This article has been generously donated by Sarah Duncan

When most of us hear the phrase “protein powder” we think of a muscle-bound body builder swigging back a thick shake while checking out his biceps in the mirror.

Don’t disregard it, though. Protein powder could be an excellent source of calories and protein in a SHTF world.

  • Protein powder requires no refrigeration even after opening.
  • Protein powder requires no further preparation than putting it in a jar with liquid and shaking it.
  • Protein powder can take the place of meals if necessary.
  • Protein powder comes in many tasty flavors.
  • Protein powder is easily portable in Ziploc bags for a bug-out scenario.

Before you go to the bodybuilding store or supplement aisle to purchase your stash of protein powder, there are a few things to learn about the different types so that you can make the best decision for your family’s needs.

Which source of protein?

The most common protein source for powders is “whey protein”. Whey protein is derived from milk. Whey protein concentrate contains some lactose and fats, whereas whey protein isolate is nearly pure protein. People with mild lactose intolerance can generally tolerate the protein isolate.

Another source of protein derived from milk is “casein protein.” Casein moves slowly through the digestive tract and can help you feel full longer. The protein is easily digested by most but this will definitely cause problems for those who deal with any degree of lactose intolerance.

Next we have “egg white protein”. This is an excellent source of pure protein but these powders are far more expensive. The body processes egg white protein with nearly 100% efficiency. Remember that eggs are a very common allergen – be careful when sharing this product with others.

Finally, there is an array of “vegetarian proteins”. Hemp, pea, soy and rice proteins are the most common. These are generally higher in fiber (the others have almost no fiber) but the protein is not as bioavailable (easily processed and used by the body) as the protein in the other options. The vegetarian powders are generally very expensive, have a lower protein count per scoop and, in my opinion, taste horrible.

Which type of powder?

When you get to the supplement aisle, you will want to do some label-reading. Body-builders generally have the goal of weight gain or fat loss. Weight gain powders contain high levels of carbohydrates and calories. Pure protein powders are used to aid in the loss of fat while maintaining muscle mass, and will have a low carbohydrate and fat count.

First of all, look for a powder with ingredients that you can actually pronounce. Steer away from artificial sugars like aspartame, Sucralose, and saccharine. Those are just another name for poison – we are looking for REAL nutrients!

You also want to avoid processed sugars such as sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup (not as healthy as it sounds) and all those other “ose-es”. Cane sugar, honey, agave and stevia are good natural sweeteners, some of which add some healthy carbohydrates.

When you read the label you are looking for at least 24 grams of protein per serving. The grams of fat depend on your personal goals. Because I use these powders all the time as a fitness supplement, I look for low fat versions. However if you are only storing these powders as a SHTF food, the high fat version may be what you are looking for. If the carbohydrates are very low – less than 3 grams per serving – carefully read over the ingredients to make sure the product does not contain artificial sweeteners. If the carbs are high, you are checking for the “ose-es” – processed sugars.

How do you use protein powder?

The simplest way to use protein powder is in a shake. You can mix it with any fluid. If you have power, put this in a blender with some ice or some frozen fruit. If the situation is grid-down, simply put one cup of water or milk in a jar with a lid, add a scoop of powder and shake the daylights out of it until it’s well mixed and the powder is dissolved. In a world without refrigeration, you can use a bit of non-fat dry milk powder in the mixture as well. A protein drink is also a good way to ingest any liquid vitamin supplements that you might be using.

There are lots of recipes on the net that include protein powder. If you have a way to cook you can bake cookies or protein bars, and you can substitute a few scoops of powder for flour in your own baking recipes.

Try this protein powder recipe for a healthy snack – it requires no cooking and the kids will love it!

Chocolate PB Balls


  • 1 cup chocolate protein powder
  • 1 cup of peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup oats


In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Roll 1 tablespoon of dough each into a walnut size balls and place on waxed paper.

You can roll the balls in extra protein powder, cocoa powder, or powdered sugar to make them less sticky on the outside
This makes 36 PB balls (4 per serving)

Calories: 248; Carbs: 19.2; Fat: 14.8; Protein: 7.2

These are my favorite protein powders:

  • North Coast Naturals 100% Iso-Protein
  • Perfect Nutrition Perfect Whey

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published March 5th, 2012
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  • sclindah

    We have done this very thing as well!  We enjoy an occasional whey protein drink in various flavors and it adds variety to your storage!  You can  get many flavors, even an egg custard for delicious eggnog for the holidays!  We still store powdered milk but you can’t get enough variety in your storage!

  • user95

    Are you sure about the vegetarian protein not being as bioavailable? I always got the impression that plant sources of food, protein, fats, and supplements were usually more bioavailable than non-plant sources.
    Is it necessary to store protein powders long-term with mylar bags and O2 absorbers?

