Adventures in protein shakes

One of the ways I wanted to train differently in 2015 was to eat better.  My in-race nutrition strategy was now OK, after 2014’s run-ins with the demon sweetener sucralose (don’t ask), and learning to rely on High5 (sucralose-free) energy, mineral and hydration sources.  But I suspected I could probably ‘eat smarter’ during training, to the benefit of my racing.  And as a veggie I suspected I wasn’t getting enough protein in particular.  Don’t get me wrong, I love tofu (and if you don’t you must be doing it wrong!) and Quorn/beans/lentils, but I get lazy.  Protein is needed for muscle maintenance, growth and repair, so without an adequate supply some of the training I was doing to strengthen my muscles would be wasted.  And why would I want to waste training?!!

Enter the protein shake!  I went to Holland and Barrett, stared at the wall of supplements, got talked at by a wannabe body-builder shop assistant about the relative merits of each, and walked out.  If I had even managed to select the right supplement for me I would need to do some serious strength work before wrestling one of those kegs out of the shop.  Plan B involved doing some internet research.  I tried to find a whey protein powder made from organic milk – I eat organic dairy because it’s kinder to cows, and why would I want a cow to suffer just so I could build a bit of muscle?  I failed, so ended up buying pea protein powder – actually excitingly labelled ‘Super Pea Protein Isolate’! – from  And I bought A LOT (it was cheaper in the long run – my mum would be so proud).  What could go wrong?

Since then I have been trying to make this pea powder into tasty protein shakes, with variable success*. (*i.e., mostly failure).  The pea flavour is just too dominant – I like peas but I don’t want to taste them in super-concentrated form in my protein drink, when I’d rather be enjoying a creamy, fruity beverage.  Hence this new series for my blog – Adventures in Protein Shakes – in which I document my ups and downs in this foreign land.

So Protein Shake #1, which shall be known as The Lumpsucker, was eagerly anticipated after a day with a one hour hill climb session on the turbo trainer (indoor cycling) and running for nearly 2 hours.  Alas, it was a lumpy disappointment (and the lumps were the good bits).

Recipe (do not try this at home): (made 2 x 500 ml portions)

  • 1 small banana
  • 200 ml semi-skimmed organic milk
  • 50 g frozen raspberries
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 6 dates
  • 10 g root ginger
  • 5 tbsp lime juice
  • 200 ml water
  • ice cubes


Nutritional information per 500 ml: 

258 calories; 18g protein; 3g fat; 44g carbs; 5g fibre.

Appearance: 5/10

Nice colour, but the milk curdled a bit.  That’ll be the lime juice you wally.

Taste: 4/10

Surprisingly bland.  Could still taste peas despite the other flavours.

Texture: 4/10

Too thick, with raspberry seeds and lumps from the poorly-processed dates.

Overall: a yucky 4/10

Just about drinkable, but hard going.  A metaphor for training – quite unpleasant at times but should be worth it in the end.  Hopefully.

Learning points:

  • To make a thinner shake I should add less ice, maybe use half a banana, and not blend for as long.
  • Dates should probably be blended with a little liquid to start with to get them smoother.
  • Beware not to include milk and an acidic juice in the same drink.
  • Maybe too many flavours meant that it ended up not tasting of anything (except pea of course)?  Try simpler recipes in future.

Here’s to better luck next time!  Watch this space.



One thought on “Adventures in protein shakes

  1. Pingback: What a season: 6 firsts in 6 triathlons! | Going the (middle) distance

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