Protein shakes are a great alternative to traditional meal options, because they can be whipped up quickly and thrown into a travel cup for a boost of essential nutrients on the run.  Protein also helps fill us up and it’s filling powers stick for some time, giving us the energy to keep going.

There are numerous pre-made options available on grocery store shelves, including yogurt- and milk-based products.  If you prefer to load up on these, read the labels and choose the most appealing with the most benefits.  If you’d rather mix up a homemade version, however, here are some essential ingredients that will are sure to go the distance.

Kale.  These power greens are rich in fiber, great for digestion, and act as a natural candida buster.  Kale is also low in calories and filled with essential nutrients, such as folate and magnesium.

Baby spinach. Popeye had it right!  Loaded with vitamin K, as well as vitamins A and C.  These powerful greens will keep your muscles strong.

Blueberries.  Blueberries are also fiber-rich and filled with many good-for-you ingredients including potassium, folate, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.  Blueberries are natural antioxidants and have been proven to be great for blasting high cholesterol and decreasing blood pressure.

Almond Milk.  This dairy-free alternative to cow’s milk is great for those with a lactose intolerance.  It has been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease and strengthen bones.  It’s also low in calories – 50 percent lower than regular milk – and contains all of the benefits of a handful of almonds, including healthy omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium for energizing the body, and vitamin E, which promoting hair and nail growth and giving skin a natural, healthy glow.

Mangos.  Nature’s candy, this sweet fruit has been proven to help combat cancer.  It also is known for lowering cholesterol, clearing skin blemishes, improving eye health, and promoting digestion.

Pumpkin Seeds.  With a wide variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium and manganese to copper, protein and zinc, these seeds are nutritional powerhouse. They also contain plant phytosterols and antioxidants.  They are high in omega-3s and fiber and have been proven to help with weight loss.

Bananas. A great source of vitamin B6, bananas also contain potassium, vitamin C, and magnesium.  Bananas will also give any protein shake a creamy, smooth finish.

Granola. Bits of granola oats are high in fiber and iron, while the nuts and seeds add heart-healthy unsaturated fats and protein.  Add just a handful for a much-needed kick.

Stock up on these ingredients and portion them out ahead of time so you can pour each into a blender and kick it on high for a quick, grab-and-go breakfast.  Or, choose a shake for a mid-afternoon snack or dinner replacement.