Protein shakes aren’t just a useful tool for weight loss and muscle building. They can also be incredibly powerful for seniors, helping them to stay healthy, while also reducing the risk of age-related muscle loss and nutrient deficiencies.
Shakes are important because protein itself is essential. It’s used throughout your body in endless ways, including in your immune system, skin, muscles, and more.
Seniors need protein just like everyone else, but getting that protein isn’t always easy. Sometimes chewing or swallowing becomes more difficult with age, to the extent that the senior struggles to eat full meals or needs to avoid some foods. Other seniors experience decreases in appetite. Preparing full meals can also get more challenging physically, especially for seniors with limited strength or mobility.
The best protein shakes for seniors offer an easy solution. They’re ready to drink as-is and are even easy to open. Many also taste much like a milkshake, making them enjoyable to drink. That feature is perfect for seniors with no appetite.
Plus, many protein shakes are packed with nutrients, a feature that helps seniors to avoid nutrient deficiencies. Of course, a protein shake will never be as nutritious or filling as a full meal, but this doesn’t stop them from being incredibly useful.
As helpful as they can be, shakes aren’t all created equal. Many of them are heavily processed, rely on artificial additives, and contain far too much sugar. The ones featured on this list are the best of the best. They’re nutritious, healthy, and taste great too.
Top Senior Protein Shakes
1. Orgain Organic Nutrition Nutritional Shake
Orgain Nutritional Shake relies on organic ingredients to create something that’s healthy and delicious. Not only does their shake provide 16 grams of protein per serving, but it also contains an organic fruit and vegetable blend to provide antioxidants and other plant-based compounds.
There’s a vitamins and minerals blend too, giving between 10% and 30% of your daily needs for many critical nutrients. This is perfect for boosting nutrient intake.
There are two versions of the shakes. One is plant based, using pea protein and chia seeds as the protein source. The other relies on milk protein and whey protein instead. The two versions are similar nutritionally, although the vegan shakes are slightly lower in calories.
The main downside here is the sugar content, as you’re getting 10 or 12 grams of sugar per serving, with just 16 grams of protein. This balance isn’t ideal, but may still be helpful for seniors who need a drink that tastes good.
2. Pirq Vegan Protein Shake
There are three flavors to choose from: Golden Vanilla, Caramel Coffee, and Decadent Chocolate. Each contains roughly 110 calories, 12 grams of protein, and just 1 net gram of carbs. The sugar content is low too and stevia is used to provide sweetness.
While the shakes don’t have added nutrients, they do contain a superfood blend. This features curcumin, maca, and almonds – ingredients that can all provide some powerful health benefits.
3. Remedy Organics Wellness Shakes
Remedy Organics Wellness Shakes also focus on superfoods. There’s a broader variety of shakes to choose from, including Berry Immunity, Match Oxidants, Super Chai Fuel, and even some keto versions. The shakes are all dairy free and rely on pea protein.
The non-keto versions contain roughly 200 calories per serving and include 14 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of sugar. The keto ones are quite different, offering 240 calories each, 15 grams of fat, just 1 gram of sugar, and 16 grams of protein.
Both versions have their benefits. Even the fat can be useful, as Remedy Organics relies on healthy sources of fat. Plus, some seniors actually need to increase their calorie and fat intake, rather than decrease it.
The ingredients in the shakes can’t be beaten, as there’s a strong focus on natural ingredients, along with superfoods that might provide additional benefits. The shakes are also incredibly delicious, more so than many other products.
4. Evolve Plant Based Protein Shake
Evolve is an activity-focused brand, but Evolve Plant Based Protein Shakes as still a good fit for seniors. The shakes contain 20 grams of pea protein each, along with 10 grams of fiber and just 4 grams of sugar. They’re not designed as meal replacement shakes, but there are still some nutrients present.
Stevia is used to add extra sweetness and the company entirely avoids any artificial flavors or sweeteners.
The fiber is particularly helpful here, as most protein shakes don’t contain much fiber at all. This fiber can help decrease the risk of constipation and help to keep seniors regular.
5. OWYN Plant Based Protein Shake
OWYN Plant Based Protein Shakes are another excellent vegan choice. The shakes contain 20 grams of protein per serving, along with all the essential amino acids. The company also avoids all major allergens, making this a perfect product for most diets.
The protein comes from pea, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds. That combination provides plenty of essential amino acids, along with heart healthy omega 3 fats. The shakes also contain a superfood blend of spinach, kale, and broccoli, which provide extra nutrients and plant-based compounds.
OWYN takes an interesting approach to sweeteners. The shakes use just 4 grams of sugar and no other type of sweetener at all. This is incredibly helpful, as most other shakes are either high in sugar or rely on alternative sweeteners.
OWYN also offers Complete Nutrition Shakes. These are still vegan friendly and low in sugar. However, they also contain 20% of most essential vitamins and minerals.
6. Iconic Protein Drinks
Iconic Protein Drinks are perfect for diabetics and keto dieters, as they have no sugar and just 4 net grams of carbs per serving. The shakes are also free from lactose, gluten, soy, GMOs, and artificial ingredients.
