There is a certain way for how to make protein shakes thicker that doesn’t include ingredients which might harm your gut.

In fact, I have been doing this for years now and thus have come up with 22 ways that are gut friendly, too.

Protein Shake

What is a protein shake anyways and why might it be a good idea for you? The short answer is: quick nutrients that are easy-to-digest.

Protein shakes are a great way to get in extra protein, even when you might not fully feel like eating a ton.

There is some confusion over what exactly a Protein Shake is and how it differs from smoothies and even from juices.

At its core, the difference lies in the mixing method. I talked all about this in my Constipation Hack YouTube Series here:

So let’s now also add a shake to this equation.

  • Shake: mixer, blender, or shaker
  • Smoothie: mixer or blender
  • Juice: juicer

Since I’ve already gone over the smoothie and juice in detail, I’ll leave those there.

The big difference with a Protein Shake is that nothing needs to be turned into a liquid – i.e. frozen fruit.

It’s not that you can’t use fruit (fresh fruit and/or frozen fruit) in a protein shake, but it would just take longer to cut the pieces up into small enough chunks where they can be shaken together easily.

A Protein Shake is a great option for those who are constantly on-the-go and perhaps only want to carry a shaker bottle and some basic ingredients along with them.

There are 3 reasons why I ever chose protein shakes on my journey:

  1. Quick fuel
  2. Easy-to-digest protein
  3. A way to add in all the gut healing goodies

The base of that protein shake, then, is of course the protein itself.

And when we are talking about how to make protein shakes thicker, the reason is typically because protein powder + milk and/or water is fairly thin.

This post assumes that you are wanting a thicker shake because your main source of protein is the protein powder.

TOP 3 protein powders shakes gut health

Therefore, let me first give you my top 3 protein powders from a gut-health standpoint:

  1. Perfect Supplements Chocolate Collagen. Instantly create a like-chocolate milk beverage with this Chocolate Collagen from Perfect Supplements. The Perfect Supplements Perfect Hydrolyzed Collagen Chocolate allows you to easily get the nutrients of collagen via an all natural, Brazilian pasture raised and grass-fed source.
  2. Gut Garden Collagen (plain). If you don’t want any flavor in your protein shake powder, but you want all the protein, choose THIS unflavored collagen. Collagen is the perfect protein addition for shakes and does not clump when added to liquids (like gelatin will do).
  3. Perfect Plant Protein – Pumpkin Seed, Hemp Seed, Sacha Inchi. Organic Perfect Plant Protein is a complete vegan protein containing all 9 essential amino acids plus other amino acids. Perfect Plant Protein is also an excellent plant-based source of magnesium and an ideal blend to support lean muscle growth and overall health.

Now, let’s thicken that protein shake up even more in the best ways possible!

First, the liquid you use can make or break the shakes thickness.

Water is the thinnest, so if you’re looking to make that shake thicker, do not choose water.

Here are some of my favorite (thicker) liquid options:

  1. Coconut milk (a certain can of coconut milk or the Aroy-D brand). Coconut milk will definitely provide a thicker protein shake, as long as it’s a full-fat coconut milk. There are some things to watch for when choosing a coconut milk from a thickness standpoint and gut-health standpoint. I have a whole post on Coconut milk + my three favorites HERE. Make note that there is only roughly 1-2g of protein in the Coconut milk I choose.
  2. Cashew milk. In my opinion, Cashew milk is one of the best options for a creamier texture. And yes, most cashew milks will achieve that, but this is because many of them also contain stabilizers and emulsifiers like guar gum, carrageenan, and Polysorbate 80. My favorite Cashew milk, hands down, is the Unsweetened Milked Cashews from Elmhurst 1925. It contains only filtered water and cashews. Per cup, it contains 4g of protein.
  3. Almond milk. Of my top four choices for liquid to use in a thicker smoothie or protein shake, Almond milk is probably my least favorite. I think it’s the least thick, and I don’t prefer the flavor as much (remember, I’m talking about plain nut milks not flavored ones with a ton of sugar and additives). That said, you might love Almond milk. If so, choose an Unsweetened Almond Milk. Again, Elmhurst 1925 has a great one that includes just two ingredients: filtered water and almonds. The protein content in the Unsweetened Milked Almonds is also a little higher at 5g per serving (8 fl oz).
  4. Walnut milk. And last, but certainly not least, if you are looking for a nutty flavor, consider Walnut milk. Back in the day I worked with the Elmhurst 1925 team, and at the time I kept thinking, “Walnut milk is one of the best kept secrets.” Seriously. Just a small amount goes a long ways, and it contains 1400mg Omega-3 essential fatty acids per serving. It’s brain food meets a quick way to instantly thicken the shake. One serving contains 3 grams of protein. And by the way, using the Milked Walnuts will allow you to create my Chunky Monkey Nice Cream which has the perfect consistency of ice cream.
How to Make Protein Shakes Thicker {22 Ways that are Gut Friendly} milks

