How long does it take to digest a protein shake?

How long does it take to digest a protein shake? In this article, you will learn more about protein shakes, and why some are easier to digest than others.

This article was written by Jack Schrupp.

Protein shakes and digestion 

What is digestion? 

Digestion refers to the complex process that breaks down food into nutrients that can be absorbed by the body.

How fast do we digest protein? 

Different types of dietary protein are digested at different rates. According to a study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are absorbed at a rate of 1.3 grams to 10 grams an hour. 20 grams of a fast digesting protein might therefore only take 2 hours to digest, whereas 20 grams of a slow digesting protein might take 15+ hours to digest.

Does protein digestion (absorption) rate matter? 

Research shows that the speed of protein digestion affects postprandial metabolic response, which is a fancy term for the complicated physiological process that breaks down food into glucose (sugar), fatty acids (fats), and amino acids (protein). Different types of dietary protein therefore have different effects on muscle protein synthesis, breakdown, and deposition.

In short, slow-digesting proteins like pea protein inhibit muscle protein breakdown, whereas fast-digesting proteins like whey promote muscle protein synthesis. This means that whey protein might be a better choice right after a workout, whereas pea protein might be best consumed right before bed. That said, day-to-day nutrition is not a science.

So, how long does a protein shake take to digest?

The study referenced above only tested the impact of protein digestion rate when proteins were eaten alone, and the authors acknowledge that the presence of other nutrients like carbohydrates and fats would have likely affected the results. It therefore does not tell us much about how slowly or quickly you will digest your protein shake.

In other words, if all you drank today was pure whey protein isolate mixed with nothing but water, it is safe to say that it will only take a few hours to digest. Most people eat other foods during the day, however, and most protein shakes, whether they are store-bought or homemade, contain added ingredients. Both of these factors affect that rate at which the shake is digested and absorbed.

On top of that, every gut and different, and different people respond to food differently. This makes it virtually impossible to say with any degree of accuracy how long it will take you to digest your protein shake. If you ask me, worrying about how fast you will digest your protein shake is not worth your time. 

how long does a protein shake take to digest

What makes a protein shake easy to digest? 

Again, unless you are training to be Mr. Olympia, it is no use worrying about whether or not your food is slow or fast-digesting. Any type of dietary protein can help you reach your wellness goals, and no one type is significantly better than another – assuming you are eating a balanced diet. Moreover, if you spend too much time worrying about slow and fast-digesting proteins, you might overlook what really matters: the ingredient list.

As you just learned, the added ingredients in your protein shake can have a big impact on your digestion. Among the ingredients that have the biggest impact are food additives, dairy-based proteins, and protein concentrates and isolates.

What is the easiest protein shake to digest?

Most protein supplements are made with ingredients that can slow digestion and cause digestive issues. Here three of the top offenders: 

Food additives

Regularly eating emulsifiers, thickeners, sugar substitutes, and other additives can not only upset your stomach, but also alter the composition of your gut microbiome – the collection of microorganisms living in your gut. This can lead to gut dysbiosis, which is linked to a number of chronic digestive issuesThese are the most common food additives in protein powder:

acacia fiber, acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, ascorbic acid, aspartame, calcium carbonate, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dicalcium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, maltodextrin, mono- and diglycerides, ‘natural’ flavors, rice bran extract, rice dextrin, rice hulls, rosemary extract, silica, silicon dioxide, sodium alginate, sodium bicarbonate, soluble corn fiber, soy lecithin, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, tocopherols, tricalcium phosphate, xanthan gum, xylitol, zinc oxide

Dairy-based proteins

Dairy-based proteins like whey and casein, although not an issue for everyone, can cause digestive issues like bloating and diarrhea. This is in part because they contain lactose, a sugar most adults cannot fully digest.

Protein concentrates and isolates

Most protein powders are made from protein concentrates and isolates, which have been mechanically and or chemically stripped of everything but the protein, including the enzymes, fiber, and other natural digestive aids that help you break them down. As a result, they can cause digestive issues and possibly even disruptions to the gut microbiome

Finding a protein powder free from food additives, dairy-based proteins, and protein concentrates and isolates is hard. In fact, 99% of protein supplements contain one or more of these problematic ingredients. This is why we created drink wholesome. Keep reading to learn more about why our protein powder is easy to digest.

Protein Powders

Collagen Protein Powder


Starting at $59.99

Protein Powders

Egg White Protein Powder


Starting at $39.99

Protein Powders

Vegan Almond Protein Powder


Starting at $39.99


drink wholesome is the easiest protein shake to digest

We make the easiest protein shake to digest because we use a short list of simple ingredients free from food additives, dairy-based proteins, and protein concentrates and isolates.

Our ingredients

egg whites

egg whites





monk fruit

monk fruit

NOT our ingredients

  • acacia gum

  • acesulfame potassium

  • artificial flavors

  • carrageenan

  • erythritol

  • guar gum

  • inulin

  • maltodextrin

  • 'natural' flavors

  • silica

  • soy lecithin

  • sucralose

  • xanthan gum

  • xylitol

Note that instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we use whole food protein sources like collagen, egg whites, and almonds, which are easier to digest and absorb. Whole food protein sources also have unique digestive benefits: collagen can reduce bloating and improve digestive symptoms, egg whites can help restore your mucosal intestinal barrier, and almonds can improve the composition of your gut microbiome.

It follows that our customers experience fewer digestive issues with our protein powder than with any other type of protein supplement. Order samples to see for yourself. 

Protein Powders

Collagen Protein Powder Starter Kit

Starting at $94.97

Protein Powders

Egg White Protein Powder Starter Kit

Starting at $94.97

Protein Powders

Vegan Almond Protein Powder Starter Kit

Starting at $94.97




1 week ago

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For Egg White Protein Powder


2 weeks ago

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For Egg White Protein Powder


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For Egg White Protein Powder

Frequently asked questions

Collagen vs egg white vs almond protein powder?

You may have noticed that we make three types of protein powder: collagen protein powderegg white protein powder, and vegan almond protein powder. As long as you are eating a balanced diet, any type of protein powder can help you boost your protein intake. Just pick the type that best suits your dietary needs and personal preferences.

Protein powder vs meal replacement powder?

You may have noticed that we make protein powders and meal replacement powders. The difference between protein powders and meal replacement powders is the nutrition content. Protein powders are high in protein and low in everything else, whereas meal replacement powders contain fats, carbs, and protein because they are intended to replace the nutritional value of a healthy meal.

Learn more

My name is Jack and I created drink wholesome because I was sick of protein powders that upset my stomach. Read my story, check out my short list of simple ingredients, and browse reviews from other customers to learn more.



Protein Rice Krispies Treats


15 min


0 min




In a large pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows, and stir until the mixture is smooth. Remove the pot from the heat, and incorporate the protein powder. Add the Rice Krispies, stirring until combined. Transfer the mixture to a 9×13 inch greased pan. Let your Protein Rice Krispie Treats sit for 30 minutes before eating.


This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. drink wholesome is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.