No matter how hard brands try to make good-tasting protein powders, the truth is that almost all protein powders taste bad. Using milk to make protein shakes is a healthy way to make them taste better!
But what is the best milk for protein shakes? The best milk you can use for protein shakes are skim milk, reduced fat and whole cow’s milk, goat milk, as well as such plant milks as almond milk, pea milk, oat milk, hemp milk, and soy milk.
Read on to find out how to choose the best milk for protein shakes!
How to Choose the Best Milk for Protein Shakes
If protein shakes are a part of your diet, you have certainly tried to make them in different ways.
If you are in a hurry or you don’t care much about how your protein shake tastes, you can just mix the protein powder with water and chug it.
But if you want to really enjoy the flavor of your protein shakes, one way to make them taste good is to use milk instead of water!
Aside from making the protein shake taste better, milk also improves its consistency and enriches it with lots of nutrients.
If you have decided to use milk as a base for your protein shakes, there are multiple options you can choose from.
As different types of milk vary in their nutritional value, texture, flavor, and other characteristics, there are a few things we recommend you consider before you choose milk for your protein shakes.
One of the reasons why people consider using milk instead of water for protein shakes is to increase their protein content.
Cow’s milk has the most protein though some plant-based milks are quite high in protein too, such as soy milk and pea milk.
Aside from the protein content, we recommend you also check the fat content of the milk as well as the minerals and vitamins it contains.
Plant-based milks are usually lower in calories than animal milks. If the calorie content of the protein shakes is something you are concerned about, we recommend you look into plant milks.
Allergies and Lactose Intolerance
Consider the foods you are allergic to when choosing milk for protein shakes. And if you have lactose intolerance, you should use lactose-free cow’s milk or plant-based milk.
If you are extra picky about the flavor of your protein shakes, then you should also consider the flavor of the milk you are using.
Cow’s milk has an enjoyable slightly sweet flavor that nearly everyone is familiar with. If you like cow’s milk, you will find that it tastes good in protein shakes.
Plant-based milks, on the other hand, have specific flavor notes depending on the plant they are derived from. You should consider your flavor preferences when choosing plant milk for protein shakes.
It is a common practice for brands to add sugar to plant milk to make it more palatable — while the sugar in plant milk does make it taste a little better, it also adds unwanted calories and carbs that you may not want in your protein shakes.
No matter what plant milk you are getting, try to buy the unsweetened version. You can always sweeten your drink when it’s ready using healthy sugar substitutes.
Using milk instead of water to make protein shakes will yield creamier results. However, different types of milk have different consistencies.
If you want the protein shake to be very creamy, use cow’s milk, coconut milk, or soy milk. Some plant milks, such as almond milk and hemp milk, are quite thin.
Best Milk Types for Protein Shakes
No matter what milk you use, the protein shakes will turn out creamier and more delicious than if you made them with water.
Here are some of the best kinds of milk to use for protein shakes!
1. Skim Milk
If you don’t have lactose intolerance, but want to keep your protein shakes creamy yet as low fat as possible, skim milk is a great choice.
Skim milk may also be labeled as nonfat milk. It is made by removing all the milkfat from whole milk. The fat content in skim milk should be less than 0.5%.
Skim milk provides the same amount of protein as whole milk. It also contains the same vitamins and minerals as milk with higher fat content. You still receive such nutrients as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D from skim milk.
Skim milk doesn’t contain any fat. Thus, it is much lower in calories than whole milk. But it still has protein! A cup of skim milk contains around 8.5 grams of protein.
Recommended: Natrel Skim Milk
Try out this skim milk if you want to make creamy and delicious protein shakes that are richer in vitamins and minerals than your water-based shakes.
Natrel skim milk contains 8 grams of protein per cup and no fat. It doesn’t contain GMOs, preservatives, or artificial additives.
2. Almond Milk
Using milk instead of water is an easy way to improve the consistency of protein shakes. But milk does add calories to protein shakes, and for some people they are unwanted.
