How to Make Protein Shakes for Low Carb, hCG, South Beach or PSMF Diets

Weight-Loss Shake Recipes and IdeasCredit:

Ready-made meal-replacement shakes are a popular option these days. For a quick-and-easy breakfast or snack idea, all you have to do is just chill them overnight in the refrigerator. If you indulge in them daily, however, the expense might whip the pocketbook a bit, but for many diet plans, they offer an easy way to lose weight while boosting your protein intake. Since protein is responsible for satiety, getting plenty of protein will cut down on the temptation to overeat.

Homemade diet shake recipes and ideas are a breeze to prepare at home. When you make them yourself, they allow you the option of fine-tuning the ingredients and nutrient composition to better fit the dietary guidelines of your individual weight-loss plan. In addition, making shakes at home opens the door to endless flavorings and possibilities not available ready-made.

If you’re following the Atkins Diet, an hCG diet, a Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF), or the South Beach Diet, here is how to make some of the best diet shakes for weight loss.

Low-Carb Diets for Weight Loss

Low carb diets, such as the Atkins Diet or the Protein Power Lifeplan, are typically higher in fat than most weight-loss programs, so homemade diet shakes are spiked with lots of heavy cream. If you’re new to a low-carb lifestyle or are returning but haven’t adapted to ketosis yet, you might want to raise the amount of heavy cream in the basic recipe, and reduce or eliminate the water.

Don’t forget that heavy cream is high in calories, is limited to 2 or 3 tablespoons per day during the first two weeks of Atkins, and is not carbohydrate free. Although the label might claim zero carbs, labeling laws in the U.S. allow manufacturers to round the carb count down to zero if the serving size listed on the carton results in a carb count that is less than .5 grams.

A typical low-carb dieter doesn’t usually pay attention to calories, but heavy cream does have 6.6 grams of carbohydrates per cup. That’s why Dr. Atkins decided to limit it on Induction. If you’re only using a tablespoon in your coffee or tea, the amount of carbohydrate will be minor, but the carbs begin to add up quickly when you start adding heavy cream to a meal-replacement shake recipe.

If you’re in the first two weeks of your low-carb diet and need to limit the amount of cream you have, simply lower the amount of cream to fit within your daily limit.

Basic Low-Carb Diet Shake Recipe


  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 scoop protein powder, any flavor
  • Sugar substitute equal to 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 ice cubes


  1. Place heavy cream, water, protein powder, sugar substitute, and vanilla in the blender. 
  2. Process for about 1 minute, until creamy. Add ice cubes and process again, until thick and smooth.

Low-Carb Strawberry Breakfast Shake


Chocolate shake: Use chocolate protein powder and substitute diet Dr. Pepper for the water. Add 1 tablespoon cocoa, 1 additional tablespoon sugar substitute, and use a full teaspoon of vanilla or a tablespoon of sugar-free maple syrup.

Berry shake: Freeze 5 or 6 whole strawberries, 1/2 cup raspberries or blueberries. Add to rest of ingredients before blending.

Pumpkin shake: Add 1/4 cup pumpkin, 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice, and an extra tablespoon of sugar substitute to ingredients before blending.


Low-Carb Low-Fat: PSMF Diet or Modified hCG Diet

A PSMF diet or an hCG diet is a low-calorie, low-carb, low-fat diet. No heavy cream is allowed on either of these diet plans. The following basic recipe substitutes non-fat cottage cheese instead, but the non-fat variety will need additional sugar substitute or the shake will taste sour. This is the recipe I used most often when I lost over 100 pounds on a modified low-carb diet, because the cottage cheese makes the shake thick, rich, and creamy, as well as low in fat. I guarantee you won’t miss the cream.

If non-fat cottage cheese isn’t available in your area, replace it with the low-fat variety, and reduce the sugar substitute to 2 tablespoons. Although low-fat cottage cheese makes the shake taste better, it isn’t the best option for either a PSMF Diet or an hCG protocol. If you’re simply trying to lower your fat intake because you’re not losing weight on low carb, low-fat cottage cheese only adds a gram or two of fat per 1/2-cup serving and makes an excellent choice.

Protein powder wasn’t found on Dr. Simeon’s original protocol because it wasn’t available when he created the diet, but neither were the sugar substitutes available today. Many hCG dieters have modified the plan to include protein shakes and Stevia without it affecting their fat loss. An alternative method for an hCG diet shake would be to use one of your fruit servings (like strawberries), the small amount of milk you’re allowed in your coffee or tea, and omit the whey protein powder completely.

The calorie count of these diet shake recipes will depend on the brand of protein powder you use, but in general, a PSMF approach doesn’t bother with calorie counts and other nutritional information other than the dairy recommendation that Lyle McDonald gives in his Rapid Fast Loss Handbook. While McDonald always encourages a whole foods diet during weight loss, he also recommends eating two servings of non-fat dairy per day. A weight-loss shake is an excellent way to get in your dairy allowance.

