When it comes to making protein shakes, I’ve often found myself wondering if freezing them is a viable option.
After all, life can get hectic, and having ready-to-go protein shakes in the freezer might make it easier to stay on track.
So I tested it.
From my experience, I found that it is possible to freeze protein shakes, however with a few caveats in mind.
- Freezing protein shakes for short periods, 48–96 hours, is generally fine and does not affect the taste too much.
- However, longer freezing periods (greater than 4 days) result in icy particles or texture changes in certain shakes with a low-carb, high-protein composition.
- The key is to ensure the shake is well-blended and has an appropriate consistency before freezing to ensure a smooth, drinkable shake once thawed.
- Shakes that use high-quality whey protein (90% protein per scoop or above) freeze better than lower-quality protein powders or plant-based proteins.
How to Properly Freeze Protein Shakes
Here are the steps I followed to freeze my protein shakes:
- Blend well: Before freezing, make sure the protein shake is well blended to avoid any chunks or inconsistent texture. This is especially important if you’re using fresh fruit because any chunks that are frozen will become mushy when de-thawed.
- Choose the right container: Select a freezer-safe container that allows for expansion as the liquid freezes. Avoid using glass containers or protein shake bottles, as they might crack or burst when the shake expands during freezing.
- Leave headspace: As the shake freezes and expands, it’s essential to leave some room at the top of the container, allowing for that expansion without causing spills or breakages. I like to leave about 2 inches from the top of the container.
- Seal and label: If you’re meal-prepping multiple shakes, then seal the container tightly, and label it with the date and contents to remember when and what you’ve frozen. If you’re only freezing one shake at a time, then there’s no need to label anything.
- Proper freezing duration: It’s best to limit the freezing duration to 48–96 hours. Longer freezing causes icy particles to form. The icy particles don’t impact the taste, but more so the texture once de-thawed. I tested freezing a protein shake for up to 10 days and it tasted fine once it was de-thawed, but the texture wasn’t as smooth when compared with freezing for shorter durations.
When you’re ready to consume the frozen protein shake, take it out of the freezer, and let it thaw gradually in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature. Give it a quick shake or stir before drinking to ensure a uniform consistency.
Freezing Protein Shakes: Pros & Cons
Freezing protein shakes can have some benefits, such as preserving their freshness and making them more enjoyable to consume.
I actually found a defrosted protein shake tasted more like a slushy, which seemed like a treat.
Also, if you’re someone who meal preps, freezing protein shakes can be a great way to save time throughout the week.
For example, I would defrost my protein shake overnight by putting it in the fridge, and then in the morning, all I would need to do is give it a quick shake and my breakfast was ready to go.
However, there can be some drawbacks to freezing protein shakes.
For example, the texture and consistency might change after freezing and thawing.
If the shake has a high water content, it’s likely to form ice crystals, which can affect the overall experience of drinking the shake. However, as I said, if you like the consistency of “slushies”, then this won’t be a con.
Moreover, depending on the ingredients, some shakes might not freeze well, leading to separation or clumping (more on this below).
- Related: How Long Do Protein Shakes Last?
Is It Safe To Freeze Protein Powder?
According to Amanda Parker, Nutrition Coach at FeastGood.com, freezing protein powder is safe and doesn’t damage its nutrients.
One common concern when doing so is the potential for changes in the powder’s texture, such as clumping.
However, Parker says that a good shake or stir can easily fix this issue.
It’s worth noting that different protein powders may react differently to freezing, so it’s important to be aware of the specific ingredients.
Types of Protein Powders and Their Freezability
Whey Protein Powder
Whey protein powder is the safest and best for freezing. Through my testing, I didn’t find it to alter the taste or texture.
However, not all whey proteins are created equal. The higher the percentage of protein, the better it will freeze.
When I say “it will freeze better”, I mean that the texture and consistency will taste better once defrosted.
Maltodextrin is typically used as a thickening agent in protein shakes or in mass gainers because it contains carbs.
I’ve observed that freezing an already mixed shake with maltodextrin can affect its texture.
The frozen mixture may become gummy and sticky upon thawing.
If possible, I’d suggest adding maltodextrin after thawing the frozen protein shake if you want the extra carbohydrate content.
However, this is only possible if you buy maltodextrin separately, and won’t be possible if it’s already included in your whey protein.
Plant-based proteins include a variety of sources, such as pea protein, soy protein, and others.
Just like with whey protein, freezing plant-based protein powders is generally safe and doesn’t damage their nutrients.
However, I noticed that the texture changed slightly upon thawing, and even stirring or shaking didn’t really help improve the consistency.
- Related: Whey Protein vs Plant Protein For Fat Loss: Which Is Best?
It’s important to realize that the success of freezing a protein shake can depend significantly on the individual ingredients it contains.
Some components may not respond well to the freeze-thaw cycle, leading to unpleasant separation, clumping, or texture changes.
You might love the taste of fresh bananas, strawberries, or other berries in your protein shake, but these ingredients can become a texture nightmare after freezing and thawing.
This is because the water in fruits forms ice crystals when frozen, which can rupture cell walls.
When you then thaw the shake, these ruptured cells release their water content, leading to a mushy texture that’s far from the original fresh crispness.
It’s important to note that the taste won’t be affected, only the texture. So you’ll need to decide if that’s important to you.
For me, I can overlook the texture so long as the taste isn’t affected.
- Related: Best Fruits For Protein Shakes (8+ Tasty Combos)
Yogurt, especially the types that aren’t high in fat, can separate into its solid and liquid components during freezing.
This separation happens because of the nature of the protein structures within yogurt.
Freezing disrupts these delicate structures, and as the yogurt thaws, it can struggle to return to its original smooth state.
This disruption can cause a grainy texture in the shake after thawing.
Certain dietary fiber supplements, particularly those that don’t dissolve well in liquids, may not fare well during the freeze-thaw cycle.
The fiber particles might clump together when frozen and fail to disperse evenly upon thawing, leading to a gritty texture in your protein shake.
So I would avoid things like psyllium husk, inulin, flaxseeds, or chia seeds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Freeze Pre-Made Protein Shakes?
I’ve found that freezing store-bought ready-made protein shakes is generally not recommended. Most protein shakes come with a label that clearly states “Do not freeze.” This is because freezing these shakes can have negative effects on their texture and taste.
Does Freezing Protein Shakes Denature It?
Freezing does not denature the protein in protein shakes. It can alter the texture due to the formation of ice crystals but the nutritional value remains the same.
What Can You Freeze Protein Shakes In?
You can freeze protein shakes in plastic containers, silicone molds, or even ice cube trays. Make sure the container is freezer-safe and has room for expansion.
About The Author
Avi Silverberg is an author, coach, and the Founder of FeastGood.com. Avi has a Master of Science in Exercise Science and has published over 400 articles on the topics of health, exercise, and nutrition.