Protein powders are as important to people who go to the gym as water is to a fish. Whether you plan on putting on more muscle or losing some weight, protein powders are just the right thing for you! Practically everyone who goes to the gym, for whatever reasons, needs them. However, there are some special cases where a regular protein powder might not do the job for you. This is particularly true in the case of people who deal with ailments such as diabetes or problems such as lactose intolerance. In this article, we examine some of the best lactose-free protein powders that you can benefit from.
Lactose intolerance is a very common problem all around the world and depending on your genetic framework there’s a very good chance that you, too, might be affected by it. We say this because studies indicate that over 50% of the world’s population (68-75% by some estimates) is lactose intolerant. Sometimes, you might be suffering from lactose intolerance without even knowing about it!
Over the course of this article, we shall try and understand what lactose intolerance is, as well as what people suffering from this problem can do when they go to a gym. We examine what makes lactose-free protein powder special, take a look at some of the best such examples, and provide you with ways in which lactose intolerant people could exercise better to lead a healthy lifestyle.
While we are trying to provide you information related to these specific kinds of protein powders, please don’t consider this piece as medical advice. This article just intends to be a place where anyone dealing with lactose intolerance can find solutions to their specific needs. However, it is always best advised to take a consultation with your coach, nutritionist, and a health expert before you start consuming anything.
Up next, let us first begin by understanding the basics of the two things that form our headline: first we talk about protein powder and then we talk about lactose intolerance. Once we are past that brief introduction about the two, let us then turn our attention towards the main topic at hand – which are some of the best lactose-free options out there for people who need a protein powder.
What Is Protein Powder?
For anyone who plans on leading a healthy lifestyle, you need quite a major chunk of protein in your diet. It does not matter if you are a vegetarian, non-vegetarian, or vegan. You need protein in your diet. Be it to lose weight or to gain muscle mass, protein is an essential and inseparable part of any ‘fit’ person’s diet.
This is because protein helps you with a number of things. The most basic of these functions is to build muscles and bone tissues. This is of particular importance when you are recovering or healing from an injury. In addition to this, protein also plays a big role when it comes to improving blood oxygenation levels. Furthermore, protein should be in your diet because it helps you digest food better. While this might be an irony for lactose intolerant people, but this is exactly why you must know that there is a special lactose-free protein available for you!
Protein powder is, as the name suggests, protein made available to you in powder form. This powder is generally extracted from a large number of natural sources. These are categorized into plant-based proteins and dairy-based proteins. As evident by the names, plant-based proteins are quite helpful for people dealing with lactose intolerance, while dairy-based proteins can’t really be consumed by them.
One thing about protein powder that has to be kept in mind is the fact that they are essentially a dietary supplement and not an entire diet. You can’t just drink protein powder shakes and call it a ‘meal’‘. You also need a significant amount of other elements such as vitamins, nutrients, fibers, etc. in your diet. A meal replacement shake often takes care of that – but a protein shake or a protein powder isn’t a replacement for an entire meal.
Another heads up: it keeps you full for a long time, so you might want to reduce the portions on your meal if you plan on consuming protein shakes that day.
Protein powder can be consumed in the form of a protein shake. Sometimes you get them in the powder form where you’ve got to mix it with water and use a shaker to shake it up before you drink it, and in some other cases, you get ready-made packs of protein shake which you can directly consume. Since we are talking about lactose-free protein powder in this article, it is also essential for one to understand what lactose intolerance actually is, so let us take a detailed look at that next.
Understanding Lactose Intolerance
A problem that affects nearly two-thirds of the world population, lactose intolerance, in the simplest of words, is basically your digestive tract being upset when you consume dairy-based products. A very large percentage of the world population has it. While some people show mild symptoms, which are almost unnoticeable, there are others who have an instant reaction.
However, for most people, it is a mix of the two. Sometimes the intolerance levels are mild, but sometimes they are very high.
Lactose intolerance happens because your digestive system is unable to break down lactose. Lactose is a type of sugar that is present in dairy products. As you grow older, your small intestine stops secreting lactase, which is the enzyme that is required to break down lactose. As lactase depletes, the lactose moves into your large intestine and that is where the trouble begins.
While lactose intolerance by itself isn’t really dangerous, it can be quite uncomfortable and irritating, which is why most lactose-intolerant people avoid dairy products.
Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance
Some of the most common symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and in some cases nausea. Lactose intolerance can also lead to a lot of flatulence and burping, which isn’t really of any health hazard or puts you at a risk, but it is something that can lead to a lot of irritation.
