Popcorn is relatively healthy, but is popcorn a protein snack? You know you’re supposed to eat a certain amount of protein daily, and popcorn is a filling, low-calorie food. But does it help with protein intake?
Popcorn does contain some protein, but it is not considered a good protein snack. It can be made into a good protein snack easily (and deliciously), but plain popcorn is not suitable for protein intake.
Here, you’ll find out why and ways to boost its protein to make it a good protein snack.
Popcorn’s Natural Protein Content
While it has many dietary benefits, popcorn does not have high protein content. You can make it higher in protein with some additions, though. Cheese and protein powder are great examples of quick additions to boost the protein content of your bowl of popcorn.
How much protein does it have?
One serving of regular popcorn contains about 3g of protein, which is not much. Thanks to its high fiber content, it will help keep you full, but you won’t hit your protein macros with plain popcorn alone.
You should consume between .07-.08g of protein per pound of body weight per day, so a snack that will make you feel full with only 3g of protein isn’t going to make much of a dent.
What’s Considered ‘High Protein?’
For snacks, protein content between 10-15g is considered ‘high.’ You can achieve this with popcorn by adding additional high-protein ingredients, or you could simply eat your popcorn alongside a high-protein snack to get the best of both worlds.
And if you’re on a high-protein diet?
Popcorn can be a great snack. Especially if you’re bodybuilding or trying to put on muscle, it can be a good source of carbs. It’s a low-calorie snack high in fiber, so you can keep yourself satiated between higher protein meals without adding unnecessary calories to your diet.
Is There High Protein Microwave Popcorn?
It’s uncommon to find high-protein popcorn in stores, although you can find a couple of options from online retailers such as Amazon.
Want something completely ready-to-eat?
Other High Protein Popcorn Options
If you don’t want a ready-to-eat option but still want high-protein popcorn without making it from scratch, you could purchase plain microwave popcorn and add the protein yourself.
Or, you could also make it from scratch. It’s simple to do, plus you control every ingredient, which means it’ll likely be much healthier than anything you buy at the store.
How to Make High Protein Popcorn
You can easily add three ingredients that taste great with popcorn to boost its protein content: protein powder, cheese powder, and nut butter.
Of course, these aren’t the only options, but they are a great jumping-off point to finding your perfect protein popcorn bliss. Start with these, then brainstorm high-protein foods that taste great with popcorn. Feel free to experiment and find your ideal balance.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Add Protein Powder
Adding protein powder to popcorn boosts its protein content per serving from 3g to 10g (or more if you add more protein powder). Here’s how to make vanilla protein popcorn using protein powder (recipe adapted from Bob’s Red Mill).
First, here’s what you’ll need:
- ½ cup popcorn kernels
- 3 tablespoons protein powder (plain, vanilla, or almond)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
- 1 ½ teaspoons sweetener (maple syrup, honey, sugar, coconut sugar, maple sugar, date sugar, monk fruit sweetener, stevia, or agave, just to name a few options)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla protein powder)
Here’s how to make it:
- Pop the popcorn kernels using whichever method suits you (air popper, stovetop, microwave, etc.)
- Mix protein powder and salt in a small bowl
- Mix coconut oil, sweetener, and vanilla extract in a separate small bowl
- When the popcorn is finished popping, pour the wet mixture over the popcorn, shaking to get even coverage
- Add the dry ingredients, shaking again to spread evenly over the popcorn
You could make many variations of this recipe to change it up now and again. For example, you could try using chocolate protein powder and adding nut butter, such as peanut butter. This would create a luscious chocolate peanut butter flavor.
Add Cheese Powder
Adding cheese powder to your popcorn won’t make as big of a difference as protein powder, but it does add some protein grams to help your daily total. The average cheese powder contains roughly 1g of protein per tablespoon so you can add a few grams depending on your serving size.
Add Nut Butter
Nut butter can add a surprising amount of protein to any snack and tastes fantastic as a popcorn topping. You can even combine this with the protein powder method and give yourself a serious protein boost.
Here’s how much protein to expect from various nut butters (per tablespoon):
- Soy nut butter: 4.5g
- Peanut butter: 4g
- Pistachio butter: 3.5g
- Almond butter: 3.4g
- Cashew butter: 2.8g
- Walnut butter: 2.4g
- Pecan butter: 2g
- Hazelnut butter: 2g
You could use creamy or chunky nut butter based on your preference, and you could mix and match these with different protein powder flavors to see what you like most. There are so many options to play around with!
If you’re trying to boost (or simply maintain) your proper daily protein intake and don’t want to give up your favorite popcorn snack, don’t fret. While popcorn isn’t inherently a high-protein snack, it can be made into one with the addition of a few delicious, nutritious ingredients.
Not only do these additions supercharge your popcorn’s protein content, but they make it nearly treat-like in flavor. It’s a win-win.
Check out our article on Popcorn and Cholesterol next.
Sue’s favorite pastime? Watching a good movie with a giant tub of popcorn by her side. Her friends and family know that if they want to get her something, popcorn is always a safe bet. Sue has an adventurous spirit and loves to travel exploring new places – she’s been to more than 40 countries!