Wake up. Work. Come home. Take care of chores. Work out. Shower. Sleep. Repeat.

As you can see, our daily routines don’t often leave us with an abundance of free time to relax, let alone the time (or energy) to prepare healthy meals. Anyone who follows a strict ketogenic diet knows the time required to adequately formulate the macronutrients of the diet in order to keep you in ketosis. It’s a tough (but rewarding) time commitment.

When life gets hectic, we often opt for the quickest and easiest options available.

This typically manifests itself in the form of fast food or pre-packaged meals. And while these may be time- cost-effective, they’re rarely considered the healthiest of choices.

Luckily, on-the-run meals, like shakes, are a quick and easy option that can fit into the hustle and bustle of everyday life without having to make you skip meals or “shake up” (pun intended) your dietary goals.

Background on Shakes

No doubt you’ve walked down the aisle at your local grocery store and been faced with an assortment of drinks and powders. These entice you to purchase the convenience of a meal that can be carried with you to your next board meeting or soccer practice.

Shakes and smoothie drinks are part of an ever-growing convenience market designed for the everyday Joe or Jane on the run.

Nutritional Benefits of Shakes

Depending on your lifestyle and dietary goals, they can often be found as either calorically-dense, protein-packed drinks or powders, or as lower-calorie nutrient-rich “meal replacement” shakes.

In the bodybuilding world, the saying is that “to get big, you have to eat big”, and protein shakes provide plenty of calories to help build muscle and aid in recovery following heavy exercise sessions.Mettler2010 For non-athletes, not only does adding whey protein to a post-workout shake increased protein intake and help maintain muscle mass, but it also helps keep you satiated long, reducing cravings and adding extra calories to your diet.Leidy2011

Meal replacement shakes typically contain a pre-measured profile of macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbs) based on certain dietary restrictions or specific goals with the idea that these shakes can take the place of a normal meal.

Shakes can also be a healthier, cost-effective alternative to eating out as well.

This is an especially important consideration for individuals who might not have the disposable income to spend on high-quality food. Unfortunately, fast food meals are cheaper than healthy whole foods, and eating meals outside the home can become an unhealthy routine.

Meal replacement shakes could help here.

A 2004 clinical study showed that low-income individuals who consumed meal replacement shakes showed an average decrease of 7 % body weight and reduction in BMI from 40 to 37 kilograms body weight over height in meters squared (kg/m^2) over the course of a six-month intervention. However, the individuals were also instructed to increase their physical activity 3 times per week for 30 minutes, meaning that the increase in energy expenditure most likely also contributed to the significant weight loss.Huerta2004 The findings of this study demonstrate how moderate exercise combined with meal replacement shakes can provide a healthy means of weight loss, even on a budget.

Nutritional Drawbacks of Shakes

While most shakes are great options to obtain essential macro and micronutrients when whole-food meal options are hard to come by, they do carry several drawbacks, especially for those on a ketogenic diet. We will go over why a bit later.

While drinking shakes is a good option in a pinch, they should not be looked at as a solution for those looking to manage their weight in the long term. Many shakes don’t include the complete spectrum of macro and micronutrients that whole foods provide. Things like vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber are often found in greater quantities in food than can be put into a shake. Simply put—shakes are not a sustainable dietary option to optimize long term health.

As previously mentioned, most of the commercially available shakes tout a high protein content, which is great for lean muscle mass maintenance. However, many of these formulas have added ingredients like sugars (including some weight loss shakes, which have more grams of sugar than protein!), syrups, and preservatives that can negate any beneficial effects. These additives make it difficult for those looking to limit sugar and carb intake—like those implementing a ketogenic diet—to find suitable shakes to fit their dietary requirements.

But fear not! In the next section we’ll breakdown what ingredients you can use to make your own keto-friendly shake!

Why Make Keto Shakes?

Whether you’re checking it out for the first time or are a seasoned veteran, it’s always good to have a quick refresher on the basics of what a ketogenic diet is, how it works for weight management, and what happens on a physiological level that makes keto a great option for a healthy lifestyle.

