What is a good protein shake for picky eaters?

Finding a protein shake that picky eaters will enjoy can be challenging. Picky eaters often dislike shakes with strong or unfamiliar flavors. They may also reject shakes with textures they find unappealing, like chunks of fruit or seeds. The key is finding a protein shake with a mild, familiar flavor and smooth, drinkable texture.

What makes someone a picky eater?

Picky eating is characterized by an unwillingness to try new foods or to eat a limited variety of foods. Some common reasons for picky eating include:

  • Sensitivity to taste, texture, or smell – Certain flavors, textures or aromas can be off-putting.
  • Fear of new foods – Trying unfamiliar foods may cause anxiety.
  • Preference for “kid foods” – Only liking bland flavors or favorites from childhood.
  • Need for control – Picky eating allows controlling what goes into the body.

Picky eaters tend to stick with foods they know and like. They often have a strong aversion to foods with mixed or complex flavors.

Challenges of finding a protein shake for picky eaters

When looking for a protein shake for a picky eater, there are a few obstacles to overcome:

  • Texture – Smooth, lump-free shakes are best. Grainy or thick shakes may be rejected.
  • Flavor – Picky eaters dislike strong, unfamiliar flavors. Mild flavors like vanilla are safest.
  • Ingredients – Unusual or sour ingredients like flaxseed or yogurt may be disliked.
  • Sweetness – Some picky eaters strongly prefer sweet shakes and may reject unsweetened ones.

The ideal shake has a smooth, mild flavor and sticks to familiar ingredient choices. Steering clear of anything grainy, bitter, or sour is important.

Tips for Choosing a Protein Shake

Here are some tips for finding a palatable protein shake for picky eaters:

  • Opt for vanilla or chocolate flavor – Most picky eaters accept these familiar flavors well.
  • Avoid strong flavors like banana or peanut butter – Stick with mild flavors.
  • Choose whey or soy protein – These are generally less grainy than plant proteins.
  • Get a shake with few mix-ins – Keep the ingredient list simple.
  • Go for pre-made shakes rather than powders – Easier to achieve a smooth texture.
  • Make sure the shake is cold – Picky eaters may dislike warm shakes.
  • Test a small sample before buying a large quantity – To ensure the picky eater will accept the flavor.
  • Add extra ingredients separately – So picky eaters can control what goes in.

Following these tips can make it easier to find a shake picky eaters will embrace. Sticking with simple, familiar flavors in cool, smooth shakes is key.

7 Protein Shake Recipes Picky Eaters Often Love

Here are 7 kid-approved protein shake recipes that picky eaters tend to accept:

1. Chocolate Protein Shake

  • 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 tbsp chocolate syrup
  • Ice cubes

This basic chocolate shake has a flavor picky eaters adore. Whey protein provides a smooth consistency. Add syrup to increase sweetness if needed.

2. Vanilla Milkshake

  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Ice cubes

This simple vanilla shake matches what picky eaters expect from a classic milkshake. Whey protein and cold milk ensure a smooth, drinkable consistency.

3. Berry Protein Smoothie

  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1⁄2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 tbsp honey

The fruit flavor is mild, not overpowering. Frozen berries make this smoothie thick but the almond milk prevents grittiness.

4. Peanut Butter Banana Shake

  • 1 scoop vanilla soy protein powder
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Ice cubes

Banana and peanut butter are familiar flavors for picky eaters. Use soy protein for a perfectly smooth texture. Ripe banana prevents this shake from being too thick.

5. Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake

  • 1 scoop chocolate whey protein
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp chocolate syrup
  • Ice cubes

Chocolate and peanut butter is a beloved flavor combo for picky eaters. The whey protein ensures a creamy, sip-able shake. Add more syrup if a sweeter shake is needed.

6. Strawberry Cheesecake Shake

  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1⁄2 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1⁄4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey

This shake mimics the flavors of a dessert picky eaters love. The cream cheese adds tang without an acidic bite. Frozen strawberries give it a thick, smoothie-like texture.

