Blenders for protein shakes: it's not about the power
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Though the Nutri Ninja Auto IQ BL480D isn't the most portable blender available to buy, it has more attributes essential to quality protein shakes to negate its bulky size and hefty price point.
This mighty beast can whip up more than one protein shake in a matter of seconds and even comes with a couple of 'to-go' cups for your convenience. Not to mention this appliance is extremely powerful, durable, and can manage much more than only mixing shakes, making it super versatile too.
Building muscle requires decent protein consumption, and whole foods are the optimal source of quality protein. But that can get a little pricey if you need a lot of protein for your body type, not to mention it’s not always convenient.
That’s where protein shakes come in.
Protein powder is relatively affordable, low in calories (if you buy the right product), and with a shaker and some water, you can knock up a quick shake anywhere. But if you want to get a little more creative with your shakes, a portable or single-serve blender is a must-have tool.
We’re going to compare five of the most popular portable and single-serve blenders in six categories (capacity, portability, power, performance, versatility, and cost) to find out which is the best choice to produce excellent protein shakes to accompany you on your fitness journey. We’ll award five points for best in a category, four for second place, and three for third place, two for second place, and a miserly one point for whoever finishes dead last in that category.
What Makes a Good Protein Shake Blender?
There are a number of things to look for when identifying a great appliance for mixing protein shakes. The capacity needs to be a minimum of 8oz to be able to make a standard water and powder shake, and more substantial if you want to add fruit. While anything over 32oz will hamper the blender’s portability.
The smaller the overall size of the product (while adhering to the capacity rule) the better and should be easily slipped into your gym bag. Any larger appliances need a travel cup or container to negate the portability issues.
It doesn’t take a lot of power to mix a bog-standard protein shake, but as a general rule of thumb a blender will need a minimum of 20,000 RPM, while anything over 25,000 is unnecessary (though it won’t negatively affect your shake if it is).
Let’s meet the competitors
Listed below are five of the most refined protein shake producers on the market. While there are similarities between them all, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses when making shakes for the gym and workout routines.
No two bodies are the same, which means everyone’s protein requirements are different. A 250lb man will need a substantially larger protein intake than a 120lb woman. So, in this case, size matters.
It’s better to have the additional capacity and not need it than to need it and not have it. An average protein shake requires approximately 200-250ml of your preferred liquid. You’ll also need additional space for your protein powder, creatine, and maybe a little fruit if you like, so a minimum of 9 to 10oz is essential.
From largest to smallest:
- NutriBullet Pro 32oz
- Nutri Ninja Auto IQ 24oz
- PopBabies USB Personal Blender: 14oz
- Hotsch Handheld USB Blender: 13.5oz
- Supkitdin USB Mini Blender: 13.3oz
Both premium blenders outperform the three chargeable units by some distance in terms of capacity. The Nutribullet can hold almost three times more than the Supkitdin, with the Ninja at nearly double the capacity of the smaller devices.
Though the NutriBullet’s massive capacity is excellent for large shakes, or even double drinks for pre, post, and intra-workout, it will cost it dearly in the portability category.
- NutriBullet Pro 5pts
- Nutri Ninja Auto IQ 4pts
- PopBabies 3pts
- Hotsch 2pts
- Supkitdin 1pt
If you want to mix fresh protein shakes at the gym, your blender needs to fit in your gym bag. There’s already a ton of stuff in there with your shoes, shorts, shirt, water bottles, and toiletries, so maximizing the capacity while minimizing the space it takes up is a massive advantage in the war of portable blenders.
Fortunately, modern technology has advanced so much that portable blenders aren’t much bigger than a standard protein shaker in some cases. Let’s compare the sizes.