Lactose intolerance sometimes also hurts your confidence levels as you may feel that what if you consume some dairy product in public and then these symptoms appear. It can be quite bothersome in that sense.
However, let us now look at lactose-free protein powder and try and understand what makes it special.
What is a Lactose-Free Protein Powder?
Coming straight to the point, lactose-free protein powder is one that does not carry any trace of dairy products in it. These protein powders are designed specifically for the digestive needs of lactose-intolerant people. In most cases, you will find them to be plant-based protein. However, in some cases, they can be whey isolates too, where all the dairy portions have been removed but pure isolated protein still remains.
Different consumer groups have different specific needs and this is how products evolve over the years. When protein powders started off, they were almost always made of milk and egg extracts, or egg whites. However, with years the industry understood the needs of niche segments and begun introducing other kinds of powders such as plant-based proteins, vegan proteins, sugar-free protein powder, flavored protein powder, etc.
These lactose-free protein powders are created with care and there is no trace of lactose in them. This means if you are lactose intolerant, your digestive system will still be able to consume the powder with ease. One such example of the best lactose-free protein powders out there is that of Nature’s Best Plant-Based Vegan Protein Powder by Isopure, which suits the needs of vegans as well as those people who are on a Keto diet too.
Most protein powders that are designed for Vegans are also suitable for the consumption of people dealing with lactose intolerance. This is because vegan food does not contain any animal products, which includes dairy products. Hence, these are safe for the consumption of people with lactose intolerance.
However, there are some protein powders that, thanks to their origin and preparation methods, are safe for the consumption of people dealing with this problem. Let us take a closer look at these powders:
Best Lactose-Free Protein Powders
When we started off with this article, our intention was to help all our lactose intolerant readers understand that despite this problem, they have a lot of options. This section forms the crux of our article and it shall help you understand just that. When we say ‘protein powder’, it doesn’t always imply that some dairy content is going to be present in it.
In fact, as we are going to see in this section, there are actually a lot of protein powders that are free of all dairy materials. These are safe for the consumption of people dealing with lactose intolerance. Let us take a closer look at the five major different types of these protein powders:
1. Pea Protein
Among all the other proteins on this list, pea protein is a comparatively new name in the markets. This is something upon which scientists are still researching and trying to understand its benefits and effects. However, what we know is that this is a plant-based protein and the powder is prepared from yellow peas.
This protein isn’t really consumed in isolation as it is generally mixed with brown rice protein as there are some amino acids that pea protein lacks, but are present in brown rice protein. Together, the two give you a healthy combination that is also well0-suited for the needs of lactose-intolerant people.
Another thing that we know about pea protein is that this protein powder is generally rich in iron. If you are looking for lactose-free protein, combine pea protein and brown rice protein and you have a good combination.
2. Brown Rice Protein
Another major name when it comes to protein powders for lactose-intolerant people is that of brown rice protein. This protein is made out of a method where brown rice is made to pass through certain enzymes that separate the carbs from the proteins. This separated protein is then converted in the form of a protein powder.
As mentioned above, brown rice protein powder is best consumed alongside pea protein powder as they complement each other. Brown rice protein is absolutely safe for the consumption of lactose-intolerant people and is a good fit for vegans as well. Individually consumed, both these proteins lack certain amino acids. However, when taken together, brown rice protein and pea protein complement each other really well.
3. Soy Protein
Soy protein is something that you would more commonly find in protein bars these days than in protein powders. However, this used to be the only means of consuming lactose-free protein about a decade or so ago. This is one of the oldest-known ways of producing natural, plant-based protein for lactose-intolerant people.
Besides being lactose-free, another major property of soy protein is the fact that it is good for the health of your heart and your cardiovascular system. It helps lower blood cholesterol levels as well. However, since a number of other plant-based protein powders have come up of late, soy protein is no longer as popular as it once used to be.
Another disadvantage that it faces is the fact that it is considered to be estrogenic, and hence people are going for other proteins such as whey isolates and pea and brown rice proteins.
4. Other Proteins
Besides these major protein sources, some other options are also there, two of the most popular among them being beef-based protein powder and hemp protein powder. In the case of the latter, all the THC has been extracted and removed and you only get high-quality protein. In the case of the former, since it comes from beef, this is something that vegetarians and vegans all over the world don’t really want to consume and is hence not as popular as the top three names on the list.
