What is the best protein powder for bone healing?
Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition
drink wholesome is the best protein powder for bone healing. 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. Order samples to see if our protein powder is right for you.
“It has ingredients you can actually pronounce and is freaking delicious.”
drink wholesome is the best protein powder for bone healing.
Which protein is best for bone healing?
Protein is a macronutrient that plays an important role in many biological processes, including bone formation and repair. When you suffer a bone injury, your body needs protein to build and repair new bone tissue (more about this later). Protein powder, which is a concentrated form of protein, can provide an easy and convenient way to boost your protein intake and support bone healing. In addition to providing the raw inputs for bone formation, protein powder can also promote muscle growth. This is important because maintaining muscle mass and strength is crucial for protecting and supporting our bones during the healing process.
Some companies will have you believe that collagen protein is the best protein for bone healing, but this is misleading. One of the main components of bone tissue is collagen, and by consuming collagen protein powder, you can increase your collagen intake. Collagen will not help you build or repair bone tissue more than any other type of dietary protein, however, because the proteins that make up bones are synthesized (made) by the body; they do not come directly from food. A few studies have found that collagen supplementation is associated with improved bone health. That said, most of these studies used rodents. To date, only two studies have investigated the effect of collagen supplementation on bone markers and bone mineral density in humans, so direct scientific evidence to explain the positive effects of collagen supplementation in humans is still lacking.
Osteoblasts are the primary cells responsible for bone formation. They secrete extracellular matrix proteins such as collagen, which, along with calcium deposits, form bones. In other words, skeletal cells, not dietary protein, are responsible for making and repairing your bones. Dietary protein (food) simply supplies these cells with the amino acids they need to synthesize proteins. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and there are two types: essential amino acids (must be in the diet because cells cannot make them) and non-essential amino acids (can be made by cells).
There are also two types of dietary protein: complete and incomplete proteins. Proteins are made up of smaller units, called amino acids. Complete proteins (eggs, meat, and fish) contain all of the amino acids your body cannot make on its own, whereas incomplete proteins (most plants) do not. Collagen protein is actually not a complete protein, which further reinforces the idea that eating collagen is by no means necessary for bone building. To be fair, worrying about whether or not your proteins are complete is a waste of headspace. As long as you are getting protein from a variety of sources, you are getting all of the amino acids you need.
So, to answer your question, any type of protein can help with bone healing. Whenever possible, try to get the bulk of your protein from complete proteins, but do not fret if this is not the case. As long as your body is getting all of the essential amino acids from food, which it almost certainly is, your bones will be healthy in no time.
Which type of protein supplement is best for bone healing?
There are two types of protein supplements: ready-to-drink (store-bought) protein shakes, and protein shakes made with protein powder. In order to make protein shakes for bone healing 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 feel sick to their stomach.
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 and more research shows that disruptions to the composition and function of the gut microbiome (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food) plays a role in the development of chronic diseases ranging from gastrointestinal inflammatory and metabolic conditions to neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory illnesses. This is why I recommend that you make your own bone healing protein shakes with protein powder. That said, not all protein powders are created equal either, 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 protein powder for bone healing is that we do not use food additives. Most protein powders, 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.
When buying protein powder for bone healing, 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 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
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 powder, however. There are several other ingredients that can upset your stomach.
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 dairy-free.
Another reason why we make the best protein powder for bone healing is that we do not use dairy-based proteins. Many protein powders 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 protein powder for bone healing is that we do not use protein isolates. Most protein powders, on the contrary, 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 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 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 your gut microbiome. This is worrisome because your gut does more than just help you to digest food; it protects against pathogens, educates your immune system, and affects directly or indirectly most of your physiologic functions. Disruptions to the gut microbiome have therefore been linked to the development of many chronic diseases. It follows that it is in your best interest to avoid protein powders made with protein concentrates and isolates.
Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best protein powder for bone healing 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.
“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
drink wholesome is the best protein powder for bone healing.