Whey protein is one of the most popular high-quality protein sources.
Whey is a helpful supplement for those looking to increase muscle mass, lose weight, or for general wellness to help meet total daily protein needs.
You may be wondering what you should mix with your whey protein powder to best meet your needs. Continue reading to learn about the best things to mix with your whey protein powder, depending on your goals.
Importance of Balancing Your Macros
Before we delve into the specifics, it’s important to have an understanding of macronutrients and why we should adjust our macronutrient intake depending on our goals.
When you hear the word “macros”, it stands for macronutrients. Macros include carbs, fat, and protein. These three nutrients are vital to our health. However, everyone requires different amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
If your goal is to gain muscle, your body requires more protein. If your goal is to improve endurance, more carbohydrates are needed. If you’re following a keto diet you would need a higher percentage of your total caloric intake coming from fats.
The following article will explain some of the best things you can mix with whey protein, depending on your goals.
What to Mix with Whey for Muscle Gain
Some of the best things to mix with whey protein when you want to gain muscle are sources of carbohydrates such as oats or banana.
This is because our muscles need carbohydrates to restore glycogen stores. Ensuring our muscles have adequate glycogen not only helps repair and build muscle, but it also allows us to continue high intensity exercise at our next gym session.
Another tip to add in sources of carbohydrates is to blend your whey protein shake with skim milk. In fact, milk has been shown to help support muscle growth, in part due to the natural sugars and milk proteins that play a role in building muscle fibers after exercise (1).
It’s recommended to include a whey protein shake within 30 minutes of your workout to optimize muscle protein synthesis (2).
Key Takeaway - To focus on gaining muscle, mix whey protein with sources of carbohydrates like oats or bananas.
Whey Protein Shakes on a Keto/Low-Carb Diet
If you’re following a ketogenic diet you should eat a diet high in fat to best sustain your body in a ketogenic, fat-burning state.
However, protein is still needed to support overall health and metabolic needs – even on a keto diet. In fact, whey protein is one of the best low-carb and keto-friendly protein options.
It’s best to mix whey protein with healthy sources of fat.
Healthy sources of fat – meaning those high in unsaturated fats – have actually been shown to better support ketosis compared to saturated fats (3).
Some great sources of unsaturated fats include the following - avocado, peanut butter. almond butter.
You may also choose to add a small amount of low-carbohydrate fruit such as berries, depending on your total carbohydrate goals.
Key Takeaway - To maintain a keto diet, mix whey protein with sources of fat like avocado, peanut butter, or almond butter.
What to Mix with Whey Protein for Weight Loss
One of the most important nutrition tips for weight loss is to ensure you are in a calorie deficit. This means eating less calories than you burn will equate to weight loss.
Therefore, it’s best to mix whey with a low-calorie, sugar-free liquid base such as water, black coffee, unsweetened coconut water, or unsweetened non-dairy milk.
Whey protein is a great option for those looking to lose weight, in part because a diet high in protein is key to satisfying hunger (4).
To help satiate your appetite, fiber is another key component. Look to add fiber sources such as chia seeds, flax seeds, spinach, or kale, depending on what time of the day you take whey protein.
Lastly, it can be helpful to reduce your sugar intake if weight loss is your goal. Instead of blending your whey protein with a banana, choose a sugar-free replacement that’s just as creamy such as frozen cauliflower.
Key Takeaway - To support weight loss, mix whey protein with a low calorie base, add a source of fiber, and replace sugary fruit with low-sugar alternatives such as cauliflower.
Whey Protein Mix to Improve Gut Health
Gut health is a hot topic among the health and wellness community. Gut health is at the root of our overall health and immune health. In fact, 80% of our immune system is in our gut.
If your gut health is imbalanced, or you are simply interested in optimizing the health of your gut bacteria, there are few things you can think about mixing with your whey protein.
Firstly, it’s important to mention that whey protein itself has shown to have beneficial effects on gut bacteria (5).
When thinking about the best things to combine with whey protein for gut health, it’s most important to consider sources of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics.
Fiber helps feed the gut bacteria and keeps digestion regular. Adding spinach, kale, or oats can help add fiber to your whey protein shake.
Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in the gut which directly improves our digestion and overall health. Some great sources of omega-3s to add to whey protein include chia seeds, flax, seeds, walnuts, or avocados.
Lastly, it’s a good idea to add sources of probiotics to help support a healthy gut microbiome. Yogurt is a great source of probiotics. You may also consider adding a super greens powder, which not only provides nutrients from organic vegetables but it provides both prebiotics and probiotics for gut health and immune function.
Key Takeaway - To improve gut health, mix whey protein with probiotics and fiber-rich ingredients like chia or flax seeds.