There are the first 7 ways to thicken your Protein Shake (protein powders + nut-based milks).

But wait, there’s even more……

How to Make Protein Shakes Thicker {22 Ways that are Gut Friendly}

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How to Make Protein Shakes Thicker {22 Ways that are Gut Friendly}

Coconut Yogurt

Many people add Greek Yogurt to their shakes to make it thicker. You can choose that, if desired, but I have another yogurt that is far more friendly for your gut: Coconut Yogurt.

In particular, my 2-Ingredient Coconut Yogurt. This Coconut Yogurt is my favorite way to make homemade yogurt that’s gluten, dairy, and sugar-free and also gets an extra probiotic boost.


When fruit is frozen it’s more dense. And thus, when added to a shake, will make a thick milkshake instantly. However, using frozen fruit is not really for the protein shake, but rather for smoothies that use a high-speed blender of sorts.

That said, one way to thicken a protein shake with fresh fruit is to use fruits that are soft and already super ripe.

For example, a ripe banana.

The best way to go about this for your shaker would be to mash the banana as finely as possible then be sure to shake for a long time in the shaker. That way, the chances of banana clumps in your shake are less.

It’s not perfect, but it will definitely make for thicker protein shake recipes

Cream of Coconut (Coconut Cream)

This is not to be confused with coconut milk. There is an extra thickness in cream of coconut that coconut milk does not have.

Bon Appetite provides the best distinction,

The difference between the two is similar to the difference between dairy milk and cream: They’re made from the same ingredients (coconut, water, and sometimes guar gum for stabilizing), but coconut cream has a higher fat content than coconut milk (less water, more coconut), therefore it’s thicker.

Let’s Do…Organic has an awesome Coconut Cream that does not contain any thickening agents, but instead just Organic Coconut and Filtered Water. While there are no grams of protein in this Coconut Cream, it is super thick. (This also makes for an awesome whipped cream!)

Nut Butter

With so many nut butter varieties on the marketplace these days, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a few of my favorites as a potential way to thicken that protein shake.

I may be biased, but nut butters are the best!

  1. Peanut Butter
  2. Almond Butter
  3. Cashew Butter

Not only will a nut butter thicken your shake up, but they also provide up to 8g of protein per serving. And that’s just for the plain nut butter, not even the ones infused with extra protein.

There are plenty of plain nut butters out in the marketplace to choose from, but if you’re looking for a great peanut, almond and cashew butter, check out these:

  1. Honey Roasted Peanut Butter with a touch of Fleur de Sel
  2. Salted Cinnamon Almond Butter
  3. Samarah’s Cinny-Vanilly Peanut Cashew Butter

They are all from a nut butter company I used to own, A Loving Spoon nut butters. The full recipes can be found HERE.


Adding seeds will also make for a thick smoothie.

  1. Hemp Seeds. Hemp seeds are a good option for both adding extra nutrients and thickening the shake. You can learn more about the powers of hemp seeds HERE. Nutiva Organic Hemp Seeds contain approximately 10 grams of protein per 3 Tablespoon serving.
  2. Flax Seeds. Flax seeds can be added as tiny little seeds or pre-ground. Similar to chia seeds, when added to liquid, a gel-like consistency is formed. This gel is a massive thickening agent. In fact, it might be too much for some.
  3. Chia Seeds. Just 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds can instantly thicken up the shake. When chia seeds are mixed with liquid and sit for even 30 seconds, they form a thick gel-like consistent. However, Nutiva has a pre-ground chia seed {HERE} that might work even better for your shake.

