Can You Buy Protein Powder With Food Stamps (EBT)?

can you buy protein powder with ebt

Did you know that over 42-million people receive money when they buy supplements from SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the USA?

That’s about $121 a month per person. You can understand that that amounts to billions of the taxpayers’ money.

The Agriculture Department oversees the food stamp program [1].

SNAP program beneficiaries are either individuals who form part of a working family, a senior citizen living on a fixed income, or a person with a severe disability.

It is a mix of people who are battling financially.

They are living on a small income and need financial help to shop for the food items they need from grocery stores.

Many are unemployed.

The intention of SNAP is so that these people can invest their food stamp money on veggies, fruit, and more protein. This can help support weight loss and prevent obesity related diseases.

Often the question arises: what can I buy with my EBT card – can I buy my protein powder from a local benefits agency?

If you are thinking of what EBT-eligible protein powders you can buy, you don’t need to worry. The good news is that most protein powders can be bought with EBT food stamps.

But it will depend on the brand.

Look out for protein powders that are sold as food.

Another good news for you is that leading brands like premier protein, ancient nutrition multi typically accept EBT purchase food stamps.

They will be labeled with “Nutrition Facts” on the tin.

Those tins are EBT eligible.

Check out the other protein powders that are classified as supplements; the label on the tin will have “Supplement Facts” on it. These ones are not EBT eligible. 

But don’t worry, we will try and help you by showing you which protein powder brands you can buy with EBT.

Can You Buy Protein Powder With EBT?

Do You Know What EBT Stands For?

EBT stands for Electronic Benefits Transfer. It’s an electronic system that allows SNAP participants to pay for their food.

Participants can use SNAP purchases in supplement stores or in the supplement category at grocery stores to their benefits, which get loaded onto their EBT cards.

It is particularly beneficial if you use your card at specific SNAP-authorized retail stores.

Look out for places where you can find SNAP-authorized stores [2].

People who are benefiting from SNAP accounts, and there are millions of them, have money put on their accounts.

When they buy EBT food, their EBT accounts get debited, reimbursing the store for the food that was bought.

SNAP and EBT are available in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, and Guam.

Who Qualifies for SNAP and EBT? [3]

The only way you can find out if you are eligible for SNAP and EBT is to apply.

Because as an applicant, there are certain financial and non-financial requirements such as which state you live in, your citizen or alien status, are you employed, and more. See if you qualify for SNAP .

To Apply for Food Stamp Benefits

If you want information about SNAP, then you have to contact your local SNAP office. There are local offices in each state.

Look at this USDA national map for the USDA food services support.

You can also call the state you live in SNAP hotline numbers – usually toll-free numbers.

There are different application forms for each state. If you don’t see your state’s form on the web, you will have to contact your local SNAP office.

 Yes, you can buy protein powder with your food stamps

Don’t forget the purpose of SNAP benefits, though, is to assist people to buy food. That is the main criteria, where the line is drawn.

You are probably wondering whether the protein powder you use in your family counts as food.

It can be a bit strange when it comes to protein powders like collagen protein powder for example because, in actual fact, protein powder is considered a food, but is also considered a supplement.

Basically, it’s down to the companies that manufacture the protein powder to make the decision to sell it as they see fit.

So once again, we will say that the best way for you to tell if your protein powder is sold as food is to see if it says “Nutrition Facts” on the back. 

If it is being sold as a supplement, it will say “Supplement Facts” on the tin instead.

How about Pet food?

You can buy whey protein and any of your favorite protein powder, as well as pet food with your food stamps EBT.

The rules about EBT eligibility apply to pets as well and as you should know, not all protein powders here are some points to consider;

  • EBT eligible protein powders sold as food
  • Protein powder with food stamps EBT
  • If they’re sold just as supplements they will not be eligible for the electronic benefits transfer even if they contain vital proteins and are on food stamps.
  • If you buy vitamins or some other types of processed food products like collagen peptides, for example, it will not automatically qualify you as a SNAP recipient.

Why do a lot of companies use a “Nutrition Facts” label? 

Many companies use the “Nutrition Facts” label because their protein powders look like food more than looking like dietary supplements. 

And some are made with real protein foods such as coconut, egg whites, cocoa, and monk fruit.

There are a lot of protein powders that don’t look anything like food, though, because they are made with ‘funny’ names such as acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, dextrin, aspartame, cellulose gum, carrageenan, dextrose, and more!

You can see that the flavors and ingredients in some protein powders are anything but natural.

To prevent abuse of EBT benefits, there are items that cannot be bought with EBT

That makes sense, doesn’t it? So you can imagine that items such as alcohol, medicines, vitamins, and household items will fall in the “no” category.

Because protein powder falls into the category of ‘supplements,’ you might not be able to purchase it either.

Look at this poster that was seen in a shop somewhere – that’s putting it plainly! 

What about Protein Shakes and Protein Bars?

 Your EBT might not cover protein powder, but it might just cover protein shakes and bars. These can give you the same kind of benefits as protein powders do.

But then again, be prepared that the protein bars and the shakes can also be labeled as supplements. Look out for the “nutritional facts” on the bar – hopefully, you can be in luck.

Another thing is that protein powders can be quite expensive in any case, and your EBT allowance might not even cover the expense. A good idea is to look into some affordable alternatives. We show you some here. 

Always keep hard-boiled eggs handy so you can keep your energy up for your workouts. Eggs [4] are something that EBT does cover and your dollars will go further then.

Another good source of protein is peanut butter.

A jar will last you a long time too. Just a dollop of peanut butter on a celery stalk and you’ve got an EBT-covered delicious pick-me-up snack.

