Substitution for Protein Powders

July 31, 2009

I’m confident that we can all get enough of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) in our diet just by eating real, all-natural, whole foods. I’m not big on supplementation and protein powders and the like. Besides the fact that I don’t want to be consuming excessive amounts of protein, I also don’t like all of the additives that are included in the processed powders.

My problem is that there are many great healthy recipes out there (particularly on food/health blogs) which call for protein powder, and whenever I come across one of these recipes I’m stumped! I never know what I should substitute the protein powder with. I like using powdered peanut butter such as PB2 or FitNutz instead of protein powder, but I can only get these products online so they are quite expensive and dear to me. They need to be rationed!

Then I came across skim milk powder.

Skim milk powder is cheap and has a good amount of calcium and protein in it without going overboard. It contains the exact same ingredients that regular milk does and you can find it at any grocery store. It works great in recipes! It doesn’t add any flavor that I have noticed so there’s no problem with tossing a few tablespoons into smoothies, energy bars, baked goods, or anything else you’d want to add protein powder to. As a bonus to being really healthy, skim milk powder is fat free, low in calories, and provides the calcium that many of us are lacking.

I tried making drinkable liquid milk out of the powder by combining it with water as suggested on the package. It works well enough but the taste is chalky. If I didn’t have any milk in the fridge and I was desperately craving milk, I’d turn to the powder-and-water recipe, but otherwise I think I’ll stick with the liquid ready-made milk at the grocery store as it’s much tastier. As far as a protein powder replacement goes, however, skim milk powder is perfect. It has now joined my other loves (Chickpeas. Whole wheat flour. Raisins. Almonds. A wide variety of herbs and spices.) on the shelf as pantry essentials.

Of course, if you do like protein powders, there are plenty to choose from. Just look at this great list that MizFit compiled! Everything you ever wanted to know about protein powders is right there (though I have had difficulties finding most of them in the grocery store… such a shame how many wonderful foods are too obscure to be found easily. And the ones that I have found at health food stores are outrageously expensive. Sighs).

Do you use protein powders? Are there any other substitutes that you like to use instead of protein powders? I’m interested in hearing your ideas.


  1. thanks for the link love.
    you know, because I say it all the time, that *I* think everyone should find a protein shake they adore and keep it on hand.

    for me it is less about needing moremoreprotein (I agree with you) and more about satiating my sweet tooth.

    I LOVE my metrx shakes in the summer and end up having one a day.
    when I didnt I ended up hitting Dove Bars (do they even still make those?) pretty d*mn regularly and gained about 20 pounds in a summer (alas, Im neither joking nor exaggerating).

    • Protein can also really help you loose bodyfat because your body uses carbohydrates after exercise for protein synthesis. so your body literally turns fat into muscle. but no protein means no burn

  2. I’ve gone through stages with protein powders, thinking that I “should” be having them, but not really loving them, I think those horrible meal replacement diets scarred me for life!

    I’ll have to try out the Skim Milk powder idea, sounds promising.

  3. I’ve never used protein powders much myself. I think substituting with skim milk powder is a great idea (for cooking, not drinking…I agree, chalky tastes are gross).

  4. What perfect timing!!

    I couldn’t agree more about the PB2 – I would love, LOVE to try this, but it’s too expensive for me to order online. 😦

    While I wouldn’t use a PP daily, I think it would be nice to have on hand to satisfy my sweet tooth, like MizFit said. I think it’d be a great addition to Green Monsters, too! But like you, I would like to think I get enough protein that I wouldn’t NEED to have PP all the time. Plus, it gets expensive!!

  5. I don’t use protein powders, as I know I get enough protein in my diet (you really don’t need much, and it’s easy to get through diet, even if you’re a vegan!). However, I think skim milk powder sounds like the best substitution. Soy poder would work too I’m sure.

  6. You should try freezing the skim milk and water. Then thaw it out and try drinking it. It will hopefully make it taste more tolerable.

  7. I do supplement protein as I like to lift heavier weights and need it for recovery. There’s only so much chicken breast one can eat, right? πŸ˜€

    I try to stay away from soy, but I do use brown rice protein powder and whey. I actually put it in things like pancakes or oats.

  8. MizFit- heh, that’s funny… I use powdered PB to satisfy my sweet tooth quite often!

    Berni- eek meal replacement diets. Give me some real food any day πŸ™‚

    RickiRae- it’s too bad about the chalky taste. Wouldn’t ever have to worry about expiry dates!

