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. 

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3 reasons why protein powder tastes so bad.

Artificial sweeteners and stevia. 

Plant proteins. 

Protein isolates. 

Why drink wholesome? 

Artificial sweeteners and stevia. 


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 therefore way too sweet. Some protein powders also have a bitter aftertaste because artificial sweeteners and stevia activate bitter taste receptors in addition to sweet taste receptors.

Plant proteins. 


Many plant-based protein powders have a gritty texture due to their high insoluble fiber content. Plants contain insoluble fiber, and the more insoluble fiber a plant contains, the more that it will taste like dirt. The plant proteins with the most fiber tend to be those made with seeds (pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.).

If your protein shake is gritty and you are not using a blender, use a blender. A good blender can be 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. 

Protein isolates. 


Most protein powders are made with protein concentrates and isolates, foods stripped of everything but the protein. Because they no longer contain fats and carbs, isolates and concentrates have an unpleasant chalky aftertaste. Processing can also denature the protein molecules, altering their structure and causing chalky mouthfeel.

In order to mask the chalkiness, many companies use food additives with xanthan gum. 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 will mess with your gut. 

Why drink wholesome


drink wholesome is the best tasting protein powder for 3 reasons: 1) it is sweetened with monk fruit, not artificial sweeteners or stevia 2) it is low in insoluble fiber and 3) it is made with real foods, not protein isolates.

Instead of artificial sweeteners and stevia, we use monk fruit, also known as luo han guo. A relative newcomer to the world of low/zero calorie sweeteners, monk fruit sweetener is derived from a sub-tropical melon-like fruit native to Southeast Asia. It is created by removing the seeds and skin of the fruit, crushing the fruit, and collecting the juice, which is then dried into a concentrated powder. As far as low/zero calorie sweeteners go, monk fruit is the most natural and best tasting; it actually tastes like sugar!

Our protein powders are low in insoluble fiber. Unlike many plant-based protein powders, they blend completely, making for a smooth, creamy protein shake every time.

Finally, instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we use real 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 a delicious alternative to protein isolates. 

What truly separates drink wholesome from the rest of the pack, however, is not how it tastes. Unlike the vast majority of protein supplements, drink wholesome is made with gut-friendly ingredients. Keep reading to learn more.  

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One of the reasons why we make the best protein powder that doesn’t taste bad 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 protein powder that doesn’t taste bad 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 that doesn’t taste bad is that we do not use protein isolates. As you just learned, most protein powders are made with protein concentrates and/or isolates. 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 14 servings serving suggestion

Again, instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best protein powder that doesn’t taste bad with whole foods like egg whites and almonds. Whole foods like these 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. Research suggests that almonds possess prebiotic properties that 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 that doesn’t taste bad.

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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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