Can You Buy Protein Powder with EBT?

Can You Buy Protein Powder with EBT

If you are in SNAP looking to buy protein powder and are wondering if you can buy them with EBT, the answer is yes.

You can buy protein powders with EBT but there are certain protein powders that are not EBT-eligible.

In this article, we will be telling you which items you can and can’t buy with EBT. We looked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (USDA) to give you the information you need to know about SNAP and EBT. And why some protein powders are EBT eligible while others are not.

We will also be listing a few protein powders that you can buy with EBT. Read until the end to find out.

What is EBT

What is EBT

EBT or Electronic Benefits Transfer card is used to buy food items. Those who are in low income families can apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to be able to get an EBT card. SNAP is formerly known as the food stamps program.

Not everyone is qualified for SNAP benefits. SNAP has criteria that you have to meet in order to qualify for that program, such as certain bank balance limits.

Every state has a different process of application so to apply for SNAP, you must do so in the state that you currently live in. If you want to see if you are eligible to apply for SNAP benefits, you can go to the USDA website.

If you qualify for SNAP, EBT allows you to buy food items such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, bread, cereals, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages. You can also buy seeds and plants in which you can harvest food to eat.

So where does protein powder fit in the categories of food items you can buy? Are they considered food if we can buy it using EBT?

Can you buy protein powder with EBT

Yes, you can. But other protein powders are not eligible to buy with EBT.

According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, items such as vitamins, medicines, and supplements are not EBT-eligible.

This answers the question of why you can’t buy certain protein powders with EBT.

You must have checked the back of the product where the nutrition information label is. That is where you can tell if you can buy a protein powder with EBT or not.

If you see “Nutrition Facts” on the nutrition information label of the protein powder, it is considered food and is EBT eligible. While “Supplement Facts” on the label counts as supplements and can’t be purchased with EBT.

Nutrition label vs Supplement label

Nutrition label vs Supplement label

Most food and supplement products are required to put nutritional fact panels and supplement information. This is the information usually found at the back of most food and supplement packaging. It contains nutrient levels, total fat, saturated fat, and other information about the food you are buying.

Nutrition labels have said information listed. Supplement labels should have the same information included as Nutrition labels but they must also declare if the nutrients are added as a supplement or if they claim to have nutrients in their product.

Nutrition labels also have the “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS), which is food deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

If you see food and drinks labeled as dietary supplements, it is because the ingredients used are not considered GRAS.

Most protein powders and meal replacements have nutritional labels while some have supplement labels.

Difference between meal replacements and supplements

Difference between meal replacements and supplements

Meal replacements are substitutes for a complete meal. It has a lower calorie count than what you would get when you eat a full meal. Meal replacements usually just have 200 – 250 calories per serving., which is why it is taken by people who want to lose weight.

While supplements, like vitamins, are taken to add nutrients to your body that you may not get from your usual diet.

So are protein powders considered meal replacements or supplements?

Some people drink protein shakes as a meal replacement but they both have different purposes.

Meal replacements are taken by people to replace a meal to reduce their calorie intake, and lose weight, but still, get the nutrition they need in a full meal. A protein shake is usually a supplement that most people drink to build muscles because it is high in protein.

How to know which protein powder you can buy with EBT

Look for the label “Nutrition Facts” on the back of the protein powder that you want to buy. It is considered a food item and not a supplement if it has a nutrition label. It means that the ingredients in that protein powder are considered GRAS.

The EBT works like a debit card. There should be an amount on your card for you to be able to buy eligible EBT items you want.

There is a monthly maximum allotment that is given to those who qualify for SNAP, so you might want to consider the price of the protein powder you will buy.

If you are the only one in your household, you can receive a maximum monthly allotment of $281. The amount changes depending on how many you are in the family. If you want to know more about this, you can find out more on the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website.

What can’t be bought with EBT

According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, you can’t buy alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, and tobacco with EBT. 

Other items that can’t be bought are live animals, pet food, cleaning supplies, hygiene items, and cosmetic products. Hot foods when sold or are sold to be eaten in stores cannot be purchased with EBT.

And as we discussed earlier, supplements are not EBT-eligible.

Where can I buy protein powders with EBT?

Protein powders can be found at Walmart, Safeway, Whole Foods, and other grocery stores and drug stores, and they typically accept EBT. Just look for the “Nutrition Facts” label on the back of the product.

You can also pay with your EBT card when buying on online sites like Amazon.

Here are EBT-eligible protein powders we found online:

– Icon Nutrition Whey Protein Powder

– Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein Powder

– Dymatize Whey Protein Powder

– Orgain Organic Vegan Protein Powder

Wrap up

You can buy protein powders with EBT as long as they have the “Nutrition Fact” label. Make sure to check the label before putting the protein powder in your cart or ask for help when you are buying in a store.

If you can’t find EBT-eligible protein powder, you can also buy protein bars with EBT. Just make sure it has the “Nutrition Label”.

Be also mindful of the amount on your EBT card, check your balance if you have enough to buy a protein powder. You might also use it for other food items that are EBT-eligible.

If you want to buy supplements, you might have to use coupons to get discounts on protein powders that have the supplement label.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you buy protein powder on food stamps?

Yes, the SNAP was formerly named the Food Stamps program. If you qualify for SNAP benefits, you can buy protein powder with food stamps as long as they have the “Nutrition Facts” label.

Does EBT cover pre-workouts

Pre-workouts are usually labeled as supplements so EBT does not cover them. Check for the “Supplement Facts” label. Items that have the supplement label are not EBT eligible.

We did check pre-workouts on online sites like Amazon. The pre-workouts being sold there are labeled supplements, so those are not eligible for EBT purchases.