What To Mix Protein Powder With? Battle Between Water, Milk, & Coffee

If you don't know what to mix protein powder with, you are in the right place. In this article, we will tell you what protein powder mixes best with, and the difference it makes.

Protein powder can be mixed with water, milk, and coffee. Using water will allow your body to absorb the protein faster, while milk or coffee will make for a creamier, slower digesting protein drink.

This is the answer in a nutshell.

Keep reading to find out…

  • What happens when you mix protein powder with water, milk, or coffee
  • How to make quick and delicious snacks by mixing protein powder with yoghurt or oatmeal
  • Our best tips to avoid clumping while mixing your protein shake

And more. Let's get started.

Can you put protein powder in water?

what to mix protein powder with

Mixing protein powder with water is the go-to for most people.

The main benefit of making your protein shake with water is that the protein gets absorbed into your system faster. Since there are no nutrients in water, your digestive system can only focus on breaking down the protein.

There are a couple other benefits that come with a protein shake mixed with water:

  • Low calorie. Water is a great option if you are really strict about your calorie or nutrient intake - it won’t add any calories, fats, protein or carbs to your drink.
  • Doesn't clump as much. Water will not thicken your protein shake, meaning that there is minimal chance of clumps forming when mixing your drink.
  • Prevents bloating. As opposed to milk or other liquids, you can easily down a protein shake made with water without feeling bloated afterwards.

In our opinion, the best time to have a protein shake with water is right after a workout. This way, your system will be able to fuel your muscles as soon as possible. Additionally, you can mix your protein powder with water, if you intend to take it during the workout - unlike milk, water will prevent bloating.

Now, are there any drawbacks to having a water based protein shake?

There are a couple:

  • Taste. Water will not alter the taste of your shake in any way. If you make a protein drink with water, you will find it less tasty when compared to one made with milk.
  • Texture. If you want to have a smooth protein shake, then water is not the option for you. Per our experience, the smoothest shakes are made with almond milk.

All in all, water is the most convenient liquid to mix your protein powder with, and a good choice regardless of your situation.

Can you mix protein powder with milk?

What to mix protein powder with

The second most popular option for mixing with protein powder is milk.

As opposed to water, if you make a protein shake with milk, the protein will get absorbed slower in your system. Being that milk has nutrients, unlike water, your body has to break those down too, in effect slowing down the digestion process.

For this reason, we recommend mixing protein powder with milk before going to bed.

This way, you will have protein releasing over a longer period of time.

And here are some other benefits to having your protein drinks made with milk:

  • More nutrients. If you are looking to gain weight, or prevent weight loss, then adding milk to your protein supplement can be a good way to squeeze in some extra calories, as well as protein.
  • Smoother shakes. Since milk of any variety is thicker than water, mixing milk and protein powder will make smoother shakes.
  • Improved taste. As opposed to water, milk will intensify the taste of your protein powder. If you have a tasty powder, milk will improve it. If, on the other hand, you don't like its taste, then you are better off making your shake with water.

When it comes to building muscle, the most important thing is getting your necessary protein intake. Protein absorption speed comes, in our opinion, as a second thought. For this reason, we prefer trading the speed of absorption for improved taste and texture.

So that's why we choose milk over water.

However, are there any drawbacks to mixing your protein with milk instead of water?

  • Higher chance of clumping. With milk you get a higher chance of getting clumps in your protein shake. This has to do with the texture of milk.
  • Can lead to bloating. Unless you are using a lactose-free milk and a lactose-free protein supplement you may experience some form of bloating. To avoid this, mix your shake with water. (1)
  • Not as readily available. If you want to get a shake right after a workout at the gym, you can easily have access to water. When it comes to milk, you may have to wait until you get home.

If you ask us, it all comes down to preference. Milk will provide better taste and texture, whereas water will be more convenient for most people.

Protein powder and coffee

Picture of a glass of protein powder with coffee

Adding protein powder to your coffee is a great way to kickstart your protein intake for the day.

Adding protein powder to your morning coffee can be beneficial, especially if you tend to skip breakfast. According to studies, protein can help you feel satiated for longer periods of time. If, on the other hand, you decide to consume protein coffee before a workout, you may find that your workouts are more stimulating, thanks to caffeine. (2)(3)(4)

Here are some other benefits of adding protein powder to your coffee:

  • Convenience. If you keep forgetting to drink your protein shake, adding the powder to your morning coffee is a great way to make sure that you take your supplements.
  • Kickstart your protein intake for the day. The faster you start consuming protein, the more chances you are going to get your necessary intake for the day.

We personally rarely drink protein coffee. However, when we mix protein powder with coffee, it's when we want to train in the morning on an empty stomach. Caffeine boosts our performance, while the protein fuels our muscles after a long period of starvation (night's sleep).

Let's see the drawbacks of protein coffee.

  • Hot coffee can cause your protein to curdle. This has nothing to do with coffee, but it has to do with its temperature. To prevent your protein powder from turning into little rubbery balls that don't dissolve, use warm or cold coffee instead of boiling hot coffee.
  • Not a substitute for a real breakfast. If you thought about substituting your breakfast with protein coffee, you are making a mistake. Mixing protein powder with coffee will not bring you nearly as many nutrients as a real, whole foods based breakfast.

