Move Over Sports Drinks: Protein-Enriched Beverages Aren’t Just for Athletes Anymore

GRANDE_0284.jpgWhat’s the first thing consumers think of when they hear someone talking about protein shakes? Most people probably think of a body builder eagerly trying to bulk up his or her muscles.

Ever since the 1950s, companies have been producing protein-enriched beverages and marketing them towards athletes for their ability to aid muscle growth and recovery. Early bodybuilders who consumed large quantities of these protein products reported dramatic gains in muscle mass, which helped drive the supplement’s popularity. By the 1970s and 80s, the fitness industry had exploded, and protein was being used not only to build muscles, but also to help consumers manage their weight. 

Fast forward to 2015 and it seems like every product on the market is eager to promote its protein benefits – even body wash! Today’s consumers are more conscious of health and wellness than ever before, and they’re actively searching for more functional and convenient products. And because protein has developed such a strong reputation as a superfood, companies in the CPG sector have turned to protein as their functional ingredient of choice. 

In the beverage industry especially, protein has taken off as one of the most popular ingredients across any beverage type. With products like protein energy drinks and ready-to-drink breakfast shakes bursting onto the scene over the past couple of years, it’s safe to say that protein-enriched beverages have truly become mainstream. Gone are the days where protein shakes and drinks are reserved for athletes and weightlifters, as we’re starting to see more protein-enriched beverages being developed for other consumer groups. In fact, according to Mintel, food and beverages making high-protein claims were almost 3x higher in the United States compared to the rest of the world, and accounted for 19% of all product launches globally in 2012.

Today’s beverage manufacturers have come a long “whey” from where protein shakes started in the 1950s – elaborating on their many benefits, improving their taste, and making these products more convenient for consumers. These aren’t the thick, sludgy shakes you choke down in hopes of looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger; today’s protein-enriched products help regular consumers get the important nutrition and fuel they need in an easy-to-drink beverage. And they’re not just limited to shakes either! 

By using products like our Grande Ultra® Whey Protein Isolate, beverage manufacturers can add a protein boost to a variety of applications without changing their taste or appearance. Unlike plant-based protein sources – which often require flavor-masking agents – our specially formulated WPI provides a clean, neutral flavor, as well as all of the essential amino acids. And when it comes to providing the most neutral flavor and best clarity over a wide pH range, no other WPI does it better than Grande Ultra®. Just look at the chart and video below: 

Protein-Enriched Beverages


When it comes to beverage clarity, Grande Ultra® can’t be beat. For more information about how you can use Grande Ultra® to add a functional benefit to your drink products, please visit our applications page or contact one of our food scientists today. You can also download our free Beverage Applications Sheet to see first-hand how beverage manufacturers can use our ingredients to their advantage. 


Beverage Application Recipes