Basically, if you are a vegan or a lactose-intolerant person, pea and brown rice proteins are very good options for you. You can also check out egg white protein powder. However, another unlikely option has arisen…
5. Whey Protein Isolate
Are you surprised by this name? When one talks about whey protein, the first thing that comes to mind is that it is made out of whey, which is a dairy byproduct. For those who may not be aware, whey is basically the liquid that gets separated from milk when you are producing cheese. In fact, whey is one of the two major proteins that form milk, the other being casein (which is 80% of what milk is). NutraBio 100% Whey Protein Isolate is one of the best such options out there if you are considering buying a good whey protein powder but in the form of an isolate.
In that case, why do we have whey protein isolates here, in a list of lactose-free protein powders? Well, the key player here is the word ‘isolate’, in whey protein isolate, all the fat and the lactose has been removed and this is basically a dairy-free product.
This makes it safe for the consumption of lactose-intolerant people. Even though there is a very slight, absolutely trace amount of lactose present in it, this is something that people suffering from lactose intolerance can consume without much of a problem. However, we would still suggest you consume this only as of the worst-case scenario. in case you do not have access to any other kinds of protein powder around you.
Whey Protein vs Plant Protein: what is the difference?
One question that often comes up when we are discussing protein powders, especially for lactose intolerant people, is that of the difference between whey protein and plant protein. In the simplest of words, whey protein is created from milk and carries lactose, while plant-based proteins come from plants, and hence there’s no lactose content in them. However, let us get into the details of the two:
One major advantage that these animal-based proteins have over plant-based proteins is the fact that they carry a larger amount of amino acids that are required by your body. This is why when you are consuming whey protein, you don’t need to combine it with any other kind of protein, while in the case of plant-based protein, you often create combinations such as pea and brown rice proteins being consumed together.
Compared to whey protein, plant-based protein has one major advantage: it can be digested with far greater ease and is easy on your stomach. There’s a greater possibility for whey protein to cause stomach irritability than compared to plant-based protein powder. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant-Based Protein Powder is one such plant-based option that you might want to keep an eye out for.
Besides that, there’s the obvious advantage of plant-based protein powders being better suited for those who suffer from problems such as lactose intolerance, which we have highlighted multiple times over the course of this article.
Considering that whey protein is extracted from a by-product of milk, it carries more fat content than plant-based protein. Plant-based protein powders such as the ones extracted from pea and soy are generally lighter on the calorie count too, when you compare it with whey. It has also been noted that plant-based protein can keep you full for a longer time when you compare it with whey-based protein.
While whey protein powder will always be viewed with suspicion by lactose-intolerant people, we strongly recommend you to check out Legion Whey+ Chocolate Whey Isolate Protein Powder, which is a whey isolate and ensures that you get no lactose content while enjoying all the benefits of Whey protein.
Understanding Various Terms in Protein Content
It can get quite overwhelming for people who aren’t used to shopping for protein powders when they go out looking for a lactose-free protein powder for the first time. Here’s a quick list of three things that you must know when you are buying protein powders. Check out these words on the bottle or the packaging so you know what exactly you are going to be buying.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of proteins: protein isolates, protein concentrates, and protein hydrolysates. Let us take a quick look and understand what each of them actually means:
1. Protein Isolates
If your packaging reads ‘isolates’, you are getting a very pure form of protein. By most estimates, it is 90% pure protein and other substances in it are minimal. Especially when you are looking forward to buying lactose-free protein powder, this is something you must be looking for. This means that most (if not all) of lactose content has been separated from the protein and it should be relatively safer to use for people suffering from lactose intolerance. JYM Supplement Science Pro Jym Protein Powder is one such whey protein powder isolate that might suit your needs.
2. Protein Concentrates
A concentrate isn’t necessarily lactose-free protein powder if it comes from a dairy source. A concentrate simply means that all the carbs, fats, and other elements have been removed from the powder and you are getting about 70-80% protein. Lactose, however, can still be present based on what the origin of the protein is.
3. Protein Hydrolysates
Compared to the other two, this is the purest form of protein. It is comparable to isolates but goes through even more processing and you can call hydrolysates 90% pure protein powder.
Summing it all up, if you are a lactose-intolerant person, you might want to check out a dairy-free protein powder in the first place. These are lactose-free protein powders and are the best suited for you. However, if you still wish to consume whey protein, we strongly urge you to check out whey isolates. Anything else wouldn’t be good for your condition.
Besides that, most plant-based protein powders come as concentrates, but since they are plant-based, they are anyway lactose-free and suit your needs well. Peas and brown rice are good sources of lactose-free protein. Soya, too, makes the cut for most users with that specific need.
4. Veganism and Lactose Intolerance
So there are two things that you need to know:
– Every vegan protein powder offers you lactose-free protein
– Every lactose-free protein powder will not necessarily be vegan protein
This is because vegans do not consume any animal products, and hence their protein powder does not feature dairy byproducts at all. While most lactose-free protein powders come from plant-based sources of protein, there are other forms of obtaining lactose-free protein too, such as beef and egg whites. These are some things that vegans do not consume, as they need a dairy-free protein source.