Their Cacao + Greens flavor is particularly powerful, as it contains a full serving of veggies, but still tastes like chocolate.
Interestingly, these aren’t vegan shakes. They still rely on milk protein, which has been processed so that no lactose remains. The use of milk protein isn’t necessarily bad, as this is a complete source of protein and is easy to digest.
7. Aloha Protein Drinks
There are some fantastic Aloha Protein Drinks, including their coconut version, which uses coconut water as a key ingredient. The shake also contains 20 grams of protein per serving, along with 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of sugar.
At 170 calories per serving, the shakes could be a fantastic choice between meals. Plus, all the ingredients are plant-based, making the shakes excellent for vegans.
8. Kate Farms Nutrition Shakes
Kate Farms Nutrition Shakes are an interesting choice. They’re vegan friendly, with a focus on natural and nutrient dense ingredients. There are even some superfoods in the mix, including acai berries and turmeric.
The ingredients list is on the long side, but that’s forgivable, as the shakes are packed with vitamins, minerals, and plant-based compounds. The shakes might even be more powerful than supplements for promoting brain function.
Recommending these shakes might seem strange, as they have just 16 grams of protein per serving and 18 grams of sugar. However, the impressive range of nutrients and plant-based ingredients makes these very nutritious shakes.
The low protein content and decent amount of sugar could be perfect for seniors who have a low appetite and resist eating. After all, who can say no to a delicious sweet milkshake?
9. Boost High Protein
Boost is a famous protein shake brand, one that’s inexpensive, tasty, and easy to find. Their Boost High Protein version is excellent for seniors, providing 250 calories per serving and 20 grams of protein.
It’s also another shake with plenty of nutrients. There’s at least 25% of your daily intake for most vitamins and minerals. Some are present in even higher amounts.
The sweetener approach is interesting, as the shake has 11 grams of sugar and also uses stevia. This could be too much sweetness for some seniors. For others, it might be perfect, creating a protein drink that tastes just like a milkshake.
The way these shakes taste is incredibly important, as seniors with low appetites often don’t want to eat. A protein shake that tastes like a treat can make all the difference in the world. Boost shakes are also less expensive than many others on this list and can sometimes be purchased in bulk.
10. Designer Wellness Protein Smoothie
Okay, so the Designer Wellness Protein Smoothies aren’t shakes; they’re smoothies. The difference is simply that these smoothies contain fruit juice and fruit puree.
Each of the small pouches contains 12 grams of protein, a gram of fiber, and just 5 grams of sugar. The protein comes from whey protein isolate, making it easy to digest and perfect for preventing age-related muscle loss.
The small pouches are the perfect size for seniors and may be less overwhelming than a full protein shake. Only natural ingredients are used, so we’re talking about real fruit purees, rather than artificial flavors.
How To Choose The Right Protein Shake
These protein shakes cover a variety of styles, with differences in the type of protein, the nutrients they provide, their ingredients, and many other areas. They’re also just a fraction of all the options on the market. So, how do you choose the right shake for seniors?
The best place to begin is what you want the shake to do? Is it a meal replacement, perhaps because they’re struggling to eat enough food or don’t have much of an appetite? If so, you’ll be looking for a relatively high protein shake with a decent amount of vitamins and minerals?
What about weight? Is the senior trying to gain weight, lose it, or stay the same? Not surprisingly, they’ll need a higher calorie shake for weight gain than for weight loss.
If the shake is for between meals instead, you’ll often want between 10 and 15 grams of protein per serving and probably no more than 200 calories, this way the shake won’t cause unwanted weight gain.
Then there are the ingredients to think about. Here are some of the most important areas to weigh up:
- The source of protein. Whey protein is a popular choice, as it’s a complete source of protein that’s powerful for muscle development. However, whey comes from milk, so you may prefer a plant-based option instead. Plant-based protein can be almost as powerful. Plus, there are plenty of types to choose from.
- Protein content. Be realistic about the amount of protein. 20 grams is going to be enough for most seniors. You might go up to 30 grams for a meal replacement shake, but more than this shouldn’t be necessary.
- Additives. The healthiest products avoid additives as much as possible. Keep an eye out for short ingredients list. It’s also worth avoiding any products that use artificial sweeteners and flavors. There’s no need to consume these with so many natural alternatives out there.
- The sugar content. Protein shakes can be shocking for sugar, sometimes giving you 10 grams of sugar or more per serving. Some even contain more sugar than protein. Low sugar products tend to be much healthier.
- Sweeteners. Many companies use natural or artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. Natural sweeteners tend to be safer, but they can still cause side effects (particularly sugar alcohols, like erythritol). Avoid sweeteners that you know the senior is sensitive to. If you’re uncertain, look for products that only use a single type of natural sweetener. This way sensitivities are easy to identify.
- The flavor. Trying the shake is the ultimate way to judge the flavor, but reviews can be helpful too.
Finally, be willing to experiment. Some shakes may look amazing on paper, but taste horrible or cause side effects.
You may also need to compromise in some areas. For example, low sugar shakes are ideal for health, but they don’t always taste good. Seniors with low appetite may be more willing to drink a shake that contains sugar over one with natural sweetener.
