What is the best low carb protein shake?

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

drink wholesome is the best low carb protein shake. 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 looking to boost their protein intake without the processing and added junk. Order samples to see if our protein powder is right for you. 

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drink wholesome is the best low carb protein shake.

Why should I drink a low carb protein shake? 

Do protein shakes contain carbs?

What is the best low carb protein shake?

Why drink wholesome?

Why should I drink a low carb protein shake? 


There are several reasons why you might choose to drink a low carb protein shake. For starters, research shows that a low carb, high protein diet can help with weight loss. This works in part because proteins are much more satiating (filling) than carbohydrates. A low carb, high protein diet can also help you manage your blood sugar levels and digestive health. Eating fewer carbohydrates can reduce blood sugar spikes and crashes and uncomfortable symptoms like bloating and gas.

Do protein shakes contain carbs?


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, which are listed as “pea protein” as opposed to “peas,” 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 several reasons why this is a problem. 

First of all, 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, which is why the average protein supplement contains 10+ ingredients. It is also why protein supplements are so hard to digest.

not all protein shakes are created equal

What is the best low carb protein shake?


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 low carb protein shakes 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 emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, sweeteners, and flavors. Ingredients like these improve characteristics like taste, texture, and shelf stability, but can cause uncomfortable side effects and long-term gut damage (more about this soon). This is why I recommend that you make your own low carb protein shake with protein powder. That said, not all protein powders are created equal, and many contain the same additives found in ready-to-drink protein shakes!

Why drink wholesome


drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best low carb protein shake is that we do not use food additives. Most protein supplements, on the other hand, 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 hard to digest, and 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.

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

When buying protein powder to make a breakfast protein shake, one ingredient to avoid in particular is artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are among the most harmful food 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, 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 protein supplements, however. There are several other ingredients that can upset your stomach.

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 supplements in the United States.

drink wholesome is dairy-free.

Another reason why we make the best low carb protein shakes is that we do not use dairy-based proteins. Many protein supplements are made with whey and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, and 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 and cause stomach pain.

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best low carb protein shake is that we do not use protein isolates. As you just learned, most protein supplements are made with protein concentrates and/or isolates, foods stripped of everything but the protein. They are listed on the ingredient list as “collagen protein,” “pea protein, and” “whey protein” as opposed to “collagen,” “peas,” and “whey.” I will not go into the details, but protein concentrates and isolates undergo heavy mechanical and chemical processing before becoming protein supplement. 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 real food. 

If you think about it, your gut was designed to digest naturally occurring foods, not laboratory formulated imitations, so if you feed it anything but real food, it might get upset. The long term implications of eating processed foods are still not well understood, but more and more research is finding that it can alter the composition of your gut microbiota, and lead to permanent damage to the gut microbiome. It is therefore in your best interest to avoid protein supplements made with protein concentrates and isolates. 

vegan chocolate protein powder lifestyle image 1
chocolate protein powder 14 servings serving suggestion

Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best low carb protein shakes with egg whites and almonds. Egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried before becoming protein powder. Almonds are just roasted, pressed, and ground. Minimally-processed ingredients like these are an easy to digest, gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates. Unless you have a sensitivity or allergy to eggs, egg white protein is the best protein for your gut. Egg whites are low in fiber, low-FODMAP, naturally alkaline, and have the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of any whole food. Our customers have experienced fewer digestive issues with egg white protein than with any other type of protein. If you cannot eat eggs, try our almond protein powder. Unlike protein concentrates or isolates, almonds contain lots of healthy fats, fiber, and other nutrients like calcium and vitamin E. We prefer almonds to other minimally-processed plant protein sources because they are more gut-friendly. Research suggests that almonds possess prebiotic properties and can improve the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome.

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easy to digest

“I’ve had Crohn’s disease for 20+ years and it’s always been hard to find a protein powder my stomach can handle. I’ve had no problem digesting drink wholesome AND it tastes great. I highly recommend this protein powder if you have IBS or Crohn’s.” – Jesse

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drink wholesome is the best high protein low carb shakes.

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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.

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