Whether its after a long workout or a convenient breakfast choice, protein shakes and smoothies can be a refreshing meal or snack replacement. However, for those on a low FODMAP diet plan, many protein powders are off limits due to their high-lactose protein ingredients. Here are a few guidelines to follow to find yourself a low FODMAP friendly protein shake.
Watch out for whey
Whey protein itself, if highly processed, should be low or no lactose. However, the amount of lactose in whey protein powders will vary depending on how it was manufactured. Whey protein isolate is usually safe, while whey protein concentrates, or hydrolyzed whey protein products is considered high FODMAP. Look for a lactose-free verification on the label or get a small sample and test it out for tolerance.
Be cautious with milk proteins
Milk protein concentrates can sometimes contain lactose. If a product contains milk protein and states that it is safe or suitable for those with lactose intolerance, just buy a small sample to try first before stocking up. Although it may be ok for some people, others who are more sensitive to lactose may experience digestive discomfort with such products.
Choose plant-based proteins
There are many plant-based proteins to choose from when it comes to protein powder supplements. Pea protein and sprouted brown rice protein powder are examples of common protein powder ingredients in plant-based protein products. These protein powders should be limited to two tablespoons a day to stay low FODMAP.
Soy proteins may be low FODMAP, but it will depend on how it is processed. Stick to soy protein isolates that contain little to no fiber since the oligosaccharides in soybeans that are high FODMAP are found in the soy bean fiber. Hemp protein powder has not been tested by Monash University yet, so limit to no more than one tablespoon a day for now to be safe.
Another unique protein option for low FODMAP protein powders is sacha inchi protein powder, which is derived from a rainforest vine. Also known as Plukenetia volubilis, a variety of amino acids can be derived from the star-shaped seed of this plant.
Stick to Safe Sweeteners
Many protein powders are low to no sugar. However, if they do contain any sweeteners avoid high fructose sweeteners like agave, honey, and high fructose corn syrup. Stick to cane sugar or dextrose to be safe as well as coconut, brown, or palm sugars. For sugar-free products, sucralose, stevia, aspartame, or acesulfame-K is low FODMAP, but avoid sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, erythritol, isomalt, or xylitol as well as inulin.
Safe Protein Powder Summary
When shopping for a low FODMAP protein powder, use the following tips to choose a safe product:
- Stick with whey protein isolate, brown rice protein powder, pea protein, or soy protein isolate. Check for a lactose-free certification to be sure the lactose levels are low.
- Choose powders with safe sweeteners such as cane sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, palm sugar, or artificial sweeteners like stevia or sucralose.
- Choose naturally flavored formulas that use ingredients like vanilla extract or cocoa powder to provide their flavor base. Some artificial flavors in protein powder products may not be named, so it will be hard to tell if you will be able to tolerate it. To be safe stay with natural flavors that you can identify.
- Look for gluten-free and lactose-free certifications on products to be sure that such trigger ingredients will not be present in your protein powder product.
Written by Staci Gulbin, MS, RD a Board-certified dietitian.