Lactose Free Dairy Free Protein Shakes

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 shakes ideas you can make today to help with weight loss.

Let’s get started!

What Is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk and dairy products. Many people can’t digest lactose due to a deficiency in lactase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down lactose in the digestive system. This condition is known as 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 free protein shakes

Causes of Lactose Intolerance

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.

Lactose intolerance primarily arises from genetic factors that influence lactase production:

  • Primary lactose intolerance: The most common type, where lactase production decreases after weaning, following the natural course in most mammals. This reduction can lead to symptoms when consuming dairy products.
  • Secondary lactose intolerance: This can occur due to injuries or diseases affecting the small intestine, such as celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, or infections, leading to a temporary decrease in lactase production.
  • Developmental lactose intolerance: Seen in premature infants born before their intestines fully develop; this is usually temporary.
  • Congenital lactose intolerance: A very rare condition where babies produce little to no lactase enzyme from birth due to a genetic mutation.

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.

Geographic and Ethnic Variations

The ability to digest lactose beyond infancy varies widely and is influenced by historical dietary patterns:

  • High lactase persistence rates (ability to digest lactose into adulthood) are found in populations with a long history of domesticating dairy animals and consuming their milk, like those in northern Europe and some African and Middle Eastern groups.
  • Lower rates are seen in East Asian, West African, Arab, Jewish, Italian, and Greek populations, where historical dairy consumption has been minimal.

Symptoms and Health Implications

When lactose isn’t adequately digested, it moves into the colon, where bacteria ferment it, producing gas and attracting water. This can lead to:

  • Digestive symptoms: Bloating, diarrhea, gas, and abdominal pain.
  • Nutritional concerns: If avoiding dairy products without suitable replacements, there might be deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, and protein.

Managing Lactose Intolerance

  • Dietary adjustments: Limiting or avoiding dairy products, using lactose-free alternatives, or consuming small amounts of dairy with meals can help.
  • Lactase supplements: These can be taken before consuming dairy to aid digestion.
  • Calcium and vitamin D supplementation: Important if dairy intake is reduced.

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 Dairy Free Protein Powders and Shakes 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 Lactose Free Protein Powders and Shakes 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?

Look better?

Lose weight?

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 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.

Our Favorite Lactose and Dairy Free Protein Shakes

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).

dairy lactose free protein shake recipes

50 Vanilla and Chocolate Dairy Free High Protein Smoothie Recipes

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