From smallest to largest:
- Supkitdin USB Mini Blenderr: 9.4 x 3.1 x 3.1 inches (90.3 Cubic Inches)
- PopBabies USB Personal Blender: 10.2 x 3.2 x 3.2 inches (104.4 Cubic Inches)
- Hotsch Handheld USB Blender: 9.0 x 3.7 x 3.5 inches (116.5 Cubic Inches)
- Nutri Ninja Auto IQ: 15 x 6 x 6 Inches (540 Cubic Inches)
- NutriBullet Pro: 12.0 x 7.7 x 15.9 inches (1469 Cubic Inches)
All three chargeable blenders are incredibly portable (not to mention that you can use them without plugging them in) and take up minimal amounts of space in your bag, while the Ninja Auto IQ is far bigger.
NutriBullet pays for its massive capacity by taking up more space on its own than all the other appliances combined; we’d give it negative points in the portability category if we could.
- PopBabies 7pts
- NutriBullet Pro 6pts
- Nutri Ninja Auto IQ 6pts
- Supkitdin 6pt
- Hotsch 5pts
Like working out in the gym, power is an essential aspect of portable blenders for two reasons.
Firstly, you don’t want to get caught out with a flat battery and not being able to make your shake when you need one the most (though three of these appliances are USB chargeable, so you can charge them on the go). Secondly, and most importantly, the motor’s power is a big signifier of how well an appliance will blend your shake.
Let’s look individually at each blender’s power specs.
- Hotsch Handheld USB Blender:
Charge Time 3 hours
Uses Per Charge 20 uses
Blade Speed 24000 rpm
- PopBabies USB Personal Blender:
Charge Time 3-5 hours
Uses Per Charge 15-20 uses
Blade Speed 22000 rpm
- Supkitdin USB Mini Blender:
Charge Time 3-5 hours
Uses Per Charge 15-20 uses
Blade Speed 22000 rpm
- NutriBullet Pro:
Charge Time N/A
Uses Per Charge N/A
Blade Speed 25000 rpm
- Nutri Ninja Auto IQ:
Charge Time N/A
Uses Per Charge N/A
Blade Speed 21000 rpm
The Hotsch handheld USB blender is the clear winner in this category, with the shortest charge time, most uses, and second-highest RPM behind the NutriBullet. PopBabies and Supkitdin share second place with identical charge times, uses per charge, and blade speed.
As both the NutriBullet Pro and Nutri Ninja Auto IQ require a power outlet to operate, they score poorly in this section. However, if you have a power outlet at your gym, or you prefer to mix your shakes at home, these two blenders could be streets ahead.
- PopBabies 11pts
- Hotsch 10pts
- Supkitdin 9pt
- NutriBullet Pro 8pts
- Nutri Ninja Auto IQ 7pts
Performance is one of the most important categories we’ll look at. Because who wants a lumpy protein shake after a hard workout?
There are many variables when considering an appliance’s performance, and they can’t always be justified with numbers. So we’ll be checking out some anecdotal evidence from the people who use these products every day. All the pros and cons are expressed by consumers, right from the horse’s mouths.
Nutri Ninja Auto IQ
- The ‘Nutri Ninja Pro Extractor Blades’. The blade system in this blender is far superior to all the other appliances, ensuring this product makes the best, most smooth protein shakes by far.
- The preset Auto IQ programs help consumers set and forget these appliances to remove the guesswork for excellent results.
- Despite a lower RPM, the 1000 Watts of power and extractor blades make for a brutal cycle that pulverizes and protein shakes and frozen fruit.
- ‘To-Go Cups’. While the blender itself isn’t overly portable, you can blend your shakes directly into these containers that come with special lids that’s a massive plus for consumers.
- It’s Loud. Because of the supreme power of this relatively compact blender, it’s really noisy when you’re using it.
- The lids have been known to leak a little when blending for more extended periods of time.
- Excellent performance thanks to 900 Watts of power and 25000 RPM blade speed.
Speed and efficiency. The NutriBullet Pro can whip up a standard shake in seconds, while even adding fruit or ice won’t cause this appliance any problems.
- Despite the relatively high power output, consumers are delighted about how quietly this machine runs.
