What is the best vanilla protein shake?

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

drink wholesome makes the best vanilla protein shake. 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 drink wholesome is right for you. 


“It has ingredients you can actually pronounce and is freaking delicious.”


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drink wholesome makes the best vanilla protein shake.

What makes a good vanilla protein shake?

An easy vanilla protein shake recipe. 

Why drink wholesome?

What makes a good vanilla protein shake?

There are two types of vanilla protein shakes: ready-to-drink (store-bought) vanilla protein shakes, and homemade vanilla protein shakes. Ready-to-drink (store-bought) vanilla protein shakes typically contain emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, sweeteners, and flavors. Ingredients like these can cause uncomfortable side effects and long-term gut damage, so I highly recommend that you make your own vanilla protein shakes from scratch. 

Most homemade vanilla protein shakes are made by simply mixing protein powder with milk or water. Some vanilla protein shake recipes do not use protein powder, however, and instead use high protein foods like yogurt or tofu. They can also contain ingredients like ice, fruit, and nut butter. If you are not using a vanilla flavored protein powder, you will need to add a dash of vanilla extract to get that delicious vanilla flavor.

A vanilla protein shake is designed to be a convenient source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscles and supporting a healthy immune system. It can be consumed as a post-workout recovery drink, as a meal replacement, or as a supplement to increase protein intake. People tend to add vanilla protein shakes to their diet when they cannot meet their daily protein requirements eating other foods. Athletes, people with dietary restrictions (vegetarians, vegans, etc.), and people who have trouble digesting other protein sources often drink vanilla protein shakes on a daily basis.

An easy vanilla protein shake recipe. 

This is my favorite vanilla protein shake recipe. It can be made in seconds, and will help ensure that you are eating enough protein. All you need is a few simple ingredients and a blender.


-1 serving vanilla protein powder

-1 frozen banana*

-1-2 cups milk


Add the ingredients to a blender and process until smooth. Start with 1 cup of milk, and add more until the desired thickness is achieved. Drink immediately.

*If you do not have a frozen banana, add a handful of ice cubes instead.

I’ve been making vanilla protein shakes for years, and for the longest time I hated how they made me feel.; almost immediately after drinking my daily vanilla protein shake I felt terribly bloated. I assumed that this was just the price to pay for extra protein in my diet, but I was wrong. It turns out that the protein powder I was using was full of ingredients that were upsetting my stomach. Basically, the average protein supplement is full of heavily-processed junk that looks nothing like real food. For this reason, it is hard to digest, and can cause uncomfortable side effects. This is why I went ahead and created my own protein powder. Keep reading to learn more.

Why drink wholesome

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best vanilla protein shake is that we stay away from food additives, unlike most protein supplement companies. While food additives can improve qualities like flavor, texture, and shelf life, they can also cause unpleasant side effects and long-term harm to the digestive system.

Basically, because they hardly resemble real food, additives are hard to digest, and therefore spend extra time in the gastrointestinal tract. This grants ample time for gut bacteria to eat and release gas, which causes bloating and stomach pain. Gas also hampers the passage of food through the colon, which can result in constipation.

Over time, the cumulative effect of eating lots of food additives, especially if consumed daily in a vanilla protein shake, can disrupt the regulatory pathways within the intestines. This can, in turn, trigger the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other systemic inflammatory disorders.

One of the top additives to avoid is artificial sweeteners. They can alter the composition of your gut microbiota, leading to chronic GI problems, inflammation throughout the body, and permanent damage to your gut microbiomethe collection of microorganisms that help you digest food.

Certain types of sweeteners, particularly sugar alcohols like xylitol, are not well-absorbed by the gut, which means they feed your gut hungry gut bacteria. They can also cause diarrhea because they pull water into your intestines. So, if you have been looking for something to blame for those post-protein shake trips to the bathroom, you may finally have found the culprit! 

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

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 vanilla protein shake is that we do not use dairy-based proteins. Many protein supplements rely on whey and casein, byproducts of cheese and yogurt manufacturing notorious for triggering digestive problems. This is particularly true for individuals affected by lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Those with lactose intolerance and IBS cannot fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy products. As previously noted, partially digested food feeds gut bacteria, leading to more gas and the onset of undesirable side effects.

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best vanilla protein shake is that we use real food protein sources. In contrast, the majority of protein supplements are formulated with protein concentrates and/or isolates, which are foods stripped of everything but the protein. Concentrates and isolates are labeled as “pea protein” and “whey protein” instead of “peas” or “whey.”

All you need to know is that protein concentrates and isolates undergo rigorous mechanical and chemical processing. In some cases, manufacturers resort to using carcinogenic solvents like hexane to separate the protein from the food source. The final product therefore bears little to no resemblance to real food.

Your digestive system is designed to process real food, not laboratory-formulated imitations. It follows that introducing anything other than real food to your gut can cause side effects. While the long-term consequences of consuming processed foods such as protein isolates are not yet fully understood, new research suggests that they can disrupt the balance of your gut microbiota and inflict lasting harm upon your gut microbiome.

Keep in mind that your gut does more than simply digest food; it serves as a shield against pathogens, educates your immune system, and significantly influences a wide array of physiological functions. Consequently, disturbances in the gut microbiome have been linked to the development of several chronic diseases. It stands to reason that steering clear of protein supplements made with protein concentrates and isolates is in your best interest. 

Rather than relying on protein concentrates or isolates, we harness the power of real foods like egg whites and almonds. Egg whites are pasteurized and dried, while almonds are roasted, pressed to reduce oil content, and ground. These real foods offer an easily digestible and gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates.

Real foods come equipped with an array of enzymes and other digestive aids that facilitate the breakdown of nutrients, enhancing the body’s ability to absorb them effectively. Conversely, protein isolates and concentrates lack these natural digestive aids, making them more challenging for the body to digest and assimilate. Moreover, minimally processed plant-based options like almonds are loaded with fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.

For those who do not have egg sensitivities or allergies, vanilla egg white protein powder emerges as the optimal choice for gut health. Low in fiber, low-FODMAP, naturally alkaline, and with the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of any whole food, egg whites are unsurprisingly the easiest to digest protein source according to our satisfied customers.

In the event that eggs are not suitable for your dietary needs, I invite you to try our vegan vanilla almond protein powder. Almonds are our preferred plant protein source due to their exceptional gut-friendly attributes. Research has indicated that almonds possess prebiotic properties, meaning they can enhance 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 makes the best vanilla protein shake. 

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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.