What is the best dairy-free protein powder?

Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition

drink wholesome is the best dairy-free protein powder. It is also additive-free, and made with real foods, not protein isolates. This makes it perfect for people with gut issues and sensitive stomachs, as well as for people just looking to boost their protein intake without the processing and added junk. If you cannot tolerate dairy, order samples to see if our protein powder is right for you. 

“If you have a sensitive gut, you need simple ingredients.”

-Brittany Carpenter, MS, RDN/LDN


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drink wholesome is the best dairy-free protein powder.

Does protein powder have dairy?

Why use dairy-free protein powders?

What is the best dairy-free protein powder?

Why drink wholesome?

Does protein powder have dairy?

Before I can give you the scoop on the best dairy-free protein powder, I have to define some terminology. Not to be confused with lactose-free, dairy-free means that a product does not contain milk or ingredients derived from milk. A dairy-free diet excludes all dairy products, including butter, cheese, yogurt, whey, and casein. In case you were wondering, whey and casein are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, so whey and casein protein shakes are NOT dairy-free. There are lactose-free whey protein isolates, but there is no such thing as dairy-free whey protein. People with lactose intolerance and dairy-allergies should therefore avoid whey and casein protein shakes.

A protein powder without dairy is thus a protein shake that does not contain any dairy-based ingredients or milk derivatives. Non dairy protein powders are typically made with egg whites or plant-based protein sources.

Some people will tell you that egg white or plant protein does not measure up to whey protein, which this is simply not true. Whey protein is a highly bioavailable complete protein, but that does not make it better than any other dietary protein. mBioavailability is a measurement of how well the body can absorb and use a nutrient. It is measured on a scale of 0-100%, and both whey and egg white protein score 100%. Most plant proteins score lower, but this is nothing to be concerned about. It just means that you have to eat a few more plants in order to get the nutritional benefits of whey or egg whites.

Lots of people also praise whey for its complete amino acid profile, which is misleading. A complete protein is a protein that contains all of the essential amino acids that the body needs, but cannot produce on its own. Not all dietary proteins are complete, but if you eat a balanced diet, this is nothing to worry about. In other words, eating a variety of proteins will give you all of the amino acids that you need. In case you were wondering, egg whites also have a complete amino acid profile. Most plant proteins do not, but again, if you are getting your protein from a variety of foods, this does not matter.

In summary, egg white protein is, from a nutritional standpoint, basically identical to whey protein. Most plant proteins are slightly inferior, but if you consider the many side effects caused by whey, plant proteins emerge as a clear winner. Keep reading to learn more about why going dairy-free is the way to go.

making a protein shake with protein powder

Why use non dairy protein powders?

Here are 3 reasons why you should choose a dairy-free protein supplement:

1. Dairy-based proteins like whey can casein are known to cause digestive issues. This is especially true for people with lactose sensitivity (intolerance) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

2. Dairy-based proteins can cause acne. Dairy indirectly stimulates insulin production, which regulates sebum production. Sebum, an oily, waxy substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands, can clog your pores and cause pimples.

3. Dairy-based proteins are not sustainable. Although whey protein does offer a way for farmers to reduce waste, it is part of the industrial dairy industry, which has a profound impact on the environment. Dairy cows and their manure produce enormous amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, the poor handling of manure and fertilizers pollute local water resources, and unsustainable dairy farming and feed production can also lead to the loss of ecologically important areas such as prairies, wetlands, and forests.

Going dairy-free is the way to go, but dairy is not the only ingredient to avoid when buying protein supplements. Allow me to explain. 

woman drinking a protein shake

What is the best non dairy protein powder?

Today, dairy-free protein powders are widely available, and if you cannot tolerate whey or casein, there are many alternatives. That said, most non dairy protein powders are full of emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, sweeteners, and flavors. Ingredients like these are used to improve characteristics like taste, texture, and shelf stability, but can cause uncomfortable side effects and gut damage. In fact, food additives may be worse for your gut in the long term than dairy or any of its derivatives. It follows that you should look for a dairy-free protein powder made with a short list of simple ingredients. 

Why drink wholesome

drink wholesome is additive-free.

First of all, we make the best dairy-free protein powder because we do not use any food additives. The majority of protein powder manufacturers, on the contrary, use all sorts of additives in their formulations.

