When I talk about Shakes here I’m talking weightloss shakes, protein shakes, meal replacement shakes and smoothies.

I’m also here to educate you on how these can be amazing tools and helpful additions to your daily life to reach your goals.

Let’s get started by asking:

“So, are all shakes created equal?”

The answer is NO.

Now I am not here to diss or dismiss any other brands, makes or types. I’m simply going to point out the features and benefits of the shakes on the market and highlight some ingredients in both positive and negative ways for you to make a more informed choice.

Then I will give my recommendation based on nearly 20 years of working with nutrition and women’s health.

And in being 100% upfront and honest, I am an affiliate or ambassador for some of these brands and earn a small amount from them,  but only because I ask to be- I sought them out-  based on my research and experience so I am not reserved in my recommendations! I truly believe I have found you the best and most cost effective.

I see shakes falling into 3 categories:


1. Protein Shakes (for Pre workout and post workout)

Protein shakes come in a variety of forms from 100% pure whey protein shakes or 100% raw vegan protein powders – pure for lean muscle development through to blended high protein supplements for slow time release, these formulas are specifically designed to maximise recovery and tissue regeneration over a sustained period of time through the addition of  protein in your diet.

Often these include Whey Protein which I want to point out can have some negatives for women.

Whey protein supplements are convenient and possibly beneficial for some people, but only when taken correctly. Whey makes up about 20 percent of the protein found in milk, according to the University of Illinois McKinley Health Center.

However, I recommend a non whey protein base and here is why I say:


Say No Way to Whey….

While whey protein has been shown to increase muscle mass, it also causes  inflammation. Whey is made from the protein left over in making cheese, which used to be thrown away but is now successfully marketed. It is highly processed,  though marketers will argue that not all whey sources are the same. Nonetheless, all milk based proteins along with other animal proteins are highly acidic and  have been linked to cancer. In my work, I see far too many people who are  suffering from pain and inflammation aggravated or brought on by the use of  whey/casein powders. The intestines  cannot absorb the typically high amounts of whey protein and this can also lead to intestinal toxemia.

These shakes do not usually contain all additional vitamin or mineral blends and they are not designed to replace meals, simply supplement a healthy meal plan to give you more protein as you want to repair and build muscle. They are synthetically created and are often flavoured with sugars so beware.

2. Meal replacement shakes

Meal replacement shakes can offer a healthy and balanced nutritional option, in a shake form, to be combined as part of a healthy eating plan. The good ones are formulated to reduce food cravings whilst offering high levels of complex carbohydrates and are full of good protein and good fat. There is a wide variety of options out there so here are some the things you should look out for when choosing a meal replacement shake:

  • Does it contain only natural ingredients or does it have additives, preservatives, sweeteners or GMO products?

How would I know this? Read the label carefully not just the packaging and do not believe the claims of health benefits, judge for yourself and the taste. Does it taste like plastic or metallic?

Look for unhealthy items like sweeteners and other excitotoxins on the label i.e. E numbers.

Items to avoid are:

  • sugar, thickeners, stabilizers, flavourings, sweeteners such as Sucralose, Acesulfame K and Aspartame.
  • Does it contain healthy beneficial foods like fruit or vegetable powders, Omega 3, complex carbohydrates?

Items to encourage:

  • green leafy vegetables powders, such as wheatgrass, spirulina, artichoke, chlorella and fruit powders containing papaya, prunes, dates, apples, berries and grapes and good fats of Omega 3 & 6, vitamin and mineral blends and antioxidants and protein from plant based sources such as rice, oats, chickpea, soy (non GMO of course)
  • How many of the products are natural v synthetic? Wholefood V isolated? Organic or non organic?

Always go for fresh ingredients, look for wholefood items i.e. one that you can read and understand on a label like names of fruits and vegetables, and you don’t need a chemistry degree to decipher. Avoid pre-made up shakes with Milk as this will not be fresh.

Organically sourced food is important in nutritional cleansing rather than just dieting. Too many synthetic or toxic ingredient will result in you having toxins build up, make fat loss more difficult and you will just feel worse at the end in addition to be more likely to put it all back on again.

3. Smoothies

A smoothie is a shake that you add fruit, veg and other amazing things to.  Usually with a milk or orange juice base and normally with fruit or a banana as the base ingredient but not always. My recommendation is that any additional powder you add into them  need to be full of whole food supplements, organically sourced and plant based ingredients. They should include wholefood based ingredients that you are not eating on a daily basis, a way to supplement your existing diet and a great way for you to get extra protein in.

You can simply make these up with a combination of fruits and vegetables mixed with non dairy milk or water and can include anything from added seeds, grains, nut butters, spices, coconut oil, coconut water and protein powders.


Here is my Easy to Love Green Smoothie Formula, we call the Green Goddess Proothie.


Choosing the best plant based protein powder


When choosing a protein powder, it’s best to keep things as pure and clean as possible. But how do you know what to look for to find the best type for you and your body?


What is ethical and what is truly plant based?

Where is it sourced? Who benefits from its sale?