So if you don't know what to mix protein powder with, coffee can be a good choice. It's convenient, especially if you plan on working out in the morning.

What else to mix protein powder with?

Bowl of protein oatmeal with blueberries, banana, and nuts

The good thing about protein powder is that it can be mixed with pretty much anything.

Our most favorite way of taking our protein supplement is by mixing it with yogurt or oatmeal for a hearty, protein packed snack. And if you are bulking, you can actually turn these into full on meals, with more calories and nutrients.

Protein powder with yogurt

If you've never had protein powder with yogurt you may think this is an odd combo.

Honestly, we thought the same.

However, for some reason, protein powder is very tasty with yogurt - especially protein powder with greek yogurt. Regardless of the flavor of your supplement, it's almost guaranteed that you will love this snack.

And the best part? You will get a lot of protein with this snack!

This is my favorite way of eating it:

  • 10oz of greek yogurt (around 300gr)
  • 1 scoop of protein powder
  • A handful of almonds for some texture
  • Fruit of choice

Easy as that.

First mix the protein powder with the yogurt, then add the toppings.

At first, it may look like you've made a terrible mistake. But as you keep mixing, you will notice the powder dissolving in the yogurt and a creamy mixture will take their place.

Protein powder with oatmeal

Protein oatmeal is popular among bodybuilders.

And if you've had it before, you know how it is. Tastes great but has the texture of glue.

Let me give you my personal favorite recipe of a cold oatmeal dish, with chocolate and walnuts. Sounds good? Let's get started.

  • 1 cup of rolled oats (around 100gr)
  • 1 scoop of preferably chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup of milk of choice (around 250ml)
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts (around 40gr)
  • A dash of unsweetened cocoa powder

Make a protein shake by mixing the powder with the milk. Then, in a bowl, put the rolled oats and walnuts. Dump the protein shake over, stir well, then refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Finish by dashing the cocoa powder over the mixture, stir once again, and you are done.

Tips on how to mix protein powder to avoid clumping

We’ve all been there and we hate it: big, nasty clumps in our otherwise delicious protein shake. It’s a real bummer. In this part of the article, we will give you our pro tips to avoid this issue.

  • Store your protein powder in a cool, dry place, away from the sun. This will not only increase the shelf life of your protein powder but it will also prevent your supplement from forming nasty clumps.
  • Use a dry shaker bottle. If any part of your shaker bottle - be it the bottle, lid, or sieve - is wet or has droplets of water, you can be sure that the powder is going to stick and clump around that area.
  • Add the liquid first. This way, you will avoid any protein powder sticking to the bottom of your shaker.
  • Don't use too much liquid. You want to leave enough room in your shaker bottle to forcefully "break" the protein powder when you start mixing.
  • Avoid liquids that are too hot. Hot liquids will turn the protein powder into rubbery balls that will not dissolve, no matter what you do. Even though this won't affect the quality or absorbability of your shake, the texture is going to be unappealing to say the least.

If you stick to all these simple principles, clumps will be a thing of the past.


Now that we have gone over everything concerning the topic of what to mix protein powder with, let's have a look at some of the most commonly asked questions.

How to mix protein powder without a shaker?

How to mix protein powder without a shaker?

We have made a special post on how to mix protein powder.

But in a nutshell, there are several different avenues you can take.

One choice would be to use a blender. This is a great option especially if you want to mix your protein powder with some fruit and other items to make tasty smoothies.

Other options include using a regular plastic bottle.

Have some water in the bottle, then add the protein powder and shake forcefully.

With this method you should expect some clumps to form though.

Lastly, you can stir your protein supplement in a cup or glass. However, this method only works with powders that are easily dissolvable, so it depends on the brand you are going to use.

What should you not mix with protein powder?

Aside from the obvious things that are not edible, you can mix protein powder with pretty much anything. This is the beauty of it.

Whether you add it to liquid, yogurt, oatmeal, or other recipes…

Protein powder is a very versatile supplement, something which might have contributed to its popularity (aside from its muscle building properties).

Is it better to have protein with milk or water?

It depends on your goals.

Mixing protein powder with water will make for a lower calorie shake which will be absorbed faster into your system. However, the flavor will be fairly bland and the texture… well… watery.

If you want a smoother drink with a more intense flavor, then milk is the way to go. However, the protein will be absorbed into your system slower because your digestive system has to break down the milk too.


So what to mix protein powder with? Whatever you want, really.

Whether you choose to mix your protein with water, milk, coffee, yogurt, oatmeal, or any other stuff, it won't make much of a difference. At the end of the day, it is all about your total protein intake, not as much about the speed of absorption.

That being said, if you are already consuming enough protein and you are looking to optimize…

Then mixing your protein powder with different things will bring different results. Depending on your goals and based on the information we have provided, choose your best mixing buddy for your protein supplement.