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Fact checked by Meghan Novoshielski, M.S Nutrition Sci., RDNFACT CHECKED
May 30, 2023 1 Comment
There’s really not a comfortable way to say this, so we’re just going to say it. Protein farts are a real thing, and they aren’t fun. If you were to open an investigation to identify the culprit, you would almost always find a tub of whey protein at the end of the fart trail.
Unfortunately, protein farts aren’t the only downside of whey protein; it’s lactose. Well, it’s only a downside if you’re lactose-intolerant as it is almost universally accepted that whey protein taste the best and is the most complete protein as it contains all nine essential amino acids. Nevertheless, if you’ve ever found that you get a little rumble in your stomach after downing your whey protein shake, you might just be lactose intolerant.
However, there’s good news as there are plenty of lactose-free proteins on the market that can drastically mitigate this issue. In this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about lactose-free protein, which includes:
Below are the 13 best protein powders on the market for people with lactose intolerance or those who simply want to cut lactose from their diet.
To start, we will provide you with the two best whey protein powder options for those with lactose intolerance. To be clear, they are not technically completely free of lactose but they contain little to no lactose, which means they should cause you no issue unless you are very sensitive to lactose. Whey protein with very minimal lactose would be:
But it should be noted that not all brands of isolate or hydrolyzed whey are created equally due to other ingredients. The point is, we chose the two on this list for a reason.
If you are still iffy with taking whey protein or just looking for a 100% lactose-free protein, there are many other options. Remember that lactose is only found in dairy, so this just means that you need to consume a non-milk-based protein powder. In other words, you need to use anything else other than whey protein or casein.
The categories below of our favorite 100% lactose-free protein powders are as follows:
The following are in no particular order, they are just 13 great options categorized by different types of protein powders.
Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate is our top pick. This protein powder is sourced from 100% grass-fed American cows which results in a massive 28 grams of protein per 32 gram scoop. This means you get one of the industry's highest protein by weight ratio at 88%!
Each serving of Transparent Labs Whey Protein Isolate delivers a the highest quality protein without any artificial sweeteners, preservatives or food dyes. This is one of the cleanest proteins available today as it's sourced from hormone-free, naturally fed cows. Clocking in at 120 calories and 2 carbs per serving you still get to enjoy a delicious protein.
Price: $59.99 for 2.28lb (~Cheaper with subscribe & save option)
ISOPURE ZeroCarb Whey Protein Isolate is just about as pure a protein powder can be. At 100 calories per serving, a whopping 25g of protein is delivered. Being that a 1g of protein has 4 calories, you can see that this is basically 100% protein. Being so, there’s zero lactose as there’s simply no room! Further, ISOPURE is loaded with a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, making it an excellent choice for those needing to make sure they get in all of their vitamins and minerals.
Price: ~$70 for 3LB
Optimum Nutrition (ON) always delivers on quality as they are considered to be the best (or one of the best) protein powders on the market. Their hydrolyzed whey protein powder is perfect for those who are trying to stay away from lactose but still want the quality of whey protein. One serving delivers 30gs of protein at 140 calories, making its protein percentage very high.
Flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla
Price: $64.99 for 3.6LB
The first non-dairy protein powder you could look at is a beef protein. Beef protein powder is simply a protein powder that’s derived from beef…makes sense. This means that it’s definitely 100% lactose-free. Also, beef protein is very low in cholesterol which can sometimes be an issue for some when drinking a milk protein. This means zero lactose and zero cholesterol.
While some more brands are coming on the market, the most popular is definitely MuscleMed’s Carnivor Beef Protein Isolate. Carnivor has been on the market for quite a while and was one of the original beef protein isolates. Further, Carnivor has added creatine and BCAAs to raise the level of leucine. Still, being that it’s a beef protein, it also delivers other nutrients such as iron. MuscleMeds Carnivor delivers 23g of beef protein for every 120 calories. It contains 0g of fat and and extra 2.5g of creatine per serving (this alone halves your spending on creatine). Better yet, it’s 100% lactose-free and dairy free which is backed by it’s Informed Choice Certification
Flavors: Many (if in stock)
Price: $32.33 for 2.25LB; $51 for 4.5LB; $93.94 for 8LB
A lot of people consider bone broth protein powder to be one of the healthiest options, and definitely the most gut-friendly, but just to be clear, it's not the best tasting, especially when comparing to whey. It's also not as complete of a protein in terms of essential amino acids. However, it does contain collagen, so you'll get the benefits of that (great for skin and joint health). It's also completely lactose-free, which is actually the main reason people opt for bone broth protein.
While not technically beef, Left Coast Performance has chosen to isolate the protein found in beef bone broth. What you get is a very, very lean protein powder with a protein percentage of 93%! One serving brings 21g of protein with a total calorie count of just 90 cals! This is some of the most pure protein you can buy on the market. There simply isn’t room for lactose with this much protein, and there’s not. Left Coast Performance boasts their broth protein as dairy and lactose-free.
Flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla, Unflavored
Price: $30.99 for 1LB; $46.99 for 2LB
And another bone broth! As you may have guessed, bone broth is becoming quite popular among health-conscious trainees, so more options are becoming available. However, this bone broth protein powder from Ancient Nutrition comes from chickens!
Again, a very lean protein powder with 22.3 grams at 90 calories. This means that 89.2 of the 90 calories are from protein!!! Lactose couldn’t find its way in if it tried! This may be the leanest protein powder we have ever come across, making it the perfect choice for anyone who is really trying to eliminate any unneeded calories. Oh, and of course, it’s dairy-free. However, Ancient Nutrition prides itself on creating “superfoods,” so their broth protein is also packed with collagen to help support healthy hair, joints, and healthy guts.
Flavor: Vanilla, Chocolate, Unflavored
Price: $39.81 for 1.1LB; $67.96 for 2.2LB
Another source of high-quality animal protein that delivers zero lactose is going to be your egg protein. Egg protein powder is derived from egg whites, arguably one of the purest forms of protein found in food. In fact, the amino acid profile of egg white is the standard that other amino acid profiles are judged from. Further, these egg white protein powders are generally very low in calories and consist of a very large percentage of protein.
One serving of Gaspari Proven Egg is made from 7 large egg whites, which delivers 25g of pure egg white protein. At just 110 calories, Gaspari offers an extremely lean protein percentage of about 90%. Being that it’s pure egg white, it’s 100% dairy and lactose-free.
Price: $48.99 for 2LB
Bulk Supplements is a great go-to supplement brand when you’re looking for cost-effective products with high quality. This is also true for their egg white protein powder. Their egg white protein delivers 24g of protein at 120 calories. While the protein percent is not as large as Gaspari, it’s still well within the accepted limits of a quality protein. The most important fact is that it’s 100% lactose-free, making it perfect for those on a budget.
Price: $23.96 for 1.1LB; 39.96 for 2.2LB; $133.96 for 5KG (also have less than 1lb options)
Naked Egg is one of the more expensive egg proteins on the market, but the quality is worth it if you can shell out some dollars. Its list of ingredients contains 2 sources; egg whites and sunflower lecithin, so you know exactly what you’re eating. It’s also extremely high in protein, with 1 serving offering 25g at 110 calories. And, of course, it’s 100% lactose-free. This is perfect for any trainee who is extremely health conscious and wants only the purest protein powders (Again, only two ingredients!)
Flavor: Unflavored, Chocolate (if in stock)
Price: $67.99 for 3LB
Universal Nutrition is another highly respected supplement company on the market that has been around for a very long time. Their egg protein is 100% dairy-free and lactose-free and delivers 24g of protein for every 110 calories. Universal Nutrition has been around for years and knows what a serious lifter needs and delivers some of the highest quality products on the market.
Flavor: Chocolate, Vanilla
Price: $23.38 for 1LB (chocolate); $20.21 for 1LB (vanilla)
Above were some great options for a lactose-free protein powder for those who still wanted to reap the benefits from eating an animal-based protein. However, the other obvious choice is just going with a vegan protein. Since a vegan protein comes from plants, they are guaranteed to come with zero lactose. Here are our top picks for a lactose-free vegan protein.
To get the full scoop on the difference between animal protein and plant protein, check out this article.
Above we listed Optimum Nutrition and noted how they are one of the best sports nutrition companies on the market. They show their dominance again with their plant-based protein. Made from brown rice and pea protein, they solve the issue of vegan protein being “incomplete”. Brown rice and pea protein are quickly becoming the go-to vegan protein powder as they work well together to fill in each other’s “gaps”, or missing amino acids.
One serving brings 150 calories and 24g of lactose-free protein. However, one advantage of vegan proteins is that they usually carry a little extra nutrition, depending on the plant sources. In the case of ON Plant Protein, you get 100% of your vitamin C daily serving and a good portion of vitamin B and Iron.
Flavor: Chocolate, Vanilla
Price: $34.99 for 1.5LB
Vega One is an excellent choice for those who are looking for a vegan-friendly option. Vega One contains 100% plant protein; their powder also acts as a superfood as it has a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, all while being lactose and dairy-free. One serving of Vega One packs 20g of quality plant protein with 150 calories and literally just about every vitamin and mineral you need. This is the perfect choice for those looking for a lactose-free protein powder AND is a little worried about getting sufficient amounts of their vitamins.
Flavor: Chocolate, French Vanilla
Price: $88.94 for 3.7LB (chocolate); $98.94 for 3.7lb (french vanilla)
Plant Fusion Complete Protein derives its protein powder from different plant sources such as pea, artichokes, and algae. However, their lactose-free protein powder is also infused with additional amino acids to perfect the amino acid profile, which matches whey. 1 Serving brings 25g of their amino acid-infused protein powder and 120 calories. This makes it one of the leaner plant proteins, as they tend to have higher calories. Either way, this is a great option for those looking for a plant protein that meets the amino acid profile of whey but could do without any lactose or dairy.
Flavor: Several (if in stock)
Price: $32.99 for a Pack of 12 (12 servings); $26.99 for 1LB; $39.99 for 2LB; $91.99 for 5LB
Here are some questions regarding protein powder, and more specifically, lactose-free protein powder...
