01/03/2024

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Choosing a healthy protein shake isn’t easy. With so many on the market offering different benefits, from plant-based protein shakes to sugar-free options, it can be difficult to narrow down which ones are truly the best to drink when you need a protein boost. One type of ready-made protein shake that you’ve probably seen widely available on the shelves is the Fairlife Protein Shake.

“Fairlife protein shakes are made with milk, which they claim has 50% more protein and 50% less sugar, than regular milk,” Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDNa registered dietitian nutritionist and a certified sports nutrition specialist, he says Eat this, not that! “They ultra-filter their milk, which makes it higher in protein.”

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“Fairlife protein shake products come in a variety of flavors and vary in the amount of protein,” she continues. “The Core Power ones contain about 26 grams of protein, while their Core Power Elite line contains 42 grams of protein.”

But are Fairlife protein shakes really healthy? To find out, we asked dieticians for the scoop.

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A look at the nutritional information

read the nutrition label on dairy products
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“Nutrition-wise, I really like the relationship between macros and ingredients,” she explains Maggie Michalczyk, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Once Upon a Pumpkin. “They also have a variety of flavors.”

“They deliver a high amount of protein at between 2542 grams per bottle, depending on which one you take, and contain relatively low amounts of sugar and fat,” says Michalczyk. “They also contain several vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin D.”

Ehsani also likes that Fairlife doesn’t add any additional protein to its product. Instead, they simply ultrafilter the milk, which results in a more protein drink.

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“They create a low-carb product, which may be beneficial for anyone looking for a low-carb drink, but for elite or high-level athletes who train daily or even multiple times a day,” says Ehsani. “They actually need more carbs than protein post-workout, so I won’t say this product is the best for their needs. So, as a sports dietitian, I’d recommend something with at least a 3:1 ratio (carb-to -protein), rather than this product which is much richer in protein than carbohydrates”.

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A deep dive into the ingredients

As for the ingredients, Fairlife protein shakes are made with ultra-filtered milk and natural flavors.

“Their filtration process removes most of the lactose, and on top of that, they also add a lactase enzyme, to make their products lactose-free, which is great for anyone lactose-free,” says Ehsani.

One possible downside is the four sweeteners included: stevia, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and monk fruit extract.

“I personally don’t like that they contain four of these artificial sweeteners, as some research suggests they can negatively alter the gut microbiome,” notes Michalczyk.

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So, are Fairlife Shakes good for you? The verdict

Overall, Fairlife Protein Shakes can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet, especially for people who struggle to meet their protein needs through food alone or who want a quick option after a workout.

“Some research suggests that consuming high-quality protein sources like dairy products may help support muscle growth and maintenance, as well as promote feelings of fullness and satiety,” says Michalczyk.

However, she notes that it’s important to remember that protein shakes and supplements should be used in addition to a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet.

“It’s always best to focus on consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods and engaging in regular physical activity to support a healthy lifestyle,” adds Michalczyk.

“I’d say this product is fine to drink in moderation, especially when traveling,” adds Ehsani. “But due to the fact that it has artificial sweeteners and is low in carbohydrates, I would not recommend it as a daily product for active people or athletes to use for recovery. Athletes need more carbohydrates than protein after training !”

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