Why Does Protein Powder Taste So Bad?

Why does protein powder taste so bad?

Why does protein powder taste so bad? Here are the top 3 reasons why protein powder tastes bad. Looking for a protein powder that tastes good? Try drink wholesome. It is made with stomach-friendly real foods. Order samples to see for yourself.

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Our protein powder does not taste bad.

Sick of protein powders with a bitter aftertaste? 

Most protein powders are sweetened with either artificial sweeteners or stevia. Both are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, meaning that a little bit goes a long way. This allows protein powder companies to cut costs and calories. The intense sweetness of sugar substitutes also makes it easy to overdo it, however, and many protein powders are way too sweet. It’s also common for protein powders to have a bitter aftertaste because artificial sweeteners and stevia activate bitter taste receptors in addition to sweet taste receptors.

Instead of artificial sweeteners or stevia, we use monk fruit sweetener. Monk fruit – also known as luo han guo – is a melon-like fruit native to Southeast Asia. Monk fruit sweetener is made by removing the seeds and skin, crushing the fruit, and collecting the juice, which is dried into a concentrated powder. Thanks to non-caloric compounds called mogrosides, monk fruit sweetener is sugar-free. Unlike artificial sweeteners and stevia, it’s also sweet like sugar. Most companies don’t use monk fruit sweetener because it’s expensive.

Sick of gritty protein powders?

Many plant-based protein powders have a gritty texture due to their insoluble fiber content. The more insoluble fiber a protein powder has, the more likely it is that it will taste like dirt. Some of the grittiest plant proteins are hemp, pea, and pumpkin. 

Our vegan protein powders are made with non-GMO, USA-grown chickpeas. They are finely ground, and rich in soluble (not insoluble) fiber. You’ll find that they can compete with animal protein in terms of taste and mouthfeel.

If your protein shake is gritty and you are not using a blender, use a blender. A good blender is usually the difference between a smooth, creamy shake and a gritty one. If you are already using a blender and your protein shake is gritty, then it is time to find a new protein powder. 

In order to mask the chalkiness and grittiness, many companies use food additives like xanthan gum and sunflower lecithin. You want to steer clear of products made with ingredients like these. At best, food additives add little to no nutritional value to your protein powder, and at worst, they mess with your gut. 

vegan vanilla protein powder
drink wholesome protein powder

Avoid food additives.

Most protein powders are full of food additives. Although they are not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, food additives can add up quickly, especially if you drink a protein shake every day. At higher quantities, food additives can cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects.

Many food additives are hard to digest and sit in your gut for longer than they should. This gives your gut bacteria more time to ferment (eat), and as they eat, these bacteria produce gas, which causes bloating, cramps, and nausea.

In the short term, 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 disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine and trigger the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders.

Keep an eye out for artificial sweeteners too. Artificial sweeteners are poorly absorbed by the gut, which means that they feed your hungry gut bacteria. They also alter the composition of your gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food). This can lead to serious GI problems and widespread inflammation.

Finally, artificial sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, can cause diarrhea because they draw water into your gut. Now you might 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.

our ingredients: 

egg whites, coconut, cocoa, 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.

*This is the actual ingredient list of one of the best-selling protein powders in the United States.

Sick of chalky protein powders?

Most protein powders are made with protein concentrates and isolates, foods chemically or mechanically stripped of everything but the protein. They are listed on the ingredient list as “pea protein,” for example, as opposed to “peas.” Although there is no evidence that protein isolates and concentrates are bad for your gut, it is safe to say that real foods are better. Your gut always prefers the real thing, not some heavily-processed imitation. 

Moreover, unlike real foods, protein concentrates and isolates are missing the nutrients that make food taste good. They therefore have an unpleasant chalky aftertaste that can trigger the gag reflux (make you feel like you are going to vomit).

Our protein powders, on the other hand, are made with egg whites and chickpeas. Egg whites are simply broken, pasteurized, and dried before becoming protein powder. Chickpeas are just dried and ground. They have a natural, delicious aftertaste. 

If consuming protein powder is a chore, it is not sustainable in the long term. A diet is not a six-week affair, it is for life. Think twice before spending your hard-earned dollars on a supplement that makes you gag. 

drink wholesome protein powder
chocolate protein powder

★★★★★

“I just finished my first bag and ordered 2 more! I Iove this stuff! I have IBS and every protein powder hurts my stomach…except drink wholesome!”

-Julio

Again, drink wholesome does not taste bad because it is made with stomach-friendly real foods. Order samples to see for yourself.

Our protein powder does NOT taste bad.


Hi, my name is Jack. I created drink wholesome because I was sick of protein powders that upset my stomach. drink wholesome is handmade in Plymouth, MA. 

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.