

Be aware of flavored milks such as vanilla or chocolate, which will have added sugar.  Plain milk and soy milk are the best choices for maximum protein, calcium, and vitamin D, without additional calories.

Add a handful of fresh spinach or kale (stems removed) to a fruit smoothie for a boost of iron and fiber.  When blended well, especially with berries, leafy greens are completely unnoticeable!

For 40 calories, you can add 1 TBSP of ground flaxseed to any fruit smoothie and give your body a healthy dose of heart protective omega-3 fats.

Make a high protein snow cone, by blending fruit flavored powder, such as Nectar Protein’s juice line of products, with ice cubes.

Add your favorite flavor of protein powder to a cup of decaf coffee to create your own high-protein latte’ or mocha.  Protein products typically do not blend well at high temperatures, so this does not work well with very HOT beverages.

Blend low-fat milk or soy milk, decaf coffee and ice with your favorite protein powder flavor to make an iced latte’.  This works great with basic chocolate and vanilla flavored protein powders.

Add unflavored protein powder to your favorite non-calorie beverage, such as Crystal Lite or sugar-free Kool-Aid.  These make great popsicles as well.  Simply freeze in a popsicle mold or paper cups with wooden popsicle sticks, which are available at most craft stores.

Any protein smoothie can be frozen in popsicle molds!  Think raspberries or blueberries blended with a vanilla protein powder, a banana blended with chocolate protein powder, orange Crystal Lite blended with skim milk and vanilla protein powder, or something as simple as fresh strawberries and water blended with unflavored protein powder.

Create your own fruit-infused water by adding any combination of sliced lemons, sliced limes, sliced oranges, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, or mint to a pitcher of a water.  Chill in the refrigerator for several hours for best flavor.  Just before drinking, add a few teaspoons of unflavored protein powder.  This is so refreshing on a hot summer day!

Add a scoop of unflavored protein powder to your favorite soup to boost the protein!  Remember that most protein powders do not mix well at very high temperatures, so this does not work well if you like your soup extremely HOT.

Add a scoop of unflavored protein powder to scrambled eggs before cooking.  Whisk the eggs and protein well and then cook as usual.

Add a scoop of vanilla or unflavored protein powder to oatmeal, cream of wheat, or malt-o-meal to make a high protein breakfast.  Sweeten further with Splenda or other artificial sweetener if desired.Type your paragraph here.

IWLS Recommendations for Protein Supplement Shakes:

  • Choose one with no more than 6 to 8 grams of carbohydrate per 6-8 ounce serving

  • Choose one with at least 15 grams of protein per 6-8 ounce serving

  • Look at the ingredient list for whey protein isolate or whey protein concentrate.  Whey protein isolate is better absorbed in the body and is considered the "gold standard" of protein supplements according the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

IWLS Recommendations for Protein Supplement Bars:

  • Choose one with no more than 250 to 300 calories

  • Choose one with at least 15 to 25 grams of protein

  • If your bar is to be used as a between meal snack, it should have no more than 150 calories

  • Higher calorie bars can be cut in half for a snack

  • The ratio of calories to protein is very important when choosing a bar. The best way to determine a good bar is to look at the grams of protein, add a zero to that number (or multiply by 10), and make sure calories are close to this number


Hints and Tips for Using Protein Supplements