- Shreds leafy greens. Adding spinach to your shakes won’t leave you with strips and chunks as the NutriBullet reduces everything down to its molecular level.
- For a product this expensive and powerful, there is only one speed to choose from, which is disappointing to consumers.
- Leaky lids. Like the Nutri Ninja, this product has been known to leak from the caps a little on occasion.
- This blender can get hot and omit a plasticky odor when used for more challenging ingredients.
PopBabies USB Personal Blender
- Excellent blending with protein powder and small pieces of fresh fruit.
Four-blade system. This four-blade system’s angle is optimal for getting all the chunks out of your drink for a smooth shake. Fewer blades than the other two chargeable units, but equally effective.
- You can shake the container while it blends to help the blending process.
Durable. Multiple people have dropped this blender getting out of their car and have caused no damage.
- The tiny neck makes it difficult to put ingredients into your blender.
While it works perfectly with protein powder and liquid, it struggles slightly with chunks of frozen fruit and ice.
- Difficult to clean. Consumers have difficulty in cleaning this device, primarily due to the small opening.
Hotsch Handheld USB Blender
- Six blades. With six blades all angled differently, the Hotsch makes quick work of protein shakes and soft fruit.
- Initially blends frozen fruit well. The higher RPMs help this blender with more challenging ingredients.
- No lumps. Though it won’t wholly shred leafy greens like spinach, the Hotsch handheld blender produces silky smooth shakes with no unappealing textures.
- It’s quiet. Despite having the best RPMs of these three blenders, the Hotsch runs relatively quietly even when it’s blending frozen fruit.
- Poor Longevity. Out of the box, this portable blender is brilliant, but the performance gradually gets worse as time goes on.
- Blades are known to dull over time, possibly due to blending frozen fruit and ice.
- Occasionally shuts off. Several consumers report the blades locking up and the unit powering down if you try to blend a large volume of frozen fruit or ice.
Supkitdin USB Mini Blender
- Performs well with most ingredients … eventually (see the cons section). The Supkitdin has a robust blending function despite its small stature.
- It fits in a car cup holder. Consumers love that it fits in a cup holder so you can blend on your way to the gym or on the way home (depending on your opinion on how soon you need to consume protein after working out.
- It has serrated 304 Stainless steel blades. The six-blade system with serrated edges does an excellent job of mixing shakes and obliterating fruit.
- Easy to clean. This mini blender appears to be the easiest of the three blenders to clean. Adding a little soap and water (not hot) and running a cycle gets it sparkling clean.
- Possible unit failure and poor battery life. Approximately 12% of Amazon customers rate this blender at two stars or worse. A large majority of them cite unit failure within the first month. Also, the initial charge times and usages are accurate at first; they get worse over time. This is not entirely unusual, but it appears more prominent with this device.
- The lid starts to unscrew after prolonged use causing slight leakage.
It requires a longer blend time. Despite having the same specs as the PopBabies blender, this takes longer to achieve a smooth blend.
- Hard to switch on. There appears to be a problem with the start button that takes multiple presses to initiate a cycle.
The larger and less portable Nutri Ninja and NutriBullet have the added advantage of having more space to incorporate more power and better quality components. This gives them far superior blending power, though the Ninja edges the win thanks to its higher power output and Auto IQ technology.
There’s not much to separate all three chargeable blenders in terms of performance. Each has its various strengths and weaknesses. But even though the PopBabies struggles more with frozen goods (which won’t matter too much if you’re blending at the gym), it is more durable and will last a lot longer than the Hotsch handheld, which deteriorates over time. It’s also less of a risk than the Supkitdin USB Mini Blender, which has excellent performance if you get a unit that works.
There are other blenders on the market that offer even better performance than these five products, such as the Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series, which is the pinnacle of blenders. Is it overkill? Yes, but this expensive piece of equipment will make the very best shakes, among countless other things,
- PopBabies 14pts
- Nutri Ninja Auto IQ 12pts
- NutriBullet Pro 12pts
- Hotsch 12pts
- Supkitdin 10pt
While we’re primarily focussing on making protein shakes, you can use these handy devices for other things in the kitchen, such as smoothies, soups, dips, salsas, crushing ice, and any number of other wet foods. But not all of them are equipped to deal with these jobs.