If you want to keep your protein shake as low-calorie as possible but improve the consistency, almond milk is your best bet!
So long as you use unsweetened almond milk, it won’t affect the number of calories of the protein shake significantly. A cup of unsweetened almond milk may contain as little as 30 calories.
Almond milk is naturally not high in protein. But you can get almond milk with added protein if you want to make your protein shake more filling!
Recommended: Orgain Organic Almond Milk
This almond milk is unsweetened with 10 grams of protein per serving. The high protein content has to do with the added pea protein in it!
Orgain unsweetened almond milk has a mild flavor and is a good source of calcium. It is also high in vitamin D, phosphorus, and iron. This plant milk doesn’t contain any GMOs and is soy-, gluten-, and lactose-free.
3. Soy Milk
Soy milk is plant-based milk that provides nearly as much protein as cow’s milk. This makes soy milk a great option for people who want to add more protein to their shakes but keep it lactose-free and vegan-friendly.
Another reason to choose soy milk for protein shakes is that it has no cholesterol and an insignificant amount of saturated fat.
Texture-wise, soy milk is smooth and has a consistency similar to cow’s milk.
If you don’t like the idea of using almond milk in your protein shakes because of its thin consistency, you should certainly try soy milk before you give up the idea of using plant milk for protein shakes!
But be warned, as soy-derived products have been increasingly popular in recent years, there is a higher risk of buying poor-quality soy milk.
Recommended: Silk Unsweetened Organic Soymilk
This soy milk is a great option for protein shakes as it is unsweetened, organic, and GMO-free. A cup of Silk soymilk contains a whopping 8 grams of protein and 80 calories. This milk is also a source of vitamins and minerals.
Because Silk soy milk is unsweetened and without any artificial flavors, you will experience the mild and slightly sweet flavor of pure soy milk that pairs nicely with a lot of ingredients.
4. Reduced-Fat Milk
Reduced-fat milk contains around 2% fat. It is the perfect option for people who like cow’s milk but want it to be neither fat-free nor too high in fat!
Reduced-fat milk, also known as 2 percent milk, is healthier than whole milk. It contains the same amount of protein but not nearly as much fat as whole milk.
For comparison, a cup of whole milk contains 8 grams of fat while a cup of reduced-fat milk contains 2.5-5 grams of fat.
As reduced-fat milk is fortified, it contains more vitamins than whole milk.
Recommended: A2 2% Reduced Fat Milk
A2 two-percent reduced fat milk is what you can use to make your protein shakes healthier and more filling while avoiding the extra calories that come from whole milk.
A serving of this milk contains 5 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein. It is also a source of vitamins A, C, and D as well as calcium, and potassium.
5. Pea Milk
People have mixed opinions about pea milk. Some people think it doesn’t taste very good while others say that it has an off-putting bitter flavor.
Pea milk is made from pea protein extracted from yellow peas. Water, vegetable oil, and texture enhancers are added to improve the consistency of pea milk. Pea milk is also fortified to enrich it with vitamins and minerals.
The flavor of unsweetened pea milk is rather plain; it tastes like unsweetened almond milk. But pea milk is a lot creamier than almond milk! If you don’t like the flavor of plain pea milk, you can get vanilla or chocolate-flavored versions.
Recommended: Sproud Pea Milk
If you like the idea of using pea milk for protein shakes, this pea milk doesn’t contain any added sugar, gluten, or soy.
A cup of Sproud pea milk contains only 60 calories and 4 grams of protein. This pea milk is also a rich source of vitamins B2 and B12, vitamin A, D, potassium, and calcium.
Sproud dairy-free pea milk comes in a few flavors, including vanilla, chocolate, and Barista. The latter is sweetened with agave syrup.
6. Hemp Milk
If you prefer seed-based plant milks, choose hemp milk for protein shakes! Hemp milk is a blend of water and hemp seeds.
Hemp milk has a light nutty flavor and creamy texture. It is one of the best vegan milks you can use to improve the consistency and flavor of protein shakes.
