Can You Bring Protein Powder on a Plane?

Can you bring protein powder on a plane

Can you bring protein powder on a plane with you, when you jet off to your next destination, to flex those glorious pecs on the nearest beach?

Will you, for the love of God; maintain all of those precious gains on your trip?

Or are all of your worst fears about to be confirmed; with airport security cruelly snatching the powder away from your desperate grasp, as you feel all of your hard-earned muscle mass atrophy by the time you meekly slumber to your departure gate?

As a man who travels a lot, works out every day, is a bit of a worrier/over-preparer and someone who constantly thinks about the macros in food (particularly protein) when on the road; I am definitely the go-to guy to ask this question of protein powder traveling anxiety.

You Can Bring Protein Powder on a Plane! (But There are Rules)

Good news, gym bros and bro-ettes. You are indeed allowed to bring protein powder on a plane!

As with most things in the travel world there are rules to the what’s, hows and why’s so I have compiled all of the questions based around traveling with protein powder once and for all to put your minds at ease for any future trips.

Thank me later when you’re flexing those sexy guns in your hotel mirror. 

TSA Rules Regulations on Protein Powder

In June 2018, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) announced specific recommendations for travelers to limit carrying powders in their carry-on bags to 12 ounces (about 350 milliliters) or less, which is about the size of a standard can of soda.

For those not in the know, the TSA are an agency of Homeland Security who are responsible for airport safety in the USA.

I chose this example to get the protein powder question party started, as the USA is one of the strictest countries in the world for this sort of thing and also a lot of Americans ask me this question!

In short, don’t be surprised if your protein powder gets screened in the same way your liquids and electronics will. 

It’s more than likely to happen than not, but it really is no drama and they are used to people traveling through with protein powder.

Can I Travel Internationally With Protein Powder?

More good news in terms of being allowed to travel with that handy supply of essential amino acids at their disposal; the international rules for flying International with protein powder still apply. 

However, this is the point of the article where I stop being so American-centric with regards to bringing protein powder on a plane while politely reminding readers that other countries do exist out there!

With that being said, I have traveled on every continent (yes, including Antarctica) with protein powder in my carry on luggage and also checked in luggage and after visiting over 100 countries there was only one time it was taken from me; on the border between Dominican Republic and Haiti.

This is of course the exception to the rule as opposed to the rule. 

Haiti is an extremely impoverished country with a concoction of problems. The border staff member basically stole from me because he could and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

I tried to reason with him, but I knew it was all in vain and I pragmatically let it go when I realised what was going on. 

I’m sure worse things have happened to people in Haiti than this and although I will light a candle in my nearest cathedral for that fallen bag of protein powder, I just accepted it as a loss and moved on.

This was on a land crossing from The Dominican Republic to Haiti, by the way – not via plane. 

The only time things got weird with protein powder in my carry on luggage when flying was when exiting Tel Aviv.

Like the USA, Israel is one of the most security-conscious nations on earth so this did not surprise me. 

Once they screened it several times like it was a bag of explosive cyanide and determined it was just some good old innocent protein powder, they gave me it back and off I skipped on a one-way trip to Gainesville. 

Can You Travel Over Land Borders With Protein Powder? 

Traveling with protein powder on an overland crossing (entering a country via a border without flying) is pretty much the same set of rules as above.

Most countries really don’t give a shit that you’re traveling with protein powder.

Some may ask what it is, others might even be impressed when you tell them what it is and there will always of course be anomalies. 

You will always have to do your own due diligence to the personal pet peeves of the country that you’re visiting, but traveling with protein powder overland is also usually no drama.

Can You Take Meal Replacement Shakes on a Plane?

Yes, you can bring meal replacement shakes on a plane too.

The same rules apply, it must be in powder form; don’t shake up that bad-boy until you’ve gone past security check as it’ll be flagged as too much liquid.

As I write this article I had a couple of scoops of Huel in my carry on bag and the security at Guyana immigration barely batted an eyelid.

Can You Bring Protein Bars on a Plane?

You can bring protein bars on a plane too, they are classed as solid food.

