5 High-Protein Smoothie Hacks (Without Protein Powder)

We bet you’ve never considered #2.

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Smoothies are a popular breakfast choice, and it’s obvious why: They’re fruity, customizable, quick, loaded with fiber, and even portable. The only downfall is that they can end up being a lot of carbs and not much else, unless you make the effort to add healthy fats and protein. 

There’s nothing “bad” about carbs, but having a better balance of macronutrients has many benefits. For example, a breakfast that’s high in protein and fiber can help keep you satisfied longer, so you’re less likely to feel your stomach rumbling an hour later.

When you think of adding protein to smoothie, the first thought most people have is adding a scoop of protein powder. That certainly gets the job done, but you may not like the synthetic taste of protein powder, or you may want to try a less processed ingredient.

Want to pump up your smoothies? Try these unexpected protein-boosting ideas:

1. Blitz some beans

Yep—you can puree beans into your smoothies. Try lentils, white beans, or chickpeas for the most neutral flavors (and colors). The fruity flavors of your smoothie will help mask the taste of the beans. (Here are other unconventional ways to eat more beans.)

If you’re nervous, start small with just a tablespoon or so of cooked beans, and add more over time.

2. Give cottage cheese a chance

Okay, it sounds crazy, but the tangy flavor is similar to plain yogurt. Don’t fear the curdy texture: The blender will fix that. 

3. Get seedy

Add hemp seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, or flax seeds for extra protein—not to mention a boost of healthy fats. Learn more here about the health benefits of chia seeds.

4. Scoop in some ricotta

If cottage cheese is a no-go for you, maybe ricotta will be a better cheese for your smoothie. Ricotta is creamy with a subtle tang. It naturally pairs well with fruit, but it’s especially good with berries and a squeeze of lemon.

5. Add cooked quinoa

This high-protein seed adds a nuttiness to your smoothie. It can also bulk up a skimpy smoothie, if you like ’em on the thicker side.

Smoothies are a popular breakfast, but they’re not the only option. Here are other ways to add protein to breakfast.