What is the best protein powder for IBS?

Finding a protein powder for IBS can be a daunting task. Not all protein powders are created equal, and many can leave you bloated, gassy, and running to the bathroom. But fear not! With the right knowledge and approach, you can find a protein powder that offers both comfort and nutrition, making it the perfect addition to your wellness journey.

Written by Jack Schrupp & Brittany Adelman, RDN

How to pick a protein for IBS

Living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a daily struggle. The constant pain, bloating, and unpredictable bowel movements can make even the simplest tasks feel overwhelming. It can also make it hard to meet your daily nutrition goals, especially when it comes to protein. 

One area that often gets overlooked in IBS management is the impact of protein powders on IBS symptoms. Many protein powders contain ingredients that can trigger flare-ups and worsen digestive discomfort. There are options formulated to be IBS-friendly, however, so keep reading to learn more. 

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, bacterial overgrowth, or immune system dysregulation

Diet is one tool that can help to manage IBS symptoms. One approach, called the low FODMAP diet, is to simply avoid foods that trigger or worsen symptoms. FODMAPs – fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyol – are short-chain carbohydrates common in the American diet. They are found in foods like wheat and milk, and are notorious for triggering digestive distress. A low FODMAP diet simply restricts high FODMAP foods. 

The low FODMAP diet can be highly restrictive, however, and is not always sustainable in the long-term. Successfully managing IBS therefore requires a multidisciplinary approach including strategic dietary changes, gut analysis, mindfulness strategies, and dietary supplements. If you are struggling with IBS, always be sure to establish a trusted team of healthcare providers.

How do I know if a food is low FODMAP? 

Reading food labels for low FODMAP eating is tricky. First of all, it 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. 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. It is also important to recognize that the exact quantity of each ingredient is usually not disclosed on the ingredient list. 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.


Is protein powder good for IBS?

IBS can lead to weight loss due to selective eating, trouble absorbing nutrients from food, chronic diarrhea, and reduced appetite. It can also lead to malnutrition if left unmanaged.

One of the key nutrients that people with IBS miss out on is protein. Exactly why patients with IBS may experience protein deficiency is unknown, but it is likely due to one or more of the causes outlined above.

Adding a scoop of protein powder to your diet is an easy way to ensure you are getting enough calories and protein. You put it in smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods for an nutritional protein boost.

“It’s important to note that while protein powders can be a convenient way to supplement your diet, they should not replace whole food sources of protein. It’s always best to prioritize a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods.” – Brittany Adelman, RDN

That said, not all protein powders are good for people with IBS. Continue reading to learn more about the impact of IBS on digestion, so you can make an informed decision when choosing an IBS-friendly protein powder.

What is the best IBS protein powder?

Some protein powders are certified low FODMAP. Our unflavored egg white protein powder, for example, is low FODMAP certified by Monash University, a leader in low FODMAP research. Most protein powders are not certified low FODMAP, however, because the cost of certification is often prohibitively high. This is not a big deal, it just means that you have to read the ingredients closely.

Common high FODMAP protein powder ingredients include whey and casein, inulin, many natural flavors, and sugar polyols like xylitol. Just because your protein powder does not contain any of these high FODMAP ingredients, however, does not mean that it is good for your gut. Many protein powders are made with low FODMAP ingredients, but can still upset your stomach.

If you have IBS, you want a protein powder made with a short list of simple, ideally low-FODMAP ingredients. You also want to avoid added emulsifiers, thickeners, flavorings, and most sugar substitutes. Ingredients like these can cause painful side effects and long-term gut health problems, especially for people with IBS.

What to look for in an IBS-friendly protein powder

In short, when looking for a protein powder suitable for IBS, it is important to consider the following: 

1. Low FODMAP: Look for proteins that are labeled as low FODMAP, or formulated specifically for IBS patients.

2. No artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols: Avoid protein powders that contain artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols as they can irritate the digestive system. Instead, opt for products that use natural sweeteners or are unsweetened.

3. No food additives: Emulsifiers, thickeners, and other food additives used many protein powders can cause or exacerbate IBS symptoms.

4. Highly digestible protein: Look for protein powders made with highly digestible protein sources like egg whites. 

5. Minimal allergens: It is recommended to choose a protein powder that is free from common allergens such as dairy, gluten, and soy.

By considering these key factors, you will find an IBS-friendly protein powder that both meets your nutritional needs and supports your digestive well-being. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet. 

The top 3 protein powders for IBS

When it comes to managing IBS symptoms, finding the right protein powder can make a significant difference in your overall well-being. We have reviewed all of the protein powder brands known for supporting individuals with IBS. Here are our top 3 choices. Note that each of these brands uses different protein sources, so there is hopefully an option for everyone. 

1. drink wholesome – IBS-friendly, low-FODMAP certified egg white protein powders


Egg whites are hands down the best protein source for people with IBS. Our customers have experienced fewer side effects with our egg white protein powders than with any other protein supplement.

2. Better Blends – IBS-friendly, low-FODMAP certified collagen and oat protein powders


This blend of bovine collagen and oat protein is another good option for IBS patients.

3. TumLove – IBS-friendly, low-FODMAP certified pea and rice protein powder


Pea protein is a bit of hit or miss when it comes to IBS, but this is a solid option for people on a plant-based diet.

Keep in mind that every gut is different, and what works for someone else may not necessarily work for you. 

drink wholesome is the best protein powder for IBS

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best protein powder for IBS is that we, unlike most protein powder companies, do not use food additives. While small amounts of additives might not seem like a problem, they can cause painful side effects for IBS sufferers and people with sensitive stomachs.

