It has to be one of the most commonly asked questions about supplements. “Why Doesn’t My Protein Powder Dissolve?”
We’ve all suffered at the hands of protein powder clumps.
You typically find that some of the powder clings to the sides of your shaker, or even the bottom.
And to make matters worse, no matter how hard you shake it simply won’t dissolve.
You’re either left with having to waste good protein or somehow scoop it out and eat it solid.
Allow me to solve your protein powder nightmare.
Why Doesn’t My Protein Powder Dissolve?
There are numerous reasons why your protein powder doesn’t dissolve. To ensure that your protein shake is clump-free, always add the liquid before the powder. You’ll also generally find that it mixes best when the liquid is at room temperature. Furthermore, there are various mixing tools, although a blender or a shaker bottle with a metal mixer produces the best results. How and where you store your tub will make a huge difference. The protein and fat molecules are hygroscopic, so they naturally attract moisture, which will make the formation of clumps more likely.
1. Add the Liquid First
I’ve seen many people say (and do) this the other way round, i.e. add the powder first and then place the liquid on top.
Now, at first glance this may seem like the ideal way to get your protein powder to dissolve.
Basically, the powder is then fully submerged in liquid.
However, things typically work out for the better if you put the liquid in first and then add the powder afterwards.
The main reason for this is that it ensures that the powder doesn’t start sticking to the bottom or sides before you’ve even added liquid.
So, always go liquid first, and then just shake the hell out of it.
Oh, and by the way, always shake, never stir.
This is the main reason that there is such a thing as a protein shaker (more on this in a moment).
If you choose to stir or even manually whisk you simply won’t produce enough “force” to get the powder to dissolve.
In fact, stirring will definitely always produce clumps.
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2. Room Temperature Liquid is Best
I’ve seen varying opinions of what type of liquid to add to your protein, and also the temperature of the liquid.
Suffice to say, I’ve seen some good advice, as well as some pretty terrible advice.
For me, in order to get the ideal mixture, with the right consistency, and the ideal texture (no clumps), it has to be water at room temperature.
I’m sure most of you want to have a really refreshing post-workout shake and so you opt for water that’s really cold.
Then again, there are those who are looking to take on as much protein as possible and will add milk from the fridge.
There are also those who will look at a dairy-free milk, such as almond or coconut, simply to enhance the flavor.
I have even come across people who want to add warm or hot milk and turn their shake into a hot chocolate.
Firstly, if you are one of the “hot chocolate crew” then always go with lukewarm milk, as hot milk will denature the protein, so you’ll completely defeat the object of drinking it.
Secondly, slighter warmer liquids, i.e. room temperature, will always mix better than extremely cold liquids.
And finally, mixing with milk will slightly delay absorption, so in order to take advantage of that fast-acting hit, always mix with water.
I know that taste or refreshment always comes into the equation, so you can add ice cubes, or drink it with milk if you wish.
However, I simply want a fast-acting, clump-free protein shake, so room temperature water always wins for me.
3. Use the Right Mixing Tool
I spoke earlier about not stirring or whisking your protein powder, shaking always works better.
This is obviously why there is such a thing as a protein shaker, and the fact that we call them shakes also gives us a clue.
When it comes to shakers you have two main options.
Firstly, there is the shaker with a plastic mixer.
This works fairly well, but it can be prone to clumping.
Next there is the shaker with a metal mixer, often in the shape of a ball.
This works far better and will typically remove most clumps.
Then there is of course a blender, and the magic bullet appears to be the choice for many athletes.
Now, a blender will always remove all clumps and ensure that your protein powder fully dissolves.
However, most of us want to drink our protein powder post-workout, so you can’t exactly carry a blender around with you.
Okay, I know there are portable blenders, but still if you’re using this option it’s more likely that you’ll have to wait till you get home.
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4. Are You Shaking Long Enough?
This almost seems a little ridiculous to say, but unfortunately some people simply don’t shake for long enough.
In fact, there are those who will shake for 5-10 seconds and then wonder why their protein hasn’t dissolved.
For me, you really have to go for it, and you can even incorporate it as a secondary arm workout.
Okay, just kidding, but hopefully you get my meaning.
I will typically shake that mixer bottle numerous times over a period of about 60 seconds.
And I can safely say that pretty much every single bit of protein powder fully dissolves.
I shouldn’t really have to say this, but ensure that you’re giving your protein a really good shake.
5. Store the Tub Correctly
Something else to consider is where you store your tub of protein powder.
You’ll want to store your protein powder in a cool and dry environment.
And preferably at a temperature that doesn’t exceed 21C (70F).
Okay, I know this isn’t always possible, depending on weather conditions, but excess heat will definitely have an impact on the powder.
The warmer the storage temperature, the more likely that the powder will attract moisture.
And unfortunately this will typically lead to clumping when the time comes to consume it.
So, aim to store the tub in the pantry or a kitchen cabinet.
6. Don’t Remove the Silica Gel
I never used to understand what those little packets were inside my tub of protein powder.
In fact, I usually found them annoying as I was trying to take a scoop of powder, so I would simply remove them and throw them away.
The powdered ingredients of your protein are hygroscopic, which means that they naturally attract moisture.
As I’ve already mentioned when talking about storing your tub correctly, moisture is definitely the enemy.
In fact, the more moisture that is attracted to the tub, the more likely that the protein powder will form clumps and not dissolve.
It turns out those tiny packets contain silica gel, which happens to be a drying agent.
So, the silica packets will absorb any extra moisture, which ensures that no “damage” can come to your protein powder.
7. Choose a High Quality Protein
I guess it goes without saying that not all protein powders are created equal.
And it’s not exactly the cheapest supplement going.
So, there may be a tendency to save a few pennies and opt for a less expensive, less well-known make and product.
Now, I’m certainly not saying that you have to purchase the most expensive protein powder, but it is usually a case of, “you get what you pay for”.
You’ll also find that some of the premium proteins have smaller grains of powder, which makes them far easier to dissolve.
You can still get a decent 1kg tub of protein powder for approximately $30.
So, if you’re paying a lot less than this just beware scrimping on quality too.
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There are quite a few reasons why your protein powder doesn’t dissolve. Try adding the liquid first and then the powder afterwards. A shaker bottle with a metal mixer will always produce better results than a plastic mixer, or trying to stir with a spoon. However, using a blender will always produce the best results, although this isn’t always practical. Protein powder tends to mix better with water at room temperature. Plus, you should store the tub in a cool, dry environment, and ensure that you choose a high quality protein powder.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.