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A lot of people mix whey protein with water or cow’s milk, but there are other options including coconut milk.
Can you mix whey protein with coconut milk? Yes, mixing whey with coconut milk adds healthy fat to your protein shake keeping you full for longer. Sweetened coconut milk is good around a workout but otherwise unsweetened is best, especially if you’re in a weight loss phase. Choose a brand with 5g of fat or less. If you are trying to gain mass, up to 10g is okay.
With that said, before you start mixing whey protein powder with coconut milk, you should know the pros and cons, and how to do it properly for optimal results.
In this article you will learn:
- 4 pros and cons of mixing whey protein with coconut milk
- When to consume whey protein and coconut milk
- Who should and shouldn’t mix whey protein with coconut milk
- Best types of protein to mix with milk
- Mixing whey with coconut milk vs. coconut water
This article is part of our series on What Can You Mix With Whey Protein (13 Examples)
Benefits of Mixing Whey Protein with Coconut Milk
The benefits of mixing whey protein with coconut milk are:
- It keeps you full for longer
- It will give your protein shake a better taste and texture
- It provides additional carbs beneficial around a workout
- It creates a lactose-free protein shake
1. It Keeps You Full for Longer
Coconut milk has more fat compared to water, which will help keep you full for longer after you have your protein shake.
Per cup, coconut milk has roughly 5g of fat. Fat is the slowest macronutrient for your body to digest, keeping you more full and satiated longer after eating. This can be particularly helpful for anyone that is in a weight loss phase.
Now, you’re probably wondering why…
This likely sounds counterintuitive, water has fewer calories and when we are in a calorie deficit, shouldn’t we always be trying to reduce calories?
While yes, we don’t want to be eating unnecessary calories, simply consuming a scoop of whey protein with water will digest extremely quickly and leave you hungry very quickly after.
If instead, we can add in additional fat from the coconut milk, this can help us to feel satisfied for multiple hours after consuming, helping us to keep our total calories in the day lower.
2. It Will Give Your Protein Shake a Better Taste and Texture
Mixing whey with coconut milk will improve the taste and texture compared to just water, making a more satisfying and enjoyable protein shake.
Anyone that has mixed whey protein with water, knows that the taste and texture are not the best. It’s generally pretty thin and watery making your shake less appealing and leaving you less satisfied after eating it. If you instead mix your whey with coconut milk, you will get more of a milkshake-like taste and texture, similar to mixing it with milk but with fewer calories.
While it may seem somewhat obvious that if our food tastes better we will enjoy it more, it also has the benefit of helping us stick to our diet long term. I don’t know about you but I’m much more likely to reach for a higher calorie snack if I’m left unsatisfied after eating.
3. It Provides Additional Carbs Beneficial Around a Workout
Sweetened coconut milk provides additional carbs, compared to mixing it with water, which is helpful pre and post-workout for additional energy and recovery.
It’s important to eat carbs around a workout, both to provide quick energy as well as replenish our energy stores and promote recovery. By mixing our whey protein with just water, we are missing out on these benefits.
The carbs in coconut milk are not enough to replace a meal, but they are a great way to add in some carbs to your post-workout shake and start your recovery process as you’re heading home. Think of it like icing on a cake, adding additional benefits to your protein shake which is already helping you reach your muscle-building goals.
Make sure you are considering the type of coconut milk you are consuming.
Around a workout we want the fat to be low, so choose a sweetened option with 5g of fat or less per cup. These are likely the brands that come in a carton in the refrigerator section. The options to avoid are the coconut milk that comes in a can.
4. It Creates a Lactose-Free Protein Shake
Coconut milk is a lactose-free milk alternative, which is important for those that experience digestive issues when eating lactose.
Experts estimate that approximately 68% of the population is lactose intolerant. This means that they experience some sort of digestive discomfort, such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, etc. after consuming a food that contains lactose, such as milk.
If you are drinking a protein shake on a routine basis, this regular digestive discomfort can begin to interfere with your daily activities. I don’t know about you but I certainly cannot focus on other tasks in my day, especially those more physical activities such as going to the gym, when my stomach is uncomfortable.
