I absolutely love super shakes. They’re one of the most potent and efficient nutrient delivery systems around. A single serving can get you almost all the nutrients you need, including quality proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals for the day.
In my opinion, super shakes are a perfect fit in today’s world. The truth is, we’re always so busy doing this and that, and more often than not we’re neglecting to take in the recommended daily dose of the good stuff- vegetables, fruits, whole foods, lean meat and all that.
While the traditional ways are still the best, it may be unrealistic for you to get 100% of the nutrients you need by eating. A super shake or two daily can fill in that deficiency and allow for stronger muscles, recovery time, fat loss, more energy reserves and better overall health.
Sure, you can dive right in and get any ‘instant’ meal replacement product in the market, but chances are that there will be ingredients that could ruin your fitness or weight loss goals. To ensure you’re only getting the good stuff, you should make your own super shake using select ingredients.
What you’ll be aiming for are three things- balanced macronutrients, quality and of course, it has to taste good.
Achieving this isn’t impossible, as all you need to remember are these 5 rules:
Rule 1. Start with Quality Protein
Regardless of your goals, you should start your super shake formula with high-quality protein.
Protein is essential for blood sugar and energy, while amino acids help with muscle growth, recovery and fat loss. That said, you should really consider getting a high-quality protein source, preferably powder.
I don’t recommend yogurt as a protein base as it’s high in lactose and has quite a lot of sugar. In comparison, protein powders have an excellent amino acid profile and has more BCAAs or branched-chain amino acids than any other source.
When looking for the best protein powder, you’ll want as few fillers and additives as possible. Here are some of my go-to options:
- Whey protein, e.g., concentrate or isolate
- Soy protein isolate
- Hemp seed powder
- Pea protein
- Brown rice powder
Related: Best Grass Fed Whey Protein Powders
Rule 2. Add Leafy Greens and Green Food Supplements
Society as a whole has forgotten how to eat veggies and green foods, and understandably so. Junk foods are readily available, cheap and offer a quick hunger fix.
If you’re going the super shake route, then ‘green’ foods must be on the top of your list. I myself admit to not getting as many vegetable servings each day due to a busy schedule, but I knew my problems were solved the moment I tried shakes. All the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in leafy greens distilled into one easy-to-drink beverage- what’s not to love?
I was hooked the moment I discovered shakes. It’s one of the best ways to get much-needed nutrients that make up for missed meals, fast food and overcooked fares throughout the week.
It’s easy. All you need to do is add a cup or two of green food supplements to your super shake and get the equivalent value of eating leafy vegetables. Now, you could be worried about how that would taste like in your shake, not to mention the uninviting green color, but I found that adding a slice or two of sweet fruit or a dash of agave nectar works wonders in the flavor department.
I’d recommend green food powder supplements over leafy greens due to the sheer amount of superfoods it has, namely wheatgrass, chlorella, sea-based organics, spirulina and more. To get this stuff in your meals you would have to really expand your food choices, which isn’t the case with leafy greens.
In my search for the best powdered greens I’ve found these brands to do the job quite nicely:
If you want to mix it up and get leafy greens, here’s what I’d recommend:
2 to 4 cups per serving
- Mustard greens
- Collard greens
- Sea vegetables, e.g., Dulse
Related: Best Powdered Green Superfood Drinks
Rule 3. Choose Healthy Fats
Once upon a time fat was declared public enemy # 1. Today, we now know that not all fats are unhealthy- some, like omega 3 fatty acids actually help with important bodily functions!
It pays to be smart and know which fats are good for you. It’s a matter of determining where the source of the fat came from- if it’s natural and organic then it’s good for you, but if it’s man-made then chances are that it’s not.
Marine and plant-based fats are good for your health. On the opposite end, hydrogenated and processed fats are bad and you should stay away from them. Your super shake will become even super with the addition of krill, cod liver and similar marine-sourced oils.
