What is the best low carb protein shake?
Most protein shakes contain a few carbohydrates, which is normal and in most cases a good thing. Let me explain why.
Carbohydrates (carbs) and proteins are two of three main types of macronutrients in food. Most foods contain both in different amounts. Some foods, like rice and wheat, are naturally high in carbs and low in protein. Others, like eggs and legumes, are high in protein and low in carbs. The latter are used to make protein supplements, which makes sense because protein supplements are supposed to help you boost their protein intake, not your carbohydrate intake. Most protein supplement manufacturers do not simply use dietary proteins to make their products, however. They actually process the proteins to remove the carbohydrates, fats, and other nutrients. What is left is something called a protein concentrate or isolate.* For someone looking to boost his or her protein intake, this sounds like a good thing. For someone looking to eat natural food, however, it does not.
I will not go into the details, but protein concentrates and isolates undergo heavy mechanical and chemical processing before becoming protein powder. Sometimes, manufacturers use chemical solvents like hexane to isolate (separate) the protein from the food. This means that what you end up putting into your body looks nothing like nature. There are a number of reasons why this is concerning. Keep reading to learn more.
Protein concentrates and isolates have been stripped of the nutrients that make food taste good. They therefore taste like chalk. In order to mask the chalkiness, manufacturers use food additives. This is why the average protein supplement contains 10+ ingredients. It is also why protein supplements are so hard to digest.
Before I get into why food additives are bad for your gut, I need to explain the difference between ready-to-drink protein shakes and protein shakes made with protein powder. Ready-to-drink protein shakes, as the name implies, can be consumed with zero preparation. In order to make a protein shake with protein powder, you have to mix the powder with milk or water. This requires a blender or a shaker bottle, and a little extra time and effort. Some people prefer ready-to-drink protein shakes because they are more convenient, but if they knew what they were drinking, they would probably vomit.
Ready-to-drink protein shakes are full of food additives like emulsifiers, stabilizers, and thickeners. Ingredients like these are required for shelf stability (to prevent the shake from spoiling on the shelf). This is why I highly recommend that you make your own protein shakes with protein powder. That said, not all protein powders are created equal, and many also contain lots of additives. Keep reading to learn how to pick an easy to digest protein powder.
*Protein concentrates and isolates are listed on the ingredient list as “pea protein,” for example, as opposed to “peas.”
Avoid food additives.
Again, most protein supplements are full of food additives. Although not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, additives can add up quickly (especially if you drink a protein shake every day) and cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain. This is because food additives are, generally speaking, hard to digest. They sit in your gut for longer than food should, which gives your gut bacteria more time to eat. As they eat, these bacteria produce gas, which causes bloating and stomach pain. Gas also slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon) and can lead to constipation.
In the long term, food additives can disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine, which can result in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders. Artificial sweeteners are among the most harmful additives in the long term as they alter the composition of your gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food). This can lead to serious, chronic GI problems, widespread inflammation, and permanent damage to the gut microbiome. Some sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, are also poorly absorbed by the gut (meaning they feed those hungry gut bacteria) and cause diarrhea because they draw water into your intestine. 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 supplements:
acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, aspartame, carob bean gum, 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
When it comes to identifying food additives, go with your gut. 😉 As a rule of thumb, they are the ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Food additives are not the only thing to look out for when buying low carb protein powder, however. There are several other ingredients that can upset your stomach.
egg whites, coconut, cocoa, monk fruit
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.
Dairy-based proteins like whey and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, are known to cause digestive issues, especially for people with lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Over one in three Americans are lactose intolerant, and the prevalence of IBS is somewhere between 10 and 15 percent in the United States. It follows that you may be lactose intolerant or have IBS and not even know it. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a poorly understood condition, and it is unclear why dairy triggers symptoms. Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is clearly understood. People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As you just learned, partially digested food feeds the bacteria in your gut, which produce gas.
“I just finished my first bag and ordered 2 more! I Iove this stuff! I have IBS and every protein powder hurts my stomach…except drink wholesome!”
Why drink wholesome?
Our dairy-free protein powders do contain a few carbohydrates, roughly 4 net grams per serving, which is a good news for your gut. Because we do not use protein concentrates or isolates, we do not need to use food additives. This means that drink wholesome is perfect for people with gut issues and sensitive stomachs, as well as for people just looking to boost their protein intake without the added junk. If you are looking for truly low carb, try our unflavored protein powder, which is made with pasteurized egg whites and contains only 1 gram of carbohydrates per serving.
Again, drink wholesome makes the best low carb protein shakes. If you suffer from Candidiasis, Crohn’s, diverticulitis, gastritis, gastroparesis, GERD, leaky gut, IBS, IBD, SIBO, or ulcerative colitis, you have come to the right place. Our protein powders are made with simple, easy to digest ingredients. Order samples to see for yourself.
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.