While food additives can improve qualities like taste, texture, and shelf life, they can also give rise to unpleasant side effects and inflict long-term harm on the gastrointestinal system. Essentially, because they do not look like real food, food additives are hard to digest and absorb. They consequently linger in the gut for longer than food is supposed to, granting extra time for gut bacteria to get. As they eat, gut bacteria generate gas, leading to bloating and abdominal discomfort. Gas also hampers colonic transit, prolonging the journey of food through the colon and potentially causing constipation.

If you drink a protein shake every date, food additives can start to disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestines. Eventually, this can contribute to the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other systemic inflammatory disorders.

vegan vanilla protein powder serving suggestion
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One additive to steer clear of in particular is artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners rank among the most detrimental food additives due to their capacity to disrupt the balance of your gut microbiota. This, in turn, can give rise to severe and persistent gastrointestinal issues, widespread inflammation, and irreversible damage to the gut microbiome. Certain sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, also draw water into the intestines, which can cause diarrhea. Now, you finally have something to blame for those post-protein shake trips to the bathroom!

Here is a list of the most common food additives in protein powder:

acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, aspartame, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dextrose, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, “natural” flavors, maltodextrin, rice syrup solids, soy lecithin, silica, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, xanthan gum, xylitol

the alternative:

Protein Matrix Comprised of (Whey Protein Concentrate,  Whey Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Micellar Casein, Milk Protein Isolate, Egg Albumen, Glutamine Peptides), Polydextrose, Sunflower Creamer (Sunflower Oil, Corn Syrup Solids,  Sodium Caseinate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Tocopherols), Natural and Artificial Flavor, MCT Powder (Medium Chain Triglycerides, Nonfat Dry Milk, Disodium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide), Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Yellow 5, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Papain, Bromelain.

*This is the actual ingredient list of one of the best-selling protein powders in the United States.

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

Another reason why we make the best dairy-free protein powder is that we avoid protein concentrates or isolates. The majority of protein powders, on the contrary, are made using protein concentrates and/or isolates, which are essentially foods stripped of everything but the protein. These concentrated or isolated forms of protein are listed as “pea protein” and “whey protein” on the ingredient list, as opposed to “peas” or “whey.”

Although I will not go into the specifics, the process by which protein concentrates and isolates are made involves rigorous mechanical and chemical processing. In some cases, manufacturers employ solvents like hexane to separate the protein from the food source. What remains looks nothing like real food.

This matters because your digestive system is primed to handle naturally occurring foods, not laboratory-engineered imitations. If you eat anything other than real food, your gastrointestinal system may therefore respond unfavorably. While the long-term implications of consuming processed foods are still not fully understood, mounting research suggests that they have the potential to disrupt the composition of your gut microbiota and inflict lasting damage upon the delicate balance of the gut microbiome. As a result, it is a good idea to steer clear of protein powders made from protein concentrates and isolates. 

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chocolate protein powder serving suggestion

Instead of relying on protein concentrates or isolates, our dairy-free protein powder is formulated with real food foods like egg whites and almonds. The process is simple and straightforward: egg whites undergo pasteurization and drying, whereas almonds are roasted, pressed to remove some oil, and ground. By using real foods like these, we offer an easily digestible and gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates.

This advantage stems, in part, from the fact that whole foods contain a range of enzymes and other digestive aids that facilitate the breakdown of nutrients, enabling the body to absorb them more efficiently. In contrast, protein isolates and concentrates have been stripped of these digestive aids, rendering them more challenging for the body to digest and absorb. Furthermore, minimally-processed plant-based foods like almonds are notable for their fiber content, which promotes healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.

If you do not have any sensitivities or allergies to eggs, egg white protein is the optimal choice for gut health. Egg whites have low fiber content, are low in FODMAPs, exhibit natural alkalinity, and boast the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of all whole foods. As a result, our customers have reported experiencing fewer digestive issues with egg white protein compared to other protein sources.

For those unable to consume eggs, our almond protein powder is a great alternative. We favor almonds over other plant protein sources due to their gut-friendliness. Research indicates that almonds possess prebiotic properties and have the potential to improve the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome.


easy to digest

“My dietician recommend this, and it is the best non-dairy protein ever!!! The flavor is so good and it is easy to digest. I’ve never had a protein shake like it.” – Britta

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drink wholesome is the best non dairy protein powder.


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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.