There are plenty of reasons to prioritize protein. It repairs and creates new cells and helps you feel satiated after eating, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. In other words, if you weigh 160 pounds, you'll need to take in 58 grams of protein a day. But, it may be best to think of this RDA as the minimum amount of protein you require, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
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Several factors can lead to a person needing more protein than the RDA, such as age, pregnancy and activity level. For instance, athletes may benefit from getting at least 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, notes the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
There are so many ways to use protein powder, and it's a simple way to add more of the nutrient to your diet. But if the thought of a protein shake just isn't appealing, take heart: There are plenty of ways to incorporate protein powder into your diet that don't require you to whip out the blender. These recipes include sweet and savory options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as plant-based protein powder alternatives.
Protein Powders We Love
1. Walnut Banana Protein Pancakes
Unlike the pancakes you'd get at a diner, these won't leave you feeling sluggish. You'll feel ready to conquer your day thanks to the healthful pancake batter, which boasts collagen powder and rolled oats.
To reduce the amount of sugar, skip the maple syrup and enjoy the natural sweetness of the caramelized bananas.
Get the Walnut Banana Protein Pancakes recipe and nutrition info from The Endless Meal.
2. Protein Overnight Oats
This recipe contains a whopping 27 grams of protein — not too shabby for a standard standby, huh?
Overnight oats may already be a breakfast staple, and for good reason: Oats make for a convenient and simple morning meal that can keep you full up through lunch. Adding protein powder to the mix amplifies the nutrition without adding much more prep time. You can make this convenient breakfast in big batches and complete your meal prep for the week. Top with your favorite berries, fruit, nuts and seeds to cater this delectable dish to your tastebuds.
Get the Protein Overnight Oats recipe and nutrition info from Eating Bird Food.
3. Protein Waffles
Breakfast staples lend themselves to protein transformations, and waffles are no exception! These protein waffles rely on both vanilla protein powder, Greek yogurt and eggs for the ultimate satisfying meal. One waffles contains about 17 grams of protein. Better still, you can whip up this batter in the blender and the waffles can be stored in the freezer for easy meal prep. Your household will be stocked with healthy breakfast options, making your morning meal a no-brainer!
The recipe also calls for vanilla-flavored pea protein, which results in the same gains in muscle thickness as whey protein, according to a January 2015 article in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
That's good news for people who follow a plant-based diet, or avoid whey due to allergies.
Get the Protein Waffles recipe and nutrition info from Eating Bird Food.
4. No-Bake Nut Butter Crunchies
Consider these the healthy version of your favorite childhood treat. You'll roll crispy rice cereal, honey, protein powder and a nut butter of your choosing into bite-sized balls that'll become your new favorite adult snack (though kids are likely to want in, too). These are an excellent (and tasty!) option for pre-workout fuel. We have a feeling you'll want to whip up a double batch.
Get the No-Bake Nut Butter Crunchies recipe and nutrition info from Love and Zest.
5. Banana Protein Muffins
Greek yogurt and protein powder make for a dangerously delicious duo when it comes to packing protein into recipes. These banana muffins rely on those ingredients, as well as oats, bananas and eggs for an ideal muffin base. Add in chocolate chips — or swap for blueberries — for a burst of delectable sweetness.
Each muffin contains 174 calories and 9 grams of protein.
Get the Banana Protein Muffin recipe and nutrition info from Haute and Healthy Living.
6. Chocolate Protein Pancakes
If you find it hard to satisfy your sweet tooth, these chocolate pancakes may be the answer. They taste just like brownies, making them kid-friendly, and are incredibly easy to store, making them ideal for the time-strapped. Each flapjack contains 128 calories and 7 grams of protein.
Get the Chocolate Protein Pancake recipe and nutrition info from Hint of Healthy.
7. 3-Ingredient Chocolate Protein Mug Cake
Whether you choose to bake this recipe in a mug or a ramekin is not the point; what matters is your chocolate desires are instantly met in minutes. And that they will be with this 3-ingredient recipe, which you can make in the oven or the microwave.
While this recipe calls for an egg, it suggests using a flax egg as a vegan alternative. Just make sure you're using vegan protein powder if you're choosing to craft up a fully vegan concoction. This chocolate wonder boasts 21 grams of protein and just 171 calories, making it a very filling, very chocolatey snack.
Get the 3-Ingredient Protein Mug Cake recipe and nutrition info from One Clever Chef.