Follow my simple guide to determine which one is right for you!


The Base:

I recommend a non whey protein base, even if dairy is not something you are actively avoiding at the minute, you really need to and especially avoid whey and there are plenty of protein powders available that are completely dairy-free and vegan friendly!


Why no whey?

While whey protein has been shown to increase muscle mass, it also causes inflammation. Whey is made from the protein left over in making cheese, which used to be thrown away but is now successfully marketed. It is highly processed, though marketers will argue that not all whey sources are the same. Nonetheless, all milk based proteins along with other animal proteins are highly acidic and have been linked to cancer. In my work, I see far too many people who are suffering from pain and inflammation aggravated or brought on by the use of whey/casein powders. The intestines cannot absorb the typically high amounts of whey protein and this can also lead to intestinal toxemia.

We recommend choosing a vegan blend that is based on either a blend of hemp, pea or oat, brown rice protein.

Soy isolate is OK too.

I know, it might sound controversial to state this but I’ll tell you why I am OK with soy.

The isoflavones in soy have been shown to fight cancer and are an integral part of more cutting-edge cancer therapies along with being beneficial in balancing hormones in both men and women. Complete contains many other beneficial plant protein sources besides soy, and has been clinically shown to build lean mass.

According to the article in “http://blogs.cancer.org/expertvoices/2012/08/02/the-bottom-line-on-soy-andbreast-cancer-risk/?_ga=1.262951372.1998241045.1469044609”

When concerns about soy are raised, they generally focus on findings from rodent models of cancer which tend to use isolated soy compounds like soy protein isolate or high doses of isoflavones (compounds found in soy).

However, soy is metabolized differently in humans than it is in mice and rats, so findings in rodents may not apply to people.


Soy protein

Soy protein powder is a common source of plant-based protein used in many weight loss and sports nutrition supplements. Soy’s effects on women have been extensively studied due to soy’s estrogen-like compounds called isoflavones. Choosing soy over other types of protein may provide certain health benefits. Soy is the only plant-based protein source that provides the body with all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein and consuming soy on a daily basis may help improve women’s cholesterol levels. For this reason, soy is an excellent choice for vegetarian and vegan women. Some studies show that soy consumption can help relieve symptoms of menopause, due to soy isoflavones, or phytoestrogens. Soy protein powder is often used as an ergogenic aid for athletes, to help improve athletic performance and aid in muscle recovery


Pea protein

Pea protein is a vegetable protein source rich in essential amino acids (comparable to animal protein sources), and is easily digestible, absorbable and well tolerated by most people. Meaning no bloated belly or other digestive discomforts! However it can taste a little funky!


Hemp protein

Hemp protein powder contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. Hemp protein comes from grinding the tiny, nutrient-rich seeds of the hemp plant, a member of the cannabis family. The seeds contain essential fats and proteins that your body needs to maintain your overall health.


Brown rice protein

This is great option for vegans who want to increase their protein intake. Especially when mixing with other protein sources (like pea protein) to get a complete amino acid profile this is nutritionally comparable to animal protein sources. Brown Rice Protein contains not only a massive 80% protein, but is also super soluble. Unlike most other Brown Rice Protein powders, this product mixes effortlessly in a shaker bottle or even in a glass just using a spoon – leaving no gritty residue! It is made from whole grain brown rice and has the highest possible protein digestibility corrected amino acid (PDCAAS) score of 1.0


Oat protein

Oats are a unique cereal due to its relatively high protein content and its distinct protein composition compared to other cereals. instead of the more typical cereal prolamines gluten (in wheat) and also zein (in maize), oat prolamins are mainly avenins rendering them relatively safe for sufferers of gluten allergy. Oat Protein is the exciting new way to boost your protein content. Rich in essential amino acids (including leucine and lysine), dairy-free and suitable for vegans.

Even though they are all crucial for our bodies to function, we are unable to make 9 of them ourselves.

These are the essential amino acids and we need to get these from our food. Any protein source that is ‘complete’ means that it contains all 9 essential amino acids.

So as long as the protein blend you choose contains all nine, then your body can use it easily to replenish, restore and repair your body!

And again, this is why I advocate for soy (from non GMO sources) as it provides many of the 9 essential amino acids helping to provide a complete protein with key isoflavones.

Flavours And Sweeteners:

Many manufacturers like to add all kinds of chemically created, artificial sweeteners, flavors and even colors!

This does nothing to boost your body’s ability to absorb or utilise the protein. Instead, it can actually create a chemical mixture that may mess with your hormones and prevent you from reaching your goals


Most proteins fall into 3 categories according to flavourings and sweeteners:


Artificial, or a combination of artificial and natural sweeteners and flavors.


Think long lists of ingredients you can’t pronounce or recognise as real foods such as aspartame, sucralose, and neotame!

They also typically have ‘dessert’ style flavors such as cookies and cream, bubblegum, and banana cream pie.

If they taste quite similar to the real thing, those flavors aren’t created naturally!

