What is the best protein powder for gut health?

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

drink wholesome is the best gut health protein powder. It is additive-free, dairy-free, and made with real foods, not protein isolates – 99% of supplements fail to meet at least one of these criteria. 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 suffer from Candidiasis, Crohn’s, diverticulitis, gastritis, gastroparesis, GERD, leaky gut, IBS, IBD, SIBO, ulcerative colitis, or any other digestive disease, 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


vanilla protein powder

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drink wholesome is the best protein powder for gut health.

What is the gut? 

What are probiotics? prebiotics?  

Is protein powder good for gut health?

What is the best protein powder for gut health?

Why drink wholesome?

What is the gut? 

If you read health news, you have almost certainly heard of the gut. These days, everyone and their mother is raving about gut healthy foods like kombucha, kefir, and kimchi. Both popular media and the scientific community are screaming at us to heal our guts and take care of gut issues we did not know we had. New products full of probiotics and prebiotics hit the market every day. The gut craze, or hysteria as I like to call it, has arrived and is here to stay. That said, it comes with a lot of confusion. What even is the gut? And why is it so important? Keep reading for a back-to-basics introduction to the gut, and a few tips on how to choose a protein powder for gut health.

The gut, to put it simply, is a pathway through your body that allows you to break down food and absorb nutrients. Gut health refers to the function and balance of everything in this system. When people talk about gut health, they are often referring to the gut microbiome, a collection of microorganisms living in your small intestines. These microorganisms play an important role in digestion and overall health. More and more studies show that an imbalance of bacteria in your gut may lead to chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes.

What are probiotics? prebiotics?  

Probiotics are bacteria and yeasts that live in your gut. The most common are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. You can get probiotics from supplements, as well as from foods prepared by bacterial fermentation. Foods high in probiotics include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi. Although the evidence is promising, more research is needed on the health benefits of probiotics, that is, the scientific community still disagrees about what the actual benefits are, as well as about which strains of bacteria are good, and which are bad. Some researchers even warn about possible negative effects of probiotics and call for caution and strict regulation. I mention this because a lot of food and supplement companies spike their products with probiotics in an effort to make them gut-friendly. Given the uncertainty that surrounds the role of these microorganisms, it is wise to avoid products like these until more conclusive research is available .

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are foods (typically high-fiber foods) that feed the microorganisms in your gut. They help create a healthy gut microbiome and can be found in foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Some food and supplement companies also spike their products with prebiotics, which is usually not a good thing. Instead of using whole food fiber sources, these companies tend to use cheap, heavily-processed ingredients like guar gum and inulin. Guar gum and inulin are common food additives, and although they are high in fiber, they are also so processed that they look nothing like real food. For this reason, they are known to cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal (GI) side effects (more about this later). It is therefore always a good idea to read the ingredient list and identify where the fiber is coming from. 

making a protein shake with protein powder

Is protein powder bad for gut health?

The average protein powder can cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal (GI) side effects and long term gut damage. Most of the time, this has nothing to do with the type or amount of protein. Instead, added ingredients like emulsifiers, thickeners, artificial sweeteners are to blame.

The reason why protein powder can have such a big impact on your gut health is that most people consume it regularly, if not every day. You have to be extra careful about foods you eat often, as trace amounts of ingredients can add up quickly.

woman drinking a protein shake

What is the best gut health protein powder?

The best protein powder for gut health is the protein powder that looks the most like real food. Basically, your gut was designed to digest real foods, and real foods only. Artificial and heavily-processed ingredients are hard to digest, and can impair both your short and long-term gut health.

As a rule of thumb, look for a protein powder with a short list of simple ingredients – the shorter and the simpler, the better. If it is something you can find in nature, it is probably good for your gut. Keep reading to learn more. 

