Approximately 68 percent of people worldwide struggle with lactose intolerance.
Are you part of this group?
Are you having a hard time finding a protein powder that tastes good and doesn’t cause any unpleasant symptoms?
There are plenty of lactose-free protein powder options on the market these days, but they’re not all created equal. Read on to learn about some of the best ones you ought to consider trying.
- Best Lactose-Free Protein Powders
- 1. Legion Athletics Whey+
- 2. Optimum Nutrition Platinum HydroWhey
- 3. Opportuniteas Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate
- 4. Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder Isolate
- 5. Now Sports Egg White Protein Powder
- 6. Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder
- 7. Equip Prime Protein Powder Isolate
- 8. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Organic Plant-Based Protein
- 9. Elevate Plant-Based Performance Protein
- 10. Nutiva Organic Cold-Processed Hemp Protein
- 11. Naked Nutrition Pea Protein Powder
- 12. Naked Nutrition Organic Brown Rice Protein Powder
- Lactose-Free Protein Powder Buying Guide
- What Is Lactose Intolerance?
- How Do You Know if You Need a Lactose-Free Protein Powder?
- Types of Lactose-Free Protein Powders
- What’s the Difference Between Whey Protein vs Plant Protein?
- Are Plant-Based Proteins a Complete Protein Source?
- What’s the Difference Between Grass-Fed vs. Non-Grass-Fed Whey Protein?
- What Factors Affect Protein Powder Price?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Start Searching for Non-Lactose Protein Powder Today
Best Lactose-Free Protein Powders
Some people who are lactose-intolerant assume that protein shakes (especially whey protein shakes) are off-limits to them. In reality, though, there are plenty of whey protein shakes and other types of protein powder that are perfectly safe for those who can’t consume lactose.
Here are some of the best protein powders for lactose-intolerant people that you might want to consider trying:
1. Legion Athletics Whey+
Legion Athletics Whey+ protein powder is a popular option among those who are looking for a good lactose-free whey protein to supplement their diets. It’s a reasonably priced protein powder and is made with just a few easy-to-pronounce ingredients (things like cocoa powder, xanthan gum, tapioca starch, natural flavors, etc.).
One serving of this supplement contains 22g of protein, zero grams of fat, and only 3 grams of carbohydrates (including one gram of fiber). It also contains 136 grams of calcium, which helps to support good bone health and proper muscle contractions.
2. Optimum Nutrition Platinum HydroWhey
In searches for the best protein powder for lactose intolerance, Optimum Nutrition Platinum HydroWhey often shows up as one of the top options on the market. It’s a bit more expensive than some other protein powders, but it’s also a common favorite because of its high protein content.
One scoop of this Optimum Nutrition lactose-free protein powder contains 30 grams of whey protein. It also contains nine grams of BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine, all of which play an important role in muscle growth and recovery), plus 15.5 grams of other essential, naturally occurring amino acids.
3. Opportuniteas Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate
Another good lactose-free whey protein powder to consider is Opportuniteas Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate. Whey protein isolate is processed in a way that removes nearly all of the carbohydrates and fat from the milk product, leaving behind easily absorbable protein and little else.
Opportuniteas Grass-Fed Whey is made using milk from grass-fed cows and is free from lactose, as well as gluten, GMOs, and artificial flavors. One serving contains 27 grams of protein, making it one of the highest-protein protein powders on this list. It also contains no fat and only one gram of carbohydrates.
One of the most interesting things about this protein is that it does not have any flavor. It’s a completely neutral option that can easily be added to a variety of foods or beverages without affecting the taste.
4. Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder Isolate
Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Isolate is another good lactose-free find. It comes in 17 different flavors, making it one of the most varied options on this list. It also comes in four different sizes (1.6 lbs, 3 lbs, 5 lbs, and 6 lbs), so it’s easy for consumers to buy what they need and try different flavors without committing to a huge tub of protein powder that they’re not sure they’ll like.