- If you’re a bodybuilder, check out my other article on: Is Almond Milk Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
Drawbacks of Mixing Whey Protein with Coconut Milk
The drawbacks of mixing whey protein with coconut milk are:
- It is higher in calories compared to water
- It can be very high in fat
1. It Is Higher in Calories Compared to Water
Coconut milk has more calories than water, making it a less desirable option for mixing with whey for those looking to lose body fat.
Coconut milk ranges in calories from 45 – 90 calories depending on whether it is sweetened or not. This can add up quickly if you are having multiple protein shakes per day, especially for those looking to lose weight.
In that case, I recommend choosing an unsweetened lower fat option. For most people, these 45 calories will be quite easy to fit into their day and worth it for the extra taste benefit. However, this may not be true in extreme cases such as a bodybuilding competitor close to a competition.
2. It Can Be Very High in Fat
Coconut milk ranges significantly in the amount of fat, with some canned options containing as much as 440 calories per cup. These high-fat options are not a good option for most bodybuilders as they will negatively impact body composition.
Consuming high-fat coconut milk is likely to put you over your daily calories without filling you up significantly. I don’t know about you but 440 calories worth of food can be quite a satisfying meal. If I had to trade that in for one glass of coconut milk I would likely not feel very full or satisfied.
In addition to the calories, you are not likely to enjoy drinking something that high in fat. The texture will be extremely thick and dissolving whey protein will likely be difficult.
While many coconut milk options are quite high in fat, many options are quite reasonable in fat, which is a great choice for most people. Just make sure to read the labels.
Coconut Milk & Protein Powder: When to Consume
Is Whey Protein Powder & Coconut Milk Good for Pre-Workout?
Yes, sweetened coconut milk with 5g or less of fat per cup, and protein powder are good for pre-workout as it provides an easily digestible source of protein and some carbohydrates. Make sure you are pairing it with an additional source of carbs, such as oats, to provide you with more energy for your workout.
Sweetened coconut milk also provides some additional quick digesting carbs to give a boost of energy before your workout. Ensure you are eating some slower digesting carbs as well to continue to provide energy throughout your workout.
- A great option is mixing your whey protein with cereal. Check out my article Can You Mix Whey Protein With Cereal?
Is Whey Protein Powder & Coconut Milk Good for Post-Workout?
Yes, sweetened coconut milk and protein powder are good for post-workout as it provides the protein our body needs to repair our muscles post-workout. An option with 8g or less of fat per cup is best. Ensure you pair it with a carb source, like cereal, to replenish our energy stores, which is also needed for recovery.
For those on the go, mixing whey with coconut milk is a great option to consume immediately post-workout on your way home from the gym. This will help to kick start the repair and recovery process giving you a bit more time to get home and make a complete meal.
Is Whey Protein Powder & Coconut Milk Good for Breakfast?
Yes, whey protein and moderate-fat coconut milk is a great way to add protein and fat into your breakfast, helping keep you energized and feeling full until lunch.
Are you someone that even when you eat breakfast you are still hungry at 10 am? I’m willing to bet your breakfast was high in carbs but low in protein and fat. Something like toast or cereal? With a high-carb breakfast, you will have plenty of energy right after eating but you quickly lose steam by mid-morning.
Adding protein and fat from your protein shake into your breakfast will slow your digestion and provide you with a steady stream of energy all morning. It’s important to add a carb source as well to provide the energy you need for your day as well.
This extra protein and fat at breakfast can be especially helpful for those who are cutting as those mid-morning snacks you’re likely to reach for, like a granola bar or trail mix, are high in calories and can quickly push you over your daily calorie goal.
Is Whey Protein Powder & Coconut Milk Good Before Bed?
Whey protein and coconut milk before bed are good for those that are struggling to get all their protein in during the day or want a healthier evening sweet treat.
By mixing whey with coconut milk, you can create a rich and sweet treat that is under 200 calories. The extra fat that coconut milk provides will also help to fill you up so you’re likely to find it much more filling and satisfying than sugary food.
