Bringing Protein Powder on a Plane — How to Keep the TSA Happy

When I lifted regularly, I always made sure to drink two thick protein shakes per day to get my necessary macronutrients. I aimed for 1g of protein per pound of lean body mass, which for me ended up being about 160g. At the time, I went through a lot of protein powder.

As a result, I’d buy it in bulk and keep it in airtight containers. And luckily for me, I didn’t travel nearly as much as I currently do. However, there were occasions when I needed to fly for business and didn’t want to interrupt my training regimen.

For those occurrences, I would pack my protein powder with me on the trips. Since you’re here, it’s a safe bet that you’re interested in doing the same. You came to the right place to learn about traveling with protein powder.

You can certainly travel on an airplane with your protein powder. Simply place it in your carry-on luggage if you’re taking less than 12-ounces, claim the powder before going through a security checkpoint, or check a bag with your protein powder inside. Make sure to use an airtight container.

To get a more thorough rundown of how to travel on an airplane with protein powder, keep reading and we’ll dive in.

Protein powder is easy to pack, easy to ship, and overall not a problem to bring on a plane.

TSA Guidelines for Protein Powder

Like other powders, the TSA guidelines for protein powder allow you to pack 12 ounces or less into your carry-on luggage without additional screening. To get an idea of how much protein powder this is, it’s roughly the volume of a can of soda. Depending on a few factors, this may be completely adequate.

A 12-ounce container holds approximately 340 grams of powder, while a standard serving size of a leading protein powder is 62 grams. This means that a 12-ounce container in your carry-on luggage will hold a little over 5 servings of protein powder.

Whether this will be sufficient depends on the duration of your trip and how much protein you plan to consume. With a longer trip or heftier protein requirements, you’re left doing one of two things.

  1. Claim the powder and remove it from your carry-on luggage during the TSA checkpoint.
  2. Store the protein powder in your checked luggage.

If you choose option #1, be prepared to spend extra time in the security line while TSA agents examine the powder. Be sure to get to the airport early to prepare for this delay.

Packing Protein Powder

Packing protein powder is straightforward compared to many other things we cover on this site. Choose an airtight container (we’ll cover what kind to look for below) and fill it with your favorite protein powder.

To keep the powder fresh for the duration of your trip, consider adding a desiccant pack or two inside. These are the small paper packages with silica gel inside, meant to remove moisture from the air. You can buy some here (affiliate link) and they will go a long way to make sure your powder stays edible.

Containers

The container you pick is extremely important. You want it to be airtight so the powder stays fresh and doesn’t oxidize and you want the lid to be secure. Nobody needs to clean sticky protein powder out of their checked luggage when they arrive at their destination!

If you don’t have a container on hand, we’ve compiled a few that will fit the bill perfectly.

Protein Powder Container for Carry-ons

Remember, for carry-ons you’re limited to 12-ounces of protein powder unless you want to claim the container and go through extra security. This is the best airtight container I could find that meets that criteria (affiliate link).

Here are the reasons why we chose these above the others we looked at:

  • The jars are cheap! They come in at right under $2 per jar.
  • They’re clear, so the TSA agent won’t wonder what you’re keeping in the container.
  • Being made of plastic, they won’t break even if bags shift during flight.
  • The screw-on lids keep the jars airtight.

Protein Powder Container for Checked Luggage

With checked luggage, you can pack as much protein powder as your heart desires (as long as it fits within weight and size requirements). Because of this, many folks choose to simply pack their entire tub of powder.

This works to a point, but if you seek out the 7.5 pound tubs like these (affiliate link), you may have issues packing them into your luggage. I used to buy those tubs too, so I know how cumbersome they can be to pack.

Luckily, there are some very inexpensive round storage jars that would fit perfectly in almost any person’s checked luggage. Check out these 32 ounce jars:

If you’d like to check out the current price and read the reviews, just check these jars out on Amazon (affiliate link).

Alternatives

Of course, if none of these options sound appealing to you there are alternative ways to hit your macronutrients once you reach your destination.

Protein Bars

Instead of packing a ton of powder, which is definitely regulated closely by the TSA, consider packing the equivalent protein in bar form. Food items can be transported by carry-on or checked baggage with little concern from the TSA.

There are many reasonably tasty protein bars that could take the place of your powder while you’re on your trip. Your jaw may get sore by all the chewing, but it is a way around needing to travel with protein powder.

Shipping it Ahead

Perhaps you’d like to ignore the restrictions of TSA and the hassle of packing completely. In this case, you can simply ship however much protein powder you think you’ll use ahead of your trip. Then, you can take the empty container back with you on your return flight.

This costs a bit of money, but many people find the cost worth it.

Of course, there are other issues to consider when moving your protein powder in this way. Namely, freight companies often lose packages! If inclement weather causes delay or a careless package carrier loses your goods, you’ll wish you brought the protein powder with you.