How to Add Protein to Smoothies Without Protein Powder

You can use whole foods to get the same filling result.

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April 29, 2020
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Food Network Kitchen’s Kiwi-Ginger Zinger Protein Smoothie for Healthy Dishes Every Grown Up Needs to Know, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Want to give your smoothie a protein boost but don't want to use a supplemental protein powder? Then it’s time to rethink your smoothie recipes with these seven whole food ingredients.

Protein Needs

Adding protein to a smoothie is not just a good idea — it’s a great idea. The addition of a protein source makes the smoothie more satisfying, so it will keep you feeling fuller longer. If you tend to sip on a smoothie after exercise, protein is essential for proper muscle recovery. An average 150-pound adult needs about 55 to 70 grams of protein spread throughout the day. Getting 10 to 20 grams (closer to 25 post-workout) is a good protein goal for a smoothie.

Protein Boosters

Add these high protein ingredients to your shopping list and fire up the blender!

Greek Yogurt

Photo by: Min Kwon ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Min Kwon, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

A 6-ounce container of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt has an impressive 18 grams of protein and is a quick and easy way to make a thick and creamy smoothie bowl.

Recipe Inspiration: Berry-licious Smoothie Bowl

Silken Tofu

A seriously underappreciated protein option, silken tofu is a neutral add-in with a payoff: 6 ounces boasts about 10 grams of protein.

Recipe Inspiration: Silken Smoothie

Nut Butter

Nut butters offer a dose of protein, plus heart-healthy fats. Two tablespoons of almond or cashew butter deliver 6 and 5 grams of protein, respectively.

Recipe Inspiration: Chocolate Almond Smoothie

Hemp Seeds

Food Network Kitchen’s One-Offs, Kiwi Ginger Zinger Smoothie

Photo by: Kate Mathis ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Kate Mathis, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

These nutrient-filled seeds have gone from quirky trend to pantry staple in recent years and make a great addition to a smoothie: 3 tablespoons pack 10 grams of protein.

Milk and Soy Milk

Ellie Krieger's Blueberry Blast Smoothie

Photo by: Tara Donne ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Tara Donne, 2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Whether you choose cow's milk with 9 grams of protein per cup or unsweetened soy milk with 7 grams, these liquids make ideal smoothie bases that also offer bone-building calcium and vitamin D.

Recipe Inspiration: Blueberry Blast Smoothie

Cottage Cheese



Marina Malchin Prop Stylist Food Stylist: Anne Disrude,Marina Malchin Prop StylistFood Stylist: Anne Disrude

This is one of the best sources of muscle building protein around. One cup of low-fat cottage cheese contains 20 grams of protein and 30 percent of your daily recommended calcium.

Recipe Inspiration: Peachy-Keen Smoothie

Powdered Peanut Butter

Traditional peanut butter is a smoothie staple with 7 grams of protein per 2-tablespoon serving. A lesser known ingredient is powdered peanut butter – with 85 percent less fat compared to the traditional stuff, but the same amount of protein.

Recipe Inspiration: Peanut Butter Shake with Cottage Cheese (recipe below)

Peanut Butter Shake with Cottage Cheese

Yield: 2 Servings


1 3/4 cups skim milk

2 frozen medium bananas

1/4 cup powdered peanut butter

3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese


  1. In a blender combine milk, banana, powdered peanut butter and cottage cheese. Blend on high speed until smooth.
  2. Pour mixture into 2 chilled glasses and serve immediately.

Nutrition Info Per Serving

Calories: 257; Total Fat: 1g (0g saturated fat); Cholesterol: 6mg; Sodium: 278mg; Carbohydrates: 42g; Added sugar: 0g; Fiber: 4g; Protein: 23g

Recipe Courtesy of Dana Angelo White, Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, The Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook and Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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