By the way, both flax and chia seeds contain soluble fiber, which is the fiber that adds bulk to the stool and helps prevent things like Diverticulosis and Hemorrhoids.

Greens Powder

If you’re looking to make green smoothies, then a greens powder is a great way to make your shake thicker.

One of the more common questions I get is, “Do you recommend the Athletic Greens powder?” Honestly, my answer is neither here nor there because I have not had it. This is because I found other greens powders that use whole foods and taste great.

They are:

  1. Paleovalley Supergreens
  2. Fermented Kale Powder by Perfect Supplements

Like the protein powder options above, greens powders are also very easy to place in a shaker bottle, shake, and consume without any complex equipment.

You can learn more about greens powders and the above two in a full post on Supergreens HERE.

Healthy Fats

The following healthy fats are super great for the gut (both from a health and healing standpoint, usually) and will absolutely go a long way for making the shake thicker.

  1. Avocado. You want a cream shake galore? Choose avocado! And, in fact, one serving even contains 4 grams of protein.
  2. Coconut oil. I realize that the coconut oil is subjective. For me, and for my personal healing journey it never was, though. Did you know that Lauricidin®, which is a monolaurin supplement is something I used during the depths of my healing? And what does that have to do with coconut oil? Well, coconut oil also contains monolaurin! Anyways, coconut oil comes in liquid form, too, so it’s super easy to add to your shake whenever desired. You don’t need a ton, even 1 Tablespoon will help with the thickness.

Miscellaneous Items

There are two more items that can help thicken up that protein shake that can be automatic gut health boosters as well: L-Glutamine and Guar Gum.

  1. L-Glutamine. Naturally, L-Glutamine is a thicker powder, which makes it a good option for thickening up a shake. L-Glutamine for gut healing is one of my favorite supplements I incorporate daily – to this day, even though I’m healed.

Glutamine is an essential amino acid that is anti-inflammatory and necessary for the growth and repair of your intestinal lining. L-glutamine acts a protector and coats your cell walls, acting as a repellent to irritants.

Additionally, “researchers are finding that it plays a critical role in healthy digestion and brain function.”

Grab my favorite L-Glutamine + learn more about it HERE.

2. Guar Gum. I typically recommend avoiding Xanthan Gum, so then why am I recommending Guar Gum? First, I debated putting this one in. But I had to for those of you who are my SIBO friends. In this case, only a small percentage can really take this idea to the shaker.

According to the NIH,

A clinical trial found that the combination of rifaximin with partially hydrolysed guar gum is more effective than rifaximin alone in eradicating small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

Take it for what it’s worth.

My doctor, years ago, mentioned it for me, which is why I linked to my fave Guar Gum HERE.

Thick Shake Items to Avoid

thickeners to avoid for your protein shakes #proteinshake #shakes

Now, with so many ways to add thickness to your protein shake, there should be no reason for any of the below items to be added.

Here are 3 to make note of:

  1. Added sugar. Yes, adding scoops of coconut sugar, syrups and/or other sugars can definitely add density. But you don’t need it if you’re using the items from above, and you definitely don’t need it (especially any artificial sweeteners) if you’re trying to heal your gut.
  2. Powders with 10,000 ingredients. There are a million protein powders on the marketplace. You do not want one that contains 10,000 ingredients because remember…..ingredients vs ingredient(s). Sometimes, but rarely, all ingredients will be from whole food sources. Usually, you’re going to find far too many ingredients you can’t pronounce and/or have no clue what they are. Steer clear of those.
  3. Other emulsifiers. I have an entire post on emulsifiers; what they are and why you want to avoid them for your gut’s sake. Check them all out HERE.

Alright, ready to shake?!

Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions!

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

  1. 13 Best Paleo Bars {that are also high protein}
  2. Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber
  3. 16 Things to Know About Coconut Flour


How to Make Protein Shakes Thicker {22 Ways that are Gut Friendly}

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