Mixing olive oil with protein shakes is practiced by bodybuilders, people on a keto diet, and people on a heart-healthy diet.
So what are the reasons to add olive oil to your protein shakes? Adding olive oil to protein shakes is a great way to increase healthy fats in your diet. Consuming fats high in omega-3, which is found in olive oil, helps reduce inflammation in the body, leading to optimal muscle recovery. Omega-3s in olive oil have also been shown to increase testosterone and cardiovascular health.
If you want to start adding olive oil to whey protein shakes, I’ll explain how to do so properly so it doesn’t affect your overall nutrition goals.
- Adding olive oil to a protein shake can help you increase your caloric intake if you’re in a bulking phase and trying to build muscle.
- Extra-virgin olive oil is the best type of olive oil to add to a protein shake. It is higher in antioxidants that can protect you from health conditions such as heart disease.
- However, I don’t recommend adding olive oil to your protein shake if you drink the shake before working out. Olive oil digests slowly and can make you feel sluggish and bloated during your workout.
5 Reasons To Put Olive Oil In Protein Shakes
The 5 reasons to mix olive oil in protein shakes are:
- Olive oil has heart disease fighting properties
- Adds calories for those bulking
- Promotes protein synthesis on keto diets
- Aids in muscle recovery
- Increases testosterone
1. Olive Oil Has Heart Disease Fighting Properties
The most common reason people add olive oil to their protein shake is due to its heart disease-fighting properties.
Olive oil is one of the top products that have benefits in cardiovascular health.
Several studies have explored the relationship between olive oil and the reduced incidence of heart disease.
A study compared lifestyles of those that took more than ½ a teaspoon of olive oil daily with those that didn’t. The group that took the olive oil daily saw a decrease of 15% in the risk of heart disease.
Adding it to your protein shakes is an easy way of increasing consumption during the day.
For other ideas on what to add to your protein shakes, check out our complete guide on What Can You Mix With Protein Shakes.
2. Adds Calories For Those Bulking
One of the biggest benefits of adding olive oil to your protein shake is that it helps add calories.
For those bulking and looking to gain muscle, it might be challenging to find new ways of adding calories without feeling stuffed during the entire day.
Also, for those that don’t have a lot of time to snack constantly (and eat 6-8 meals per day) having calorically-dense meals is the way to go. What this means is finding ways to add more calories across fewer meals that don’t fill you up.
In most cases, I often recommend my clients add a fat source since they are high in calories. The most common way is using nut butter or seeds (like chia). However, adding olive oil is another way of adding healthy fats to increase the calorie content of the protein shake.
3. Promotes Protein Synthesis On Keto Diets
When carb stores are low, for example, if you are following a ketogenic diet, consuming fatty acids serves as the primary energy source.
Therefore, you need a surplus of fats in your diet so that you’re not using protein (muscle) as your energy source.
For those using keto, having a diet with a good amount of fat leads to promoting protein synthesis, which is essential for those who are prone to losing muscle mass easily or those looking to add muscle mass.
4. Aids In Muscle Recovery
Olive oil has a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation in the body.
This is because omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties in the body, which decrease “free radicals” found in the body. Free radicals are unstable molecules that, in excess, can produce stress in the body.
In a study done on healthy young adults, they were given an omega-3 supplement or a placebo over a course of 12 weeks. At the end of the study, those that took the omega-3 daily saw a reduction in inflammation of 14%.
By reducing inflammation in the body, muscles can have a better recovery.
Therefore, olive oil mixed with a protein shake can be a great recovery mix.
5. Increases Testosterone
Fats are needed to produce certain hormones like testosterone.
Testosterone is a hormone that helps increase lean mass while decreasing fat mass. Due to this benefit in body composition, people often want to increase their testosterone levels.
There are ways to increase testosterone through food, which include consuming omega-3 fatty acids.
In a study done in 60 healthy individuals, over 2 weeks they consumed butter as a fat.
Then, they were divided into two groups: (1) those that consumed argan oil and (2) those who consumed olive oil for 3 weeks.
Those that consume olive oil saw a 17% increase in their testosterone levels compared to the levels taken at the beginning of the study.
Thus, adding olive oil to your protein shakes helps you naturally boost your testosterone levels.
- Related Article: High-Calorie Alternatives To Milk: 3 Dairy-Free Options
Are There Drawbacks To Olive Oil In Protein Shakes?
Although there are several benefits to adding olive oil, there are a couple of cons to consider if you want to add it to your protein shakes.
1. Might Lead To Weight Gain
If you are not careful with managing the serving size of olive oil, you could easily be adding more calories than your body needs, which leads to weight gain.
