What is the best protein powder for stroke patients?

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

drink wholesome is the best protein powder for stroke patients. 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 who have had strokes, 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 stroke patients.

Diet and stroke prevention and treatment.

How much protein do stroke patients need?

What is the best protein powder for stroke patients?

Why drink wholesome?

Diet and stroke prevention and treatment.

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. Stroke is one of the major causes of morbidity and disability in developed countries.

It is thought that as many as 9 out of 10 strokes are associated with modifiable risk factors. Diet is one of these factors, and there is growing interest in understanding its influence on stroke risk. A review of scientific studies found that diets rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and dairy and low in meat, sweets, and alcohol significantly improved risk factors for stroke. Several epidemiological studies have also demonstrated an association between higher protein intake and reduced risk of stroke.

Diet also plays an important role in supporting stroke recovery. The consequences of having stroke include several functional limitations, including: reduced muscle strength, reduced circulation, reduced of physical capacity and functional fitness, and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). Existing literature describes how dietary changes, particularly reduced protein intake, may exacerbate these limitations. Achieving a balanced diet and adequate protein intake after a stroke can therefore accelerate the effects of rehabilitation and prevent further complications.

How much protein do stroke patients need?

Malnutrition, specifically protein deficiency, has been cited as a frequent complication of having a stroke. One of the leading causes of malnutrition in stroke patients is difficulty eating and drinking. Stroke patients can lose their eating and drinking abilities due to disorders of consciousness, swallowing problems, postural instability, decreased mobilization, limitations in communication, fatigue, depression, and visuospatial deficits. Malnutrition and protein deficiency in stroke patients may also be caused by stroke induced inflammation, which increases energy expenditure and promotes muscle catabolism. It follows that nearly 90% of stroke patients have a risk of malnutrition, and hospitalized stroke patients consume, on average, only 80-91% of the protein they need.

Again, there is ample evidence that malnutrition is associated with poor outcome in stroke patients, and that protein deficiency in particular impairs recovery. Considering the negative effects of low calorie and protein intake in the prognosis of stroke patients, it is clear that protein and calorie targets should be reached as soon as possible. Moreover, given that dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) contributes to malnutrition risk in stroke patients, liquid protein supplements are often a must. A drinkable source of calories and protein is often needed to get stroke patients the nutrients they need to recover.

The protein requirements for stroke patients are high. The average healthy adult needs to eat 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. Hospitalized stroke patients, for the reasons outlined above, may need twice that much. This means that a 150 pound stroke patient would need to eat over 100 grams of protein every day. Stroke patients should aim to get as much protein as they can from dietary protein sources like eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, and meat, but this is often impossible due to lost or impaired eating and drinking abilities. Adding a protein shake diet is a great way to ensure that stroke patients are getting enough protein to curb muscle wasting and promote recovery.

not all protein powders are created equal

What is the best protein powder for stroke patients?

There are two types of protein shakes: ready-to-drink (store-bought) protein shakes, and protein shakes made with protein powder. In order to make protein shakes for stroke patients 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 protein shakes for stroke patients 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 protein powder for stroke patients 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.

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

When buying protein powder for stroke patients, 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.

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 protein powder for stroke 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, 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 stroke patients 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 the gut microbiome. This is bad news for healthy adults, and especially worrisome for stroke patients.

Research shows that healthy gut microbiota may assist the homeostasis of blood glucose, which favors stroke recovery and prognosis. This means that disruptions to the gut microbiome (dysbiosis) may make it harder for stroke patients to heal. Dysbiosis is also linked to stroke risk factors because gut microbiota play a key role in bidirectional interactions between the gut and brain, referred to as the microbiota-gut-brain axis. Gut dysbiosis prior to stroke affects outcomes. Additionally, the brain affects gut microbiota during acute brain injury, which in turn impacts outcomes.

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

Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best protein powder for stroke patients 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.


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 protein powder for stroke patients.


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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.