Powders may seem like a healthy way to add protein to smoothies. But many, like Muscle Milk and Designer Whey, are actually filled with highly processed ingredients, chemicals, antibiotics, and heavy metals. Try these protein-packed real foods instead.
1. Peanut Butter
Scoop 2 tablespoons of your favorite peanut butter into your smoothie for 7 grams of protein and infinite grams of mmmmmmmm.
2. Coconut Milk
With 5 grams of protein per cup, coconut milk is an easy way to get more out of your smoothie.
3. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds not only provide protein (2g/tbsp of ground seeds), they're also a super source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Add to a smoothie for a nice nutty flavor. (Pro tip: Buy them whole for maximum shelf life and then use a coffee grinder to get their full nutritional value.)
You're used to eating your nori wrapped around a Negi Hamachi roll, but throw some in your breakfast smoothie for a solid dose of protein. (Exact amount depends on the type of seaweed you're using.) Added bonus: Some seaweeds can block fat absorption by up to 75%.
Oats, man: 11 grams of protein in every cup. And who knew you could put them in smoothies?
6. Chia Seeds
Chia has been a powerhouse food since about 3500 B.C. Full of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids (more than salmon!), calcium, and about 4 grams of protein per tablespoon, chia seeds are an easy way to add protein to your diet. And unlike flax seeds, you don't need to grind them to get to the nutrients.
One cup of fat-free, organic milk has an impressive 8 grams of protein, making it a perfect replacement for water in your smoothie.
8. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are an easy way to add protein (3g/tbsp), magnesium, zinc, omega-3s, and lots of other nutrients to your diet. They're great in smoothies, but you might want to make it a dessert instead of a breakfast: Pumpkin seeds are also full of tryptophan, the sleep-inducing amino acid also found in turkey.
9. Almond Butter
A tablespoon of almond butter will add 2 grams of protein but two tablespoons will add FOUR.
Add in Proteins
That's right. Everybody's favorite alterna-grain can add protein to your smoothies, too. One cup of cooked quinoa has a respectable 8 grams, containing all nine essential amino acids. The magnesium, fiber, and iron are nice too.
11. Raw Egg
Just because Rocky and Gaston made it famous, does not mean eating raw eggs needs to be limited to just the bodybuilding set. Throw one in your smoothie for 6 grams of protein and a silky smooth texture. Choose organic, free-range eggs to up your nutrient levels and potentially lower salmonella risk.
Especially good in fruit smoothies, plain, nonfat yogurt has 14 grams of protein per cup. Perfect for the smoothie newbie not quite ready to deal with chia seeds.
13. Soy Milk
Soy milk heard us talking about coconut milk and was like, "Yo, WTF, I have 7 grams of protein. Talk about me."
14. Sunflower Seeds
With 1.5g of protein/tbsp, sunflower seeds are another easy ingredient to add to your smoothie (even easier if you buy them shelled). They're also a good source of copper (for glowing skin and hair), Vitamin E (for good blood circulation), and folate (important for prenatal health).
One-fourth cup of walnuts will add about 4.5 grams of protein to your smoothie, not to mention ample doses of heart-healthy potassium and energy-boosting magnesium.
16. Hemp Seeds
One tablespoon of hemp seeds will add a whopping 5 grams of protein to your smoothie, making the wonder cannabis plant even more wonderful. Hemp seeds are also a good source of fiber, potassium, and iron.
17. Cacao Nibs
Cacao nibs have 4 grams of protein in every ounce, which kind of makes you wonder: Why is there anything else on this list?