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Bulking Protein Shake: How to Make a High-Calorie Shake

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Looking to maximize protein and calorie intake? Then you may be interested in using bulking protein shakes to hit your goals. They’re a great way to get easy calories in, especially if you struggle to consistently reach a caloric surplus. In this article, we’ll cover the benefits of these shakes, as well as how to make them!

When bulking, protein shakes are a great way to maximize your caloric intake, especially if you struggle to reach a consistent caloric surplus. We recommend Combining milk with protein powder, nut butter, bananas, and berries for a simple, high-quality protein shake.

What Are The Benefits Of Bulking Protein Shake?

✅ Makes it easier to cover macro needs in conditions of a high-calorie diet 

One of the biggest struggles people have with bulking is consistently getting enough calories in to steadily put on weight. A high-calorie shake makes this much easier to accomplish. Multi-ingredient protein shakes are also great because you can customize them to fit your specific macro needs.

Especially if you’re an athlete with super-high caloric needs, it can be exceedingly difficult to reach a surplus without drinking at least some of your calories. With the right combo of ingredients, a protein shake can easily be 1000+ calories, which will make up a significant chunk of your daily caloric needs.

✅ You Can Easily Create Multi-Ingredient Combinations

When bulking, don’t limit yourself to just mixing protein powder with milk or water. To create a high-calorie shake ideal for bulking, get creative with ingredient combos. While you may prefer to keep it simple, the only limit here is your creativity! Multi-ingredient shakes are an excellent way to not only get in extra calories, but tons of micronutrients through things like seeds and fruit!

✅ It Is Less Satiating Than Solid Food

When you have high calorie demands, it’s important to choose food that doesn’t leave you feeling super full for half a day. Compared to something like meat, rice, and veggies, you’ll be able to get way more calories in through a shake before you feel full. This makes them optimal as a supplementary meal for those with especially high-calorie needs.

✅ They Can Be A Great High-Calorie Snack Option

Because they are typically less satiating then something like meat, rice, and veggies, protein shakes are a great option as a snack in between meals. Especially because they only take a couple of minutes to make, and how easy they are to take on the go, they’re an ideal snack for bulking.

✅ They Can Replace A Meal

If you’re ever in a rush and don’t have time to make a full meal, protein shakes can be an excellent meal replacement. Especially if you’re making nutritionally complete shakes with fruit and other nutritionally-dense ingredients, they’re a great meal substitute in a pinch.

Examples Of Bulking Protein Shakes

If you don’t know where to start, below we’ll be going over 3 protein shake recipes for muscle gain you can try out! Keep in mind these are just very general suggestions meant to be starting points for your own recipes. Feel free to get creative and experiment with different ingredients! The amount of possible combinations is a big part of what makes protein shakes so great for bulking!

1. Protein Powder, Nut Butter, Fruit, & Milk + Recipe

One of the best bulking protein shakes you can make, this shake is ideal for its simplicity, caloric density, and excellent flavor. While you can use pretty much any fruit you like, we recommend going with bananas and a frozen berry mix for added texture and flavor. You can easily reach 1000+ calories with these ingredients depending on how much you use.

As a bonus, this shake can easily be made vegan with plant-based protein and milk, making it suitable for nearly all diets!

Simply add all these ingredients to your blender and enjoy! This should get you between 400-500 calories and 30-40g of protein per serving depending on what protein powder and milk you use. While you can customize this recipe to your liking, here’s a simple recipe for this shake:

  • 1 Scoop of Protein Powder
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Nut Butter
  • 1 Banana
  • ½ Cup of Frozen Berries
  • 1 Cup of a Milk of Your Choice
Chocolate Protein Shake

2. Mass Gainer & Milk + Recipe

You may not be as interested in making multi-ingredient homemade protein shakes for weight gain. If you want to keep it as simple as possible while still maximizing calorie intake, consider using a mass gainer supplement.

If you’re unfamiliar with mass gainers, they’re protein supplements with additional calories usually from high carbohydrate content. These can also help you get an easy 1000 calories depending on the supplement.

For a high-quality mass gainer supplement, we recommend Transparent Labs Mass Gainer which has 750 calories and 53g of protein per serving!

We recommend mixing mass gainer in a blender to get a smoother texture. Especially because it comes in such a large serving, mixing in a shaker bottle may not be ideal. Here’s a basic recipe for a mass gainer shake as described by Transparent Labs to get an easy 900 calories and 60g+ of protein:

  • 1 Serving of Mass Gainer (2 Scoops)
  • 2 Cups of Milk

3. Greek Yogurt, Chia Seeds, Fruit, and Orange Juice + Recipe

We’ve included this option for a lighter, fruitier option that also doesn’t require any protein powder! Greek Yogurt is an excellent source of protein as well as calcium and B vitamins. Chia Seeds will also add plenty of healthy fats, protein, and fiber.

Using fruit and orange juice will make this a sweeter shake, although you can still make it fairly dense in calories by using more seeds and yogurt!

You can expect about 500 calories and 25-30g of protein using this recipe. This is also a highly customizable recipe, but here’s a basic recipe to follow:

  • 1 Cup of Greek Yogurt
  • 2.5 Tablespoons of Chia Seeds
  • 1 Banana
  • ½ Cup of Frozen Berries
  • 1 Cup of Orange Juice
Orange Protein Shakes

Is Bulking Just Eating More Protein?

