The 1,000 Calorie Protein Shake
For those of you trying to get buff!
I’ve been into nutrition for a long time. I know the majority of people in this country have a desire to lose weight, but I’m the opposite. I’ve always been on the skinny side, and I’ve always wanted to add more mass. If you’re in the “I’m trying to lose weight” camp, you can stop reading now. But if you’re like me, you NEED to read this.
My protein shake is the best shake you’ll ever taste. It’s also a MONSTER of a shake. It played a huge role in my body transformation a few years ago, when I went from 119 to 158 pounds in 3 months. That’s right. That’s a 32% increase in total body weight — all in muscle mass. (My body fat percentage stayed constant at about 5–7%.) Here’s a side-by-side photo of my results:
My protein shake recipe will add over 1,000 calories to your daily diet, and over 50 grams of protein. And that’s if you drink only one shake per day.
The recipe below is the result of a constant and relentless experimentation of various ingredients and preparation techniques over the course of several years. After hundreds of iterations, I finally feel confident in sharing it with you.
I always hated drinking protein shakes in the past. They either didn’t taste good or didn’t go down easy, or both. I felt like I was drinking some sort of thick, grainy sludge with questionable flavoring. What’s worse, I needed to drink a ridiculous amount of this sludge every day if I hoped to see any results in weight gain. It was impossible to keep this up, so protein shakes ultimately didn’t work for me.
Since the shakes weren’t cutting it by themselves, I started adding additional ingredients. Here’s where I ended up:
Let’s go down the list of ingredients so I can explain the significance and details of each.
Protein Powder: I use Up Your Mass weight gainer by MHP. I’m not affiliated with the company in any way; I just like their product. It blends well and it tastes good. (I use the fudge brownie flavor.) It’s packed with more calories and more amino acids than most standard protein powders. It’s a mixture of soy protein isolate, calcium caseinate, and whey protein. Caseinate breaks down at a slower rate than whey protein, so it gives the body a more sustained amino acid release throughout the day (or during the night if you take it before bed). This is important — it means your muscles won’t starve. The label on the container calls for 4 scoops in 32 ounces of water or milk. Instead, I use 3 scoops with 8 ounces of milk and 8 ounces of water. I find it easier to take a slightly more concentrated but smaller dose, versus drinking a massive 32 ounce shake in one sitting.
If you have one of my shakes a day, you’ll go through a 5 pound tub of MHP protein powder in about a month. I recommend ordering it through Amazon as it’s usually a bit cheaper than purchasing in a store.
Water and Milk: I use 8 ounces of water and 8 ounces of milk. I initially just used milk, but it resulted in a shake that was slightly too rich for me. Diluting it with water creates a good thickness, but if you want more calories and don’t mind a thicker consistency, pure milk works too. I use whole milk. You can also adjust to 2% or skim milk if you like, but you’ll lose some calories there, and the shake won’t taste as creamy.
Banana: The banana might be the most important ingredient. It gives the shake a light and refreshing taste. You must use frozen bananas—this makes the shake nice and cold without watering it down, and adds a little thickness. I’ve tried using ice—believe me, frozen bananas are far superior in every way. I usually get a big bushel at the store, keep them at room temperature until they’re ripe, and then peel them and put them in ziplock bags in the freezer. They last for months.
Nutella: I’d call this the secret ingredient. It creates the perfect flavor and adds some extra calories, which pushes the grand total over 1,000. Don’t leave this ingredient out. In fact, don’t leave anything out!
Peanut Butter: PB is a commonly used supplement in protein shakes. It’s rich in protein and has a flavor that mixes well with most powders. The consistency, like Nutella, also adds more thickness to the shake without making it sludgy. Just one tablespoon does the trick, and it adds nearly 100 extra calories and 4 grams of protein. I use creamy, not chunky—because smoothies are supposed to be smooth.
Honey: Honey is another ingredient that elevates the shake from “manageable” to “delicious!” The sweetness is subtle, but noticeable. It also adds 60 calories.
Vanilla Ice Cream: Ah, the icing (err...ice cream) on the cake. Ice cream was the last ingredient I added to my shake before feeling satisfied with the final product. It completes the flavor, gives the shake a perfectly fluffy thickness, and packs on nearly 150 more calories. I use Breyer’s French Vanilla, which is slightly creamier than standard vanilla. Don’t get an off brand! It matters.
All of these ingredients together will give you a delicious shake that can drastically increase your daily caloric intake without causing you to gag. You can see from the chart above that the micronutrient ratio (ratio of Carbs to Protein to Fat) is also good. It’s roughly 60% carbs, 25% protein, and 15% fat. We’re almost done. The last piece of the puzzle is preparation, which is pretty simple.
Don’t ignore this section. You have to prepare the shake correctly for it to taste good.
First, you need a good blender. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be better than the twenty dollar generic brand on the shelf at your local grocery store. I use the Hamilton Beach Smoothie Blender, which is less than forty bucks. It has a smoothie setting that works really well. It automatically runs the blender in a pattern of short bursts followed by a long, consistent blend—which I hold for about 20–30 seconds. If you don’t get this model, you should perform the same technique manually: 4–5 short bursts of 2–3 seconds followed by a consistent blend for 20–30 seconds. This breaks up the ingredients without anything sticking to the walls of the blender.
Pour the water and milk into the blender first. This ensures you have the correct amount of liquid before throwing the other stuff in. Next, the banana. Take it out of the freezer and run it under some warm water for a few seconds (making it easier to cut). Cut it up into bite sized slices to help it blend more smoothly. Next, put in the ice cream, followed by the peanut butter, Nutella, and honey. You’ll want to add those last three ingredients after the other stuff because they otherwise have a tendency to sink to the bottom and get stuck on the blades. The banana pieces and ice cream essentially block that from happening. Finally, add the protein powder. Put the lid on the blender and blend it immediately (so it doesn’t cake up). That’s it, you’re done. Pour and serve.
For serving, I use a glass cup as opposed to a plastic shaker. Plastic can sometimes hold lingering flavors and smells. With glass, you’ll get a more pure taste.
If you want to add tasteless supplements like creatine or glutamine, go for it. I sometimes do this, and the effect on taste and consistency is negligible.
One shake a day should garner some results in weight gain if you pair it with consistent and strenuous exercise (which is another post entirely). If you take two shakes a day, you can get into the 4–5,000 calorie per day range and can potentially see significant gains.