  • Sarah Duncan

    Dear User95:

    Actually it’s the opposite.  The plant sources are the least efficient way to get protein into your body.  Here are the BV factors for the most common protein powder sources:

    Whey peptide blends


    Whole egg


    Cow Milk


    Egg white (albumin)






    I store my protein powders in the original container.  The large plastic canisters are sealed and already contain oxygen absorbers.  (I also keep the empty canisters and reuse them for storing other foods!)

  • Please, whatever you do, make sure you’re eating organic as much as possible.  Admittedly its getting more and more difficult to do so these days as 90% of our soy and corn has been genitically modified.  Your health is worth the effort in the long run.

  • I am a big advocate of protein powder as a supplement/meal replacement.  It generally has the fat, carbs, and protein you need to keep going.  I am also a huge fan of Muscle Milk, as two scoops also adds about 30% of your daily allowance of vitamins and minerals as well.

  • xfitter49

    Thank you Sarah!  I never thought of these powders as something we could put in our stockpile… 

    Some of your readers try to steer clear of soy and sucralose based powders.  It is difficult to find powders with whey or casein made from grass fed cows.  Any ideas?

  • If you’re using these products to help carry vitamin supplements, remember that some vitamins are fat soluble and need some fat content to carry them.

  • I’d use regular sugar or dextrose rather than honey or agave.  Although “natural,” they are far too high in fructose.  More than a little fructose leads to all kinds of trouble, including belly fat, insulin resistance and high blood pressure.

  • Len

    You didn’t touch on something important,…life expectancy. How long will a protein powder last unopened?

  • Scott

    Let’s put some current science to this debate:

    1) Whey proteins were a toxic by-product of cheese making that now found a lucrative market in powdered proteins.  Dairy proteins are poor source of nutrition and cause many digestive problems.  Also, because of poor amino acid breakdown are suspect in increasing auto-immune disorders (MS, diabetes type 1, metabolic disease)

    2) Casein is highly suspect in causing many cancers.  And is poorly digestible contrary to popular belief.  Casein in cow’s milk is also the predominant protein (80%) versus human milk (<20%)…..DO NOT feed your infant cow’s milk formula.

    3) Rice protein is the LEAST allergenic of the common proteins and has good absorbability.

    4) Protein, as a macronutrient, is the DIRTIEST of the caloric sources and produces the least ATP in the Oxidative.-Redux cycle. By-products of protein metabolism include highly toxic ammonia and the acid family (uric, phosphoric, lactic, etc).  This enables a wide variety of disease states and lowers pH tissue levels.

    5) High protein is another MYTH such as ‘low carbs’ and ‘low fats’.  Most of the body’s proteins are broken down and recycled.  People need less than they think, typically 30 to 50 grams MAX/day, depending how physically active.  Only people who are CALORIE DEFICIENT have Cachexia since the body can also produce proteins, fats, and carbs from each other and back again when needed by rearranging their carbon OH structures
    6) If one is really concerned about protein, then consume rice protein or plant based…….and don’t be too concerned about the almost meaningless absorption ratios.  Protein was NEVER very high in primitive man’s diet for various physical reasons and thus human metabolism is very efficient and highly absorptive of proteins.  And it is the reverse for minerals because of the exact opposite reasons as for protein.

    One must not forget that human metabolism has to break down the various protein chains (some over 100,000 to over 1,000,000 amino acids long) into their individual amino acid pools.  Then the body uses these AA’s and builds the necessary proteins the body needs whether for structural or metabolic purposes.  And animal proteins are much more complex and energy consuming than plant proteins.  However, some people are also addicted to the metabolic hormonal residues of animal protein…..but the caveat is they are NOT longevity enhancing. 

    Overall, considering adequate and ‘clean’ macronutrient calories are obtained (predominately ‘whole’ non-refined carbs and saturated and monounsaturated ‘fruit’ fats, much more concern should be focused on micronutrient levels and looking at one’s overall dietary factors, particularly those that play havoc with their hormonal levels and increasing systemic inflammatory response.

  • Rob H

    @ Scott:  And in English, all that means…….?

  • GoodyBrook

    While pregnant I was instructed to daily consume 1/2 gram of protein for each pound of body weight during my last trimester.  While I’m not going to tell you how much I weigh, you can easily do the math to see that a 150 lb. woman would need 75 grams of protein.  I achieved this through food and the rare protein bar, but if expecting in a SHTF scenario, it would be great to have protein powder to fall back on.  Thanks for the idea!

  • Cody

    Thanks for the recipe just got done whipping up a batch and it is very rich! Kids love it. Would make a great snack source to nibble on here and there for that extra comfort in a survival situation! Thanks again!

  • Andy

    Thanks a lot for this great article about the pros pf protein powder. It definitely does have its advantages especially if you are really into your fitness because you can get your protein ina shake and drik it straight after workout.
    Its easy to know exactly how much you are getting and it is very high quality protein too since whey protein is high in BCAA’s.
    There is also some good info here about protein powder: what is whey protein 

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