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Picking a healthy protein shake is not easy. With so many on the market offering different benefits—from plant-based protein shakes to sugar-free options—it can be hard to narrow down which ones are truly the best to drink when you need a boost of protein. One type of ready-made protein shake that you’ve probably seen widely available on shelves is Fairlife protein shakes.
“Fairlife protein shakes are made from milk, which they state has 50% more protein, and 50% less sugar, compared to regular milk,” Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, tells Eat This, Not That! “They ultra-filter their milk which makes it higher in protein.”
“Fairlife protein shake products come in a variety of flavors and vary in protein amounts,” she continues. “The Core Power ones contain about 26 grams of protein, while their line of Elite Core Power contains 42 grams of protein.”
But are Fairlife protein shakes truly healthy? To find this out, we asked dietitians for the scoop.
A look at the nutrition info
“From a nutrition perspective, I really like the macronutrient ratio and the ingredients,” explains Maggie Michalczyk, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Once Upon a Pumpkin. “They also have a variety of flavors.”
“They provide a high amount of protein—between 25–42 grams per bottle, depending on the one you grab—and they contain relatively low amounts of sugar and fat,” says Michalczyk. “They also contain several vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin D.”
Ehsani also likes that Fairlife doesn’t add additional protein to its product. Instead, they simply ultrafilter the milk, which results in a higher protein drink.
“They create a lower carbohydrate product, which can be beneficial for anyone looking for a lower carb drink, but for elite or high-level athletes who train daily or even multiple times per day,” says Ehsani. “They actually need more carbs than protein post-workout, so I won’t say this product is the best for their needs. So as a sports dietitian, I’d recommend something with at least a 3:1 ratio (carb-to-protein ratio), rather than this product which is much higher in protein than carbs.”
A deep dive into the ingredients
As far as the ingredients, Fairlife protein shakes are made with ultrafiltered milk and natural flavors.
“Their filtration process removes most of the lactose, and in addition, they add a lactase enzyme in there too, to make their products lactose-free, which is great for anyone who is lactose-free,” says Ehsani.
One possible downside is the four sweeteners included: stevia, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, and monk fruit extract.
“I personally don’t love that they contain four of these artificial sweeteners, as there is some research suggesting they can alter the gut microbiome negatively,” notes Michalczyk.
So, are Fairlife Shakes good for you? The verdict
Overall, Fairlife protein shakes can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet, especially for individuals who struggle to meet their protein needs through food alone or who want a quick option post-workout.
“There is some research to suggest that consuming high-quality protein sources like dairy can help support muscle growth and maintenance, as well as promote feelings of fullness and satiety,” says Michalczyk.
However, she notes that it’s important to remember that protein shakes and supplements should be used in addition to a well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet.
“It’s always best to focus on consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods and engaging in regular physical activity to support a healthy lifestyle,” adds Michalczyk.
” I would say this product is OK to drink in moderation, especially if on the go,” adds Ehsani. “But due to the fact that it has artificial sweeteners and is low in carbs, I wouldn’t recommend it as a daily product for active people or athletes to use for recovery. Athletes need more carbs than protein post-workout!”