Only natural flavors and sweeteners. The ingredients list may show items such as the very vague ‘natural flavor’, and contain naturally derived, but most often than not, overly processed versions of sweeteners including stevia, monk fruit, and sugar alcohols e.g. xylitol, sorbitol. Stevia and monk fruit can leave an artificial, unpleasant aftertaste, and the sugar alcohols can be problematic in those with sensitive digestive systems causing bloating, excessive gas and digestive discomfort!


No added flavoring or sweeteners at all.


The best type of protein is the simple kind. Just pure

wholesome ingredients that blend well with whatever you put it with.

This category includes those that have added spices which naturally act as a gentle sweetener and flavoring e.g. cinnamon and vanilla, or cacao and mesquite.

And remember, although in an ideal world an unsweetened, natural and unflavoured protein sounds great, we still have to want and be able to drink it for it to work.

And personally, for me to stomach and even begin to enjoy green smoothies and other vegetable based smoothies a little natural flavor from vanilla can go a long way!

When you choose a protein blend with real ingredients for flavor and sweetness, you’re not only getting a great tasting protein, but you’re supporting your body with added nutrients!


The difference between these and unflavoured?

Choosing an unflavored blend simply allows you to mix it into both sweet and savory dishes.

Regardless of whether you choose unflavored or gently flavored with natural sources, a wholesome, simple blend will help reduce your risk of tummy trouble and exposure to harmful ingredients.


The Extras:

Besides protein, flavours and sweeteners, many manufacturers add other ingredients to enhance the product’s nutritional value or taste, or to make it easier to use or provide additional nutritional benefits.

Some of them do nothing for our health, but others can be beneficial, including: prebiotic fibers, digestive enzymes, probiotics, glutamine, vitamins and minerals and fruit and vegetable powders.

However they’re not always necessary to make a great protein, though may be beneficial overall, and whether you choose a blend that has them added in or not is completely up to you! But I would just bare in mind the benefit you get from them in terms of if you were to buy it separately what would the cost be? And does it fit with your goals or nutritional gaps?

How Much Do I Need?

Everybody differs with the amount of protein they need daily based on their goals and baseline.

However, there have been studies that suggest increasing your protein to at least 30g per meal can be beneficial for energy and fatloss and of course building lean muscle.

But depending on your activity levels, athletic goals and other requirements, your needs may be greater or less than this amount.

And studies have shown for building lean muscle, to lose fat and overall health 30g a meal is a good barometer, however it is your daily amounts you need to consider more than per meal.

The average adult only requires around 0.8g of protein per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight per day.

However, if you are looking to build most lean muscle, lose weight and increase fatloss, working toward 1g per 1lb of weight is a good barometer. However, choose your sources carefully, that’s to say, when increasing your protein consumption solely with animal products you will notice the effects in your gut, bowels and gas!!

Focusing on more plant based proteins can not only help your digestion and elimination tracts, is cheaper on your weekly budget and better for your long term health.

Choose a blend that has around 25-30 grams per serve, so you can simply adjust how much to have according to your needs!

Whether you’re a regular gym goer, a busy parent, or a business executive that needs a quick snack solution, the addition of a quality protein powder can help you stay full, energize you and ensure you’re getting all the amino acids your body needs to perform at it’s best, no matter what your day brings!

Where does it come from? How is it made? Is it backed by science?

I like to say SHOW ME THE SCIENCE!

When I consider trying a new product I ask myself where did I hear about it, was it recommended to me by a viable source, if I found it on the internet does it have scientific reviews to back it up, is the company credible, viable, profitable and long lasting or has it just opened its doors with some great marketing and fancy packaging?

And who benefits from the sale. Is it a pharmaceutical company? Is it an ethical or local company? Is it supporting a local business? A friend?

This does include products sold via Network Marketing. I am a supportor of the network marketing model and buying products based on referral from people I know, that is backed by a reputable company. It makes greater sense to me that buying something from an internet store with a fancy brand and shiny website.


My recommendation is simple.

A protein and carb based powder jam packed with nutrients and antioxidants for breakfast and meal replacement purposed and a raw vegan protein powder for post workout and to increase protein intake easily for vegetarians, vegans or those wanting to boost metabolism with lean muscle gains.


1. My ultimate health suggestion for breakfast smoothies and meal replacement is Juice Plus Complete


2. My suggestion for raw vegan protein for Low Carb Days and building lean muscle: The Protein Works option.


3. If you have the budget, buy both like I do and use them at different times for different purposes


Let me tell you how I take it.


Juice Plus Complete is my solution for:

The Green Proothie

Boosted breakfast added to

porridge and soy yoghurt

The ‘I don’t have time or energy’

Smoothie Meal

The on the go breakfast

The ‘it’s better than eating a bar of

chocolate’ smoothie

The Protein Works Raw Vegan Protein for:

I need more protein without sugar or carbs to fit my macros, especially on low carb days or on heavy training days for recovery and repair.

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Lisa Barwise

Author Lisa Barwise

Hi, I'm Lisa. I consider myself a Wellness Alchemist, the catalyst in the transformation of Strong Women around the world. Strong of mind, body and character.

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