Best Protein Shake

Let’s Make a Shake

Quite a few mornings we make a chocolate shake and hit the road. We’ve actually put a lot of time into the research behind the basic chocolate shake. Here is our formula.

Quest for the Best Protein Shake

Having a great tasting and nutritious protein shake in your arsenal is essential to the Paleo lifestyle. Protein shakes are a great compliment to a Paleo diet, but shakes should never be a substantial replacement for a whole food, nutrient dense diet. That being said, many weight loss plans use shakes because they are tasty and easy to make while delivering protein that will ‘hold you over’ to the next meal better that a carb dense shake or a carb-dense or sugary snack which will leave you craving more carbs within a very short time. But where can you find the right protein powder? That’s been an ongoing challenge at the Byrd House. Finding a protein powder with the right protein, the right sweetener and without other non-nutritional ingredients was a chore. But, we rose to the challenge and have a couple of great recommendations.

What’s the Big Deal? It’s Just a Shake, Right?

Grabbing just any protein shake mix on the self at WholeFoods could be a colossal mistake. After perusing countless labels we learned that there are many protein powders that contain all kinds of crazy proteins and other suspicious ingredients. And, many are loaded with SUGAR! So, just because it’s on sale at WholeFoods or Costco doesn’t mean it’s a bargain, not by a long shot.

The Quest

The two main components of any protein shake mix are (1) the protein and (2) the sweetener. Of course, we needed to rule out any filler that is non-nutritional.

The Protein

The right protein is the foundation of the drink. The protein used in the mix should be provided by a source that is high in glutathione, which is one of the most important antioxidants in the body. Sufficient levels of glutathione are important to assist the body in having a strong immune system. Glutathione is essential to the prevention of serious conditions, such as autoimmune disease and inflammation that is a precursor to cardiovascular disease.  If you want to know more about the science, Chris Kresser has discussed this many times in his podcasts and in his High Cholesterol Action Plan. OK, how do I add glutathione to my diet? With the right shake mix! Since glutathione is found in many nutrient-dense foods, look for a shake mix that provides its protein from RAW meat from grass-fed animals or from in RAW dairy. The “raw” requirement is because pasteurization significantly reduces the availability of glutathione in foods. The best source of glutathione is from biologically active whey protein from raw milk or if dairy is a problem, from actual meat protein. (Another great source of glutathione is bone broth made from the bones and cartilage of animals.) The whey protein should be from grass-fed, non-GMO fed cows and processed at low temperatures and contain no unhealthy artificial sweeteners or flavors.

The Sweetener

Both the taste of the drink and the nutritional value of the drink are directly affected by the type of sweetener used. Our recommended mixes use stevia and xylitol. Suffice it to say, there is a huge body of discussion on artificial sweeteners, but we are not going to get lost in ‘the weeds’ on that subject today. However, there is a mix available from Swanson that contains only the bioactive whey. This mix is pure and allows for the most imagination in which sweeteners and flavorings to add, not to mention additions of other tasty ingredients to the final drink, such as frozen strawberries, almond butter, etc.

Our Recommendations

Reading label after label lead us to three great shake mixes. We’ve taste tested and used these mixes and found them to be just right for our purposes. They all tend to clump. So, the order of mixing the liquid and other ingredients is important. The taste of these drink mixes are excellent, especially when we add some cocoa, vanilla flavoring, espresso, cinnamon, etc. All things considered, these protein powders make great foundations for any shake you can imagine!


Swanson Ultra Whey Protein Powder

Swanson Ultra Whey Powder consists of whey protein from grass-fed, hormone-free cows and is certified to be rBGH free. This protein is produced from a non-denatured, non-acid, cold process, which preserves the maximum glutathione content of the whey. It is sweetened with Xylitol. It comes in chocolate and vanilla and costs $17.99 for 30 servings.

PurePaleo Protein

For those who are concerned about dairy, PurePaleo Protein is a dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, legume-free, and GMO-free protein powder that is the choice of Chris Kresser. The protein source is hormone-free, antibiotic-free beef raised in Sweden. The sweetener is Stevia. This mix is costly, but about the best thing going right now for a dairy-free protein shake. Find it at Chris Kresser’s site.

