What is the best protein powder without natural flavors?

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

drink wholesome is the best protein powder without natural flavors. Instead of using artificial or natural flavors, we flavor our protein powders with real foods like Madagascar vanilla beans. Order samples to see if our protein powder is right for you. 

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drink wholesome is the best protein powder without natural flavors.

What are natural flavors?

What is the best protein powder without natural flavors?

Why drink wholesome?

What are natural flavors?


Everyone seems to agree that artificial flavors are not healthy, which explains why packaged food companies go out of their way to remind you that they do not use artificial flavors. The average consumer does not seem to mind that all of these same companies use natural flavors, however, which hardly makes sense.

Whereas food manufacturers are required to disclose their ingredients, flavor manufacturers are not. They can add synthetic solvents, preservatives, and carriers to a flavor that qualifies as “natural” under current regulations. The term “natural flavor” is therefore little more than a catch-all term for everything that a manufacturer would rather not spell out on the ingredient list.

In a 2019 interview with the New York Times, a scientist at the Environmental Working Group stated, “there does not seem to be much of a difference between natural and artificial flavors.” He was right. Just look at how the U.S Food & Drug Administration (FDA) defines a natural flavor:

the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. 

Not only do many natural flavors contain artificial additives, but they are also so processed that they look nothing like real foods.

Real foods can be found in nature. Natural flavors cannot. Manufacturers use them, instead of real foods, because doing so much cheaper. The real cost, however, is passed on to the consumer.

Because natural flavors look nothing like real foods, they are hard to digest. For people with sensitive stomachs and gut issues, this can cause side effects like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, and stomach pain. Basically, because natural flavors cannot be broken down, they sit in your gut for longer than food should. This either causes your gut to pull in water, resulting in diarrhea, or feeds your gut bacteria, which produce gas. Excessive gas can cause bloating, flatulence, stomach pain, and can even hinder the movement of food through the colon, resulting in constipation.

Eating small amounts of natural flavors does not bother most people, but additives like natural flavors can add up quickly, especially if you drink a protein shake every day. It follows that consistently consuming natural flavors can disrupt regulatory pathways within the intestines, contributing to the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other systemic inflammatory disorders. Natural flavors can also disturb the delicate balance of the gut microbiome. – the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food. This can lead to long term gut health issues.

making a protein shake with protein powder

What is the best protein powder without natural flavors?


If you are worried about natural flavors, you should also be worried about the many other food additives used in protein powders. The average protein powder contains emulsifiers, thickeners, and artificial sweeteners, none of which look like real food, and all of which are bad for your gut health. The best protein powder without natural flavors is thus going to be additive-free. Basically, look for a short list of simple ingredients, and avoid the following:

acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, aspartame, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dextrose, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, maltodextrin, rice syrup solids, soy lecithin, silica, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, xanthan gum, xylitol

woman drinking a protein shake

Why drink wholesome


drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best protein powder without natural flavors is that we do not use any food additives whatsoever. 

our ingredients: 

egg whites, coconut, vanilla, monk fruit

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.

Notice that we use real vanilla, not vanilla extract or vanilla flavoring. This is the only healthy way to give protein powder a vanilla flavor.

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

drink wholesome is dairy-free.

Another reason why we make the best protein powder without natural flavors is that we do not use dairy-based proteins like whey and casein. Whey and casein are byproducts of the production of cheese and yogurt and notorious for causing gut issues. This is especially true for individuals with lactose intolerance, as they lack the necessary enzymes to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As noted earlier, partially digested food can cause a number of gastrointestinal symptoms.

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best protein powder without natural flavors is that we use real food protein sources, not protein concentrates and isolates. In contrast, the majority of protein powders rely on these protein sources, which are stripped-down versions of real food. Instead of being labeled as “peas” or “whey,” they are listed as “pea protein” or “whey protein.”

Making protein concentrates and isolates involves extensive mechanical and chemical processing. In some instances, chemical solvents like hexane are utilized to extract the protein from its natural source. Consequently, what you put in your protein shake looks nothing like real food.

Your digestive system is designed to process minimally processed or unprocessed whole foods, not synthetic imitations. Deviating from real food can therefore lead to adverse side effects. While the long-term consequences of consuming processed food products such as protein isolates are still under investigation, emerging research suggests that they have the potential to significantly disrupt the composition of the gut microbiota, causing enduring harm to the gut.

Beyond its primary function of food digestion, the gut serves as a vital protective barrier against harmful pathogens, plays a critical role in educating the immune system, and influences numerous physiological processes directly and indirectly. Consequently, imbalances in the delicate equilibrium of the gut microbiome have been linked to the development of chronic diseases. Considering this connection, I strongly discourage the consumption of protein powders that contain protein concentrates and isolates.

vegan chocolate protein powder lifestyle image 1
chocolate protein powder 14 servings serving suggestion

We take great pride in making the best protein powder without natural flavors with simple ingredients like egg whites and almonds. The egg whites are pasteurized and dried. The almonds are roasted, pressed to remove some oil, and finely ground. These minimally-processed ingredients are a highly digestible and gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates.

For individuals without egg allergies or sensitivities, egg white protein is an excellent choice for gut health. Due to their low fiber content and minimal FODMAPs, egg whites are gentle on the digestive system. They also boast the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) among all whole foods. Our customers consistently provide positive feedback, reporting fewer digestive issues when consuming egg white protein powder in comparison to other protein sources.

If you cannot eat eggs, our vegan almond protein powder serves as an excellent substitute. Unlike protein concentrates or isolates, almonds are abundant in healthy fats, fiber, and essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamin E. We prioritize almonds over other minimally processed plant protein sources due to their exceptional gut-friendly properties. Research suggests that almonds possess prebiotic characteristics, supporting the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome and ultimately promoting improved gut health.

To summarize, our protein powders undergo minimal processing to prioritize the well-being of your gut.

★★★★★

easy to digest

“I have long avoided protein powders because of all the additives and the lack of “real food”. I’ve been aiming to eat a more “real food” (less processed foods, less sugar, etc) diet for the past several years and finding Drink Wholesome is like a dream!” – Whitney

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drink wholesome is the best protein powder without natural flavors.

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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.

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