What is the best protein shake for breakfast?

Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition

drink wholesome is the best protein shake for breakfast. It is additive-free, dairy-free, and made with real foods, not protein isolates – 99% of supplements fail to meet at least one of these criteria. This makes it perfect for people looking to boost their protein intake without the processing and added junk. Order samples to see if our protein powder is right for you. 


“It has ingredients you can actually pronounce and is freaking delicious.”


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drink wholesome is the best protein shake for breakfast.

Why eat protein for breakfast? 

Is a protein shake a good breakfast? 

How to make a high protein breakfast shake. 

Why drink wholesome?

Why eat protein for breakfast? 

Over half of Americans eat cold cereal or toast for breakfast. Both are easy to make and delicious, but not high in protein. It is important to eat protein for breakfast for a number for reasons. First of all, dietary protein is the most satiating (filling) macronutrient. Eating lots of protein at breakfast will therefore keep you full until lunch, discourage overeating, reduce snacking later in the day, all of which are key if you are trying to lose weight. There is lots of research to back this up. In one study, researchers discovered that high protein breakfasts improved satiety and overall diet quality in overweight teenage girls. Another study found that eating high protein foods led to reduced hunger and increased fullness in healthy women.

Adding high-protein foods to your breakfast can also fuel weight gain and muscle growth efforts. A recent study found that a higher protein intake at breakfast is associated with a higher total daily protein intake in older adults. A high protein breakfast, despite its satiating effects, can optimize the amount of protein per meal without compromising total daily protein intake. In other words, eating lots of protein first thing in the morning does not fill you up so much that it reduces your overall protein intake; it actually allows you to maximize the amount of protein that you consume over the course of the day. This is great news for people looking to curb weight loss and maintain muscle mass. Muscle growth can occur only if muscle protein synthesis exceeds muscle protein breakdown, which is called a positive muscle protein balance. Strength training improves muscle protein balance, but, in the absence of adequate protein intake, the balance remains negative. You must therefore consume enough protein if you want to build or maintain muscle mass. 

Is a protein shake good for breakfast?

A protein shake can be a great breakfast, as long as it is nutritionally balanced. This means that it contains healthy fats and complex carbohydrates in addition to protein. Not all protein shakes meet these conditions, so it is important that you choose the right recipe or read the ingredient list when buying protein supplements.

How to make a high protein breakfast shake. 

There are two types of protein shakes, ready-to-drink (store-bought) shakes, and shakes made at home with a blender or shaker bottle. Homemade shakes can be made with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen, or with protein powder. Protein powder can be mixed with milk or water, or added to smoothies. I highly recommend that you make a breakfast protein shake from scratch or with protein powder because ready-to-drink protein shakes are full of emulsifiers, stabilizers, and thickeners. Ingredients like these improve characteristics like shelf stability, but are hard to digest and can cause uncomfortable side effects (more about this later). Making your own protein shake, on the other hand, is much more gut-friendly. Again, if you want to take the gut-friendly route and make your own protein shake, you have two options: make a smoothie from scratch, or use protein powder. Let us start with the first option.

Making a breakfast protein shake from scratch. 

To make a protein shake from scratch, you are going to need a good blender. You are also going to need a good source of complete protein. For this, I recommend either dried or liquid egg whites. Pasteurized egg whites are a safe, easy to digest source of complete protein. (A complete protein contains all of the essential amino acids that your body needs, but cannot produce on its own.) Pasteurized egg whites are also bland, meaning that you cannot taste them in your smoothie. As you just learned, in order for your protein shake to be a good breakfast, it has to be nutritionally balanced. You are therefore also going to need a good source of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. For fats, I recommend avocado and nut butter. For carbs, I recommend banana and oats.

Here is my favorite breakfast protein shake recipe:

-1/2 avocado

-1/2 banana

-1 cup spinach*

-1/4 cup oats

-4 tbsps creamy peanut butter

-4 tbsps unflavored egg white protein powder

-1-2 cups dairy-free milk

*I add a cup of spinach for extra fiber.

This protein shake is nutritionally balanced, filling, and affordable. It is a great way to power your day, take care of your gut, and achieve your wellness goals. Now if this sounds like too much work, you may want to consider using a protein powder.

Making a protein shake for breakfast with protein powder.

If you value convenience, and do not want to have to worry about getting the right balance of nutrients, I recommend making your breakfast protein shakes with protein powder. All you have to do is mix the recommended serving size with 1-2 cups of milk or water. You do not even need a blender if you have a shaker bottle. That said, not all protein powders are created equal, and many contain the same additives found in ready-to-drink shakes! Keep reading to learn more.

