If you’ve ever made a protein shake, you’ve had this problem. You just finished working out and made a protein shake, just to find that it’s filled with chalky clumps. Why does protein powder clump, and what can you do to fix it?
There are multiple reasons why protein powder clumps when trying to make a shake. These include:
- Not shaking enough
- Too much protein/not enough liquid
- Improper storage of protein powder
- Using cold liquids
- Type of protein
- Choice of liquid
Down below, I’ll go over each of these problems individually, as well as some bonus tips for how you can reduce clumps in your next protein shakes.
Not Shaking Enough
Probably the biggest cause is that you’re just not shaking enough. Nobody wants to take up excessive time shaking a protein shake, especially if you just finished working out. Thankfully, there are some ways to get around this.
Here are some ways to blend your protein powder with more efficiency:
- Shaker bottle
- Using ice
- Use a spoon or fork
Using a Shaker Bottle
This is one of the most commonly used ways to make a shake, and it’s better than nothing, but it’s not always enough. Many shaker bottles come with a thin metal or plastic ball to help break up the protein.
Again, this helps, but the ball is usually not heavy enough to really break up all the protein powder in your bottle.
Using a Blender
This is one of the best ways to avoid clumps in your shake, but it requires more cleanup.
Using a blender removes the need to manually shake your shake, as well as doing a better job than you can.
Unfortunately, if you go with this route, you’ll also have to clean/wash the blender as well as whatever cup you’re using to drink your shake.
Truthfully, this isn’t that big of an issue, and you can usually just put the blender into the dishwasher with everything else.
If you’re just mixing your protein powder with milk or water, this is a great option. Milk and water are thin, so adding ice can act as a blender ball to help mix up the ingredients.
There’s one drawback here though; it’s harder to mix protein powder into cold liquids. I’ll go over that more down below.
Use a Spoon or Fork
If you’re mixing a protein shake in a glass, this one is a great option. Using a fork, spoon, or another utensil can really help to break up remaining clumps.
It also gives you the ability to go after specific clumps of powder, rather than shaking it randomly.
Too Much Protein/Not Enough Liquid
Protein powder needs a lot of liquid to dissolve fully. If you’re not using enough drink or adding too much powder, it can overwhelm the liquid and not be able to fully mix in.
If you’re concerned about this, just read the label on your bottle of protein powder. It’ll have specific instructions for how much liquid to use.
A common recommendation is 6-8oz of whatever drink you’re using for your shake for each scoop of protein powder. If you’re finding that this isn’t enough, it’s okay to use more liquid.
It’s always okay to use more milk or water, but you shouldn’t use less, otherwise, you’ll find yourself getting more clumps.
Improper Storage of Protein Powder
If you’re not storing your protein powder properly, it can lead to clumps. Heat and moisture are the largest culprits here, and really cause clumps.
You might jump to the opposite extreme here and try to store your protein powder in the fridge. To read about whether or not that’s a good idea, check out this article I wrote on whether or not you should store protein powder in the fridge!
Protein powder should be always stored in a cool, dry place. This will keep it from spoiling, as well as keep it from clumping up when you go to make your next shake.
Using Cold Liquids
I mentioned this earlier when I was talking about using ice to help break up clumps.
Most people make their protein shakes cold. You store milk and juice in the fridge, and ice is a common ingredient in many shakes, and honestly who wants to drink a warm protein shake.
Unfortunately, it’s harder to dissolve protein powder into a cold drink. Warmer liquids increase the solubility of protein powder.
If you want to try this one out, try mixing your protein powder with a lukewarm drink, not necessarily hot, just as long as it’s not cold.
After you’ve successfully mixed in the powder without clumps, you can blend in or add ice to bring the temperature back down and actually enjoy your protein shake.
Type of Protein
Some types of protein powder are less soluble because of their chemical structure. This one really isn’t a big deal, but it may affect you nonetheless.
Whey is probably the most common protein powder, and it mixes pretty well. Another common one is casein protein powder, which is harder to mix in because of the amino acids it’s made of.
On top of that, some protein powders, like whey protein concentrate, which goes through less processing and has more leftover ingredients, may contain more fat, or lipids.
This extra fat isn’t bad for you, but since lipids repel water and other liquids, it makes it substantially harder to fully mix in.
If you’re using protein concentrate, try switching to isolate. Isolate is more common anyway, so the chances that this is your problem are slim.
Choice of Liquid
Obviously, some liquids are thicker than others. Thicker liquids are more difficult for dissolving powders into.
Milk is thicker than water, and sometimes also causes more clumps than water does.
There are some other things to consider here, however. Milk contains more nutrients than water and will help you replenish yourself after a workout. Milk protein shakes also taste better than those made with water.
I wouldn’t recommend switching to water just to avoid protein clumps.
If you’re lactose intolerant, I’d tell you to make the switch, but you probably already have.
Other Ways to Avoid Clumping Protein Powder
These ones aren’t causes, so they didn’t deserve their own section, but they’re still helpful for avoiding clumps.
A few more tips for avoiding clumps in your protein powder:
- Add powder after liquid
- Add powder slowly
- Break up clumps beforehand
I’ll go over each one and how you can utilize them down below!
Add Powder After Liquid
If you put your powder in your bottle first, then add liquid on top of it, most of the powder isn’t actually coming into contact with your drink.
Adding in your protein powder after the liquid allows more of it to come into contact to said liquid and mix in better. This one’s simple!
Add Powder Slowly
This is one of the best tips in the whole article. Adding in your scoop of protein powder slowly, and mixing as you go, stops clumping.
When you dump it in all at once, clumps develop much more easily.
Take it slow, and mix as you go!
Break up Clumps Beforehand
If your protein powder already has clumps before you mix it in, those clumps are going to stay around. They’re also much easier to break up before you put them in your shake.
Many shaker bottles have sifters at the top that will block clumps from entering your bottle. If yours doesn’t either go get one that does, or check your tub of protein for clumps before you start to mix your shake.