Who Should Mix Whey Protein with Coconut Milk?
Mixing coconut milk with whey protein is a great option for anyone with physique goals as the type can be customized depending on if you’re looking to lose, maintain or gain weight.
When you are maintaining or losing weight, it’s beneficial to focus on including protein and fat in your meals. This will help to keep you more full and satisfied, making it easier to stick to your diet. I recommend opting for an unsweetened option as this will help to reduce carbohydrates. Also, choose a brand with 5g of fat or less per cup. This will provide you with enough fat to be satiating without too much fat that will impact body composition.
If you are looking to gain muscle mass, a higher calorie coconut milk option is a great way to boost your calories without feeling overly full. This generally looks like a sweetened variety with 10g or less of fat per cup.
Once you are done bulking and looking to cut, I recommend switching back to the unsweetened lower fat variety as an easy way to cut some calories out of your diet.
Who Should NOT Mix Whey Protein with Coconut Milk
Mixing whey protein with coconut milk is not a good option for those that are in a more severe fat loss phase such as in a bodybuilding competition or cutting for a weight class based sport.
While mixing whey with coconut milk can help keep us full for longer, there are some more extreme cases where consuming any calories from a liquid is not worth it. In those cases, it would be better to mix whey with water and eat 50 calories worth of food.
These cases are certainly more extreme and generally, people that are in a severe fat loss phase are looking to push their physique to the limit. This would not be your average gym-goer looking to lose a few pounds, this is likely to be someone competing in a bodybuilding show or cutting for a weight class-based sport.
Will Protein Powder Dissolve in Coconut Milk?
Yes, protein powder will dissolve well in coconut milk if you utilize a shaker bottle or blender to mix them. A ratio of 1 scoop of protein powder to 1 cup of liquid is recommended to ensure it fully dissolves.
Make sure you are choosing a carton of coconut milk and not the kind in a tin. The tinned type will be quite high in fat and protein powder will not dissolve well.
Best Types of Protein to Mix With Coconut Milk?
The best type of protein powder to mix with coconut milk is a whey protein isolate as it will provide the best macro profile as well as a good taste and texture. I recommend Legion Whey+ Isolate.
I recommend a whey isolate over a whey concentrate because a whey isolate has a better macro profile.
Whey isolate is a more filtered form of whey protein compared to a whey concentrate, meaning it has the most protein and least other macros per scoop. It is also helpful to note that isolates are lactose-free making it the best option digestively. While both are good options to mix with coconut milk, whey isolate is the best option.
My top recommendation for a whey protein isolate is Legion Whey+ Isolate. And many of my clients have found this to be the best taste and texture when mixed with coconut milk. It also is sweetened with stevia instead of sugar alcohols making it less likely to cause digestive upset.
If you are looking for a more affordable whey isolate, my recommendations are Bodybuilding.com Signature 100% Whey Isolate and MyProtein Impact Whey Isolate.
Mixing Whey Protein With Coconut Milk vs. Coconut Water: Is There A Difference?
Yes, there is a difference between mixing whey with coconut milk vs coconut water. Coconut water will provide a thinner but sweeter shake that is high in carbs, best consumed around a workout. Coconut milk will provide a thicker and richer shake that is higher in fat, best for a filling snack.
When you mix whey with coconut water, your shake will be a more watery consistency but quite sweet. You may choose to use an unflavoured protein powder if this is too sweet for your taste.
Coconut milk on the other hand is higher in fat but contains fewer carbs and sugar. This makes it a more filling option that will provide a steady stream of energy. This is a great option for breakfast or as a filling snack.
What Else Can You Mix Whey Protein With?
- Can You Mix Whey Protein With Milk?
- Can You Mix Whey Protein With Chocolate Milk?
- Can You Mix Whey Protein With Soy Milk?
About The Author
Laura Semotiuk is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She works with athletes and active individuals looking to improve performance and develop healthy nutritional habits and behaviors. She has a passion for cooking, meal prepping, and creating simple and healthy recipes.