One Ingredient Fixes to Jazz Up Your Chocolate Protein!

So I recently published my “protein shake check-up” so you can make sure your protein shake is still on the right side of your plan.

As I read through that, I began to think of all the wonderful ways we have of dressing up our shakes that add little or no calories to the equation. It’s interesting to me, how one small element can be the difference between a shake you hate and a shake you love.

Over the next few days I’m going to offer up one ingredient fixes to amp up your favorite protein shake flavors. But I don’t want to be alone in my suggestions. Please offer yours up! If you have a low or no-calorie shake ingredient that takes your shake from nowhere to everywhere, please let your fellow foodies know in the comments section!

Nik’s “One Ingredient Fixes” for Dressing Up Your Chocolate Protein
(in no particular order)

A Dash of Cinnamon

Calories: None!
Cost: Between $1 – ???, depending on your personal tastes

Yep…a dash of cinnamon. What? You mean, you’ve never had chocolate with cinnamon? Man, are you missing out! Cinnamon gives a spicy (as in made with spices, not spicy as in hot…unless you add too much) offset to the sweetness of chocolate. It also plays up the bitterness nicely and what you come out with is a rich, earthy flavor that makes you think, “man…I think this is how God/the Creator/___________ (fill in the blank) intended chocolate to taste!” Many folks call the combination of chocolate and cinnamon “Mexican Chocolate.” I just call it yummy!

A Tablespoon of Instant Decaf

Calories: None!
Cost: Between $2.50 – ???, depending on your personal tastes

What you use largely determines your result. I personally use instant decaf espresso. I use a full tablespoon because if you only use a teaspoon it blends into the chocolate. Granted, it makes a chocolate shake taste better and more refined, but I actually like the espresso taste to come through. If you don’t want to make the expenditure (although I PROMISE it is worth it) a good instant decaf, like Starbucks Via, works just great. As a new post-op the coffee was that “it” factor in my shake that made me able to tolerate them.

U-Bet Zero Cal Sugar-Free Chocolate Syrup

Calories: None!
Cost: Varies by region

I’m usually skeptical of zero cal sweet things. It just seems natural that something sweet should have lots of calories. I admit, I don’t like this syrup for just plain old chocolate milk (for that I turn to Hood Calorie Countdown chocolate) but it does up the chocolate ante in your favorite shake in a way that nothing else can (no, not even Davinci or Torani sugar-free chocolate syrups). For a triple chocolate shake, this is my go to stuff. Here’s where you can get it.

A Drop of Extract

Calories: None!
Cost: Varies by region

Extracts are good if you don’t want to invest in a bunch of bottles of sugar free syrup. I keep a few on hand at my house and, yes, I do keep an actual dropper in my kitchen drawer to use them. A little goes a LONG way. Your threshold may be one drop or two but putting a teaspoon in…not advisable. Some ideas to get you started: coconut extract (chocolate and coconut go sooooo smoothly together), rum extract (don’t ask me why I live this but I do), peppermint extract (which can be used to make my “Grown Up Thin Mint” shake). The possibilities are truly endless. Extracts tend to be low or no sugar but, as always, make sure to read your labels!

Splurge: A Tablespoon of sugar-free pudding

Calories: About 40-ish
Cost: Less than $1

I use pudding mix in a lot of my shake recipes. They lend flavor AND provide a thickness that is often hard to achieve in a protein shake. And the possibilities are ENDLESS. Add sugar-free Butterscotch to get a Butterfinger shake. You can add a tablespoon of cheesecake for a chocolate cheesecake shake (and add no-cal instant decaf to upgrade that to a MOCHA cheesecake shake). You can add banana cream to do a choco-nana shake (I recommend this in lieu of using actual bananas, which can be something of a carb nightmare to your shake). And the list goes on and on!

BONUS: A Tablespoon (or two) of Powdered Peanuts

Calories: 26-ish calories for one tablespoon, 53-ish for two
Cost: About $3.50-ish

I am still surprised how many people have not heard of powdered peanuts! It’s a good deal if you like peanut butter flavored stuff (as we all know I do). Basically powdered peanut is a byproduct of making peanut oil. Once the oil is pressed out most of the fat is removed and you are left with a flour like substance that you can add to drinks and food to create the taste of peanut butter for a fraction of the calories and fat. And here’s the sweetest part of this deal: the powder retains most of the peanut’s protein! PB2 is a popular brand of powdered peanut but there are others. I would say always, always, ALWAYS use this instead of peanut butter in your shakes. One tablespoon of peanut butter is about 100 calories. One tablespoon of this stuff is about 26.

Is chocolate not your thing? Check out one ingredient fixes for:

For Even MORE Great Shake Ideas

Check out the Bariatric Foodie Guide to Perfect Protein Shakes. This book is STUFFED with ideas for how to transform any shake you love into not only a delicious cold protein shake, but a hot shake, protein ice cream, protein pudding and more!

Bariatric Foodie Perfect Protein Shake Book Cover

Get Your Copy!



  1. Thank you for this! I didn't even think of a few of these! 😀

  2. i like to just use the morning coffee as my liquid instead of water (cant to milk 🙁 ) then add some sugar free syrup like the salted caramel

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