Why drink wholesome

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best protein shake for breakfast is that we do not use food additives. Most protein supplements, on the other hand, are full of food additives. Although not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, additives can add up quickly (especially if you drink a protein shake every day) and cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain. This is because food additives are hard to digest, and sit in your gut for longer than food should, which gives your gut bacteria more time to eat. As they eat, these bacteria produce gas, which causes bloating and stomach pain. Gas also slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon), and can lead to constipation. In the long term, food additives can disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine, which can result in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders.

When buying protein powder to make a breakfast protein shake, one ingredient to avoid in particular is artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are among the most harmful food additives in the long term as they alter the composition of your gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food). This can lead to serious, chronic GI problems, widespread inflammation, and permanent damage to the gut microbiome. Some sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, are also poorly absorbed by the gut (meaning they feed those hungry gut bacteria), and cause diarrhea because they draw water into your intestine. Now you finally have something to blame for those post-protein shake trips to the bathroom!

Here is a list of the most common food additives in protein supplements:

acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, aspartame, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dextrose, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, “natural” flavors, maltodextrin, rice syrup solids, soy lecithin, silica, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, xanthan gum, xylitol

When it comes to identifying food additives, go with your gut. 😉 As a rule of thumb, they are the ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Food additives are not the only thing to look out for when buying protein supplements, however. There are several other ingredients that can upset your stomach.

the alternative:

Protein Matrix Comprised of (Whey Protein Concentrate,  Whey Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Micellar Casein, Milk Protein Isolate, Egg Albumen, Glutamine Peptides), Polydextrose, Sunflower Creamer (Sunflower Oil, Corn Syrup Solids,  Sodium Caseinate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Tocopherols), Natural and Artificial Flavor, MCT Powder (Medium Chain Triglycerides, Nonfat Dry Milk, Disodium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide), Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Yellow 5, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Papain, Bromelain.

*This is the actual ingredient list of one of the best-selling protein supplements in the United States.

drink wholesome is dairy-free.

Another reason why we make the best protein shake for breakfast is that we do not use dairy-based proteins. Many protein supplements are made with whey and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, and known to cause digestive issues, especially for people with lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Over one in three Americans are lactose intolerant, and the prevalence of IBS is somewhere between 10 and 15 percent in the United States. It follows that you may be lactose intolerant or have IBS and not even know it. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a poorly understood condition, and it is unclear why dairy triggers symptoms. Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is clearly understood. People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As you just learned, partially digested food feeds the bacteria in your gut, which produce gas and cause stomach pain.

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best protein shake for breakfast is that we do not use protein isolates. Most protein supplements, on the contrary, are made with protein concentrates and/or isolates, foods stripped of everything but the protein. They are listed on the ingredient list as “collagen protein,” “pea protein, and” “whey protein” as opposed to “collagen,” “peas,” and “whey.” I will not go into the details, but protein concentrates and isolates undergo heavy mechanical and chemical processing before becoming protein supplement. Sometimes, manufacturers use chemical solvents like hexane to isolate (separate) the protein from the food. This means that what you end up putting into your body looks nothing like real food. 

If you think about it, your gut was designed to digest naturally occurring foods, not laboratory formulated imitations, so if you feed it anything but real food, it might get upset. The long term implications of eating processed foods are still not well understood, but more and more research is finding that it can alter the composition of your gut microbiota, and lead to permanent damage to the gut microbiome. It is therefore in your best interest to avoid protein supplements made with protein concentrates and isolates. 

Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best protein shake for breakfast with egg whites and almonds. Egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried before becoming protein powder. Almonds are just roasted, pressed, and ground. Minimally-processed ingredients like these are an easy to digest, gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates. Unless you have a sensitivity or allergy to eggs, egg white protein is the best protein for your gut. Egg whites are low in fiber, low-FODMAP, naturally alkaline, and have the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of any whole food. Our customers have experienced fewer digestive issues with egg white protein than with any other type of protein. If you cannot eat eggs, try our almond protein powder. Unlike protein concentrates or isolates, almonds contain lots of healthy fats, fiber, and other nutrients like calcium and vitamin E. We prefer almonds to other minimally-processed plant protein sources because they are more gut-friendly. Research suggests that almonds possess prebiotic properties and can improve the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome.


easy to digest

“I’ve had Crohn’s disease for 20+ years and it’s always been hard to find a protein powder my stomach can handle. I’ve had no problem digesting drink wholesome AND it tastes great. I highly recommend this protein powder if you have IBS or Crohn’s.” – Jesse

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drink wholesome is the best protein shake for breakfast.

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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. drink wholesome is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.