Over the years I’ve sampled various post-workout products and none suit all my desires so I’ve delved into making a homemade protein shake recovery mix — my own blend of powders I can dump into a cup of milk and blend with a banana to make a quick, nutritionally sound and tasty recovery shake.
If you are interested in honing your nutrition knowledge, I recommend Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. Straightforward. Zero fad recommendations. Research based. Field tested by pro and Olympic athletes. Practical. No dogma. Doable.
Why I decided to formulate my own mix (a “NATSTACK” if you will):
 I’m not down with most of the whey-based options (e.g. Muscle Milk).
Not a huge fan of the taste (can be chalky), some have artificial sweeteners (part of the taste, and I’d rather give my body real sugar that it knows how to process), I found myself gaining weight when using it (I’m a triathlete and not interested in gaining weight), most have tons of other stuff (for fancy labeling), and I like to keep it simple and raw (if I need an amino or something, I’ll add it myself).
 I want something heartier than straight chocolate milk.
Here’s a look at stuff I mix in (if it doesn’t show below click here):
 Non-whey options are good but pricy as a food staple.
I’m looking at you, Orgain, Skratch and peanut butter powders like PBfit and PB2.
 If money were no object, I’d have Core Power ship me crates every week.
There’s nothing I drink faster than a bottle of their Chocolate High Protein blend right after a workout, but at $2.50/11.5oz bottle, that racks up so I make it a luxury here and there, or I grab one at a gas station when I’m in a bind and can’t get home to get nutrients in me before heading on to my next thing. Also, see above — I want something heartier than plain chocolate milk.
[UPDATE: Core Power changed their formula. They got rid of the sugar and added artificial sweeteners, and then they said they’d sell the old formula on Amazon …
For that reason, we will continue to make our original formula in Chocolate and Vanilla, exclusively on https://t.co/qqesjm1lwo! We do suggest you double-check the bottle size when ordering – the new 14oz is also available on Amazon, but the original formula is in 11.5oz bottles.
— Core Power (@CorePower) May 23, 2019
… but at this moment (June 29, 2019), I only see the new, artificially sweetened formula in 14oz bottles on Amazon.]
I want to blend in a banana, peanut butter, strawberries, almond butter or other items, so a bottle of anything alone won’t cut it.
It might tide me over, but it doesn’t give me the satisfaction of a meal.
 I like control.
Enter “NATSTACKS”: Homemade Protein Shake Recovery Mix(es)
I looked at a couple mixes I liked and reverse engineered the recipes from the ingredients list, nutrition facts, and generic nutritional info about each ingredient.
Homemade Protein Shake Recovery Mix – Formula 1
- 250g powdered milk
- 75g powdered sugar
- 75g table sugar
- 75g cocoa powder
- 10g vanilla powder (yes it’s a thing)
- 5g salt
Drop all these into a container, shake it up and boom you’re good to go with your homemade protein shake recovery mix. I don’t have the $ ready for you at the moment, but I am sure it is near 25% the cost of equivalent stuff in bin with fancy packaging … and you know exactly what’s in here:
Put a heaping tablespoon or two (25-40g) into 8-12oz of your choice of fluid (rec: almond milk or whole milk), add a frozen banana, honey, cacao nibs, a pinch of cloves or nutmeg, a spoon of peanut or almond butter … whatever you want to spice it up.
- For the sugar you can mix and match powdered sugar, table sugar or baking sugar (which is finer than regular sugar but still grainy and not a powder). Just net out at 150g of sugar.
- Cocoa powder can be dialed up or down for however chocolatey you like it.
- Vanilla powder can be swapped for liquid extract as the poweder isn’t common in grocery stores. 1 tbsp. Put that in last. It will make things a little clumpy, which is why the powder is better. You could skip the vanilla and be fine.
Handy Tool for Scaling Your Batch:
Want to try a little this time and scale up to a huge batch next time? Easy.
Use the ==> Homemade Protein Shake Recovery Mix formula calculator
Plans for Homemade Protein Shake – Formula 2+
- add glutamine (hands down, here’s your best bang for your buck glutamine offer) (also, why glutamine)
- suggest swaps for peanut butter powder in place of all or some powdered milk
- suggest amount of peanut butter powder as an addition (choco + PB flavor)
- suggest amount of ground nuts and/or cacao nibs to add for fun
- set precise amounts of cocoa powder for low/medium/high chocolatey-ness
- experiment with dextrose (glucose equivalent from corn) in place of some table/bakers/powdered sugars
Oh yeah — you’ll want a kitchen scale:
It’s easier to manage this process by weight than volume, so that’s how I did it. Any of these scales will do. Seriously, don’t go nuts making this decision. Super accuracy is not important here. Fwiw, I got this one, which handles up to 15lbs or 7kg.
Disclaimer: all my nutrition knowledge is informal and experiential from the field of my own training. I have no license or qualifications from a governing body to dispense personal nutritional information. I also share this taking no concern for anyone’s allergies or specific dietary restrictions. That’s up to you to figure out. Consult a doctor, registered dietician or nutritionist. That will do you some good anyway.
Thank you for this amazing article, Nat.
Whey protein is indeed such a necessary macro-nutrient for every fitness goal. I’ve recently written an article on how hard-gainers can use whey protein to gain weight: Whey Protein to Gain Weight. It would be great if you could check it out and let me know your reviews.
Hey Olivia, you’re welcome. As stated, I don’t dig whey and am having success with the casein in powdered milk. I’m also not familiar with the aims of hard-gainers, so I won’t be any help there. There are likely tons of willing reviewers out there in your actual niche. Good luck.