I’d recommend fish oils as they’re not commonly found in our diet and yet they’re chock-full of omega 3 fats, EPA, DHA, phytonutrients and stuff that can improve brain, eye and cardiovascular health. If for some reason you don’t want them, then the next option should be flaxseed. Buy them as seeds and only grind them up when you’re ready to drink your super shake or else you’ll lose the freshness and the fiber and lignans that come with it.
Nut butters are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats and taste good too. You can also choose extra virgin coconut oil due to its MCTs, or medium-chain triglycerides which can give you much-needed energy for powering through workouts. Coconut oil is considered a superfood and touts many positives, including better skin, hair, anti-stress, weight loss, digestion, metabolism, immunity and cholesterol benefits. Moreover, scientists have found that it has antifungal, antibacterial and antimicrobial characteristics as well, thanks to the trio of caprylic, capric and lauric acid.
A tablespoon or two in your super shake should give you the goodness of healthy fats. Here are some of my recommended sources:
- Hazelnut or butter
- Brazil nut or butter
- Cashew or butter
- Macadamia butter or nut
- Natural peanut butter
- Almond nut or butter
- Extra virgin coconut oil
- Fish oils, e.g., krill oil, fish oil, cod liver oil and others
Rule 4. Whole Fruits are 100% Better
Why is whole fruit better than fruit juices? Most of the good stuff, e.g., fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants are actually located in the skin and flesh. When you add in only juice you’ll be missing out on the nutrients a whole fruit provides.
Also, juice primarily contains only the sugars and calories in the form of fructose. Since you went to the trouble of procuring your fruits, why not make the most of them? If it’s to sweeten your super shake, then add only an ounce of pomegranate or cherry juice concentrate. These two are the only acceptable alternatives to whole fruits as their juices contain antioxidants without too many calories.
I would recommend getting fruits that have a low glycemic index. Portion size can be anywhere between half a cup to one cup, depending on your muscle gain and fat loss goals. Here are my go-to favorites:
Rule 5. No Milk and Yogurt
You’re probably wondering, what’s a super shake without milk or yogurt?
You’d be surprised at how good the results will be when you use water and ice. While it’s true that goat’s milk, organic plain yogurt and almond or oat milk have more nutritional value, they also have more calories and thus can be detrimental to your weight loss goals.
Unless you plan on bulking up, water is the way to go. You’ll want your super shake to have the right nutrients without becoming a monster in the calorie department. Many of my clients have made the mistake of throwing in everything they could think of and adding their daily meals on top of that, which spells disaster for their fat loss goals.
If it’s for muscle gain and bulking purposes, then by all means go with yogurt or milk as the liquid base. I would recommend plant-based sources, or more specifically protein powder in this regard.
Super Shake Sample Formulas
I’d like to share some of my favorite super shakes with you to help you get started. I would recommend using a Magic Bullet as it’s very convenient and requires less cleanup compared to a traditional blender.
PB Banana Chocolate Shake
- 1 medium banana
- 1 scoop of green powder
- 1 to 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
- 1-2 scoops of whey protein powder
- 12-16 oz. of water and ice
Pina Colada Shake
- Two cups of spinach
- A 6-ounce pineapple slice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1-2 scoops or two vanilla protein powder
- 12 to 16 ounces of water and ice
Berry Blast Shake
- 1 cup of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries combined
- 1 tablespoon of orange or lemon-flavored cod liver oil
- 1 scoop green food supplement
- 1 to 2 scoops of vanilla protein powder
- Water and ice, about 12 to 16 ounces
There you have it- a guide to making your very own healthy super shake that’s packed with nutrients. If possible, devote some time and plan for the week ahead so you’ll be able to create a super shake that fulfills your body’s needs.
Ryan is a former college wrestler and lifelong fitness fanatic. He has run half marathons, done mud runs, placed in body transformation contests, coached wrestling and now coaches girls soccer. Not to mention he has also tried literally hundreds of supplements over the years and has a vast and thorough supplement knowledge. He has written for Muscle & Strength, Testosterone Junkie, The Sport Review and other publications. He is also the editor in chief of this website. Feel free connect with him on his LinkedIn page below.