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Protein smoothies can be a refreshing treat that’s quick to prepare and (theoretically) makes for healthy food, whether for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up. And while the mechanism behind those smoothies, the fundamental blender, is simple enough in its operations, there are many types and models to choose from. As the effects of coronavirus are still making it less-than-optimal to head off to your favorite smoothie shop, you might be considering picking up the habit at home — or looking to upgrade your existing blender. Either way, you’ll likely come up against a large variety. So which blender is right for you? Plainly speaking, the best blender is the one you’ll use, but there are some different features that elevate some over others. To help you find the best blender for you, we asked personal trainers for their favorite blenders and smoothie recipes to keep you nourished this year.
As a personal trainer for over 10 years, I’ve made my fair share of protein shakes. In fact, they’re been my breakfast everyday for years, whether I’m at my apartment in Chicago or visiting my parents in Florida. While I’m particular about many things, it doesn’t really matter to me what I use to blend my protein shakes since I’m on the go so much. I really just need a blender that works. Otherwise, I keep my smoothie recipe basic:
- 1 cup of almond milk
- 1 serving of protein powder
- 1 handful of frozen berries
- 1 handful of spinach
Directions: Blend. While I’m easy going with my smoothies, some personal trainers can get pretty specific about what blenders they use — in fact, I surveyed almost 20 trainers and many of them were enthusiastically quick to recommend one standout: Vitamix.
Celebrity trainer Erin Oprea and personal trainer Autumn Calabrese are among those fans. "It's super easy to clean and I love how it circulates the food so everything on top gets blended — plus, lots of power,” said Oprea. Bodybuilder Ronnie Lubischer, CSCS, is also a proponent of the Vitamix. “Absolutely, hands down my Vitamix has changed my life. As a bodybuilder, I'm always always looking to add size while keeping a very close eye on a healthy heart and boosted immune system,” said Lubischer, who owns Lubischer's Burn and Blast Body Lab. Here’s how to make one Lubischer’s “Green and Mean Protein Shake,” which is “chock-full of protein, healthy fats, energizing carbs, vitamins and minerals,” he said, adding this is typically a breakfast on-the-go for him or a post-workout shake.
- 12 ounces of egg whites (equals six egg whites or about 36 grams of protein)
- 1 scoop of ultra filtered, cold-pressed whey isolates (another 25 grams of protein)
- 4 to 6 ice cubes
- 2 tablespoons of almond butter
- 1 banana
- 1 cup of preferred berries
- 2 servings of greens: Cucumbers, celery, spinach or kale are Lubischer’s “go to’s” but you can mix it up
Directions: Pulse for about 30 seconds. One issue some of the personal trainers I consulted shared about the Vitamix is its price tag — certainly an investment, which one personal trainer noted might be worth it for some: “I have fallen into the trap of getting a cheap blender… But that's not the way to go because I have had some that smoke and get too hot blending,” said personal trainer Lexi Grace. “I, too, have purchased a $15 blender from Target which started smoking while I was making a smoothie after I only had it for two months,” said Grace, adding, “I use it for smoothies, blending sauces, and making protein ice cream that all help me stay on track with my fitness goals.” The blender isn’t loud and has “no problem” chopping up solid pieces of food for smoothies or shakes, and Grace notes it’s super easy to clean. The Explorian gives you a 48-ounce container, ten variable speeds and a pulse feature.
My parents have a one-serving Ninja blender, which I love using when I visit them. My parents love it, too, for the same reason personal trainer Jaime Morocco recommends it. “It doesn’t take up much space on the counter,” she said, adding “you can also eat right out of the cup that it comes with.” I do the same thing when I’m visiting my parents (leaving me with less dishes to clean, of course). “Also, I swear it has a magical way of making the perfect smoothie consistency,” Morocco added. Personal Trainer Brooke Taylor said she loves her Ninja blender given its three different speeds — and that it blends virtually everything in a matter of seconds (the brand boasts about the blender's 1000 watts of power, to this end). “I use it to blend everything from my favorite protein shakes (some containing nuts) and my favorite cold soups (gazpacho) to dips and dressings for my salads and vegetables.”
The blender I use in my apartment (which I bought after my own inexpensive blender smoked and broke down) is a this basic model from Oster. It’s the same blender that personal trainer Michaelangelo Bance recently started using, too. “Until last month, I was not a smoothie advocate, but being a single father to a seven-year-old daughter, I had to figure out a way to get her two servings of vegetables per day. Thank goodness for smoothies,” he said. “I love this blender because it is economical in price for me and my clients, it's very durable, it blends frozen fruits very well and it’s easy for my daughter to use.” The 700-watt blender includes five speeds and can hold up to six cups-worth of ingredients.
4. Blendjet One
Celebrity Trainer Astrid Swan said her favorite blender is one that she can charge in her car to use while she’s on the go. When she had her son, Swan said, she actually packed up the blender in her delivery bag for the hospital so that she could make smoothies there. “At the hospital I was able to add water and a banana. This Mama needs her energy and Blendjet helps me to make the smoothies that fuel me all day. And for $39, it’s perfect for anyone’s budget.”
Personal trainer Sean Alexander Hickle is a self-proclaimed smoothie fanatic and said he drinks (at least) one one every single day. He prefers this blender for a couple of reasons, noting the primary reason is its power. “On top of its blending capabilities, the container is the perfect size for one full serving, and still fits in my truck’s cup holder. Also, the Nutribullet container comes with a screw-on lid that allows for easy drinking,” he explained. Hickle said he loves the Nutribullet Pro blender, and shared his go-to smoothie recipe:
- 1 whole frozen banana
- Assorted frozen fruits, “depending on what mood I’m in that day,” including blueberries, mango, pineapple, strawberries and blackberries
- Almond milk
- All-natural Greek yogurt
- Heaping serving of spinach
- 1 scoop of protein powder
- Peanut butter
- “Plenty of ice”
Personal trainer Freddy Satizabal also loves the versatility of the iconic NutriBullet Pro. “I can easily switch between the single-serve cup and the large pitcher, so whether I’m preparing a smoothie for myself or a group of friends, it’s super convenient,” Satizabal noted. “I can toss everything into the dishwasher afterwards, too, so clean up is just as easy.” The 900-watt blender is stronger than its original counterpart and gives you one of the simplest modes of operation around, a plus for time savings but notably less versatile than some of the options above.