Typically, a PSMF diet is designed to focus on getting adequate protein, and little else, but McDonald’s Rapid Fat Loss Diet plan takes extra precautions to make it more healthy.


Basic PSMF Diet Shake Recipe

PSMF Diet Shake is Made with Fat-Free Cottage CheeseCredit:


  • 1/2 cup non-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 scoop of protein powder, any flavor
  • 3 tablespoons sugar substitute
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 ice cubes


  1. Place cottage cheese, water, protein powder, sugar substitute, and vanilla in the blender.
  2. Process for 2 minutes, until mixture is creamy.
  3. Add ice cubes and process again, until thick and smooth.


Spice shake: Add 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice or apple-pie spice and an extra tablespoon of sugar substitute to ingredients before blending.

Banana or Orange shake: Add a full teaspoon of banana or orange extract to ingredients before blending; can also add a bit of grated orange peel for extra flavor. Spices like cinnamon add an extra-nice touch.

Dr. Pepper shake: Substitute diet Dr. Pepper for the water.


The South Beach Diet

Many individuals do well on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet, but struggle when moving to South Beach Diet Phase 2. Homemade shakes using low-glycemic fruits, such as berries or cherries, can make the switch go smoother because you can keep fruit portions small for easier monitoring.

However, in an article that Dr. Arthur Agatston wrote for Prevention Magazine, the author of the South Beach Diet cautions that diet plans that focus on protein shakes can be dangerous. However, “If they are taken to supplement good vegetables, salads, and good oils, they should be fine.”

Fresh fruits add a nice flavor-punch to these excellent meal-replacement shakes. If you’re following Phase 1, simply omit the fruit and make sure the yogurt you use is plain and unsweetened. You’ll also want to raise the sugar substitute to 3 tablespoons. Like low carb and PSMF diets, the South Beach program doesn’t count calories or carbohydrates. Instead, it uses a portion-control approach when returning fruit and starches to the diet.


Basic South Beach Diet Shake Recipe


  • 2/3 cup low-fat milk, yogurt, or diet soda
  • 1 scoop protein powder, any flavor
  • 2 tablespoons sugar substitute
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup fruit, any type (optional)
  • 6 ice cubes


  1. Place milk, protein powder, sugar substitute, vanilla, and fruit in the blender.
  2. Process for about 1 minute, until mixture is creamy.
  3. Add ice cubes and process again, until smooth.

Pineapple Diet ShakeCredit:


For a thicker shake: When using milk or diet soda, add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum or guar gum to other ingredients before blending.

Pineapple or pineapple-orange shake: Use 1/4 cup crushed pineapple in its own juice for the fruit. A bit of grated orange peel adds a nice touch.

Lemon shake: Add the juice from 1/2 lemon, grated lemon peel, and 2 extra tablespoons of sugar substitute to ingredients before blending.


Finding the Right Protein Powder to Fit Your Needs

No matter what type of weight-loss diet you’re following, there is a protein powder that will fit your needs. You might not be able to simply run down to your nearest Walmart and find what you’re looking for, but if you’re willing to do a little bit of research, you can find brands and formulas that will fit right into your program.

For those who are watching their carbohydrates or want a protein powder that doesn’t contain flavorings, fructose, sugar alcohols, or other added sugars, Jarrow Formulas has a whey protein that is both unflavored and unsweetened. That way you can design your own meal replacement shakes to be as healthy and filling as you like.

However, if you’d rather not have to sweeten the whey powder yourself, you can simply use a whey protein powder that’s sweetened with Stevia. Pure Protein's 100% Natural Whey Protein is sweetened with Stevia, making it a great choice for those who want to avoid synthetic sweeteners.

Although protein powders come in various qualities, even high-quality powders might not taste as good as you hoped. It’s difficult to recommend a good-tasting powder because taste tends to be subjective when it comes to protein shakes. Sometimes, it’s best to simply buy a small container of protein powder and try out that particular brand before making a larger investment.

Experiment with Your Own Weight-Loss Shakes

The best diet shake recipes for weight loss are quick and easy to prepare and control your cravings and temptations to overeat. They can make an excellent choice when time is short in the morning, you're sick of eating eggs, or you’re tempted to go face down into a plate of chocolate-chip cookies. While I have fine-tuned each basic recipe above to meet the individual nutritional requirements for that particular diet program, it's easy to invent your own diet shake creations.

It's Easy to Invent Your Own Diet Shake CreationsCredit:

You can also juggle some of the variations around between each diet, since cottage cheese is allowed on the Ongoing Weight Loss Phase of the Atkins Diet, and using cottage cheese would help to boost the nutritional value of a South Beach protein shake as well.

Above all, don’t fall into a rut by drinking the same shake every day. Be adventuresome and experiment with different spices, extracts, sugar-free syrups, and whatever fruits and vegetables you like. Many dieters enjoy adding a little spinach, a bit of flavored gelatin powder, chia seeds, chopped cucumber, or even a whole egg or two for a richer taste. If you watch for potential diet shake options the next time you go shopping, you can keep your shake recipes interesting and fresh.