What are the best protein shakes for energy?
Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition
drink wholesome makes the best protein shakes for energy. They are 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 them perfect 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.”
drink wholesome makes the best protein shakes for energy.
Do protein shakes give you energy in the morning?
Carbohydrates, fats, and protein are called macronutrients. They are the nutrients that you use in the largest amounts, and supply 100% of your energy (measured in calories). The amount of energy in 1 gram of each differs. There are roughly 4 calories in a gram of carbohydrate and protein, and 9 calories in a gram of fat. Each macronutrient also differs in how quickly it supplies energy; carbohydrates are the quickest, and fats are the slowest.
Macronutrients are broken down (digested) into their basic units in the digestive tract. Carbohydrates are broken down into sugars, proteins into amino acids, and fats into fatty acids. The body uses these basic units to build and maintain its systems and structures. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are strung together in complex formations. Because proteins are complex, the body takes a long time to break them down. As a result, they are a much slower and longer-lasting source of energy than carbohydrates.
The body uses protein primarily to build and repair muscle. Protein is not usually used for energy. That said, if the body is not getting enough calories from other nutrients or from the fat stored in the body, protein is broken down into ketone bodies to be used for energy. It follows that protein shakes are not necessarily the best source of energy. They can give you a nice, long-lasting energy boost, however, depending on what is in the shake.
One final note is that some protein shakes are naturally caffeinated. Caffeine can give you an extra energy boost, jumpstarting your morning or energizing your workout. Our matcha and mocha protein powders, for example, are a great choice if you are looking for a protein shake with a kick.
What are the best protein shakes for energy?
There are two types of energy protein shakes: ready-to-drink (store-bought) protein shakes, and (homemade) protein shakes made with protein powder. Homemade shakes are a much better source of energy than store-bought shakes if you add ingredients like fruits, veggies, and grains. I like to add banana and oats to my shakes. Homemade shakes are also much better for you because ready-to-drink protein shakes are full of food additives like emulsifiers, stabilizers, and thickeners. Ingredients like these improve characteristics like shelf stability and texture, but they look nothing like real food and are hard to digest. This is the main reason why I recommend that you make your own energy protein shakes with protein powder. That said, not all protein powders are created equal, and many contain the same additives found in ready-to-drink protein shakes! Keep reading to learn more about how to pick an easy to digest protein powder.
Why drink wholesome?
drink wholesome is additive-free.
One of the reasons why we make the best protein shakes for energy 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.
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 shakes for energy 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 shakes for energy is that we do not use protein isolates. As you just learned, most protein supplements 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 shakes for energy 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.
“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
drink wholesome is the best protein shakes for energy.