This is especially worse if there is no muscle stimulus along with it (i.e. if you’re not working out), as the weight gain will likely be fat mass.
As a general recommendation, try not to have more than 2 teaspoons of olive oil added to your protein shake to prevent any additional calories.
If you do include olive oil in your shakes, remember to decrease other fat sources like butter, cream cheese, and sour cream to compensate for the additional healthy fats.
2. An “Unusual Flavor”
Another reason people don’t add olive oil to their protein shakes is its flavor.
Olive oil tends to have a very distinctive flavor. The flavor combination between a protein shake and olive oil might not pair so well for some people.
In my option, though, it depends on the amount and type of olive oil you use.
I recommend first starting by adding one teaspoon of olive oil to your protein shake. This typically doesn’t change the flavor so much when you have a flavored protein shake mixed in 8 oz of water.
If you find the taste appropriate, you can add another teaspoon of olive oil until you get used to the flavor.
3. Slow Digesting
Since olive oil is composed of fats, it tends to digest slower.
Although this might be a benefit since you can feel full and satiated, you might not want to add it before working out. It can produce bloating and make you feel sluggish during your workout.
If you include it, make sure it is with a protein shake that you have after training.
Which Type of Olive Oil Should I Use In My Protein Shake?
There are several types of olive oils:
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Virgin olive oil
- Refined olive oil
- Pure olive oil.
If you are going to add it to your shake, opt for extra-virgin olive oil or pure olive oil. It has more antioxidants than the rest of the olive oils.
Refined olive oil is one to avoid. It is the one that has the least amount of vitamins and antioxidants.
Since extra virgin olive oil is not good to use at high temperatures (it loses some of its properties), you should not use it for cooking. This means that you can only use it in uncooked foods like salads or add it on top of other products.
Who Should Consider Putting Olive Oil In Protein Shakes?
Not all people need to include olive oil in their shakes.
However, there are certain cases in that I do recommend including olive oil in their protein shakes.
If You Are Bulking
While in a bulking phase, you need to exceed your caloric intake for muscle growth. Often, those caloric intakes could reach 3000-3500 kcal for a bodybuilder. These amounts are tough to achieve.
Even if you are not a bodybuilder and are still looking to gain some muscle mass, it can be hard to find ways to add on the calories.
This is especially a problem I commonly see in some of my female nutrition clients.
When they are looking to gain muscle mass, just increasing 200-300 kcal can be too overwhelming.
Looking for energy-dense foods like olive oil is a great way to add those extra calories without noticing it.
You Are Living The Ketogenic Lifestyle
The other case I often recommend adding olive oil to their protein shakes is for those following a keto lifestyle.
People typically think that a ketogenic diet adds more protein and removes carbs. Although this might be true to a certain extent, there are other factors to consider.
Since carbs are decreased, the body needs to find another energy source. Fats are the primary energy source for people following a ketogenic diet. If there is no fat intake, protein is then used to supply energy instead of muscle building. This results in losing muscle mass.
One of the most challenging things my nutrition clients often have is how to add more fats to their keto diets. I always focus on adding healthy fats (olive oil) vs saturated fat or trans fat (food that is deep-fried).
Adding olive oil to your shakes while doing keto can help you reach up to 70-80% of total daily fats.
How To Combine Olive Oil With Your Protein Shake?
There are a couple of things to consider when you are adding olive oil to your protein shake. The first is how much you add, and the second is if there is a better time to add it.
The amount of olive oil you add depends on your caloric intake.
On average, a person has a daily intake of 25-30% of fats per day. This means that for a person that needs 2000 kcal (which is the average caloric intake for someone that is slightly active) your daily fat intake is around 55-65 g of fats.
This could mean having 12-15 teaspoons of olive oil during the day.
However, it doesn’t mean that you are going to have all of those in olive oil. You need variety and the proteins that you have (even if they are lean) have some amount of fats.
Thus, it doesn’t mean that you should add 5-6 teaspoons to your protein shakes. Having one to two teaspoons of olive oil added to your protein shake is more than enough to still have other sources of fats throughout the day (nuts, seeds, or avocado).
Time of Day
You can consume olive oil during the morning, afternoon, or dinner. As long as it is not before a workout since it is harder to digest and it can lead to bloating, the time of day is not important. You can add olive oil any time during the day.
If you are having a protein shake 1-2 hours before training, I would recommend avoiding adding olive oil since it might make you more sluggish for your training. On the other hand, if you are having the protein shake after training, this is the ideal time for you to add olive oil.
What Else Can You Add To Protein Shakes?
- MCT Oil In Protein Shakes – 4 Benefits + 2 Cons
About The Author
Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist. In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.