What is the best protein powder for IBS?
What is IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder (GI) that affects between 10% to 15% of adults in the United States. Common symptoms, which vary in severity and duration from person to person, include bloating, constipation, diarrhea. The cause of IBS is unknown, but may be related to an overly sensitive gut or immune system.
IBS can be managed through diet. Most IBS sufferers simply avoid the foods that trigger symptoms, an approach called the low FODMAP diet. FODMAPs – fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyol – are short-chain carbohydrates common in the American diet. They are found in foods like wheat, milk, and food additives, and are notorious for triggering digestive uncomfortable GI symptoms. A low FODMAP diet simply restricts high FODMAP foods.
How do I know if a food is low FODMAP?
Reading food labels for low FODMAP eating is tricky. First of all, is is impossible to guess the FODMAP content of a food. It is therefore a good idea to familiarize yourself with high FODMAP foods and avoid them whenever possible. Moreover, ingredient lists often look unfamiliar, and the exact quantity of each ingredient is not disclosed. Ingredients are listed in order of descending weight, however, so if a high FODMAP ingredient is listed last, the actual amount might be so small that you can tolerate it. Finally, as a rule of thumb, if you do not recognize it, and cannot figure out what it is, do not eat it. Some ingredients may not be on any approved low-FODMAP lists, but this does not necessarily mean that they are safe to eat. Do your research, and if you cannot find the answer, play it safe and eat something else.
Is protein powder good for IBS? Are protein shakes good for IBS?
IBS can result in weight loss in some cases. IBS patients may experience such extreme stomach pain that they may not eat as much as they normally would. IBS can also lead to malnutrition. When you have IBS, you may avoid certain foods that are healthy because they aggravate your symptoms. As a result, you can miss out on key nutrients, one of which is protein. This is where protein supplements can help; adding a protein supplement to your diet can ensure that you are getting enough calories and protein. That said, not all protein supplements are good for people with IBS.
Some protein supplements are low FODMAP, others are not, and the only way to tell is to read the ingredients. Common high FODMAP protein supplement ingredients include whey and casein, inulin, many natural flavors, and sugar polyols like xylitol. Just because your protein supplement does not contain any of these high FODMAP ingredients does not mean that it is good for your gut, however. Many protein powders and protein shakes are made with seemingly-safe ingredients that are bad news for people with IBS and sensitive stomachs.
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 an IBS 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 emulsifiers, stabilizers, and thickeners. Ingredients like these improve characteristics like shelf stability, but are hard to digest and can cause uncomfortable side effects (more about this soon). This is why I recommend that you make your own IBS friendly protein shakes for sensitive stomachs with protein powder. That said, not all protein powders for IBS patients are created equal, and many contain the same additives found in ready-to-drink protein shakes! Keep reading to learn why you should avoid food additives.
Avoid food additives.
Most protein powders 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 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 protein powder for IBS sufferers, 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.
Avoid protein concentrates and isolates.
Finding an additive-free, dairy-free protein powder is hard. Finding an additive-free, dairy-free protein powder made with real foods is next to impossible. Why? Most protein powders are made with protein concentrates and isolates, foods stripped of everything but the protein. They are listed on the ingredient list as “pea protein” and “whey protein” as opposed to “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. The problem with ingredients that look nothing like real food is that they are hard to digest. (Your gut always prefers the real thing, not some heavily-processed imitation.)
Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we use 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 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 IBS safe protein powders are low FODMAP, additive-free, dairy-free, and made with real foods, not protein isolates – 99% of supplements fail to meet at least one of these criteria. They are 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. Our chocolate protein powder, for example, contains egg whites, coconut, cocoa, and monk fruit. All of these ingredients are allowed on the low FODMAP diet, and are safe if eaten in small quantities. 1 serving of our protein powder is considered a “small quantity,” and is therefore safe for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
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.