Just be careful with your choice if you’re traveling in a hot country. 

That chocolate salted caramel bar might sound tasty right now but it’ll cause you problems, potentially melting all over your bag.

Can I Bring Liquid Protein Shakes on a Plane?

The 100 ml rule applies to protein shakes, just like it does with any other liquids that you travel with.

Most countries around the world have the rule of 100 ml per item, you’d struggle to get a good serving of protein in a bottle that small and I don’t know of any miracle product that comes ready made in that size that packs enough of a punch of protein.

Stick to traveling with protein powder in your carry on luggage over protein in liquid form.

Does it Have To Go in The Original Package?

No, you do not need to keep your protein powder in its original packaging… but it certainly helps!

Your main concern (which is shared by the airport security staff) Is to avoid looking suspicious, especially when you’re doing something so innocent.

So even though it is not a prerequisite to keep the traveling protein powder in its original packaging, it can make your experience faster and easier if you do so.

Should I Pack My Protein Powder in Checked Luggage Instead? 

Another option if you are paranoid about causing a fuss (or having your powder confiscated at security) is to put it in your checked in bag.

The main concern here would be if the powder gets flagged and you will miss your flight, or have to do a last-minute dash due to your name being called on the tannoy to come and witness the inspection of your items in your bag.

This happened to me once on my way to Japan and it is admittedly a nightmare, but it wasn’t protein powder that was the issue – it was a portable electric grill.

I have lost count how many times I have traveled with protein powder in my checked in luggage, initially I was worried I’d run into extra challenges but I have never to this day had a problem bringing protein powder in checked luggage. 

Benefits of Consuming Protein Powder While Traveling

The benefits of consuming protein powder outweighs any negatives you may have made up in your head. Catastrophizing be damned, take your protein powder with you on the plane, bus, ferry and enjoy your life.

For those still raising a suspicious eyebrow, here are the main benefits of consuming powder while traveling.

  • Convenience. I can already hear the appeal to nature fallacies… “it’s not natural BRO, just eat real food!” I’m not a fan of such statements, but what I am a fan of is convenience! Once you get your head around the fact that traveling with protein is absolutely fine, it will add   convenience to your trip having that extra supply of protein with you.
  • It’s the most important macro. There is a reason why protein gets to the top of the podium when it comes to most fitness fanatics and gym rats giving advice… It’s the most important macronutrient.

             Some folks overdo it of course and while I have a lot of love in my heart for healthy fats and  carbohydrates, the constantly beaten “prioritise protein brah” philosophy is justified.

  • Most plane food is garbage. Unless you’re in business class Emirates (I’ve had the pleasure 5 times) or other exceptions to the rule, chances are your food options while flying are borderline offensive to your palette.Plane grub is usually unhealthy and minging and on top of that it’s also awkward and inconvenient navigating around the food on your tray while sandwiched in between other travelers doing the same… especially if you have long orangutan arms like I do! Nowadays when I fly I bring protein powder, a bottle of water that I buy once past security and usually look for some fruit and nuts and give a polite “no thank you” to the staff trying to give me something that resembles gruel from Oliver Twist.
  • Satiety. With the exception to good old potatoes, foods higher in protein content tend to be the most satiating – meaning that they keep you fuller for longer. The last thing you want when traveling relatively long distances is to have your belly growling and your blood sugar levels low, while you navigate to your final destination. Keep the hangry beast at bay and skip to your short term accommodation safe in the knowledge that your gorgeous glutes will remain nice and firm.
  • Less stressing about food. I’m someone who thinks about food a lot. A lot. I let myself go (physically) a few years ago – partying in Brazil, prioritised jumping off tall things amongst other wild exploits and after getting back on track I promised myself “never again” with the added promise that I wouldn’t use travel as an excuse for being unfit. While I do try my best to reach my protein requirements via whole foods, traveling with things like a delicious Sugar & Salt Powdered Peanut Butter provides me with more mental bandwidth to focus on my travels. If you are similar to me then I promise you, bringing protein on a plane provides you with way more positives than negatives.