Making Your Own Protein Shakes
Rather than buying premade protein shakes, why not make your own? Doing so gives you more control over the ingredients and nutritional profile.
The simplest approach is to choose a reliable protein powder and mix this with either milk or plant-based milk. Look for protein powder brands that have few additives, like the Naked Protein Powders.
Making protein shakes without powder involves more effort, but certainly isn’t impossible. You’ll simply need to add other ingredients to boost the protein content, like the following:
- Peanut butter. Nuts are rich in protein and healthy fats, making them perfect for health. Plus, peanut butter is smooth, easy to use, and you probably already have some at home. Other types of nut butter can be just as useful.
- Peanut butter powder. This powder lacks most of the fat found in peanut butter, so it lasts much longer. It remains high in protein and is an easy ingredient to add to shakes.
- Hemp hearts. These are fantastic for healthy fats and protein. They’re also soft, so they can easily blend into smoothies and shakes.
- Plant-based milk. This is a useful alternative to dairy milk, as it’s often lower in calories and fats. Soy milk is the most powerful for protein, helping to make your shake even more filling.
- Cocoa powder. This is one of the easiest ways to add flavor to your shake, along with some powerful plant-based compounds.
- Liquid egg whites. These add flavor without changing the shake’s taste at all. It’s best to buy pasteurized egg whites or egg white powder, as raw egg whites can cause food poisoning. While food poisoning from raw eggs is rare, it’s not worth taking the risk, as the immune system becomes less effective as people age.
- Frozen bananas. You’ll need to watch the sugar content of these, but frozen bananas are a powerful way to give your shake a smooth and creamy texture.
- Nuts and seeds. If you’re using a blender, most nuts and seeds can be added to a shake. They all provide plenty of protein and heart healthy fats.
- Avocados. These fatty fruits shouldn’t be overlooked in smoothies, as they’re rich in healthy fats, make your drink much creamier, and even contain some protein.
- Greek yogurt. This high protein yogurt adds creaminess and probiotics to the mix.
To get the right texture, you’ll need a blender of some kind. Even a basic blender should do the trick, especially if you’re focusing on soft ingredients.
As for flavors and ingredient combinations, the sky really is the limit. Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry shakes remain some of the most popular, but you can also experiment with countless other flavors.
This cookies and cream vegan shake is a fun place to begin if you don’t mind using protein powder. It even has some hidden veggies. Or, for another approach, try this creamy chocolate protein shake. Finally, here’s a simple vanilla protein shake that avoids protein powder entirely.
Protein For Seniors
Finally, we need to talk a little bit about protein.
This macronutrient is incredibly important for seniors, as their bodies don’t process protein as well as when they were younger. This is particularly true if they’re sick or under stress.
Seniors might even need to increase their protein intake to prevent muscle loss. Yet, many seniors end up doing the opposite, partly because their appetite decreases and protein rich foods can be harder to chew.
Thankfully, there are easy-to-eat sources of protein too.
Senior-Friendly Sources Of Protein
Because seniors often struggle with chewing or swallowing, the best protein sources tend to be soft. The following are great places to begin.
- Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is higher in protein than most other yogurts, making it excellent for health. Many products are also rich in gut friendly probiotics. Just watch out for excess sugar and additives.
- Eggs. Eggs are packed with nutrients and protein. They’re also versatile. Scrambled eggs, omelets, and egg muffins are just three ways that seniors can enjoy soft eggs. Don’t stress too much about the cholesterol content, as the cholesterol in food doesn’t strongly impact blood cholesterol in most people.
- Nut butter. This spread gives seniors the nutrients found in whole nuts, in an easier to eat form.
- Cottage cheese. This is a popular snack among dieters for the high protein and low calorie content. While cottage cheese isn’t exciting on its own, you can easily add extra ingredients for flavor, like fresh berries or a little cinnamon.
- Flaky fish. If cooked well, fish doesn’t have the same tough chewiness as meat. Fish is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which offer important health benefits.
- Beans and lentils. These legumes are excellent for fiber and protein. They both become very soft once they’ve been cooked for long enough.
How Much Protein Do Seniors Need?
Protein is important, but only when it’s needed. A common recommendation is to get 0.36 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. For a 150 pound person, this calculates out to around 54 grams of protein per day.
Seniors who are sick, who don’t digest protein well, or have chronic health conditions may need more protein than this – perhaps up to 83 grams per day for a 150 pound person.
As always, seniors should talk to their doctor to work out the best amount of protein for them. This can be incredibly helpful, as protein needs can vary dramatically.
Risks Of Too Much Protein
Calculating protein needs also helps seniors avoid overdoing it with protein. This is important, as the body can’t process excess protein well, so consuming too much can place a burden on the senior’s liver and kidneys.
Excessive protein intake can also lead to side effects like diarrhea and dehydration, while increasing the risk of weight gain.
Some high protein foods also have issues of their own. For example, protein shakes may contain additives, while red meat is high in saturated fat.
So, it’s crucial to get protein from high-quality sources and avoid overdoing it or underdoing it with protein intake.