Basically, because food additives look very little like real food, they are challenging to digest. This gives your gut bacteria more time to eat and release gas. Too much gas can cause bloating, flatulence, and stomach pain. It can also slow the movement of food through the colon, causing constipation.

For some people, partially digested food additives cause the colon to absorb extra water and/or prevent the colon from absorbing water. This triggers osmotic diarrhea, and may be the reason why protein shakes make you run to the bathroom.

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

acacia fiber, acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, ascorbic acid, aspartame, calcium carbonate, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dicalcium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, maltodextrin, mono- and diglycerides, ‘natural’ flavors, rice bran extract, rice dextrin, rice hulls, rosemary extract, silica, silicon dioxide, sodium alginate, sodium bicarbonate, soluble corn fiber, soy lecithin, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, tocopherols, tricalcium phosphate, xanthan gum, xylitol, zinc oxide

Eating additives regularly can disturb regulatory pathways in your intestines, triggering the development of conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Certain additives, namely artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, can also disrupt the balance of gut microbiome – the collection of microorganisms living in your gut. An imbalanced gut microbiome is a significant contributor to inflammation, and makes it hard to digest and absorb food, which is the last thing you want if you have IBS.

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 protein powder for IBS patients 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. These dairy-based proteins are known to cause digestive problems, particularly for individuals with lactose intolerance, which is common among those with IBS.

If you have lactose intolerance, you lack the ability to fully digest lactose, a sugar in dairy. As you now know, when food is only partially digested, it can cause digestive distress.

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best protein powder for IBS sufferers is that we do not use protein concentrates or isolates. In contrast, almost all other protein powders are made with one or both of these protein sources. Protein concentrates and isolates are super processed, sometimes with solvents like hexane, so they look nothing like real food.

Your gut is designed to digest minimally or unprocessed whole foods, not protein concentrates or isolates. This is why a growing body of research suggests that heavily-processed ingredients like these can alter the composition of your gut microbiota. As you just learned, an altered or dysbiotic gut microbiome is not something you want, especially if you have IBS.

We pride ourselves on making the best IBS protein powder with egg whites. Unlike protein concentrates and isolates, egg whites undergo very little processing. The egg whites we use, for example, are simply pasteurized and dried. This makes them a gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates.

Unlike protein concentrates and isolates, egg whites still contain enzymes and other digestive aids that help you break them down. They are also low in fiber, low FODMAP, alkaline (maintaining healthy pH levels in your gut), and bioactive (promoting the growth of healthy gut bacteria). In fact, my happy customers have reported fewer digestive issues with my egg white protein powder than with any other type of protein supplement.

IBS-friendly, high protein recipe ideas

Antioxidant Vanilla Berry Protein Smoothie


• 1/2 cup mixed berries

• 1 serving drink wholesome vanilla protein powder

• 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or lactose-free milk

• 1 tablespoon almond butter or sunflower seed butter

• dash of cinnamon (optional)


In a blender, combine the mixed berries, protein powder, unsweetened almond milk, almond butter, and cinnamon. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Vegan Chocolate Almond Protein Energy Bites


• 1 cup rolled oats

• 1/2 cup almond butter or sunflower seed butter

• 1/4 cup maple syrup

• 1 serving drink wholesome vegan chocolate protein powder

• 1/4 cup chopped almonds or pumpkin seeds (optional)


In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well until  evenly incorporated. Roll the mixture into bite-sized balls and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill the balls in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before eating. 

Cinnamon Spice Blueberry Protein Pancakes


• 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree

• 1 scoop drink wholesome vanilla protein powder

• 2 eggs

• 1/4 cup almond flour or oat flour

• 1 teaspoon cinnamon

• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

• 1/2 cup blueberries 

• coconut oil or cooking spray 


In a mixing bowl, whisk together the canned pumpkin puree, protein powder, eggs, flour, cinnamon, and baking powder until smooth. Gently fold in blueberries. Then, heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat and lightly grease with coconut oil or cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup of the pancake batter onto the skillet and cook until bubbles form on the surface, then flip and cook until golden brown on both sides. Repeat with the remaining batter. Serve the pancakes warm with a dollop of lactose-free yogurt or a drizzle of maple syrup.

5 tips for optimal gut health

In closing, here are 5 tips to improve or maintain your gut health:

1. Prioritize fiber Intake: Consuming an adequate amount of dietary fiber is crucial for promoting gut health. Fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts support regular bowel movements, prevent constipation, and provide fuel for good gut bacteria.

2. Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for maintaining healthy digestion and supporting the movement of food through the GI tract. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration and facilitate optimal digestive function.

3. Eat probiotic foods: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy balance of gut microbiota. Include probiotic-rich foods in your diet, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso, to support digestion and strengthen the immune system.

4. Manage stress: Chronic stress can negatively impact gut health by altering gut motility, increasing inflammation, and disrupting the balance of gut bacteria. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or mindfulness to support overall well-being and gut health.

5. Get enough protein: Adequate protein intake is essential for maintaining muscle mass, supporting immune function, and promoting satiety. Choose high-quality protein sources such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and whole-food derived protein powders like drink wholesome. Protein helps repair and regenerate gut tissue, contributing to a healthy digestive system.


simple and delicious

“Finally a protein shake that I can eat! I have leaky gut, MCAS, histamine intolerance, and IBS. This is the only protein shake that works for me.” – Antoine

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.