Plant-based shakes are ineffective in refueling the body post workout, expert says

Athletes who attempt to refuel their bodies post workout using plant-based shakes could be wasting their time, a principal lecturer of performance nutrition at the University of Hertfordshire has suggested.

Smoothies and shakes are now widely used post-workout to build muscle tissue, retain energy and speed up recovery. However, when these shakes are made with plant milks, the athlete receives fewer benefits as the protein percentage is less. Oat milk in particular, which has a very low protein content compared to cow’s milk, makes an ineffective post-workout drink.  

That’s according to Dr Lindsy Kass, Principal Lecturer and Researcher in Exercise Physiology and Performance Nutrition at the University’s Centre for Research in Psychology and Sport Sciences, whose work looks at, among other subjects, supplements that assist and detract from athletic performance.

Dr Kass says: “Over the past few years there has been this ‘pushing’ of oat milk as a healthier option to cow's milk but it is actually very low in protein. It is difficult to ‘push’ the protein value of some plant-based milks without loads of extra protein powders to them, and this seems counterintuitive, unless you are a vegan."

Athletes that are vegan would be advised to opt for soy milk, which is closest in protein value to cow’s milk, rather than oat, almond, rice or coconut, which are all very low in protein. While people have a tendency to equate ‘plant-based’ with ‘healthy’, it’s important to think about what you’re putting into your body and why.” 

Dr Lindsy Kass

Nutritional comparison of plant-based milk alternatives
Type Protein (g, per 240 ml serving)
Cow 8
Soy 7
Quinoa 4.5
Oat 2.5
Hemp 2
Sesame 1.5
Hazelnut 1.4
Rice 1
Almond 1
Coconut <1


  1. Oakstrom Oakstrom United States says:

    Who is drinking just milk (plant based or otherwise) post workout? Most ppl add protein, greens, etc to a post workout shake. If I use soy milk and 20g protein powder I'm losing 1g of protein. I won't be losing sleep over that. It's important that you choose high quality (contains essential amino acids) protein. But the animal product cult pays for these opinions. As a person who's lactose intolerant, I find your cow milk obsession disturbing

  2. Joseph Galamba Joseph Galamba United States says:

    Oat milk is not a "shake". Yes, it's low in protein, but nobody is using oat milk post-workout because athletes are in fact smart enough to read a nutrition lable.

    Incidentally, the latest scientific research is that plant-based protein shakes with comparable protein content are as good or in some cases potentially superior to milk and egg protein.

  3. Armando Pigozzi Armando Pigozzi Japan says:

    Obviously you would include peanut butter or similar. I don't think anyone expects to get enough protein from oat milk...

  4. Sam Sudano Sam Sudano United States says:

    I have been making a 33g protein smoothie every morning for 2 years and am around 14% body fat (34/f). I have to disagree with the way this is presented. Plantbased protein shakes can have as much protein as you want them to have.
    I use a very clean organic plant protein and add flax/hemp/chia and mushroom powder, with spinach, half a banana and half an avocado. It literally keeps me full til dinner. Oh and a cup of almond milk.

  5. Melissa Danielle Melissa Danielle United States says:

    What's the issue here, plant-based protein shakes or oatmilk? The majority of plant-based protein powders offer at least 20g of protein per serving. Who believes oatmilk is high in protein?

  6. Leah Niecgorski Leah Niecgorski United States says:

    This is maybe one of the worst titles I have ever read. This is absolutely NOT what she is saying. The article is about oat milk vs cows milk. There's no mention of plant based protein shakes post workout.

  7. David Varkey David Varkey United States says:

    What a misleading title... You should be embarrassed...

  8. Liam Gutierrez Liam Gutierrez United States says:

    Dairy causes breast and prostate cancer and now worry about oat milk not having enough protein? Can you get your priorities right at least, since you already failed with the sensationalist title surely paid by the diary industry.

  9. Daniel Daniel United States says:

    Others commentors have already pointed out how stupid this article is. No one drinks straight milk after a workout. You can add as much protein powder, including plant based powders, as you want. Not to mention other sources of calories (peanut butter, bananas, etc). And if you want the milk itself to be high in protein so some broken reason you can drink soy milk. You failed to mention that soy milk has essentially the same levels of protein with a complete amino acid progil as cows milk. Was this article paid for by the milk industry? Garbage.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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