In a world that is becoming more and more health-focused, I’m sure you’ve heard protein being praised by many as the ultimate nutrient in the quest for a healthy life. So is protein really the mega nutrient it is made out to be?
Protein an essential nutrient in our diet, we couldn’t survive without it! It is the building block of our bodies. It repairs muscle breakage and maintains healthy skin, hair and nails-to name but a few. In saying that, we generally don’t need as much as some people believe.
How much protein do we actually need?
This really depends on the individual. Certain individuals have much higher requirements such as athletes, growing children/adolescents, pregnant women, older individuals, and those who are recovering from illness/injury.
For your average Australian adult, the guidelines recommend 15-25% of our total energy intake be from protein, or between 0.75-1.1g/kg/day to meet nutritional requirements. We generally meet our protein requirements easily through a balanced diet, especially here in Australia.
So… why the sudden rage about protein supplements?
Well, this would be different for everyone. Many people may think protein powders are an essential gym accessory, or a vital component of getting their dream body. While protein is important, getting it from real food is almost always more beneficial. This is because you receive the other nutrients contained in the food, and it is usually a better absorbed form of protein.
In saying that, protein shakes can be a convenient way to get your protein fix, especially for those on the run. After all, cooking a steak on your way to work from the gym usualllly isn’t plausible. So if you choose to have protein powders and have IBS, it is important you select a low-FODMAP formula.
.Which protein powders are low FODMAP?
When choosing a protein powder on a low-FODMAP diet, reading the ingredients list is important to determine whether it is likely to be ‘safe’.
Let’s have a look at some of the protein powders to stay away from as a general rule of thumb and some that may work a little better for you.
Whey Protein Powders; Concentrate versus Isolate
Milk contains two types of protein; casein and whey. Whey is the liquid protein part of milk that is produced as a by-product when making cheese. Sooo…if whey comes from milk then surely you can’t have it on a low-FODMAP diet? Not necessarily!
Like with cheese, whey protein powders should contain virtually no lactose. If you choose a whey-protein powder, the best bet is going for Whey Protein Isolate (WPI). WPI has undergone extra filtering, removing majority of the lactose. Most WPI contain less than 1% lactose, so it should be tolerated by most individuals on a low-FODMAP diet. Only choose Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) if it is marketed as lactose-free.
Some WPI proteins suggestions:
- ‘Bulk Nutrients’ WPI powder – flavoured or raw.
- ‘Bulk Nutrients’ natural WPI powder – flavoured or raw. Slightly more expensive than the standard, but flavoured varieties use stevia (natural sweetener) instead of sucralose (artificial sweetener) which may appeal more to some.
- ‘PhD’ Pharma Pure lactose-free WPI – sweetened with stevia
- ‘EHP Labs’ Oxywhey – a blend of WPI and WPC. Contains a few more added ingredients than others, but should be tolerated by most individuals with IBS – particularly with the addition of lactase (to help digest any remaining lactose).
- ‘EHP Labs’ Isopept Zero – similar to Oxywhey but is 100% WPI and has less added ingredients.
- Healthy Chef Pure Native WPI, Natural – nothing but WPI in this one. Some of their flavoured options may be ok.
- ‘Amazonia RAW’ Prebiotic Grassfed WPI – no fillers, preservatives.
Vegan Protein Powders
Vegan protein powders usually use rice, soy, hemp or pea protein instead of whey. So, which ones are low FODMAP?
Rice protein powder is low-FODMAP per serve. Brown rice is a source of insoluble fibre, which may worsen IBS symptoms in some. However, much of this is removed during processing. Check the label for fibre content if you find large amounts of insoluble fibre don’t agree with you.
Some rice protein powder suggestions:
- ‘Bulk Nutrients’ rice protein isolate – contains no dairy, gluten or soy and is sweetened with stevia.
- ‘International Protein Naturals’ rice protein – contains no dairy, gluten, soy or sweeteners.
- ‘Sun Warrior’ Brown Rice Protein – nothing but the rice protein. Some flavours may be ok.
Pea protein powder is derived from extracting the pea protein content from yellow-split peas. Peas are a high-FODMAP food, however, pea protein powder has been tested as low FODMAP. The low FODMAP serve is 2 tablespoons (40g), and should be tolerated by most people with IBS.
Some pea protein powder suggestions:
- ‘Amazonia RAW’ Protein Isolate (mix of pea and brown rice)
- ‘Bulk Nutrients’ Pea Protein – free from gluten, dairy and soy, sweetened with stevia.
- ‘Evolve’ Pea Protein – similar profile as above.
Soy protein powder comes from the legume soybeans, which are high FODMAP. Soy protein isolate powders may be OK due to the processing techniques used, however, it may be best to steer clear of these ones for health reasons.
Hemp protein powder is made from hemp seeds and unfortunately has an unknown FODMAP content. Hemp is a high source of insoluble fibre, so may not agree with many IBS sufferers. Until we know more, best to avoid these ones.
As with any low-FODMAP diet, everyone is different and some will tolerate some proteins better than others. Here are some final tips to help you choose:
- Get samples
Most online stores, and instore for that matter, will sell sample sachets of powder for you to try before you buy. Shop around and try some before you commit to buying
- Always check the label, especially for flavoured variants
Some key ingredients to be cautious of are artificial sweeteners ending in ‘ol’ e.g malitol, xylitol etc. Soy (often soy lecithin) is often added, if in trace amounts it should be ok but if its high up in the ingredients list then avoid the product. Others to beware of include inulin, coconut, and almond meal (usually in vegan protein).
Let us know if you find a protein powder that has worked/not worked for you!
*Please note these recommendations were correct at time of print. Ingredients change all the time, so remember to read the label.
By Amanda Gaukroger and Rachael Matthews
Picture sourced from Pintrest from Running on Real Food