Ketogenic Diet Overview

Initially developed as a means to treat epilepsy, a ketogenic diet places emphasis on high fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate intake.

Strict ketogenic diets often limit carbohydrates to < 5% of your daily calories. By limiting carbohydrates, and thereby limiting it’s utilization as a primary energy source, your body activates metabolic pathways which, instead, breakdown fat into ketone bodies (acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate) that are then able to be converted to usable energy.

In order to provide an adequate amount of fat for ketone body production, we have to increase the relative amount of fat we consume in our daily keto meals.

Although there are a number of health benefits that come about with a keto diet, there is an inherent difficulty in maintaining the diet due to its to strict guidelines. However, staying “keto” largely comes from knowing what foods fit the macronutrient requirements and which don’t.

Shakes and smoothies can keep your keto goals on track, when made right.


First and foremost, shakes are a super easy and convenient way to help you get all the essential nutrients into your diet when time to cook a proper meal is limited (or, let’s be honest, on those days where we just can’t be bothered to cook). All you need is a blender or a shaker bottle to mix all your ingredients!

Keto shakes are also a convenient way to meet keto “restrictiveness” while still being delicious and nutritious.

Depending on the ingredients you choose to add, keto shakes can still end up being energy dense while sticking to that low carb, high fat, and adequate protein keto formula. The perfect combo is sure to keep you fuller longer, and energized all day.

Making your own keto shakes also gives you the flexibility to add nutrients that you might not otherwise get in a store-bought powder. Essential micronutrients like fiber and antioxidants can be obtained by adding keto-friendly foods to any shake for that extra punch of healthiness.

We’ve compiled a list of some keto-friendly foods and their benefits to help you start formulating your own delicious keto shake formulations.

Keto Shake Components

As with most things: the simpler, the better. Remember, it’s a shake, not a gourmet 5-star concoction. The point is to make things convenient while getting in our quintessential keto foods. No need to get too fancy.

When it comes to the basic building blocks of a good shake, most of it comes down to three essential components: the liquid, the “foodstuff”, and the add-ins (for added health benefits).


It may seem obvious but the appeal of a shake is its convenient drinkability. In order to be able to “drink our meal,” we need to add a delicious liquid component. Add as little (thicker “milkshake” consistency) or as much (better drinkability) as you prefer!

If you’re trying to keep things basic, water is readily available and is a simple go-to choice (that has zero calories)!

For added protein, try adding milk, specifically whole milk or half and half (half milk / half heavy cream), which are higher in fat content.

For those who don’t do animal products or simply want to consume dairy-free products, cashew milk, almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk are great alternatives.

Be sure to find the unsweetened or sugar-free varieties of these milks to avoid unwanted sugar and carbohydrates.


The kinds of food you want to add to your smoothie are limitless (pending they’re low in carbs) and completely dependent on your tastes. We’ve previously written a piece covering the ultimate keto shopping list where you can find a number of foods that might go well in a smoothie

(NOTE: we don’t recommend putting a nice porterhouse in a shake but hey, you do you!)

Avocado: Along with adding a creamy texture to your smoothie, avocados are rich with omega-3-fatty acids. These are fats provide various benefits such as reducing inflammation, lowering a number of risk factors associated with cardiac disease, and aiding in preventing or slowing cognitive degeneration.Li2014b,Rizos2012,Mazereeuw2012 They’re a keto-favorite.

Low-Carb Leafy Greens: The ever-popular “green juice” smoothies and shakes are packed with micronutrient rich options that are keto-friendly. Nutrient-dense foods like spinach and kale are able to provide a dietary boost to your shake by adding vitamins—namely Vitamin K—and minerals such as iron (both important for maintaining blood health) into the mix.Bondonno2012,Kim2008b

Low-Carb Ice Cream: Low-carb ice creams are relatively recent items that have exploded on the market that can help add a different layer to your keto shake. In addition to the thickness and coldness they add, many low-carb ice creams are made with natural zero-calorie sweeteners like Stevia that can add that “sugary” taste to your shake. Also, some are even made with coconut milk, which is high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs); particularly the highly ketogenic 8-carbon caprylic acid.