One serving of Dymatize ISO 100 contains 25 grams of protein. It also contains 5.5 grams of BCAAs and only two grams of carbohydrates (with one gram of sugar).
5. Now Sports Egg White Protein Powder
Is whey protein isolate lactose-free? Yes. Is it dairy-free? No.
For consumers who want to avoid dairy products (such as those who are allergic to dairy or who follow a Paleo diet, for example), whey protein powders of any kind are not a good fit. Luckily, there are other lactose-free protein powders on the market, including egg white protein powder.
Now Sports Egg White Protein Powder is lactose-free and is also a good dairy-free option. It contains 20 grams of egg white protein per serving and is a good source of branched-chain amino acids. It also is fat-free and contains just four grams of carbohydrates with no sugar.
More like this? Click here to see other recommended egg white protein supplements
6. Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder
For folks who are looking to keep their carbohydrate consumption as low as possible, you can’t go wrong with Isopure Zero Carb Protein Powder. This 100 percent whey protein powder is carb-free, fat-free, keto-friendly, and free from gluten and lactose.
One serving of Isopure Zero Carb contains 25 grams of protein and five grams of BCAAs. It contains a good dose of several important micronutrients, too, including magnesium, calcium, vitamin B12, and zinc. With its high vitamin and mineral content, this protein helps consumers ensure they’re consuming adequate amounts of essential nutrients in addition to meeting their specific macronutrient goals.
7. Equip Prime Protein Powder Isolate
Equip Prime Protein Powder Isolate from Equip Foods is another good option for those who want to avoid milk products and prefer a Paleo-friendly protein powder. This powder is made from 100 percent pure beef protein, rather than from cow’s milk like its whey counterparts.
Each serving of Equip Prime Protein contains 24 grams of protein, one gram of carbohydrates, and no sugar. One serving is only 100 calories, too. This makes it easy to fit into your routine when you’re dieting and need to find the best lactose-free protein powder for weight loss.
8. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Organic Plant-Based Protein
It wouldn’t be a complete list of good lactose-free protein powder options without also mentioning some plant-based protein powders. A good lactose-free protein (that’s also dairy-free and animal product-free) is Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Organic Plant-Based Protein.
This protein powder is made with a blend of peas, brown rice, ancient grains, and Sacha Inchi (a type of seed found in the rainforest). It offers 24 grams of protein per serving with 4 grams of BCAAs. It also contains seven grams of carbohydrates, so it’s higher-carb than some other options, but it also only has one gram of sugar per serving.
9. Elevate Plant-Based Performance Protein
Another good plant-based lactose-free protein powder to consider is Elevate Plant-Based Performance Protein. This protein powder is made with a mixture of pea, sweet potato, and hemp protein for a balanced amino acid profile. It contains no soy or sugar and gets its flavor from a combination of natural flavorings and monk fruit extract.
One serving of Elevate Plant-Based Performance Protein contains 24 grams of protein, 1.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbohydrates (with three coming from fiber), and no sugar. It contains Himalayan rock salt, too, for additional electrolytes to support you and help you rehydrate after intense workouts.
10. Nutiva Organic Cold-Processed Hemp Protein
Hemp-based protein is a popular alternative among those who want to consume plant-based protein powders but who don’t want to get their protein from legumes like peas or soy. Many people who follow a Paleo diet, for example, prefer a hemp-based protein powder over other plant-based options.
Nutiva Hemp Protein contains 15 grams of protein per serving as well as five grams of fiber and only one gram of sugar. It contains less protein than the other powders included on the list, but the extra fiber content might make up for it in the eyes of some consumers as it will help them stay full for longer periods of time.
11. Naked Nutrition Pea Protein Powder
For vegans looking for a complete protein powder that contains a high amount of protein per serving, Naked Nutrition Pea Protein Powder might be the right option to try. The unflavored version is made with just one ingredient: yellow pea protein. It contains 27 grams of protein (along with 5.7 grams of BCAAs) and two grams of carbs per serving.
Naked Pea is also available in Chocolate and Vanilla flavors. The flavored versions contain a little less protein (25 grams per serving with 5.6 grams of BCAAs) and more carbohydrates and sugar (five grams per serving), but they’re still healthy options for those who want a plant-based lactose-free protein powder.
12. Naked Nutrition Organic Brown Rice Protein Powder
Naked Nutrition also makes a high-quality organic brown rice protein powder for those who want a plant-based option but aren’t fans of pea protein. This brown rice protein powder is unflavored and is made with only one ingredient: organic sprouted brown rice protein.
One serving of Naked Rice contains 25 grams of protein and 4.9 grams of BCAAs, plus four grams of carbohydrates (one gram coming from fiber) and just 0.5 grams of fat. It’s 100 percent dairy-free and vegan. It is free from GMOs, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavors as well.
Lactose-Free Protein Powder Buying Guide
If you’ve never bought lactose-free protein powder before, you likely have questions about its effectiveness, as well as how to decide which type is the best fit for you. You might also be wondering about the differences between different kinds of lactose-free protein sources (whey, egg white, plant-based proteins, etc.).
Here are some key factors to keep in mind when shopping for the best lactose-free or best non-dairy protein powder:
What Is Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose is a kind of sugar that naturally occurs in most mammals’ milk. When a person is lactose intolerant, they lack an enzyme known as lactase. Lactase plays an important role in breaking down lactose so it can be digested.
As humans get older, their bodies tend to produce less lactase. This is why lots of people who were able to consume milk, cheese, and other dairy products in their youth without problems now struggle with lactose intolerance as adults. In some cases, lactose intolerance can also occur after a person undergoes surgery or experiences a viral or bacterial infection.
Lactose intolerance is different from an allergy to dairy products.
A dairy allergy is an immune response that occurs when the body perceives compounds found in dairy products as foreign invaders. With lactose intolerance, the issue is a lack of a particular enzyme, not a problem with the immune system.
How Do You Know if You Need a Lactose-Free Protein Powder?
The majority of people throughout the world experience a certain degree of lactose intolerance. It’s not an issue for everyone, though, and it’s not always easy to tell whether or not it’s a problem for you.
Have you been wondering whether or not a lactose-free protein powder is right for your specific dietary needs?
If you’re on the fence about using this type of protein powder over another option, consider whether not you have any of the following symptoms of lactose intolerance:
- Stomach pain and bloating
- Increased gas
The majority of lactose-intolerance symptoms are digestion-related.
You might experience other, less obvious symptoms, too, though, including the following:
- Difficulty focusing
If a person struggles with lactose intolerance, they’ll experience one (or more) of these symptoms after consuming dairy products. The symptoms may occur immediately, but they often come on gradually within a few hours or even a few days after consumption.
This is another thing that separates lactose intolerance from a dairy allergy. The symptoms of an allergy (a rash, difficulty breathing, etc.) happen suddenly. They also require immediate medical attention. Otherwise, they can be fatal.
Types of Lactose-Free Protein Powders
Many different protein powders fall into the lactose-free category. The following are some of the most popular types to consider using:
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate is a milk product that has had all (or essentially all) of the fat and carbohydrates removed from it. It’s basically pure protein and is absorbed by the body very easily. This makes it an optimal protein supplement to consume after exercising.
Egg White Protein
For people who cannot consume any dairy products at all (i.e., they’re not just avoiding lactose), egg white protein can be a safe alternative. It’s made from egg white powder.
Beef Protein Isolate
Beef protein isolate is another good option for folks who need to be 100 percent dairy-free. It is sourced from gelatin (which comes from cattle hooves, ears, hides, ligaments, and bones). It’s heat-treated and often contains high amounts of collagen peptides, which can be beneficial for skin, hair, nail, and joint health.
Finally, plant-based protein powders are a safe option for individuals who want to steer clear of lactose as well as other animal products. They’re made from plants like peas, hemp seeds, and sweet potatoes.
Some plant-based protein powders, such as pea protein powder, are made with just one type of protein. Others feature a blend of plants to create a complete amino acid profile.
What’s the Difference Between Whey Protein vs Plant Protein?
Some of the lactose-free protein powders listed above are whey proteins, while others are plant-based proteins.
The primary difference here is that whey protein powders are derived from animal products (milk, specifically), while plant-based protein powders are, of course, made exclusively from plant materials.
Whey protein powders, even if they are lactose-free, are not appropriate for vegans (vegetarians may avoid them, too). Some people make the mistake of assuming that lactose-free is the same as dairy-free. While some lactose-free protein powders are dairy-free, that is not inherently the case.
If you follow a vegan diet, it’s important to read the ingredient label carefully before purchasing and consuming any protein supplements (and any supplements in general). This helps you to ensure you’re not accidentally drinking a shake made from protein powder that’s dairy-free but still animal-based.
Are Plant-Based Proteins a Complete Protein Source?
Many plant-based proteins are not considered to be complete proteins.
A complete protein source is one that contains all nine essential amino acids that the body needs to build muscle and function properly. The body can’t produce these amino acids on its own and has to get them from food or supplements.
If a plant-based protein powder is made with only one form of plant protein, it’s possible that it won’t be a complete protein.
These days, though, many plant-based protein powders (including the ones mentioned above) are made using a blend of plants. This helps manufacturers to ensure their consumers are getting adequate amounts of essential amino acids.
If you eat a vegan diet or prefer to use plant-based lactose-free protein powder for other reasons, check the ingredient list to see which plant proteins are used to make it.
Look at the amino acid profile on the label, too. Most manufacturers provide a breakdown to show that they’re providing their customers with a complete protein.
What’s the Difference Between Grass-Fed vs. Non-Grass-Fed Whey Protein?
As you likely noticed in the list above, some lactose-free protein powders state on the label that they are made with milk from grass-fed cows, while others do not. What’s the difference between these two protein powders? Is one better than the other?
When it comes to nutrition, there’s virtually no difference between the protein that comes from a grass-fed cow compared to the protein that comes from a conventionally raised cow. Some people might quibble about the differences in omega-3 fatty acid ratios or CLA concentration in products from grass-fed cows vs. conventionally raised cows, but the differences are actually very small. They also don’t really matter when we’re talking about protein powder.
There is still a case to be made for choosing grass-fed protein over non-grass-fed protein, though. This is because grass-fed cows are generally treated in more humane ways than non-grass-fed cows. Grass-fed cows place less of a strain on the environment than conventionally raised cows, too (some research shows that they’re even beneficial to the environment and help to reduce carbon in the atmosphere).
For those who have concerns about animal welfare, choosing to invest in a protein powder made with products from grass-fed cows can be a good way to vote with your dollars. This allows you to show your support for farmers who are raising their cattle in a more ethical and sustainable way.
Speaking of dollars, though, it’s important to note that protein powders made with products from grass-fed cows are often more expensive than other protein powders on the market. If you’re working with a limited budget, it might not be worth it for you to spend more money on a product just because it has the term “grass-fed” on the label.
What Factors Affect Protein Powder Price?
There’s a lot that goes into the price of protein powder. One factor, as we’ve already mentioned, is whether or not the cows used to make the protein powder are grass-fed or conventionally raised. The following are some other factors that play a role in determining a protein powder’s final price:
Beyond the quality of the dairy products used in the protein powder, the quality of the other ingredients matters, too.
If a protein powder is made with organic ingredients, for example, it might cost more than another option that’s not organic. Certain sweeteners, like monk fruit and Stevia, might also be more expensive (and therefore drive up the total price of the protein powder) than other options like sucralose.
If a protein powder has a very high protein concentration, it might cost more than a protein powder that contains a lower amount of protein.
This is especially true when it comes to protein powders that are made with minimal ingredients and don’t contain a lot of fillers. Fillers and additives help to bulk up the powder and allow manufacturers to sell it at a lower price (but they’re also selling a subpar product).
