If you’re looking to lose weight and/or gain muscle using protein shakes, without the unpleasant side effects that come from lactose / milk / dairy, then we’ve got you covered!
In this article, we’ll share:
- Why so many people can’t digest lactose from dairy products properly (and the potential health implications).
- What protein powders are best for lactose intolerance.
- How to find the best dairy / lactose free protein shakes for you.
- 8 delicious, non dairy protein shake ideas you can make today to help with weight loss.
Let’s get started!
What Is Lactose?
Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and dairy products.
What Is Lactose Intolerance?
When you’re lactose intolerant, you can’t fully digest lactose in milk and other dairy-based foods and drinks. This can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, gas and bloating after eating or drinking dairy products.
Lactose intolerance affects an estimated 36% of Americans and 68% of the world population.
Lactose intolerance also seems to impact people from certain ethnic populations and races more prominently, including Latin Americans, African-Americans, Native Americans, Asians, East Europeans and Middle Easterners.
Why Are So Many People Lactose Intolerant?
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Too little of an enzyme produced in your small intestine (lactase) is usually responsible for lactose intolerance. You can have low levels of lactase and still be able to digest milk products. But if your levels are too low you become lactose intolerant, leading to symptoms after you eat or drink dairy.
Certain diseases that affect the digestive systems (including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease), stomach or intestinal infections, and injuries to the small intestine (from surgery, trauma, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy) may reduce the amount of the digestive enzyme lactase available to process lactose properly.
What Types of Foods Are High in Lactose?
High lactose foods include the usual suspects like milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and other dairy products. But lactose is often hiding in common grocery store foods like bread and baked goods, chocolate and many types of candy, salad dressings and sauces, breakfast cereals and cereal bars, instant potatoes, soups, rice and noodle mixes, lunch meats, mixes for pancakes, biscuits, and cookies, margarine and butter.
Most people also don’t realize that lactose is also present in about 20% of prescription medications, such as birth control pills (oral contraceptives), and about 6% of over-the-counter medications, including many tablets for stomach acid and gas.
So if you’re on a lactose-free diet, it’s important to scrutinize ingredient lists and food labels.
What Protein Powders Are Best for Lactose Intolerance?
Most milk-based protein powders, including whey protein, contain lactose. So it comes as no surprise that these types of animal proteins can lead to gut disturbances for folks who are lactose intolerant.
There are certain whey protein powder brands that are lactose-free and/or contain the digestive enzyme lactase, which helps your body break down lactose. But it’s up to you the consumer to determine if these products are actually “non-dairy” like they claim to be.
Vegan / plant based protein powders are completely free of any dairy, so these may be a safer / more suitable option if you’re trying to avoid lactose.
How to Find the Best Non Dairy Protein Powders for Your Health Needs
First off, what are your health goals? What do you want your protein powder to do for you?
Help you feel better?
Do you care where the ingredients come from and if they’re organic? Or is cost more important to you?
For example, I choose supplements that help me look and feel better. I want my supplements to be organic and plant-based whenever possible, free of dairy and other allergens, and have no sugar added (because added sugar is one of the biggest causes of weight gain).
I also look for ingredients grown in the U.S. and Canada instead of China, where most brands source their ingredients from.
So determine what your top 3-4 most important criteria are, and then find a protein powder that fits your needs. It takes a little work, in full disclosure, because most of the top selling brands have ingredients that come from China, added sugar, and hidden junk that may not be dairy free.
8 Lactose and Dairy Free Protein Shake and Meal Replacement Recipes for Weight Loss
We used our protein powder, Pure Food, for these smoothie recipes, but any non-dairy protein powder option will work (as long as it doesn’t contain added sugar).