    Holly- the expense is such a killer, isn’t it?

    Gina- oh I completely agree with you that we DON’T need a lot of protein, and that it’s really easy to get plenty in our diet without even trying. Didn’t know there was soy powder! I’ll search.

    Anon- interesting idea! Thanks.

    Lori- I’m pretty sure that pancakes are the best invention ever when it comes to being versatile enough for just about ANY add-ins.

  9. Not being a fan of protein powders, this is great news! My mom used to always by powdered milk when we were growing up and hence I’ve always associated it with being a nasty, chalky drink. It never occurred to me to cook with it! Thanks!

  10. Never had to use them. I don’t do the bodybuilder thing. I have had patients use various types when eating a regular diet was difficult for them due to injury or surgery.

  11. I do use protein powders sometimes, just to get in some extra protein. I find it keeps me full longer. And I also like that it thickens my smoothies.
    I have however bought almond milk powder, just because it’s cheaper than regular almond milk. But I haven’t try it yet

    • Where do you find powdered almond milk? I’ve searched and have come up dry!

  12. What a GREAT observation! I don’t use protein powders – mainly because I don’t like their flavor – but I have some recipes that do call for protein powders. And I love the idea of making a healthy, high protein snack for my kids. Powdered skim milk will fill this role quite nicely. Thanks for the tip, Sagan!

  13. I have whey protein powder but I rarely use it. My only caveat with protein powder is, if and when people use it they get one’s that don’t have aspartame or acesulfame potassium (an artifical sweetener) that is used in so many commercial protein powders and is so unnecessary, I think.

  14. I’ve never used protein powder and don’t miss it all. I agree that we can get all we need from our diet, even when we don’t eat animal produce.

  15. Charlotte- hurray for cooking!

    Dr. J, Jolene, & Hanlie- hence why I’m trying to find substitutions for protein powders. Too many recipes call for them, and too often the protein powders leave much to be desired health-wise.

    Jess- I had no idea there was such thing as almond milk powder! That’s so cool.

    Cathy- and kids can probably use a little more calcium, too πŸ™‚

  16. Thanks for this post- I have a little boy who’s starting kindergarten in a few weeks (!) and I’ve been fretting about the mornings… he’s a late sleeper and he doesn’t like to have breakfast until he’s been up for a while. He *loves* milkshakes, so I’ve been thinking about sneaking some protein powder in a fruit smoothie for him. Adding powdered milk is a terrific idea!

  17. Try ordering PB2 from http://www.netrition.com
    Their shipping is only 4.95
    You can also buy just 1 jar

  18. I use whey protein now and then, but I’ve never developed a regular practice of it. That’s mostly because I keep the powder in the pantry and it’s easier to grab some cheese or an egg or some turkey from the fridge. πŸ™‚

  19. I’ve never used protein powders but the closest thing to that would be kinako (soy bean flour). It tastes nutty and I love it. I could easily eat half a bag (100g) on its own, sometimes with brown sugar and cinnamon. One of my weird food combos but so so good. πŸ˜€ If you have it over there, try it.

  20. You can also use the powdered milk to help thicken creamy soups and sauces too! πŸ˜€

    I use protein powder in my oats only for extra staying power and extra protein. I don’t cook with it or anything.

  21. When we lived in Puerto Rico we couldn’t get fresh milk very easily. So we drank powdered milk as our milk. Think it was yucky? It was!

    I often forget about it now, but that’s a great idea to use a substitute for protein powders, or to enhance the calcium in a dish!

  22. What a great idea to use skim milk powder! I do enjoy my Whole Foods soy protein powder every once in a while πŸ™‚

    I get my nutritional yeast from Whole Foods!

    And it is blood!! I cut a big hole in my finger. It actually still hasn’t stopped bleeding.. uh-oh..!

  23. I’ve never been a bit fan of protein powder…I just don’t find the idea of man-processed protein appealing. I like your idea of subbing dry milk powder. That just sound so much better!

  24. Jean- Good luck! Good idea about the smoothies. You can sneak so much in there.

    Sherry- thanks! I’ll keep that in mind.

    Cammy- I heart cheese.

    Mia- hehe that’s funny. I’ll search!

    Andrea- good point about using it as a thickener!

    Diane- I love me some extra calcium πŸ™‚

    Ashley- ouch for your finger! I can’t WAIT to go to Whole Foods in a few weeks…

    Burpexcuzme- gotta keep things as natural healthy as possible πŸ™‚

  25. i do not use protein powders. i like to stick with the real stuff: beans, nuts, soy, whole grains, fruits and veggies…and hope for the best. so far, so good…


  26. I never used protein powders because a lot of the either contain or is soy which I cannot eat. I usually use raw nut butters for protein.