Not exactly. To maximize muscle gain, you only need to eat about 0.7-1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. For someone weighing 150lbs, that’s about 105-150g of protein per day, which isn’t too many total calories. Once you’ve hit this number, the next thing required for bulking is total calorie intake.

While calorie needs will differ from person to person, we recommend aiming for a max 1% bodyweight gain every week, which should be achievable with a daily caloric surplus of around 250-500 calories for most people. This will help you steadily put on weight, without putting on too much excess fat in the process.

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To figure out how many calories you need to reach a surplus, we recommend using an online calorie calculator to figure out your maintenance calories. Simply add 250-500 calories to this number to get your bulking calories.

While this will give you a rough idea of how many calories you need, these calculators are notoriously inaccurate. Because of this, we recommend regularly checking your weight to ensure you’re gaining weight at an appropriate pace. Try tracking your calories to ensure you’re hitting your daily targets.

Most people will only want to put on 1-2lbs per month at an upper limit, unless there is a specific need for extra weight! Remember, bulking slow and steady is ideal to avoid putting on any unnecessary fat. If you aren’t seeing any progress, slowly add in more calories until you’re gaining weight.

Best Whey Protein

If you’re looking to get a high-quality protein powder for making shakes on your bulk, we recommend trying out Transparent Labs’ Grass-Fed Whey Isolate.

Each serving is 120 calories containing 28g of protein and only 1g of carbs. This makes Transparent Labs’ supplement perfect for giving high calorie, multi-ingredient shakes a solid boost of protein. If you’re after a higher calorie supplement to use on its own, we recommend checking out Transparent Labs Mass Gainer instead!

Whey Protein Isolate Powder – Transparent Labs

Whey Protein Isolate
  • Serving Size: 32.96 grams
  • Price Per Serving: ~$1.8
  • Protein Percent Of Weight (%): 85%
  • Proteins: 28 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram (depends on flavor)
  • Fat: 0.5 gram (French Vanilla only)
  • Added Sugar: 0 gram
  • Calories Per Serving: 120

It’s worth noting that all of Transparent Labs supplements are super high-quality. You can expect no artificial ingredients whatsoever making them ideal for those who prefer to buy all-natural supplements. This supplement is also made from grass-fed whey which has been shown to be healthier than regular milk!

Grass Fed Whey Protein Isolate

Photo by @transparentlabs

This supplement only comes in 2 different flavors: chocolate and vanilla. While this is fairly limited, you can still have plenty of variety depending on the extra ingredients you’re using in your protein shakes!

Finally, in terms of price you can expect each serving to cost you about $1.82. While this is fairly expensive for a basic protein supplement, because of the exceptionally high-quality, this is still great value for your money!

FAQ

Are Protein Shakes Good For Bulking?

Yes! Because they’re easy to make, easy to consume, and can be customized to fit your needs, protein shakes are an ideal snack or meal for anyone on a bulk. Especially for those who struggle to stay in a consistent caloric surplus, high-calorie protein shakes will likely be the easiest way for you to hit your calorie targets.

What Is The Best Protein Shake To Drink On A Bulk?

The best bulking protein shake for a bulk is one that combines fats, proteins, and carbs to help you reach a caloric surplus. While everyone will have slightly different preferences, one of the best bulking shakes is a combo of protein powder, nut butter, fruit, and milk. While you can add more or less of each ingredient depending on your goals, this shake will give you a healthy balance of protein, carbs, fats, and micronutrients.

How Much Protein Per Lb For Bulking?

We recommend shooting for anywhere between 0.7-1g of protein per lb of bodyweight. This appears to be the optimal range for building muscle while eating in a moderate caloric surplus. While you can certainly eat more protein than this, it likely won’t make a difference in how much muscle you’re going to build.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article on homemade protein shakes for muscle building is able to give you some inspiration! Whatever recipe you use, high-calorie shakes are an excellent way to get extra calories in, especially if you struggle to eat enough to hit a caloric surplus.

If you want a high-quality protein powder to use in your protein shake recipes for weight gain, consider checking out Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate Powder from Transparent Labs!

Do you have any bulking shake recipes to share? Any tips for getting extra calories in with your bulking shakes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Also read:

References

  1. The Nutrition Source, “Bananas,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/bananas/ (Accessed October 23, 2023)
  2. The Nutrition Source, “Yogurt,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/yogurt/(Accessed October 23, 2023)
  3. The Nutrition Source, “Chia Seeds,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/chia-seeds/(Accessed October 23, 2023)
  4. Everson A. Nunes, et. al, “Systematic review and meta-analysis of protein intake to support muscle mass and function in healthy adults,” Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, 13, 795–810, (2022)
  5. Brad Heins, “Grass-Fed Cows Produce Healthier Milk”, University of Minnesota, https://extension.umn.edu/pasture-based-dairy/grass-fed-cows-produce-healthier-milk (Accessed October 23, 2023)

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Jacek Szymanowski

Author: Jacek Szymanowski

Certified Nutritionist,
M.Sc.Eng. Biotechnology
Performance Architect,
Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Experience: 20 years

With over 30 years of fighting experience, specialization in nutrition coaching for athletes, and expertise in metabolic health and dietary strategies, Jacek offers a comprehensive approach to optimizing your performance and well-being. Backed by a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology, Jacek remains at the forefront of scientific advancements, ensuring that his coaching is always evidence-based and up-to-date.

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