Nutri Ninja Auto IQ: This device can blend almost anything you throw at it. Pulverizing ice, frozen fruits, and vegetables without losing any essential nutrients makes this blender extremely practical. The Auto IQ technology that times and pulses ensure the Nutri Ninja is the most versatile of them all. The pulse feature can act as a food processor in some cases.
NutriBullet Pro: The NutriBullet performs almost as well as its Ninja counterpart and can perform all the same jobs. However, it’s hampered by the single-speed nature of the motor and can only be pulsed manually.
Supkitdin USB Mini Blender & Hotsch Handheld USB Blender: These two appliances are evenly matched with their ability to blend protein shakes, frozen fruits, and ice cubes. However, this ability fades over time due to less than optimal longevity.
PopBabies USB Personal Blender: The least practical of all is the PopBabies blender. While it’s perfectly fine for protein shakes, you won’t be able to use it for much else in the kitchen.
- Nutri Ninja Auto IQ 17pts
- NutriBullet Pro 16pts
- PopBabies 15pts
- Hotsch 14pts
- Supkitdin 12pt
Lastly, we get down to brass tacks; how much do these things cost?
Surprisingly, all three portable blenders are relatively affordable and far cheaper than countertop single-serve blenders and their larger counterparts. The two premium blenders are noticeably more expensive, but in the grand scheme of things, aren’t massively expensive.
While prices often change when offers and sales are on, at the time of writing, these are the approximate price points of our three contenders.
- Supkitdin USB Mini Blender: Under $20
- Hotsch Handheld USB Blender: $20+
- PopBabies USB Personal Blender: $30+
- Nutri Ninja Auto IQ: $70+
- NutriBullet Pro: $90+
With a price tag of under twenty dollars, the Supkitdin USB mini blender is the clear winner, coming in at almost less than half the price of the PopBabies appliance, with the Hotsch finding the middle ground for a handy second place. Obviously, the two more premium models are far more expensive than the chargeable blenders, though surprisingly, the Ninja comes in quite a lot cheaper than the NutriBullet.
- Nutri Ninja Auto IQ 19pts
- PopBabies 18pts
- Hotsch 18pts
- NutriBullet Pro 17pts
- Supkitdin 17pt
This close-fought battle sees the Nutri Ninja blender emerge as our champion. While not the most portable machine we’ve looked at, nor the most affordable, it can effortlessly knock up a couple of protein shakes, comes equipped with ‘To-Go’ cups to take to the gym, has the best performance, and you can use it for much more than just making protein shakes.
The versatility of the Nutri Ninja makes the higher price point worthwhile and this appliance a worthy winner.
But what of the other competitors?
The NutriBullet Pro is a superb appliance that almost matches the Ninja in terms of performance, though it’s a lot more expensive. However, thanks to the massive capacity, this blender is a good choice for making larger batches of protein shakes, maybe for you and your gym partner.
While the PopBabies USB Personal Blender came out on top of all the genuinely portable appliances, thanks to its superior build quality and longevity. This blender will keep you blending protein shakes to help you on your fitness journey, as long as you don’t go overboard on the frozen goods (which you probably don’t keep in your gym bag).
Striking a middle-ground between capacity and portability, the PopBabies mini blender is excellent for shakes-on-the-go for folks of all sizes. While it is the most expensive of the three chargeable units, it’s also the most reliable and durable, making it ultimately the best value for money.
The Supkitdin USB Mini Blender is super affordable and offers excellent performance for a time, making it an ideal choice for those on a tighter budget.
While the Hotsch handheld blender found the middle of the road, fast charging and high RPM made it a formidable foe against ice and frozen fruit, though it has a less than adequate longevity.