Swanson Bioactive Whey Protein

If you are looking for just the basic building block for a shake, then Swanson Certified Organic Undenatured Bioactive Whey Protein is for you. This product is essentially organic, undenatured whey from which you can build a great tasting and healthful shake ‘from the ground up’ and we do mean from the ground up. With this mix you have the flexibility to sweeten as you please and add flavors to your liking. We found it to be great when sweetened with some frozen strawberries and a little Swerve (erythritol) or French Vanilla Stevia Extract. The product is unflavored and unsweetened but can be ordered in with organic cocoa, but still unsweetened. Swanson describes this protein powder as follows: “In order to produce glutathione, the body must receive native-form proteins that are not structurally altered (undenatured), not contaminated (organic) and that remain biologically active (bioactive). Swanson Ultra Certified Organic Undenatured Bioactive Whey Protein meets these criteria.” At $29.99 for 30 servings, it is about twice the costs of Swanson Whey Powder, but this is the real thing.

Further Research

We will keep up our each. Last week I saw an organic whey flavored with Stevia at WholeFoods that looked promising. We’ve also seen a push at WholeFoods for pea protein powder. We understand the vegan issues. Yet, peas are legumes with potential ‘gut’ problems, not to mention being much less bioavailable than beef or whey. So, the search continues.

Chocolate Protein Shake Recipe

Here is our basic recipe for a great chocolate protein shake. Of course, a vanilla flavors mix is always an option. Then, there are countless alternatives when you start with ‘straight’ unsweetened, unflavored whey powder. Good luck and be healthy!


  • 8 oz. water
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 scoop Swanson Whey Protein Powder or PurePaleo Protein powder
  • 1 tbsp. organic natural or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. Great Lakes gelatin (Green Label) (More glutathione!)
  • 1 tsp. organic cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. organic vanilla flavoring
  • Whatever else moves your fancy!


  • ADD water and ice cubes to blender
  • ADD all ingredients except protein mix
  • BLEND at medium speed to combine ingredients
  • ADD protein mix
  • BLEND at high for 15 seconds pulsing occasionally
  • CHECK for lumps and repeat previous step if needed

Strawberry Shake Protein Shake Recipe

There are countless alternatives when you start with ‘straight’ unsweetened, unflavored whey powder. This strawberry shake features Publix frozen organic strawberries and Organic Valley whipping cream. Good luck with your shake choices and be healthy!


  • 8 oz. water
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1/3 cup Organic Valley heavy whipping cream
  • 1 scoop Swanson Bioactive Whey Protein (unflavored, unsweetened)
  • 4-5 Frozen Strawberries – Publix Organic Frozen
  • 1 tbsp. organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. Great Lakes gelatin (Green Label) (More glutathione!)
  • 5 drops French Vanilla Stevia Extract or sweetener of choice
  • 3-5 drops Now Better Stevia or sweetener of choice
  • Whatever else moves your fancy!


  • ADD water, ice cubes and whipping cream to blender
  • ADD protein mix next, NOT first
  • BLEND at medium to high speed to combine
  • ADD remaining ingredients adding sweetener last to taste
  • BLEND at high for 15 seconds pulsing occasionally
  • CHECK for lumps and repeat previous step if needed

High Quality Paleo Shake Ingredients

Great Lakes Gelatin

Great Lakes Gelatin provides added amino acids through collagen protein that is highly bioactive and absorbable, and is cold water soluable.

TCHO Cocoa Powder

TCHO is organic, fair-trade natural cocoa powder expertly selected, roasted, ground and blended for exceptional flavor.

Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil

Spectrum coconut oil is naturally unrefined expeller pressed virgin coconut oil.

Frontier Organic Vanilla Flavoring

Vanilla flavoring give a shake a rich flavor base on which to build.

Simply Organic Cinnamon

Simply Organic brand cinnamon is well regarded as a high quality spice.

French Vanilla Stevia Extract

WholeFoods 365 French Vanilla Stevia Extract is a plant based natural sweetener.

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