Hemp milk isn’t the highest-protein plant milk. But it is also not high in fats, which makes it a good option for people who don’t want to make their protein shakes very high-calorie.
Recommended: Pacific Foods Unsweetened Hemp Milk
This is smooth, creamy hemp milk that you can use not only for protein shakes but also for coffee and smoothies! It contains 3 grams of protein per serving and lots of healthy minerals.
Pacific Foods hemp milk is available in vanilla flavor too.
7. Oat Milk
Oat milk is a good option for people who prefer mild-flavored plant milk. This lactose-free milk is made by blending oats with water.
Oats naturally contain some sugar which is why even unsweetened oat milk tastes fairly sweet. Overall, the flavor profile of oat milk is milder compared to other plant milks.
The protein content of oat milk is not as high as that of soy milk, which comes at number one when it comes to protein content.
If you are lactose-intolerant or vegan and need to add protein to your shakes using plant milk, oat milk may not be the best choice. But it is certainly a good choice if you are looking for a low-calorie and mild-flavored option.
Recommended: Pacific Foods Organic Oat Milk
This is a good pick since it is certified as organic and contains 4 grams of protein per cup. Using this oat milk as a base for protein shakes will also enrich them with calcium, potassium, iron, and vitamin D.
However, this oat milk does contain added sugars. If this is not a dealbreaker for you, but you would still prefer to have less sugar in your drinks, choose the Reduced Sugar variety! It contains four times less sugar than the original.
8. Whole Milk
If your goal is to build muscle, then we highly recommend you make your protein shakes using whole milk. Whole milk is higher in fat and thus a lot higher in calories than reduced fat cow’s milk and different types of plant milks.
A cup of whole milk contains as many as 150 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fat. Thanks to its high fat content, whole milk is thick and creamy and can greatly improve the texture of your protein shakes.
An important thing you should know about whole milk is that you shouldn’t drink too much of it. Whole milk is high in saturated fat and can raise unhealthy cholesterol levels and lead to heart problems.
So, if you like using whole milk for your other milk-based drinks that you drink daily, we would recommend using lower-fat milk for protein shakes to avoid consuming too much saturated fat.
Recommended: Organic Valley Whole Grassmilk
This is organic grade A whole milk. This grass-fed milk is creamy and will make a perfect base for protein shakes if you are not afraid of the extra calories and fat!
9. Goat Milk
When we think of animal milk, cow’s milk is what comes to our minds. But there are other options, too — goat milk is one of them!
Goat milk tastes pretty much like whole cow’s milk. It is creamy and mildly sweet. Nutrition-wise, goat milk is a little different from cow’s milk which makes it a suitable milk option for some people.
Goat milk is higher in protein and fat than cow’s milk. But it contains less lactose and is more easily digestible than cow’s milk.
It is a good idea to use goat milk for protein shakes if you want to make them extra creamy and more filling. Goat milk will also enrich the protein shake with a higher amount of vitamins and minerals than cow’s milk.
Recommended: Mayenberg Goat Milk
Goat milk may not be as popular as cow’s milk. But luckily, there are some great options on the market. This is whole goat milk that doesn’t contain any artificial additives and preservatives. It contains 8 grams of protein per serving.
Here are some related questions that we thought you might have about the different milk options, particularly the non-dairy options.
Can You Make Almond Milk at Home?
Yes, you can make your own almond milk at home. Check out this video from Clean & Delicious on YouTube for a quick tutorial:
Can You Make Hemp Milk at Home?
Yes, you can make your own hemp milk at home. Check out this video from Detoxinista on YouTube for a quick tutorial:
Can You Make Oat Milk at Home?
Yes, you can make your own oat milk at home. Check out this video from Cooking with Coit on YouTube for a quick tutorial:
Can You Make Pea Milk at Home?
Yes, you can make your own pea milk at home. Check out this video from Liliane Smith on YouTube for a quick tutorial:
Can You Make Soy Milk at Home?
Yes, you can make your own soy milk at home. Check out this video from Mary’s Test Kitchen on YouTube for a quick tutorial: