One question we get asked frequently at The Fodmap Challenge is whether protein powder is safe on a low FODMAP diet. In short, yes, some protein powders are low FODMAP. The key is finding the right one for you that you’re able to tolerate. Firstly, let’s go through a brief overview on protein.
What is protein?
Protein forms an important part of a heathy diet. It is an essential nutrient made up of amino acids and plays a key role in building and repairing muscle among other important functions. Dietary sources of protein include lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, yoghurt, cheese, seeds, nuts, legumes and soy products. Protein powder is another popular source of protein that many are choosing, particularly in recent years.
How much protein do we actually need?
This is different for everyone. Certain individuals have higher requirements such as athletes, growing children/adolescents, pregnant women, the elderly, 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. Most of us will quite easily meet our protein requirements through a balanced diet, especially here in Australia.
Why the rage about protein supplements?
Many people may think protein powders are an essential gym accessory, or a vital ingredient for achieving ‘them gains’. What many people don’t realise, or choose to ignore, is that getting protein from food sources is almost always more beneficial. This is because of all the additional nutrients found in the food. Protein from food is also usually better absorbed.
In saying that, protein shakes can be a convenient option, especially for those on the run. So, if you choose to have protein powders and have IBS, it is important you select a low-FODMAP formula.
Whey Protein Powder
Whey protein is the most popular of the plethora of protein powders available. Like with cheese, whey protein powders should contain virtually no lactose as most is removed during processing.
When choosing a whey-protein powder, we suggest Whey Protein Isolate (WPI). This is because it has undergone extra filtering, removing majority of the lactose. Most WPI contain <1% lactose, so it should be tolerated by most individuals on a low-FODMAP diet. Only choose Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) if it states it is lactose-free.
Some good WPI proteins to try:
- ‘Bulk Nutrients’ WPI powder
- ‘Bulk Nutrients’ natural WPI powder. Slightly more expensive than the standard, but flavoured varieties use stevia (natural sweetener) instead of sucralose (artificial sweetener) which may appeal more to some.
- ‘International Protein’ Naturals WPI
- ‘VPA’ 100% Pure WPI
- ‘PhD’ Pharma Pure lactose-free WPI
- ‘EHP Labs’ Isopept Zero
Rice protein powder
Rice protein powder is low-FODMAP and is suitable for those on a vegan diet. Some suitable options include:
- ‘Bulk Nutrients’ Rice Protein Isolate
- ‘Body Science’ Organic Vegan protein – blend of pea protein isolate and brown rice protein.
- ‘International Protein Naturals’ rice protein
Pea protein powder
Whilst peas are high FODMAP food, pea protein powder has been tested as low FODMAP at a 2 Tbsp (40g) serve. It is suitable for those on a vegan diet. Some suitable options include:
- ‘Bulk Nutrients’ Pea Protein
- ‘Evolve’ Pea Protein
- ‘Bulk Powders’ Pea Protein Powder
Hemp protein powder
Hemp protein is made from hemp seeds which has been tested as low FODMAP at a 2 Tbsp (20g) serve. The moderate FODMAP content of hemp seeds is a 50g serve. Whilst hemp protein powder itself has not been tested, it should be fine at a 20g serve. Due to its strong flavour, hemp protein is more ideal for smoothies. Some suitable hemp protein powders are suitable are:
- ‘Bulks Nutrients’ Hemp Protein
- ‘The Source Bulk Foods’ Hemp Protein Organic
- ‘Hemp Foods Australia’ Organic Hemp Protein
Soy protein powder
Whilst soybeans are high FODMAP, soy protein powders MAY be ok due to the processing undertaken, however, it may be best to avoid these.
Always remember, read the label!
Like with any product, it is important to check the label to ensure there are no hidden FODMAPs. Some key ingredients to avoid when looking at protein powder ingredients are:
- Inulin (may also list as ‘prebiotic fibre’)
- Almond meal
- Polyols such as malitol, xylitol, sorbitol
- Soy (if at the end of ingredients list then likely trace amounts and should be tolerated).
Image sourced from @Pinterest
Start feeling better now! By signing up to The FODMAP Challenge you will receive meal plans, recipe ideas, and regular support with other resources, such as a private Facebook group, to make this as easy for you as possible.