The most popular protein powders contain dairy ingredients, without fail. If you are lactose intolerant or have any kind of dairy allergy, this is a disaster. Even if people who aren’t sensitive to dairy may want to avoid it, for example people who follow the paleo diet. Dairy tends to have a bloating effect, and invariably seems to cause acne breakouts. (probably due to the skin’s response to dairy’s high IGF-1 stimulus) If you look into it a little you can find quite a few terrific protein powders that have zero dairy. Here are our 4 favorites, all of which are soy-free and all-natural. Two of them are vegan, and the egg protein is paleo as well.
|Pure Therapeutics Daily Vegan Protein Vanilla Flavor||Yes||Yes||No!|
|Paleo Protein Egg White Powder||No||No||No!|
|Pea Protein Isolate - Vegan, Non-GMO, Lactose, Soy and Gluten Free||Yes||Yes||No!|
|Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 50 Protein Supplement||Yes||Yes||No!|
Avoiding dairy – not such a bad idea after all!
Dairy allergies are some of the most common sensitivities around. If you are allergic to dairy, you will probably experience some of these symptoms after exposure to dairy:
- Gas or bloating
- Diarrhea or stomach pain
- Often an unusual amount of mucous will build up in the nose and throat due to irritation of the sinuses by the dairy allergens. (Source)
- A few unlucky people are so allergic that they’ll get a rash as well
Allergic reactions occur due to the body mistakenly believing that the dairy protein compounds are harmful attacking cells. Since the body believes it is under attack, it produces Immunoglobulin E antibodies to fight off the dairy proteins. Producing these antibodies puts some strain on the body though, making your mast cells release histamine all throughout the body – histamine’s itchy, inflammatory effect is what you are actually feeling when you have an allergic reaction.
No dairy – Better health!
There are plenty of good reasons to avoid dairy, even if you aren’t allergic.
- Dairy consumption increases IGF-1, which can cause acne even in adults, according to this study.
- Dairy is well known to cause water retention in a lot of people, which makes your skin look puffy and “soggy,” and makes you feel heavier and look fatter. Cut out dairy from your diet and you might be surprised how lean you actually are!
- Dairy is commonly sourced from inhumanely raised cows. While you can find humanely raised milk at the store, your protein powder manufacturer is almost certainly not going to this trouble.
- Similarly, since most supplement companies aren’t going to pay for organic, grass-fed whey for their protein powder, you are probably consuming pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and even GMO’s with every protein shake. This article by Dr. Mercola lays out the quite serious dangers of non-organic dairy, including brain damage from pesticide exposure. One study found twenty pharmaceutical substances in an average sample of non-organic milk, including estrogenic steroid hormones.
Whey protein is filled with dairy
Whey protein powder is easily the most popular kind of protein available, but unfortunately it does contain dairy. Whey is basically the liquid element of milk. Milk is separated into liquid and solids (called curds) as part of the cheese-making process. The liquid whey is sold to the supplement industry for a very cheap price (this is why whey is the most common protein powder source) and the liquid goes through a factory process that turns it into whey powder.
Casein – Another dairy product on the case!
Another common protein powder source is casein. While a great, slow-acting source of protein, casein-based protein powders do contain dairy, since casein is produced from milk protein, which is 80% casein. Usually protein powders that contain casein will be marketed as casein protein, and can be avoided. However, if you look at the ingredients of a cheap protein powder, you may find casein even though it’s not advertised as such.
Sneaky Dairy Ingredients
Even if you avoid whey and casein, some cheaper proteins may sneak dairy-containing ingredients in to cut costs. In addition to whey and casein, here are the ingredients to watch out for, according to LiveStrong:
Custard, diacetyl, lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate, lactulose, rennet casein, whey protein hydrolysate and tagatose.
The New Kids on the Block
Fortunately for individuals sensitive to dairy, you no longer have to avoid protein powder altogether. Protein supplements made from peas, eggs, beef, rice, hemp, and more are all perfectly good protein sources. They may even be better than whey protein, since they are typically made with purer ingredients and therefore tend to digest better, giving you more of the benefits of protein with less highly-processed junk clogging up your system.
Plant-based protein powders
Your first stop when looking for dairy-free protein should be one of these vegan options. Pea protein is the most popular, but you can also find rice protein or hemp protein. We recommend pea or hemp first because these two are hypoallergenic, meaning that virtually nobody will have any sort of reaction from consuming them.
Stay away from soy!
Even though soy protein is dairy-free, the dangers of soy are too great to recommend it. Soy has some indigestible ingredients in it, called anti-nutrients, which cause damage to your body. It also imbalances your hormones, since it acts like estrogen in your bloodstream. If we had to choose, we’d take dairy over soy! None of the dairy-free proteins that we recommend contain soy.
Dairy’s not paleo
If you follow the paleo diet you are going to have to avoid dairy. Before cows were domesticated, a relatively short period of time ago in an evolutionary sense, there was no dairy in the human diet. Therefore, paleo dieters should always choose dairy-free protein powder. Beef or eggs make good protein sources. We prefer egg-based protein powder, since beef protein can taste a bit odd.