8. Keto Lemon Meringue Pie Protein Popsicles
This recipe checks so many boxes. They're protein packed, sugar free, keto-friendly and genuinely delicious. If you're in the market for an icy cool treat that's super satisfying, you've found your ticket. The recipe makes 10 popsicles, each of which contains 89 calories and 6 grams of protein. The low-carb meringue is an optional add, but we highly recommend going the extra mile if you've got the time. I
Get the Keto Lemon Meringue Pie Protein Popsicles recipe and nutrition info from One Clever Chef.
9. Cottage Cheese Pancakes
These protein-packed pancakes boast the wonderful taste and texture of your everyday fluffy flapjack, but is packed with protein and free of flour, sugar or butter.
Whole grain oats, eggs, cottage cheese and, yes, protein powder are the main ingredients here. This breakfast recipe is incredibly versatile: You could skip the vanilla extract and cinnamon and make these pancakes savory instead of sweet.You could also add the zest of one lemon to the batter to make them deliciously tart. The options are limitless!
Get the Cottage Cheese Pancakes recipe and nutrition info from Tastes Better From Scratch.
10. Pumpkin Protein Muffins
Pumpkin spice doesn't have to be reserved for the fall; we think these pumpkin-y muffins are fair game year round. These filling muffins are made from oats and incorporate canned pumpkin, pitted dates as well as vanilla-flavored whey protein powder for sweetness and flavor. The option pumpkin seed topping adds a great texture, some extra healthy fats and, come on, is pretty nice to look at.
Get the Pumpkin Protein Muffins recipe and nutrition info from One Clever Chef.
11. Protein Chia Pudding
This unassuming chia pudding is high in protein — each pot has 30 grams — and packed with fiber, with 9 grams per serving. It's the perfect recipe for making ahead of time in a big batch and lends itself to an array of palate preferences: You can top with fresh or frozen berries, nut butters, agave or maple syrup or even a bit of yogurt.
Get the Protein Chia Pudding recipe and nutrition info from Real Food Whole Life.
12. Protein Ice Cream
This nice cream recipe is extra nice: 11 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat and 160 calories per serving. With such credentials, we don't see why this ice cream has to be reserved for dessert. Try it as a post-workout snack, midday pick-me-up or refreshing breakfast if you're so inspired.
To make it, you'll use your food processor to mix together the frozen bananas, non-dairy milk, nut butter and protein powder. There are instructions for making both vanilla and chocolate, but feel free to play around with different flavors, or add other types of frozen fruits for even more variety.
Get the Protein Ice Cream recipe and nutrition info from Eating Bird Food.
13. Peanut Butter Protein Balls
This anytime-snack will fuel you when hunger pangs hit. They take just 15 minutes to put together and freeze particularly well (up to three months), so make an enormous batch if you find you like the taste. Plus: You don't need any fancy kitchen equipment to whip these together, just a bowl, a spoon and a bit of elbow grease.
Get the Peanut Butter Protein Balls recipe and nutrition info from Well Plated.
14. Vegan Vanilla Mug Cake
We thought it only fair to share a vanilla version of the mug cake: This one's free of added sugars and takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. It's the perfect recipe for times you can't quiet your sweet cravings, and it will keep you satisfied until your next meal, since it contains a snack-size amount of protein — a little under 4 grams per serving.
Get the Vegan Vanilla Mug Cake recipe and nutrition info from Cotter Crunch.
15. No-Bake Chocolate Protein Bars
Why buy packaged protein bars when you can make a nutritious version at home for a fraction of the cost? This recipe makes the question a rhetorical one. These no-bake chocolate protein bars are an ideal post-workout snack, with 15 grams of protein for each 230 calorie bar. And unlike those store-bought bars, these are entirely customizable to your flavor preferences. A total win!
Get the No-Bake Chocolate Protein Bars recipe and nutrition info from Purely Kaylie.
Traditionally, raw cookie dough isn't safe to eat — it's made with raw eggs, which are not safe to eat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Edible cookie dough has grown in popularity, however, because it is so delicious and, free of raw eggs, safe to eat.
This recipe checks the boxes when it comes to deliciousness and protein content: With 19 grams per serving, it's one worth writing home about. The tasty treat comes together with a mixture of protein powder, coconut flour, apple sauce and non-dairy milk. If your a fiend for cookie dough, congratulations — you've just discovered your next favorite recipe.
Get the Healthy Protein Powder Cookie Dough recipe and nutrition info from Food Faith Fitness.