Nut Butters: Peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter can be great not only for that smooth and creamy mouthfeel but they are also great sources of fat and protein that can be incorporated easily into a shake. Almonds in particular are a great source of omega-3 fats, while cashews are high (>80 % daily value per serving) in a number of important minerals such as magnesium, manganese, copper and phosphorus.

Berries: Generally, fruits are not very keto-friendly due to their high amount of natural sugar. However, if you’re looking for a little bit of sweetness for dessert or if you’re just looking to “treat yourself,” then adding berries are one of the lowest carb option you can grab to add into your keto shake. Not only do they provide a bit of sweetness, but berries—specifically blueberries—are loaded with antioxidants.Wolfe2008

Powder Add-Ins

Food for bulk and liquids for drinkability are really all you need for a great tasting shake. However, there are some great powder options available which you can add to your shake to boost the health and flavor profile even more!

Protein: Dietary protein is an integral component in building and maintaining muscle mass, strength, and promoting growth and development. It’s no surprise then that you see a number of gym goers carrying around a shaker full of water + protein powder after a tough workout. For added protein to help build and maintain muscle and lean mass while also keeping you in ketosis, be sure to carefully check the nutrition label and opt for a high-quality, keto-friendly protein powder.

Collagen: To add that extra pep(tide) in your keto step, look no further than a scoop of collagen powder to help your shake get some beneficial essential protein in. Collagen is the main structural protein of the various connective tissues.Lodish2000

MCT Oil Powder: MCTs are 2-3 fatty acids chains made up of 6 to 12 carbon molecules that, when ingested, go directly to the liver where they are quickly and easily metabolized to ketones for energy. They are often found in products like coconut oil. MCTs are a great addition to your shake if you’re looking to increase your dietary intake of healthy fats.

Summary and Recipes

Keto shakes are a great way to pack a ton of nutrients into one convenient drink. It’s quick, easy, and low effort—perfect for those of us with busy schedules for whom health is a priority, but time is sometimes scarce.

And the best part, keto smoothies and shakes aren’t just for people on keto!

The aforementioned options offer a baseline for low-carb meal replacement shakes for those looking to lose weight, manage diabetes, or maybe even explore a paleo diet. It's also a great option for those simply looking to incorporate more good fats into their diet.

And they taste great too!

Not only can a delicious keto shake double as a dessert with the right ingredients, but pour that shake into a bowl, top it with some coconut flakes, crushed up almonds, and chia seeds and BOOM—you’ve got yourself a solid acai-type bowl fit for a weekend brunch!

We’ve suggested a few simple shake and smoothie recipes below to help get you started with some great ideas on how you can incorporate keto shakes and ingredients into your diet quickly and easily.

Keto Nut Butter & Chocolate Shake


  • 1 scoop chocolate collagen powder
  • 1 cup water / milk of choice
  • 2 tbsp natural nut butter of choice
  • 1 cup ice (or a scoop or two of low-carb ice cream)
  • ¼ avocado


  • Place all ingredients in a blender until desired consistency (add less liquid for a thicker consistency or substitute with whole milk greek yogurt). Serve in a cup or shaker bottle. Enjoy!

Green Machine Keto Shake


  • 1 scoop MCT Oil Powder
  • 1 cup water / milk of choice
  • ¼ avocado
  • ½ cucumber
  • ¼ whole milk greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp Stevia or artificial sweetener of choice


  • Place all ingredients in a blender until desired consistency. Serve in a cup or shaker bottle. Enjoy!

Easy Recovery Keto Protein Shake


  • 1 to 2 scoops collagen protein powder
  • 1 to 2 cups water (depending on shaker bottle size)
  • ¼ serving of exogenous ketone ester drink


  • Place all ingredients in a shaker bottle. Shake until thoroughly mixed. Drink and Enjoy!

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