Protein powder is easily the most common supplement on the market. However, protein powder isn’t really a “supplement” as it’s simply protein from real food that has been processed to be easily consumed. And in reality, that’s what protein powder is; it’s an easy way to get your protein in. It's healthy and convenient.
Further, when compared with other food sources, strictly from a stance of their protein content, it’s actually very cheap. Why it’s so popular is resistance training generally eats much higher amounts of protein than their sedentary counterparts. Studies show that weightlifters should eat between 1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight for optimal results.
This can be quite a bit to eat from real food, not to mention expensive. Therefore, this is where a high quality protein powder can be very useful. To be clear, you do not need protein powder and you definitely shouldn’t rely on protein powder. However, having 1 or 2 scoops after your workout can be very beneficial and save you a bit of cash (and time).
Lactose is actually pretty unique in the nutrition world as it is the only source of carbs that can be consumed from animals, specifically from dairy. Lactose is found in the milk of most mammals, and it’s what gives the milk a bit of a sweet taste. Even though it’s only found in dairy food, many of our food products contain dairy so you can find lactose in quite a bit of our normal diet.
In order to break down lactose properly, the body needs a specific enzyme in the small intestine called lactase. When you drink milk, lactase is responsible for breaking lactose down into glucose and galactose for your body to utilize. No problem there. However, if your body lacks lactase, lactose cannot be broken down into the smaller constituents to be absorbed into the intestinal wall. Therefore, lactose goes straight to the colon and wreaks havoc.
If you are lactose intolerant, you will likely experience some, or all, of the following symptoms.
None of that sounds fun, and you’re surely not going to want to continue drinking your protein shakes. Unfortunately, there’s little you can do to change course if you find that milk is making you excessively gassy. Your only option is to limit your lactose intake as much as possible which is why we listed the best lactose-free protein powders above.
Finding out if you’re lactose intolerant is pretty easy if you don’t want to go the medical way. The easiest method is to eat dairy products and see your reaction. The only downfall of this is that sometimes the amount of food you eat will affect how bad your response is. For example, a sip of milk probably won’t do much. Therefore, if you try this, eat regular quantities of your food.
Regardless, if you find that you consistently get an upset stomach, go ahead and take products containing lactose out of your diet.
Did the symptoms get better? Worse? Or stay the same? Depending on the answer, you can take a pretty good guess as to where your relationship with lactose falls.
However, this isn’t an exact science as there could be other factors at hand, such as an issue with another food, or you could have an underlying health condition such as Crohn’s disease or coeliac disease.
If you’re not sure and want to know for sure about health concerns, you need to see a gastroenterologists. They can run several more in-depth tests to verify whether or not you are lactose intolerant or perhaps have another issue going on.
Basically any protein powder that's not whey will be completely lactose-free. This includes egg protein powder, beef protein powder, bone broth protein powder, and any type of vegan protein powder.
That said, even some whey protein powders are ok for people with lactose intolerance...
Because lactose comes from dairy products, the most obvious question about protein is; “does whey have lactose in it?” For those that aren’t aware, whey protein is produced straight from mammals milk, specifically cows. In fact, the milk from a cow is made up of 80% casein protein and 20% whey. Therefore, because whey protein is derived from dairy, whey protein powder MIGHT consist of lactose.
The amount of lactose found in whey protein will depend on what type it is as there are generally 3 versions
So, as you can see, whey protein does contain lactose, but it greatly depends on what variation you get. Your reaction to drinking each type of whey protein can also depend on how sensitive you are to lactose. For example, if you have a very mild case, you could probably get away with drinking normal whey protein concentrate (assuming it’s at least 80% protein). At the same time, drinking the purest form of hydrolyzed could be too much if you are extremely sensitive.
That being said, most people should be OK with drinking either a whey isolate or whey hydrolyzed.
Note: A lot of protein powders on the market contain a mix of isolate and concentrate, which is fine, but something to consider. So, be sure to check the label for ingredients.
One of the worst things you could do is spend all of this time looking for a lactose-free protein powder only to go and mix it with dairy milk. That will obviously make everything you just did pointlessly. However, the protein mix only makes the perfect protein shake; the other half is the liquid. Sure, you could use water, but that’s just not the same. Here are some great milk options for those who are lactose intolerant.
You can also skip the milk altogether, and instead elevate your morning java by creating a nutritious protein coffee.
Being lactose intolerant isn’t always the most fun, but there’s really nothing you can do about it. However, the good thing is that there are actually plenty of choices for lactose-free protein powders. We listed a good number of lactose-free proteins from different sources, giving you many options to start trying. Some of these protein powders can taste much different than whey protein, so you may need to experiment with a couple brands before you settle on your favorite. While being lactose intolerant can keep you away from a lot of foods, it won’t keep you away from your favorite protein shake. And just remember, don’t mix it with dairy milk!
Now that you've got a lactose-free protein picked out, you just need to figure out the best timing for your protein shake so you can see optimal muscle building results!
More protein roundups:
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