  27. that’s a great idea!! i have a large amount of skim milk powder that i bought for who knows what reason and still haven’t used 😦 i use protein powder occasionally… but we’ll see what I decide once this tub is gone!

  28. I love protein powder! But I’m super picky with mine; I go for whey, sans artificial sweeteners and chemicals. It works great in oatmeal.

  29. I’ve experimented with protein powders (both whey and soy) in the past especially when I worked in gyms. They really weren’t doing anything for me that food could not and are costly so I no longer see their benefit. I’d rather eat eggs and quinoa. πŸ™‚ That is a great idea about the powdered milk. I hadn’t thought of that as a substitute for powders. I’ll have to remember it. Thanks!

  30. What a great idea about the skim milk powder! Never would have thought of it!

    I used to do protein shakes a long time ago, but got out of the habit.

  31. […] My position on protein powders and supplements has been, for a very long time, that I avoid them. When recipes call for protein powder, I instead use PB2 (the powdered peanut butter we all know and love. Or you should, if you don’t. I’m just sayin’!) or skim milk powder. With my recent decision to forgo, or at least significantly reduce, dairy, I no longer want to turn to skim milk powder for help. […]

  32. How about just using the real peanut butter instead? I bet if you’re blending it into a shake, it’ll dissolve and thicken it up nicely. I’m also thinking that an almond butter would work too. If you get the unsalted kind, it’s taste is kind of bland so if you’re avoiding peanut butter flavor, this may do the trick as well.

  33. Protein powders are dangerous. I used to use them and developed a kidney stone the size of a golf ball. Use of protein powders increases the risk of kidney stones. The kidneys have a hard time flushing out the protein powder. You have to drink a gallon of water daily with usage unlike naturally occurring protein, which is easier for your body to flush out.
    Recent studies have always found that many protein powders contain arsenic and other deadly chemicals. Muscle Milk is a big offender.
    Stay with natural food.

  34. […] = ''; } Top 5 Lean Muscle SupplementsLamuscle Helps Healthy Body BuildingSubstitution for Protein Powders .recentcomments a{display:inline !important;padding:0 !important;margin:0 […]

  35. I too, dislike chalky tasting powdered milk, however, I found SACO brand “Mix ‘N Drink” Real Skim Milk instant nonfat dry milk, and I honestly couldn’t taste the difference to the real liquid product. It works great in recipes as a substitute for protein powder.

  36. I like to take whey protein because it is easily absorbed by the body unlike Casein. ..

    <a href="Please do look over our own internet site

  37. I totally agree that a lot of healthy foods are so obscure that no readily accessible supermarket carries them. I have wanted to buy pb2 but don’t want to start depending on something that costs a lot and that I have to order. I’m going to start buying powdered milk instead of expensive protein powder. If we were really serious about combating obesity in this country, supermarkets would vastly cut down on cheap junk carbs and empty calorie foods and start carrying foods that are really good for people. Healthy foods would also be realistically priced so that anyone could afford them. Unhealthy foods and junk foods would carry a higher price. It is a fact that the less economically well off people are forced to eat more foods that are unhealthy for them because they are cheaper. Instead of just targeting sugary drinks as being unhealthy for people, why not tax sugar so that it costs more to eat more of it? And why not price processed flour so that it costs more than unprocessed?

  38. I’m definitely going to look into it. Really very useful tips are provided here. Thank you so much. Keep up the good works.

  39. I know almost nothing about protein powders. I have a recipe that includes chocolate protein powder and one thought I had was maybe to add mashed black beans. I know it might sound weird, but I have used it in place of flour for brownies before, and I’ve heard you can replace protein powder with a high gluten flour (and cocoa powder and sweetener of some sort). I figured that black beans would also deliver a good protein kick in a recipe; I just have no idea how you would make that substitution

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  42. One of the protein snacks recommended by the Australian Instiute of Sport is a glass of whole milk mixed with 25gms of skim milk powder. It seems to dissolve better in milk than water so it tastes like super rich milk – not chalky at all.

  43. Animal proteins are complete proteins. Complete proteins provide all essential amino acids. Dairy foods, also provide complete proteins.

  44. Legumes, nuts and seeds are good sources of protein as well as good sources of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Vegetables are another source of protein.

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