17. Strawberry Protein Crepes
Rare is it to eat crepes for their protein content, but it's exactly what you'll be doing with this simple recipe that focuses on plant-based protein.
Feel free to use this crepe recipe as a guide to experimenting with other flavors. Strawberries not in season? Go savory and stuff them with cottage cheese. Want a drizzle of Nutella? Who's stopping you?Have some extra greens on the verge of wilting in your fridge? Blanket them in these beautiful, protein-forward crepes.
Get the Strawberry Protein Crepes recipe and nutrition info from Feel Good Foodie.
18. Pumpkin Protein Pancakes
These gorgeous pancakes come together simply in the blender: You'll blend almond flour, protein power, pumpkin puree, eggs, sweetener and non-dairy milk together for the batter, and then heat them in a non-stick pan as you would a standard pancake.
Two pancakes contain 17 grams of protein and fewer than 200 calories. Let your imagination run wild when it comes to toppings: Think yogurt, nut butter, fresh or frozen fruit and beyond.
Get the Pumpkin Protein Pancakes recipe and nutrition info from One Clever Chef.
Other Ways to Use Protein Powder
If you want to know how to use protein powder in some other, more creative ways, here are some customizable tips and tricks you can try.
1. Make Hummus and Other Dips
Unflavored is the best protein powder to use when you're incorporating the ingredient into a recipe. While chocolate or strawberry may be better options for mixing with just water, you want to be able to control both the flavor and the sugar content when used in a dip recipe.
To amp up hummus, add about one scoop of plain, unflavored protein powder for every can of chickpeas in your recipe. Try this in other savory dips, too.
2. Amp Up Bean Burgers
Another pro tip: Look for a powder with as few ingredients as possible. "A lot of companies add gums and emulsifiers to their protein powders to ensure that they can easily be turned into a smooth drink by shaking. When it comes to cooking, though, those ingredients can make your recipes turn out gummy and rubbery," explains Anna Sward, founder of ProteinPow.com and author of "The Ultimate Protein Powder Cookbook."
Give bean burgers even more protein by adding anywhere from a quarter-cup to a half-cup of protein powder for every can of beans your recipe calls for.
3. Build Your Own Pizza Crust
You can make a variety of typically carb-heavy foods a protein makeover by adding in some protein powder. Pizza crust is one of the best options. Just process one cup of oats, a quarter-cup of protein powder (unflavored pea protein is great), one egg and a half-cup of liquid egg whites, Sward says. Then, cook the batter in a skillet like a pancake.
Once the crust is ready, add your favorite toppings and place your pizza under the broiler until your cheese is nice and gooey.
4. Create Soups That Satisfy
Add up to a scoop of unflavored protein powder to the broth, milk or other liquid you're going to use when you're making soup. To eliminate clumps, blend well with a whisk or in a blender before adding the liquid to your pot. You may also need to add more liquid if you prefer thinner soups, so add half a scoop of protein powder at a time, adjusting as necessary.
5. Make Super Salad Dressings
Get more nutrients into your homemade salad dressings but incorporating protein powder. That's right — you can whisk unflavored protein powder into your favorite vinaigrette or yogurt- or avocado-based salad dressings.
Use no more than one scoop of protein powder for every one-and-a-half total cups of liquid (oil, vinegar, etc). Too much powder will leave you with a gloppy mess on your hands rather than a delicious drizzle for your kale or Caesar salad.
"The main way I turn a recipe into a protein powder recipe is to substitute half the flour for unflavored protein powder," Seitz says, who recommends using whey protein. Try it in your favorite cookie recipe and see. Or search online to find cookie recipes for everything from chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin to snickerdoodles and even thin mints!
7. Create Protein Truffles of All Flavors
Thanks to the many varieties of flavored protein powder, you can make truffles flavored with chocolate, vanilla, cookie dough and more. One of the easiest ways to make these is to mix protein powder and nut butter in a two-to-one ratio in a food processor, adding honey, maple syrup or agave to taste. Add a splash of milk if necessary to help it all combine nicely.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Proteins"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "How Much Protein Do You Need Every Day?"
- American Council on Exercise: "Do You Need More Protein?"
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: "Pea proteins Oral Supplementation Promotes Muscle Thickness Gains During Resistance Training: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial vs. Whey Protein"
- USDA: "Stonyfield Nonfat Yogurt, Vanilla"
- CDC: "Salmonella and eggs"