Some protein powder manufacturers are willing to spend extra money to have their products certified by certain governing bodies. For example, they might want to pay to have their product be certified organic, certified vegan, or verified by the Non-GMO Project.
They’re willing to pay for these certifications because they add credibility and make their products more appealing to certain customers. The certifications can also drive up the sticker price of the protein powder, though, since the manufacturers had to invest more upfront.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some other common questions people have when they start shopping for lactose-free protein powder:
Why Is Whey Protein Okay for Lactose-Intolerance?
Many people who struggle with lactose intolerance have been told to stay away from dairy products altogether to protect them from experiencing negative symptoms. This instruction might have some people scratching their heads and wondering why it’s okay for them to consume lactose-free whey protein.
It all comes down to the way the milk is processed.
Remember, lactose-free whey protein powders are made from whey protein isolate. Whey protein isolate, as was mentioned above, is processed multiple times before it’s sold or used in protein powders.
During the processing stage, all or nearly all of the fat and carbohydrates found in milk (including the sugars like lactose) are removed. What’s left is almost all protein.
Because there’s no lactose leftover, most people with a lactose-intolerance issue feel just fine consuming a whey protein powder. The key is to make sure it’s made from whey protein isolate instead of another form of whey, such as whey protein concentrate.
How Can You Tell if a Protein Powder Is Lactose-Free?
It’s always important to read the label of a particular protein powder before buying it to ensure it’s lactose-free. Some powders will have a note on the label that indicates it is lactose-free.
If this isn’t the case, take a look at the list of ingredients. When looking for a lactose-free whey protein powder, check that it’s made with whey protein isolate instead of whey protein concentrate.
Whey protein concentrate is less processed than whey protein isolate. It still contains lactose when the processing is finished, as well as higher concentrations of carbohydrates and fat.
Is Lactose-Free Protein Powder Good for Weight Loss?
Adding lactose-free protein powder to your supplement regimen can be beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight. There are a few reasons for this.
First, protein supplementation, in general, is good for weight loss. It helps to keep you feeling fuller longer (protein is considered the most satiating macronutrient). This, in turn, can help you avoid overeating.
Protein is also necessary for both building and maintaining muscle. When you’re dieting, it’s important to do what you can to retain muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be, and the more calories you’ll burn.
Protein powders made with whey protein isolate also tend to be lower in calories than powders made with whey protein concentrate or hydrolysate, too. This is because, in most cases, they’re almost all protein with very few carbohydrates or fats. This makes them a more “macro-friendly” option for those who are tracking their food to try and lose weight.
Is Lactose-Free Protein Powder Good for Muscle Gain?
At the same time that lactose-free protein powders work well for those trying to lose weight, it’s also possible to use lactose-free protein powder for weight gain or muscle. After all, lactose-free protein powders, especially whey protein powders, contain essential amino acids that the body needs to recover from workouts and build muscle.
That being said, you may need to add additional ingredients to your protein shakes to make them more calorie-dense. If you’re not eating in a calorie surplus (eating more than you burn), you won’t be able to put on weight and muscle.
Consider mixing your protein powder with milk instead of water (you could use full-fat coconut milk if you follow a plant-based diet or don’t tolerate regular milk) to increase the calorie count. You could add other ingredients like nut butter, fruit, nuts, or seeds as well.
Start Searching for Non-Lactose Protein Powder Today
As you can see, there are tons of different protein shakes for lactose-intolerant people on the market.
Of all the products listed above, Legion Athletics Whey+ is one of the best overall to consider. It tastes great, is made with clean and sustainably sourced ingredients, and has an affordable price point, all of which make it the best whey protein for lactose-intolerant people.
If you prefer a vegan-friendly, dairy-free protein powder, though, a close second is ON Gold Standard 100% Plant. It also has a clean ingredients list, is a complete protein source, and mixes smoothly.