What is the best protein powder for PCOS?

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

drink wholesome is the best protein powder for PCOS. 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. 

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drink wholesome is the best protein powder for PCOS.

What is PCOS? 

Is protein powder good for PCOS? 

What is the best protein powder for PCOS?

Why drink wholesome?

What is PCOS? 


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common health problem caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. It affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age, but if you are reading this article, you probably already knew that. You probably also already knew that research has shown diet can help manage the symptoms of PCOS. This is primarily because women with PCOS often have higher than normal insulin levels.

Insulin is a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in your bloodstream at any given moment. If you do not produce enough insulin, your blood sugar levels can rise, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. This can also happen if you are insulin resistant, meaning that your cells are resistant to the effects of insulin. Diet plays an essential role in preventing and managing insulin resistance. It also helps with weight loss, which is likely to decrease the risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes.

Are protein shakes good for PCOS?


Again, research has shown that diet has a profound impact on PCOS. That said, there is no standard diet for PCOS. There is, however, consensus about which foods can help manage PCOS, and which foods should be avoided. Among the foods that help with PCOS are protein-rich foods. Not only does protein have a minimal effect on blood glucose levels, but it also helps facilitate digestion. Protein also plays an integral role in the synthesis of hormones, including estrogen, testosterone, and insulin, which is often impaired in women with PCOS.

Research suggests that a diet with a higher ratio of protein to carbohydrates has metabolic advantages in the treatment of PCOS. In other words, a low carb, high protein diet can help women with PCOS lose weight.  Protein is the most satiating nutrient, meaning it keeps you feeling full for longer than nutrients like fats and carbohydrates. This helps prevent cravings and overeating, which can help you achieve and maintain a calorie deficit (eat fewer calories than you burn).

You have to burn 3,500 more calories than you eat to lose a pound, and to lose weight at a safe rate – 0.5 pound per week – you need to eat 1,750 fewer calories weekly, or 250 calories daily. Replacing a meal or part of a meal with a protein shake will increase the percentage of your calories that come from high protein foods, increasing satiety and decreasing calorie intake.

You should aim to get most of your protein from protein-rich foods like eggs, fish, and nuts. That said, getting enough protein this way can be challenging. Someone on a high protein diet should aim to eat at least 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day. For a 150 pound person, this is well over 100 grams of protein. Eating this much protein from solid food can be really hard, especially for people with dietary restrictions. This is where protein supplements can help.

not all protein powders are created equal

What is the best protein shake for PCOS?


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 PCOS 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, prioritizing convenience, prefer to buy ready-to-drink protein shakes, 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. This is worrisome because 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) can play a role in the development of a number of chronic diseases. 

I therefore recommend that you make your own PCOS protein shake 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 PCOS 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.

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, causing bloating and stomach pain. Gas also slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon), which can lead to constipation. In the long term, food additives can disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine and trigger 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, one additive 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. 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 poorly absorbed by the gut, meaning they feed your hungry gut bacteria. They can also cause diarrhea because they draw water into your intestines. 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, additives are ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Food additives are not the only thing to avoid when buying protein powder, 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 powders in the United States.

drink wholesome is dairy-free.

Another reason why we make the best PCOS protein powder 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. This is especially true 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. 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 side effects. 

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best protein powder for PCOS weight loss 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 appear 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.

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.

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. 

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

Instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best PCOS-friendly protein powder with whole foods like egg whites and almonds. Egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried before becoming protein powder. Almonds are just roasted, pressed to remove some of the oil, and ground. Whole foods like these are an easy to digest, gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates.

Whole foods contain a variety of enzymes and other digestive aids that help to break down the food, making it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients. Protein isolates and concentrates, on the other hand, have been stripped of these digestive aids, making them harder for the body to digest and absorb. Moreover, minimally-processed plant-based foods like almonds are rich in fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.

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 powder than with any other type of protein powder. If you cannot eat eggs, try our vegan almond protein powder. We prefer almonds to other plant protein sources because they are more gut-friendly. Research suggests that almonds possess prebiotic properties that 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 PCOS protein powder.

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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.