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Bringing Protein Powder on a Plane: What to Know

by Mara Welty October 15, 2023 7 min read

 Bringing Protein Powder on a Plane

Traveling can often push your healthy morning routine to the wayside. Airports are brimming with sugary drinks, fast food and salty snacks that are tempting to grab when on the go. Fortunately, you don’t have to abandon all of your health go-tos or weight loss kit when traveling by plane.

Protein powders, deemed non-essential powders by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), are allowed in carry-on and checked bags. That said, there are a few rules and regulations to be aware of before you make your jug of protein powder your travel companion.

Can You Bring Protein Powder on a Plane?

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of air travel in the United States.

Per the latest guidelines set by the TSA, you can bring non-essential powders through security and onboard a domestic airplane. That said, powders exceeding 12 ounces must be declared, and they may be subjected to additional screening, given that TSA’s primary role is to prevent potentially dangerous substances from being brought on board. 

Your protein powder must also be placed in a separate bin for X-ray screening.

To ensure your travel day goes smoothly, package your protein powder appropriately. That is, keep it sealed in a transparent plastic bag and pack it within your luggage in such a way that it’s easy to access and remove, if necessary.

Additionally, if you do plan to bring a couple day’s worth of protein powder, packaging each serving individually may help streamline the process and reduce the likelihood of additional screening, due to its large quantity. Be sure to see our post about how to check how long protein powder lasts as well. 

If you are pulled aside at security, explain the contents of the bag(s) calmly and kindly to avoid any conflicts with security personnel. You can also label each bag to avoid confusion.

That said, if the issue cannot be resolved or the types of protein powdercannot be correctly identified, TSA may disallow the powder onto the aircraft and will subsequently dispose of it.

Plan ahead by arriving at the airport an hour before you’d normally arrive to compensate for any additional security screenings you may encounter.

International Travel With Protein Powder

When traveling internationally with protein powder, it’s advised to check the rules and regulations of your destination country, as well as any countries you’ll be traveling through.

That said, like domestic travel, it should generally be OK to travel with protein powder in your hand baggage or checked luggage.

Can You Travel On a Plane With A Protein Shake?

TSA has strict regulations when it comes to liquids. More specifically, they follow the 3-1-1 rule:

  • 3.4 ounces or less per container
  • 1 quart size, clear, plastic, zip lock bag
  • 1 bag per customer

Prohibited items include aerosol insecticides and alcoholic beverages. That said, you can bring bottled water and juices through security, but they must be less than or equal to 3.4 ounces or 100 millimeters.

As such, it’s safe to assume that protein shakes that exceed 3.4 ounces are not allowed to pass through security. Instead, it’s advised to travel with packaged, sealed and dried protein shake powders only. Then, once you pass through security, you can fill up your bottle with water or visit a market near your gate to buy a protein powder mix-in, such as:

  • Milk
  • Fruit juice
  • Yogurt
  • Coffee 
  • Tea
  • Smoothie

If you normally combine your protein powder with peanut butter, be advised that the same regulations stand. You cannot bring more than 3.4 ounces of a nut butter through security. As such, it may be more beneficial to buy your gastronomic supplies once you’ve passed through the checkpoint.

Additional Tips For Traveling With Protein Powder

To navigate the intricacies of traveling with protein powder, consider the following practical tips:

  • Check airline policies – Before packing protein powder, review the policies of the airline you'll be flying with. Some airlines might have specific rules regarding carrying protein powder in both carry-on and checked baggage. 
  • Keep original packaging – Whenever possible, keep protein powder in its original, sealed container. This helps establish the authenticity of the product and assures security personnel of its harmless nature. 
  • Stay informed – Regulations and guidelines can change, so it's important to stay informed about the latest travel regulations through official channels. The TSA guidelines website and the official website of the destination country's aviation authority are reliable sources of information.

Alternatives To Traveling With Protein Powder

If the idea of passing through security with a powdered substance brings more stress to your travel day, there are alternative protein-rich snacks you can safely and discreetly carry through TSA security checkpoints. These include:

Protein bars 

These bars come in a variety of flavors, textures and formulations, catering to a range of dietary preferences. Typically, protein bars contain various sources of protein, such as whey, casein, hemp or plant-based proteins like pea or rice protein. The protein content can vary widely, often ranging from 10 to 30 grams per bar. They also contain fiber, healthy fats and vitamins. Per TSA regulations, “snacks” are permissible on on your domestic flight or international flight and it should be safe to fill your carry-on with protein bars if you’re looking to avoid traveling in an airplane with protein powder.

