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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How to choose protein powder that doesn’t 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, and unlike artificial sweeteners and stevia, it is 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 that it will taste like dirt. Some of the grittiest plant proteins are hemp, pea, and pumpkin. 

Our vegan protein powders are made with California almonds. They are finely ground and roasted for a rich, nutty flavor. 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 chocolate protein powder serving suggestion
chocolate protein powder lifestyle image 1

Again, most protein powders 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, generally speaking, hard to digest. They 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), which 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. Artificial sweeteners are among the most harmful 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 and widespread inflammation. 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.

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.” 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 ruin your smoothie and turn baked goods into hockey pucks. 

Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we use 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 have a delicious, natural aftertaste. 

Remember, protein powder should taste good because 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, so think twice before spending your hard-earned dollars on a protein powder that tastes like chalk.

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chocolate protein powder serving suggestion

★★★★★

“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 simple, easy to digest ingredients. 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. drink wholesome is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.