For this high protein banana bread recipe, I started with a traditional recipe and made some healthier swaps. The result is a delicious gluten free banana bread that you won't believe is healthy. Seriously. It's that good!
The traditional banana bread recipe I started with already had some healthier swaps, like whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, and Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. One of the swaps I made was to use low glycemic coconut sugar in place of brown sugar. While coconut sugar is calorically equivalent to refined sugar, it provides a much slower increase in glucose, preventing sugar highs and lows. I did try using erythritol as a substitute in this recipe, but the change in taste is noticeable. If you can spare the added sugar and carbs, go with coconut sugar for sure!
In place of the wheat flour, we're using a mix of whey protein and oat flour in this healthy protein banana bread recipe. The protein powder gives the structure that gluten traditionally provides, so we particularly don't want flour with gluten in it. Any type of wheat flour, including all purpose flour, will make this banana bread too tough. (Yes, I tried it.)
Since protein powder is not a direct substitution for flour in baked goods, we do need some kind of flour here, too. I used oat flour in this recipe (made by blending gluten free rolled oats in my nutribullet). Combined with the protein powder, it gives this banana bread a wonderfully soft texture that will rival any traditional recipe!
We're using whey protein powder in this delicious banana bread recipe, and it's important to note that the results will be different if you use a different kind of protein powder. Different types of protein powder bake very differently, and I've written an article about that here: The Best Protein Powders for Baking.
Ingredients for protein-packed banana bread
mashed bananas - For the best results, use ripe or overripe bananas (lots of brown spots). This will give the best taste and texture, since these are softer and sweeter than yellow bananas without spots.
Greek yogurt - I use non-fat Greek yogurt, but any fat percentage will work.
coconut sugar - coconut sugar is a minimally processed, low glycemic sugar, and it doesn't add any coconut taste to the banana bread.
vanilla extract - I like this baking vanilla.
coconut oil - I use refined coconut oil since it doesn't taste like coconut. Light tasting olive oil would also be a great choice here.
egg - I haven't tried using flax eggs or vegan egg replacer, but I expect it would make the banana bread just a little more dense.
protein powder - I use unflavored whey protein powder, but vanilla protein powder (whey) also works well. I do not recommend other types of protein powder in this recipe because different types of protein powder bake very differently
baking soda - different from baking powder, baking soda works well for leavening with the combination of remaining ingredients in this recipe
ground cinnamon - I recommend Vietnamese cinnamon for the best flavor.
chopped nuts - I love pecans, so that's what I've used here. Walnuts or macadamia nuts would also be great choices.
- large bowl
- fork or whisk
- rubber spatula
- loaf pan - mine is this 8 ½ in x 4.5 in x 2.5 in pyrex loaf pan
- parchment paper or non-stick cooking spray
- wire rack for cooling (optional, can use a wire trivet or keep on the stove top)
- Preheat oven to 325F (163C).
- Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or spray it with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix bananas, yogurt, coconut sugar, and vanilla until combined.
- Add coconut oil and egg. Mix well.
- Add the oat flour, whey protein, baking soda, and cinnamon to the wet ingredients. Mix well.
- Fold in chopped nuts.
- Pour the banana bread batter into the loaf pan, using the rubber spatula to get all the batter out of the bowl.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick or fork inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- Let it cool in the loaf pan for 10 minutes, then remove the banana bread from the pan and let it cool completely to room temperature on a wire rack.
- Slice and enjoy!
Flours - I would not try using other flours to replace the oat flour. Flours with gluten (including all purpose flour) will make the banana bread too tough. I suppose this would also be true for gluten free flour blends that have gums in them to mimic gluten. Flours like almond flour or coconut flour bake differently than oat flour, and are not recommended in this recipe.
Protein powder - This recipe was specifically designed for whey protein powder. Since different types of protein powder bake very differently, I would not recommend other types of protein powder. In particular, casein or a whey/casein blend in this recipe would make the banana bread tough and dry. Plant-based protein powder would likely make this recipe wet and dense.
Oil - I used refined coconut oil in this recipe, but light-tasting olive oil would also be a great choice. Other oils that work for baking should also be fine here.
Sweetener - Using coconut sugar in this recipe is what makes it taste comparable to classic banana bread. I tried using erythritol in its place, and it tasted noticeably different. Since coconut sugar is low glycemic, it does not have the same effect on blood sugar as refined sugar. If coconut sugar is something you can incorporate into your diet, definitely use it here!
Chocolate chip protein banana bread - Replace the chopped nuts with stevia-sweetened chocolate chips! Or if you'd like to include both chocolate chips and nuts (YUM!), I'd recommend ¼ cup of each.
Chocolate protein banana bread - I would use chocolate protein powder (whey) and swap ¼ cup cocoa powder in for ¼ cup of the oat flour (reducing the amount of oat flour to ¾ cup)
Store the banana bread in the refrigerator about 5-7 days, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or in an airtight container. For longer storage, I suggest freezing individual slices.
This protein banana bread freezes very well! Wrap individual slices tightly in plastic wrap, and store them in a freezer ziploc or an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Slices can go from freezer to microwave, or they can be defrosted in the refrigerator.
For best results, don't sub other types of protein powder and don't use sugar substitutes.
Adding protein powder to banana bread isn't as simple as adding a scoop or two and keeping the rest of the recipe the same. But generally speaking, you could probably safely replace ⅓ of the flour called for in the recipe with whey protein powder. For best results, however, to use a recipe (like this one!) that is designed to have protein powder included in the batter. Read more info on baking with protein powder.
This easy protein banana bread recipe has 11 grams of protein per ⅛ loaf. Traditional banana bread would have ~3g protein per serving.
More protein powder recipes you may enjoy
- Banana Walnut Protein Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Protein Rice Pudding Recipe with Cooked Rice
- Banana Peanut Butter Cookies
- Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies (Soft, with Almond Flour)
- Preheat oven to 325F (163C) and spray a loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- Mix bananas, yogurt, coconut sugar, and vanilla until combined.
- Add coconut oil and egg. Mix well.
- Add oat flour, whey protein, baking soda, and cinnamon. Mix well.
- Fold in chopped nuts and pour into pan.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely.
- Slice and enjoy! Store refrigerated or frozen.