Cheese 

Cheeses like cottage cheese, parmesan, non-fat cheddar and hard goat cheese have high protein contents, and they’re TSA guidelines friendly. That said, creamy cheeses are limited to 3.4 ounces or less when packed in your hand luggage. Solid cheeses, on the other hand, are allowed without restriction. However, it’s advised to separate any cheese from other items in your bag to make its presence obvious to security personnel when passing through the X-ray machine. You don’t need to remove your cheese from your luggage though.

Cooked meat and/or seafood 

An ounce of meat (like chicken breast) or fish has roughly 7 grams of protein. Cooked animal products can be taken onboard in both carry-ons and checked luggage. If you’re carrying a large quantity, the TSA agent may ask you to separate it from the rest of your luggage during the security screening. Dried meat or plant-based jerky provides a convenient protein source, as well. And, for easy access, consider packing tuna or salmon packages, which usually come complete with crackers.

Cookies 

Fortunately, cookies are allowed through TSA and on airplanes. For a punch of protein, consider crafting homemade cookies that feature adequate servings of protein powder or meal replacement shake. That way, you can get your daily intake without worrying about additional screenings or finding an airport marketplace if you’re pressed for time.

Creamy dips/spreads 

Within hand luggage, dips are allowed if they don’t surpass 3.4 ounces. Consider mixing a protein powder into a creamy yogurt or mixing the organic Supoerfoods powder shake all together for a protein-rich hummus or bean dip.

Fresh eggs 

For a convenient on-the-go snack, consider packing hard-boiled eggs in your carry-on. They’re allowed in both carry-ons and checked baggage, without limitations. They also contain 6 grams of protein per egg.

Fresh fruits and vegetables 

High-protein produce includes edamame, green peas, brussels sprouts, asparagus, potatoes, broccoli, avocado, apricots, kiwi, blackberries and oranges. When solid, these items can be carried on an airplane without worry. In any liquid form, they must be under 3.4 ounces.

Nuts, seeds and nut butters 

Protein-rich nuts and seeds include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews and pine nuts, as well as sunflower and pumpkin seeds. These can be packed in luggage without restriction, or brought in the form of trail mix for a palate of tastes and textures. Nut butters, on the other hand, must not be more than 3.4 ounces. Instead, opt for nut butter packets for easy air travel.

Sandwiches 

For a hearty option, consider crafting a few protein-dense sandwiches at home before you set off on your travel day. Options include a grilled chicken caesar, turkey and avocado, tuna salad, egg salad, hummus and veggie, peanut butter and banana, smoked salmon and cream cheese and/or a black bean veggie patty. 

Sushi 

For a compact and easy-to-eat option, consider stopping by your local grocery store before arriving at the airport. Sushi rolls are typically packed with protein-rich seafood, as well as avocado, rice and seaweed to supplement your protein intake throughout your travels. 

Oatmeal 

Pack a few pre-portioned instant oatmeal cups for an easy on-the-go snack. You can also add nut mixes as well as fresh fruits to the top once you have time to settle down.

Yogurt 

While yogurt is an option, it’s only allowable if it does not exceed 3.4 ounces. As such, you may benefit more from picking up a Greek yogurt from an airport shop once you pass through security. 

Travel With INVIGOR8 Protein Shakes

Protein powder is allowed — in all quantities — through TSA security checkpoints and onboard most airlines. That said, traveling or bringing a protein powder container that can be mistaken as an illegal substance may put you at risk of heightened security screenings.

If you're seeking a protein powder that not only provides ample protein and provides weight loss supportbut also offers the nutrients to energize your travel day, your search ends with INVIGOR8. Our Superfood Shake comes equipped with an ample serving of whey protein, and features protein powder ingredients like essential vitamins and minerals. 

Shake up your travels with INVIGOR8.

 

Sources:

  1. TSA. Protein or Energy Powders
  2. TSA. Travel Checklist
  3. TSA. What Can I Bring?
  4. USDA Nutrition Data. 20 Cheeses High in Protein
  5. Healthline. 19 High-Protein Plant-Based Foods and How to Eat More of Them
  6. Healthline. 8 High Protein Nuts to Add to Your Diet 
  7. USDA Nutrition Data. Top 10 Fruits Highest in Protein 

About the Author

 Mara Welty
Mara Welty

Mara Welty is a copywriter who specializes in health, wellness and CBD topics. With a background in journalism, she aims to deliver engaging, research-based content that builds trust and engages readers through informative storytelling.

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