Why you don't need a protein powder

Uncategorized Jan 06, 2021

brown powder

by Jenny Jiles

 Everyone’s sliding into my DMs with this FAQ: What protein powder should I buy? 

First of all, since when did all of us basic bitches need protein powder?  Are we body builders for Muscle and Fitness magazine now? Maybe you’ve noticed the enormous jugs of protein powders lining the shelves of Kroger, and not just the Vitamin Depot anymore.  But it seems to me we’re in a bit of a CrossFit rabbit hole, and maybe we just need a reasonable amount of protein to stay healthy, grow our cells, and maybe a tad more if we’re super active or breastfeeding. More on that here.

So, to answer that FAQ? You don’t need a protein powder.

Here’s why.

Most protein powders on the market today are just a long list of poor-quality fillers, gums, glyphosate laced ingredients with added sugar or the overpowering flavor of natural stevia, with some form of protein ground up into a powder. 

But… you like making smoothies, and adding some protein, so it’s not a liquid sugar bomb to your bloodstream. I hear you. And I agree, we need to add some protein, fat and fiber to our fruit and vegetable smoothies, but there are plenty of real, whole foods that contain protein. Here are a few whole foods to replace the need for your protein powder. Not to mention it really helps your wallet, too.  



They have lots of protein and you can grind those babies up with your frozen strawberries. Soak them in some water for a bit if you have a shitty blender or use a nut butter like peanut butter or almond butter. Peanuts: 6.9 grams per ounce.Almonds: 6 grams per ounce. Walnuts: 4.3 grams per ounce


Allergic To Nuts? Then Seeds.

Seeds are super high in protein especially for their small size, and they can be added to smoothies directly as well. I love pumpkin seeds; they’re crazy high in protein and I prefer the flavor to sunflower seeds. I also use a lot of chia seeds and hemp seeds. Both are high in protein, and good quality omegas. They also blend up seamlessly into your smoothie regardless of your blender quality. Hemp: 9 grams per ounce. Pumpkin Seeds: 8.5 grams per ounce. Flax Seeds: 5.2 grams per ounce.



Yeah, they have protein too. They also add lots of bulk to your smoothie to hold you over in case it’s more of a meal replacement type thing you need that day. I love adding these to a blueberry smoothie with a little bit of cinnamon. Blueberry muffin-esque. Most oats these days are sprayed with glyphosate (herbicide that kills weeds and is an antibiotic, so it kills everything in its path and ruins soil and your stomach), so buy organic when you can. Rolled Oats: 5 grams per ounce.



If you’re not dairy free, this is a good way to bulk up your smoothie. You can do a dairy free yogurt, but those usually don’t have as much protein, and especially not as much as Greek yogurt (because most of the liquid/whey has been strained out). I love a good dreamsicle style smoothie with oranges or peaches, frozen banana, yogurt, vanilla, and ice. Mmm mmm mm. Greek Yogurt: 3 grams per ounce.


Cacao Nibs.

Even cocao nibs have a small amount of protein. They are bitter so beware. A chocolate peanut butter smoothie made with bananas, dates, almond milk and cacao powder and some cacao nibs thrown in, makes it feel like a treat milkshake. Add almond butter to really bump up the protein, if you need it for your upcoming “rear lat spread” selfie. Cacao nibs: 2 grams per ounce.


Ok, but even after all that, you really just want to know which protein powder to buy because you don’t want to have to think about it and you just want to know the healthiest brands out there with the least amount of garbage in them.

I gotchu:


I like this powder because it has a simple list of protein ingredients like organic pea protein, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds, but also the added greens because we all need added greens and most of us aren’t putting wheat grass and alfalfa sprouts in our smoothies. You can also just buy broccoli sprouts at trader joes and throw those in with your spinach, and any of the nut or seed combo above. Buy it here on Amazon.


This is one of the few protein powders on the market that does not have sweetener or stevia and it also has some added bonus superfoods like maca and spirulina. Spirulina is very high in protein too, and mixed with hemp, chia seeds and pea protein make it a solid choice. Buy it here on Amazon.


This is a one-ingredient collagen protein powder. Yes, collagen is a type of protein! I like this one because it’s organic, has one ingredient, and I like the boost it gives my hair and nails – though there is conflicting research on this topic. If you are allergic to beef (it’s a thing), they have marine collagen too made from fish. Buy it here on Amazon.


This one is made by The Food Babe and it has a super clean ingredient list. There’s a vanilla and chocolate flavor, and both are sweetened with monk fruit which does make the powder very sweet. So, if you like your smoothies sweet, then this will be a good option for you. Buy it here on Amazon.


Jenny is a writer, holistic health coach and creator of 5 Minute Healthy Habits where she shows how simple, bite-sized shifts with minimal effort, can create lasting changes in your health. You can find more of her articles here.


Jenny is a writer, cooking coach, and host of Cliffs Notes Kitchen, where she shows how simple, bite-sized shifts with minimal effort, can create lasting changes in your health. You can find more of her articles here.


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