Protein shakes are a fantastic tool for achieving a plethora of fitness and nutrition-focused goals. Whether you’re trying to build muscle, consume more calories, hit your daily caloric goal, be strategic with your dietary choices in a deficit phase, or if you simply love drinking shakes, there’s more than likely a time and place when a protein shake makes sense for you.

One of the best things about protein shakes is how easy it is to find options that match your nutrition needs, goals, and overall tastes. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach and if you’re willing to get creative, then you can likely build the “perfect” protein shake for you.

In this article, we’re going to dive into building a protein shake framework so you can start creating shakes that coincide with your nutrition goals, and I’ll discuss three of my favorite protein shake options.

How to Build Your Own Protein Shake

The first step to building your perfect protein shake is establishing and answering a few questions. I like to pose these questions as tools for building a framework that will help limit the paralysis by analysis when exploring the endless smoothie ingredient options out there.

Plus, it’s important to consider how a protein shake fits into your lifestyle and daily nutrition goals. For example, if you’re in a deficit phase, then you’ll likely want to avoid shakes with a ton of calories because you’ll likely want to spread those out throughout the day and use them for other meals compared to just one shake.

Step 1: Establish Nutrition Goals

When do you want to consume your protein shake and how does it fit into the scope of your daily nutrition goals? Does the protein shake make sense in regard to your performance and nutrition goals?

These are all questions to consider when building a protein shake. They can be fantastic tools and if you can answer these questions, then you’ll have a framework of needs and parameters when creating your shake. 

Let’s say you’re in a deficit phase, in this case, you’d likely want to look for protein shakes that have a bit less fat and more fruit to keep caloric content lower. If you’re in a gaining phase, then options like peanut butter and whole-fat yogurt can be great choices.

Step 2: Choose a Primary Flavor

Taste is incredibly important for protein shakes. If your shake isn’t tasty (at least a little bit!), then why waste the time building it and implementing it into your daily nutrition habits?

Some good flavor directions to consider include flavors of the protein powder you might be using, fruits you enjoy, or peanut butter. For example, if you’re using vanilla protein powder, do you just want a vanilla taste? If not, consider what else would taste good with that vanilla.

Step 3: Choose Your Base

Once you’ve selected your flavor, now it’s time to choose your base. Bases include things like ice, water, almond milk, milk, oat milk, etc. Bases are important because they can influence the overall taste of your shake. 

If you use things like milk, then expect the shake to have a subtle hint of that base. On most occasions, your base will go well with your overall flavor goals. Just remember, if you’re using a base like milk, then you’ll have to factor in the calories and macronutrients of the milk into the greater scope of the shake. 

For those in deficit phases, using water and ice as a base can be a nice means to award you more calories for other protein shake ingredients.

Step 4: Select Your Protein

Now that you have your flavor and your base, your protein selection will likely be pretty seamless. In most cases, you’ll want to use a protein powder to increase the protein in your shake and contribute to the flavor. 

  • Whey protein is a great option for an “anytime” style of shake. Go for an isolate if you want your shake to be less thick. Whey powders with a lot of fat can be pretty thick.
  • Plant-based protein is another great “anytime” option for plant-based lifters and athletes. Similar to the isolate note above, look for options that have macros that align with your daily goals.
  • Casein protein is a good option for nighttime shakes. Note: casein will be thicker in nature and if you use a bunch of ingredients and limit your base/ice, then you’ll have almost a pudding-like shake.
  • Collagen protein is a good option for those that enjoy their collagen protein. When using collagen, generally, shakes will have a slightly more grainy taste.

Outside of using protein powders for your protein shake’s main protein source, you can also use ingredients like Greek yogurt which also help boost your shake’s overall protein.

Step 5: Choose Ingredients That Match the Flavor and Nutrition Goals

The final step of the protein shake-building framework is selecting ingredients that align with your flavor and nutrition goals. This is where you’ll need context into your needs, wants, and preferences.

Let’s say you want a protein shake that has a chocolate and banana flavor, this is when you’ll then select ingredients to coincide with this flavor goal. So, a banana would obviously be a must, then other ingredients like dark chocolate, chocolate protein powder, and cacao nibs can be good additions.

If your goal was building a peanut butter and strawberry protein shake, then using strawberries, peanut butter, and even a hint of vanilla protein powder could be really good options. The big thing here is to remember that you’re the artist and to experiment with a variety of ingredients.

3 Delicious Protein Shake Recipes

To provide you with a little inspiration and a starting point, I’ve put together three of my favorite protein shake recipes. To prepare them, just add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

1. The “Anytime” Protein Shake

The “Anytime” Protein Shake is a fantastic option for consumption at any point of the day and has a relatively even macronutrient split. Plus, the taste is standard and it has a few ingredients to boost this shake’s overall nutrient density.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Calories: ~450kcals


This shake is probably the most standard option out there and nails a lot of gold standard protein shake flavors.

2. It’s Massing Time

One of my favorite protein shake options when in gaining phases is what I call, “It’s Massing Time.” To be honest, the name could use a little work, so I’d suggest being far more creative than myself when building your favorite mass-building shake.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Calories: ~800kcals


  • 1 scoop of protein powder
  • 1 cup of plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbs. of peanut butter
  • 1 serving of dark chocolate
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of ice
  • 1 cup of milk

I’ll also add ingredients like blueberries, strawberries, and spinach which are all relatively low in calories and help add a great nutrient density to the shake.

3. Lean and Mean

Truthfully, there’s nothing mean about this shake and I just liked that “mean” rhymed. This shake is a fantastic option for those in deficit phases that want a tasty protein shake that has a good volume for the caloric intake you’re getting.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Calories: ~300kcals


This shake has a good amount of protein and a ton of volume for the caloric amount. You can also swap the peanut butter out for a fat-free Greek yogurt if you want more protein and less fat.