7. Cookies and Cream Shake

  • 1 scoop chocolate whey protein
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 3 crushed Oreo cookies
  • 1 tbsp chocolate syrup
  • Ice cubes

What kid doesn’t love cookies and cream? The cookie pieces add fun texture without making the shake gritty or hard to drink.

Pre-Made Protein Shakes for Picky Eaters

Picky eaters may prefer the flavor and consistency of pre-made shakes over shakes made from powders. Here are some good pre-made shakes:

  • Boost Kid Essentials – 1g fat, 10g protein, vitamin D. Vanilla and chocolate flavors.
  • Pediasure Grow & Gain – 1g fat, 8g protein. Shake comes in vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
  • Ensure High Protein – 1g fat, 16g protein. Flavors include milk chocolate and strawberry.
  • Premier Protein Kids – 3g fat, 16g protein. Chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla flavors available.
  • Carnation Breakfast Essentials – 1g fat, 10g protein. Kid-friendly chocolate and strawberry flavors.

These brands offer smooth, drinkable shakes in familiar flavors picky eaters tend to accept. Avoid any with a chalky or gritty texture.

Adding Mix-Ins to Increase Protein Content

One way to increase the protein content of any shake is by adding extra protein-rich mix-ins. When doing so, stick to foods the picky eater already accepts. Possible mix-ins include:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Almond butter
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Cocoa powder
  • Nut butter
  • Oats

Start with small amounts like 1-2 tablespoons and adjust as needed. Keep the shake texture smooth. Allow picky eaters to control mix-ins.

Tips for Adding Mix-Ins

  • Introduce one new mix-in at a time
  • Explain what you’re adding to reduce anxiety
  • Start with small amounts and increase slowly
  • Add crunchy ingredients last to allow easy removal
  • Allow picky eaters to add their own mix-ins

Adding supplemental ingredients can boost nutrition. Take it slowly and give picky eaters control.

Should You Force a Picky Eater to Drink a Shake?

It’s usually not advised to force a picky eater to drink a shake if they refuse it. Forcing unfamiliar foods can increase anxiety and resistance to trying new foods.

Instead, consider these tips:

  • Offer small samples to taste
  • Mix in a few ounces with a shake they already like
  • Let them observe you enjoying the shake
  • Reward trying new shakes with praise (not food)
  • Focus on finding shakes they like rather than refusing
  • Be patient – it may take time to accept a new shake

With a positive, encouraging approach, picky eaters can learn to enjoy healthy shakes. Forcing or bribing will likely backfire.

Are Protein Shakes Healthy for Picky Eaters?

Protein shakes can play a valuable role in the diet of picky eaters when used correctly. The benefits of protein shakes for picky eating include:

  • Increased protein intake – Important for growth and development.
  • Weight gain assistance – Useful if the child is underweight.
  • Nutrient delivery – Shakes can contain vitamins/minerals picky eaters may lack.
  • Smooths transitions – Provides a familiar food when trying new solid foods.

However, some downsides include:

  • Reduced appetite for meals – Shakes may fill up picky eaters.
  • Too much sugar – Some pre-made shakes contain lots added sugar.
  • Lack of chewing – Drinking shakes doesn’t allow practicing chewing skills.

To make shakes healthy for picky eaters:

  • Use shakes to supplement, not replace, meals and snacks.
  • Choose unsweetened shakes and avoid adding extra sugar.
  • Include some textured shakes made with chunks of fruit, nut butter, etc to allow chewing practice.
  • Work to increase acceptance of new foods along with offering shakes.

Used appropriately, protein shakes can be a very beneficial tool for providing good nutrition to picky eaters.


Picky eaters can get good nutrition from protein shakes when the shakes match their flavor and texture preferences. Opt for smooth, mild shakes in flavors like chocolate, vanilla and berry. Pre-made shakes are a convenient option, or use simple recipes with familiar ingredients like peanut butter and banana. Adding protein-rich mix-ins can increase nutrition. With patience and a positive approach, picky eaters can learn to accept healthy, beneficial shakes as part of their diet. Just be sure to focus on expanding their palates to new whole foods too.

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