Why drink wholesome

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best protein powder for gut health is that we do not use food additives. Most other protein powder companies, on the contrary, add ingredients like emulsifiers, thickeners, artificial sweeteners, and flavors to their recipes, all of which can cause side effects like bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

Because additives do not look like real food, your gut cannot fully break them down. They therefore sit in your gut for a long time, which can cause your intestines to absorb too much water, leading to diarrhea.They can also feed your gut bacteria, which produce gas. Too much gas in your gut can cause bloating, flatulence, stomach pain, and even constipation

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

One reason to steer clear of food additives is their long-term impact on your gut health. When you eat them often, additives disrupt regulatory pathways in your intestines. This makes you more likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other systemic inflammatory conditions. Some additives, like artificial sweeteners, can also throw off the delicate balance of your gut microbiome, which can impact your ability to digest food and absorb the nutrients you need.

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

drink wholesome is dairy-free.

Another reason why we make the best gut health protein powder is that we do not use dairy-based proteins. Many other protein powders, on the other hand, use whey and/or casein protein, which are byproducts of making cheese and yogurt. These dairy-based proteins are known to cause digestive issues, especially for one-third of adults with lactose intolerance. Individuals with lactose intolerance lack the enzymes needed to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As you now know, partially digested food can cause uncomfortable GI symptoms. 

vegan vanilla protein powder serving suggestion
vanilla protein powder lifestyle image 1
drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best protein powder for gut health is that we do not use protein concentrates or isolates. Almost all other protein powders use one or both of these protein sources, which have been stripped of everything except the protein itself. Instead of being labeled as “peas” or “whey,” concentrates and isolates are listed as “pea protein” or “whey protein.”

To produce protein concentrates and isolates, manufacturers use a lot of mechanical and chemical processing. In some cases, they rely on chemical solvents like hexane to extract the protein. This means that  what you end up adding to your protein shake is far from real, whole food.

As you just learned, your digestive system is designed to handle minimally-processed, or unprocessed real foods, not heavily-processed or artificial substitutes. Eating anything other than real food can lead to unpleasant side effects. While researchers are still studying the long-term effects of consuming processed ingredients like protein isolates, the evidence emerging suggests they can mess with your gut microbiome.

The gut plays a crucial role in digestion, acts as a barrier against harmful pathogens, helps educate the immune system, and influences various physiological processes. When the gut microbiome gets disturbed, it can be linked to the development of many chronic illnesses. That’s why I strongly advise against using protein powders made with protein concentrates and isolates. Stick to whole, natural foods to keep your gut and overall health in top shape.

The gut plays a crucial role in digestion, acts as a barrier against harmful pathogens, helps educate the immune system, and influences various physiological processes. A damaged gut microbiome, it follows, has been linked to the development of many chronic illnesses. That is why I strongly advise against using protein powders made with protein concentrates and isolates. Stick to real, natural foods to keep your gut and overall health in top shape.

vegan chocolate protein powder lifestyle image 1
chocolate protein powder serving suggestion

Instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best gut health protein powder with egg whites and almonds. Egg whites go through a simple process of pasteurization and drying, while almonds are roasted, pressed (to remove some oil), and ground. These minimally-processed ingredients result in protein powders that are incredibly gentle on your digestive system. Unlike protein isolates and concentrates, real foods like these contain natural enzymes and digestive aids that help with digestion.

If you do not have egg allergies or sensitivities, egg white protein is an excellent choice for promoting gut health. Egg whites are low in fiber, low in FODMAPs, and naturally alkaline, making them an easily digestible source of complete protein. Our satisfied customers often mention experiencing fewer digestive issues when using our egg white protein powder compared to other protein supplements.

For those following a vegan diet or unable to consume eggs, our vegan almond protein powder is a fantastic alternative. Almonds have prebiotic effects, meaning they nourish the diversity and composition of your gut microbiome. Additionally, they support healthy and regular bowel movements.

In summary, we take immense pride in crafting protein powders with minimal processing, so you can enjoy the benefits of protein supplementation without worrying about your gut health.


easy to digest

“I have tried (I swear!) every protein powder (plant based) under the sun. My dietitian recommended Drink Wholesome as a gut friendly one. I figured, why not, what’s another one? So many tasted good, but hurt my gut. Or, tasted terrible and were okay for my gut. But this one…. wins both!” – Kaila

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drink wholesome makes the best gut health protein powder.


vegan chocolate 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.