Basically, if you are a lactose intolerant person, you can safely pick up any vegan protein powder and consume it. However, if you are a vegan, you might want to check for the ingredients in a lactose-free protein powder. For those looking for a good vegan protein powder which is also lactose-free, do check out PEScience Select Vegan Protein Powder.
Benefits of Protein Powder
There are a large number of benefits of protein powder. Let us take a closer look at all of them:
1. Weight Loss
One of the biggest reasons why people consume protein powder is because they want to lose weight. When you consume protein powder shakes, you are essentially consuming something that is very filling and is likely to suppress your hunger for a while. This leads to you consuming lesser calories and beating the urge for ‘snacking’ every now and then.
2. Muscle Gain
Muscle mass tends to decline with age and fat takes over. However, consuming protein powder shakes will ensure that this effect is reversed. Protein powder acts as a defence against muscle loss, as it helps you build and repair muscles. Protein, in general, is also quite important when you are recovering from an injury because of its effects in healing and building new muscles, tissues, and even bones.
3. Source of Protein
Protein powder is important because it is a source of protein! We know that today’s lifestyle has often led to us eating meals that provide little to no nutritional values. So unless you are eating exactly what your dietician has prescribed, it is always beneficial to consume protein powder shakes after your meals so that you get your supplemental dose of protein in your body. Consuming a powder such as Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein Vanilla Powder is a good option for you to supplement the protein in your body.
4. Lowers Blood Pressure
Another benefit of protein powder shakes is that they help lower your blood pressure. This is particularly true in the case of Whey protein. Studies cited on Healthline indicate that consuming whey protein has been linked with reducing your overall blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular ailments. However, this does not mean that you consume protein as a means of lowering your blood pressure. It is always best advised to consult a doctor with respect to things such as these.
5. Helps Reduce Inflammation
Another benefit of consuming protein powder is that it helps you reduce inflammations by reducing C-reactive proteins (CRP) levels. This is beneficial for people suffering from injuries and in a recovery phase.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Lactose-Free Protein Powders
Here’s a quick look at some of the most common questions that we get when it comes to lactose-free protein powder:
1. How do I know that I am lactose intolerant?
While there is no proper ‘diagnosis’ that can tell you that you are lactose intolerant, but given how common it is, if you face problems such as indigestion, gas, flatulence, and excessive burping every time you consume dairy (or frequently after consuming dairy products), you are probably lactose intolerant. However, if you believe this is something that is affecting your daily life in an adverse manner, it is best to get in touch with a doctor and to get yourself checked for it.
2. Can pea protein or brown rice protein be consumed on their own?
Pea protein powder, as well as brown rice protein powder, are among the best lactose-free protein sources that you can find. However, consuming either of the two alone will not do justice to your needs because there are certain amino acids which are missing from one and are found in the other, and vice versa. This is why a combination of pea protein and brown rice protein is great for those who require lactose-free protein powder.
3. How do you know that your protein powder is lactose-free?
It is written on the packaging. You can also ask at the store or check out comments on the reviews to know if the powder you are getting is a lactose-free protein powder. Also, always make sure to check the source of your protein. If it comes from a dairy source, it likely features protein. This is why protein powders made of casein, or whey protein powders are not considered truly lactose-free even if they are isolates.
4. Can vegans consume lactose-free protein powder?
Yes, vegans can consume lactose-free protein powder. However, as we have pointed out above, there’s a small catch. People who suffer from lactose intolerance don’t really need to check if they are getting a lactose-free product when buying a vegan protein powder. However, if you are a vegan you will still need to double-check if a lactose-free product is a vegan product because sometimes they can be made from egg whites and beef, which are both animal products.
5. Does lactose-free protein powder help me lose or gain weight?
Yes, lactose-free protein powder does help you lose and gain weight depending on how you use it. You can use this protein powder to bulk up and gain muscle mass, and you can also use it to limit your calories and to cut down on your fat. The best lactose-free protein powders help you do both of these things.
We hope that this article helped you figure out which are the best lactose-free protein powders available in the markets. However, that is just one aspect of it. We also hope that by the time you reach the conclusion, you have understood all about lactose intolerance too. While this dietary limitation is something that can be quite annoying, it shouldn’t demotivate you from leading a healthier life. If you still have any more questions, feel free to drop us a mail or let us know in the comments below and we shall get back to you as soon as we can!