Best Way To Carry Protein While Traveling

Bringing protein on a plane really is no drama… when you know how to prepare.

Avoid spillages, unnecessary suspicion and get your protein powder to the other side with these handy tips that I have learned over the years.

  • Ziplock Bags: They are the handiest option for carrying protein powders on a plane.
  • Portioning: Divide your protein powder into individual servings or daily amounts using ziplock bags. This helps in easy access and ensures you only use what you need for the day.
  • Labelling: Clearly label each bag with the contents and its weight or serving size. This is especially useful for security checks and also helps you keep track.
  • Double-Bagging: Consider placing all the individual ziplock bags into a larger ziplock bag. This adds an extra layer of protection against spills and makes it easier to handle.
  • Air Removal: Before sealing your ziplock bags, press out as much air as possible to minimize the volume and reduce the chance of the bag bursting due to air pressure changes during the flight.
  • Sturdy Plastic Containers: These are perfect for larger quantities. Ensure they have a tight-sealing lid to prevent any leakage.
  • Size: Choose containers that fit comfortably within your luggage and conform to any weight restrictions.
  • Vacuum Sealed Bags: If you have a vacuum sealer, this is an excellent option. Vacuum-sealed bags ensure that the powder stays fresh, takes up minimal space, and won’t spill.

Alternatives to Packing Protein Powder for Air Travel

If you are still not convinced by this utopia of traveling on a plane with protein powder and your worry has overpowered your rationale then consider these alternatives to bringing protein powder on a plane:

  • Eat a high protein pre-flight meal. If your concern is getting enough protein on your day of travel then it makes sense to cook yourself a high protein meal as your final meal before going to the airport (just don’t be late for your flight!)
  • Order protein powder for when you arrive. In some countries you will have the option to do this and have it arrive at your hotel, you will have to do a lot of research into who can do this and whether you will get it on time.
  • Buy protein powder at your destination. The fitness world has become globalised and most countries are jumping right on the bandwagon, I have personally been very surprised to find protein powder in developing nations.
  • Stick to protein bars instead. They’re admittedly more convenient to travel with than powders, just remember to try and choose a flavour that will not melt and make a sticky mess. 
  • Cook a meal and bring it in a tight tupperware. Bear in mind that it can’t have too much liquid though, so it could be a little dry. I recently travelled through carry on with a hot lentil stir fry that I grabbed on the fly, it had spice but no sauce so I was given the green light.

Additional Tips For Flying With Protein Powder

Before we wrap up this holy grail article of traveling with protein powder, I’ll leave you with some bonus tips, so that you are 100% confident about taking protein powder on a plane, whether that is via your hand luggage or check in bag.

  • Store your protein in a bag in your shaker bottle. Convenience is key! 
  • Don’t forget water. Buy it at the other side of security, then you’re primed and ready to go. 
  • Shop around for protein sachets. Some companies offer small, individual protein powder in their original packaging. Winner all around right there!
  • SOME airlines don’t allow travel with powder without original packaging. I know that KLM is one of them, but they are the exception to the rule, not the rule.
  • Don’t forget your scoop! There are few things more rage-inducing than doing all of the above perfectly and rustling around your bag last-minute, only to find out that you forgot your protein scoop!

Final Thoughts on Bringing Protein Powder on a Plane

I hope that you have let out a huge sigh of relief after reading this article and that you now have the utmost confidence in traveling with protein powder without any issues.

Sleep well tonight knowing that those boulders for shoulders shall remain.

All of those curls for the girls were not in vain, you will arrive at the other side of your flight with sufficient amino acid stores in your body.

You can bring protein powder on a plane, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Anthony Middleton

A former loser who took a risk. I now live in Chiang Mai, Thailand after visiting over 100 countries. Stay tuned for the next challenge against that clock!
Ultra runner walking in desert

Hi, I'm Anthony!

In November of 2010, I took on a mammoth challenge against the clock in a quest to upgrade my miserable life. I went out of my comfort zone and turned it all around. Ten years later, I’m completely location independent…

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