Also, if you have a blender or a hand mixer around, then healthy fruit, milk, and some seasoning can make you an all-natural shake and boost your energy.

You get excellent meal replacement powders too for the elderly and others who can’t eat – sometimes these are covered by EBT.

Bottom line, most protein powders are sold as food which does mean that most of them can be purchased with food stamps

Here is a list of the eligible EBT protein powders. Plant-based ones have been included as well. We’ve put links on them to Amazon because Amazon accepts EBT payments. All right then, here they are:

Plant-based protein powders [5]

Are you wondering which to buy – the plant-based protein powders or the animal-based protein powders?

Plant-protein powders are becoming hugely popular today.

For an equal mass of food, plant proteins have rich nutrients than animal proteins.

When you eat whole foods, plants give more vitamins and minerals like vitamin d per gram than animal sources. However, we cannot say the same about whey proteins.

There are thousands of bodybuilders and top athletes who have become vegans and who insist that they only buy plant-based protein powers [6].

But it’s entirely up to you.

Plant protein powders offer huge benefits.

Remember, though, that if you are looking for a protein fix, you should first look at natural food sources before you consider the protein powders, be they the plant-based ones or the animal-based ones.

The human body is unable to store a lot of protein in the body.

That’s why we need to ensure we get it through our diet, from whole hot foods.

Studies show that when you increase protein in your diet, your muscles become stronger [7], you have higher endurance, and you can lose weight more easily, and improve lean body mass and bone density.

Of course, these powders and their consumption will depend on the intensity of your workouts as well.

Why you might want to think about buying the plant-based protein powders over the animal-based ones 

Concerns have arisen in recent times about animal-based proteins and the fact that they might contain quite a lot of saturated fats in them – this would make them unhealthier over the long run.

Thousands of other people, apart from bodybuilders and vegan athletes, etc., are choosing plant-based protein powders over animal-based ones.

This is not only for the fact that plant-based proteins have less fat in them but also to prevent our precious animal kingdom from going under the slaughter.

Going plant-based is a strong way of shrinking the environmental footprint, especially with regard to climate change as well.

A vegan diet that is well-planned can keep you extremely fit; otherwise, thousands of famous bodybuilders and celebrities in the fitness world wouldn’t have done so already.

It makes perfect sense that today’s data shows that 50% of consumers have increased their intake of plant-based proteins over animal-based proteins.

Want to change over to plant-based protein powders?

If you are interested in changing over to a plant-based diet, it might be advisable to tell your doctor about it.

Often changes in diet and lifestyle can have long-term health effects. 

Here are the EBT eligible whey protein powders and animal protein powders

Animal-based protein powders

The animal proteins also will have a “Nutrition Facts” label on them if they can be bought with EBT.

We have also linked these protein powders to Amazon because they accept EBT.

 Meal replacement shakes that are EBT eligible

Below are well-known meal shake brands that also have the “Nutrition Facts” label on them, making them EBT eligible.

The links attached to them are also Amazon links, which accept EBT.

When you buy your food, your EBT benefits are redeemed at the counter where you check out

Your EBT card will be swiped with whatever the cost is of your eligible foods items – they will be deducted from your monthly benefits.

This article has been written because many people have been wondering whether they are allowed to buy protein powder with their foods stamps or not.

To recap – if the protein powder is considered a food item, then you can buy it, and it has the “Nutrition Facts” tag on the back of the box – it just can sometimes be a bit tricky.

Learn to be careful when you buy your protein powder 

There is a wave of new products and branding, kind of making a departure from the traditional world of protein powders and supplements.

Classic protein drinks are now being taken over by huge big tubs and bottles with pictures of rippling torsos promising similar results.

Customers of classic protein drinks used to be people who wanted to build muscle and aid in recovery from serious workouts.

But now, the younger generations are looking for a healthy lifestyle.

Marketers are coming up with new names to give their products a good marketing push.

Look out for some of these names on the shelves of CVS, Walgreens, K-Mart, and Walmart.

Don’t go overboard with protein

As far as protein is concerned, during a day the average guy should eat around 55 g of protein. The average woman would need around 45 g of protein.

We all need protein in our diet on a daily basis.

It is essential to the body as it contributes to bone health and muscle mass.

But excess intake can put pressure on your kidneys [8].

Don’t forget that. Excess animal protein can be linked to kidney stones and excess protein can actually accelerate kidney disease.

These upbeat drinks today are being pitched as breakfast replacements and snack replacements. It appeals to many people, even vegetarians, and post-pregnancy mothers.

Some of these new products aren’t even marketed as supplements. They have become breakfast substitutes for people on the go.

They are being pitched as the perfect replacement for a snack. There is an aura of health attached to the word, “protein”.

For thousands of people, it’s the convenience of protein powders they love so much. They believe it’s an alternative to food.

It is advised that you try and eat protein with your meals and to make sure you combine your shakes with real food.

Because remember, protein shakes are a supplement – they supplement the diet. 


There are many middle-class working families, as well as low-income families that are struggling and stressed by all the stuff going on in their lives and homes – expenses for child care, food, college, and health – it all adds up.

For those needs, the USA has been able to put together a package that addresses these issues. It’s the SNAP EBT system, a government-sponsored program.

Whether you are new to the SNAP EBT system, you will appreciate being provided with nutrition benefits.

They will supplement the food budget of your needy family so you can buy healthy foods and try and move towards self-sufficiency.

Retailers who are part of the SNAP system will stock at least a couple of varieties of food under the four staple categories, i.e. fruit and veggies, meat, dairy, and bread and cereals.

And you can even buy your whey protein powder using your EBT card if you can see the “Nutrition Facts” label on it.