What is the best low calorie protein shake?

drink wholesome is the best low calorie protein shake. Our vanilla flavor, for example, has only 100 calories per serving. It is perfect for people looking to boost their protein intake without the extra calories. Order samples to see if our low calorie protein shake is right for you. 

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drink wholesome is the best low calorie protein shake.

Written by Jack Schrupp & endorsed by Baylee Reller, RDN

What is a calorie?

A calorie is the unit of energy in food. Your body uses calories to perform all bodily functions, and certain foods have more calories by weight than others. For instance, a 1 kilogram watermelon has fewer than 400 calories, whereas 1 kilogram of Swiss cheese has more than 4,000 calories. Understanding what calories are, and how many are in the foods you eat, is an important part of having a healthy diet and managing your body weight.

What does low calorie mean? 

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in order to be labeled as low-calorie, a packaged food must have less than 40 calories per serving. Very few protein supplements meet this criteria. There are 4 calories in 1 gram of protein, so if you want to eat 20 grams of protein, you have to eat at least 80 calories. Our unflavored protein powder has 90 calories per 20 grams of protein, which is basically the lowest calorie to protein ratio of any natural protein source.

As you can see in the table below, egg white protein has fewer calories and more protein per calorie than both whey and pea protein.

g protein/calorie

Why drink a low calorie protein shake? 

Replacing a meal, or part of a meal, with a low calorie protein shake can help you lose weight. Protein is the most filling macronutrient, so increasing the percentage of your calories that come from high protein foods will decrease cravings throughout the day and discourage overeating. Please note that if you just add a protein shake to your diet without making other changes to your diet or lifestyle, you will gain weight, not lose it.

Weight loss is all about burning more calories than you eat. It follows that adding more calories to your diet in the form of a protein shake without burning proportionally more calories through physical activity will not help you lose weight. There is one exception to this rule, however. Simply eating more protein can help you lose weight if and only if it helps you build muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat, so building muscle can help you lose weight.

Building muscle requires amino acids. Some amino acids can be synthesized by the body, others must be consumed through dietary protein. Building muscle also requires some form of resistance training (i.e. weight lifting). Together, resistance training and eating protein can help you build muscle, burn more calories, and possibly lose weight.

Weight loss is rarely this straightforward, however, as muscle also weighs more than fat. Nonetheless, having more muscle is definitely advantageous when it comes to losing weight, and dietary protein is definitely needed to build muscle.

Adding a low calorie protein shake to your diet is a great way to significantly increase your protein intake without also significantly increasing your calorie intake. Some people prefer the convenience of ready-to-drink protein shakes, whereas others prefer to make their own protein shakes with protein powder. I prefer the latter because nearly all ready-to-drink protein shakes are full of added junk. With protein powder, I have more control over what I put into my body.


What is the best low calorie protein shake? 

Although single ingredient protein powders have the fewest calories, mixing single ingredient protein powders with just milk or water does not make a tasty low calorie protein shake. This might work in a pinch, but it is not a sustainable practice (at least not as far as my taste buds are concerned). If you are anything like me, and you want to make a low calorie protein shake, you probably want to use a flavored protein powder.

Most low calorie flavored protein powders are made with a cocktail of food additives, namely thickeners and sugar substitutes. Low calorie thickeners (gums, carrageenan, etc.) are used to replace the creamy texture of high calorie fats. Low or zero calorie sugar substitutes (artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, etc.) are used to replace the sweetness of high calorie sugars. Replacing fats and sugars with thickeners and sugar substitutes helps keep the calories low, but at a cost.

Food additives are not good for you, which is why I made drink wholesome. My vanilla egg white protein powder has 100 calories per serving, and is made with 100% real foods. Instead of gums, I use healthy fats from coconut. Instead of sugar substitutes, I use real maple sugar. Both of these changes add a few extra calories, but make for a much healthier low calorie protein shake. Keep reading to learn more.


Why drink wholesome

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best low calorie protein shake is that we do not use ingredients like gums, lecithin, fake flavors, and fake sweeteners. Even in small quantities, additives like these can trigger painful side effects, especially if you have gut issues.

Food additives are not real foods, making them hard to digest. They thus spend extra time in your gut, feeding your hungry gut bacteria. Bacteria release gas as they eat, so extra time to eat means extra gas, which can cause bloating, flatulence, and stomach pain. Gas can also slow colonic transit – the time it takes for food to move through the colon – resulting in constipation. In some cases, partially digested food additives make your colon absorb extra water, causing diarrhea.

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

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

Over time, eating lots of food additives can disturb regulatory pathways in your intestines, leading to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other systemic inflammatory disorders. Certain additives, namely artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, can also disrupt your gut microbiome – the collection of microorganisms living in your gut. An unhealthy gut microbiome is a common driver of inflammation, and has been shown to cause several chronic diseases.

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 low calorie protein shakes is that we do not use dairy-based proteins like whey and casein. Whey and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt manufacturing, have a tendency to upset stomachs. This is especially true for people with lactose intolerance, which affects most adults. Lactose intolerant individuals cannot fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As you now know, foods that cannot be fully digested cause painful side effects. 

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best low calorie high protein shakes is that we do not use protein concentrates or isolates. Virtually every other protein supplement is made with one or both of these protein sources, which are stripped down to only the protein. Making concentrates and isolates calls for heavy mechanical and chemical processing, sometimes using solvents like hexane. As a result, o what you eat ends up looking nothing like real food. 

Your gut can handle unprocessed or minimally-processed real foods, not artificial or refined ingredients. It is for this reason that eating processed ingredients like protein isolates can change the composition of your gut microbiome, which does more than just help you to digest food. Your gut microbiome also protects against pathogens, educates your immune system, and influences, directly or indirectly, most of your physiology. As you might imagine, a mess up gut microbiome is bad news for your overall health. 

Instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best low calories protein shake with egg whites. Egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried, making them a gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates. They are also low fiber, low FODMAP, and alkaline, making them super easy to digest. This is why our happy customers report fewer digestive problems with our egg white protein powder than with any other type of protein supplement.


easy to digest

“I’m a huge fan of drink wholesome and I’ve had all of the other flavors. I gave the unflavored a try not expecting to like it, but I was pleasantly surprised. It really doesn’t taste like much at all. I add it to my smoothie with banana and peanut butter and it’s like it’s not even there. 90 calories for 20 grams of protein is impressive too. Really good product.” – Thomas

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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.