I’ve heard this question several (OK, many) times in the past year.
What gluten and dairy free protein supplement do you recommend?
And quite honestly, I was flummoxed.
Although I have celiac disease, I have not had to contend with dairy sensitivity. I have always used whey or casein proteins, which are milk-based. Whey protein isolate has had the lactose removed, and so many with a lactose intolerance can tolerate a straight whey isolate. However, some with a dairy sensitivity cannot tolerate even a whey isolate.
I am the first to tell you when there is something I am unfamiliar with. In these cases, I usually run around in a fairly obsessive state of learning until I have found an answer. My friends, I am here to share my new found knowledge of the dairy and gluten free protein powder world.
There are 5 basic types of gluten and dairy free protein powders. (This is what I am aware of as being fairly common and easy to find. I believe there may be more (spirulina?), so if you know of some please share in the comments!
The five I will be addressing here are egg white protein, gemma (pea) protein, rice protein, soy protein, and hemp protein.
Egg White Protein
Egg white protein is created by seperating the yolk and converting the white to powder. It tends to be a bit high when it comes to creating sulfur with digestion. (The polite way of saying it can give you WAY smelly gas.) Upon mixing it is a thinner consistency. In my opinion best when mixed with other types of protein, for both the taste, texture, and certainly for the gas factor.
Gemma (Pea) Protein
This is fairly new to the scene, becoming more popular when whey protein prices went up a couple years back. It is, just as it sounds, derived from peas, making it a vegan-friendly option. Gemma mixes into a thick consistency and has a slightly nutty flavor. The Gemma that I have tested is also non-GMO. Gemma can be used on its own or mixed with another type of protein such as…..
Also a vegan friendly option. The rice protein I tested is also non GMO and derived from brown rice. Rice protein mixes
to a thinner consistency and has a gritty texture, but a “cleaner” flavor.
Soy protein is derived from defatted soybean flakes. There has been much media controversy and conflicting research about the use of soy supplements in the diet, as well as the GMO situation (GMO=genetically modified organism.) That discussion could fill several books, and is far too much for the scope of this article, but be aware that it exists. You can find research and articles to back up both sides of the story, from the “soy is evil!” camp to the “soy is the best food ever!” camp. Make an educated and independent decision, whatever your decision may be. It is a vegan friendly option.
Despite some individuals wishing otherwise, this hemp does not make you high. Sorry, folks, it would be a lot more expensive if it did. Hemp protein does have a couple of unique characteristics though. Hemp protein contains essential fatty acids and fiber! In a 30 gram serving you would get 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of fat along with your 15 grams of protein. The others contain a bit more protein per serving, averaging 24-25 grams, and little to no fat and fiber. I have not tasted hemp yet. (And I know some of you have, so pipe up in the comments!) Hemp is a vegan friendly option.
As always, check your labels and with the manufacturer if needed to verify gluten free status. I have used rice and gemma from True Protein, and I will be posting my review next week. Stay tuned!
Check out the Gluten Free and Fit 101 page if you’re looking for a place to start here in the gluten free and fit community.
Have you used a gluten free and dairy free protein powder? What did you use and what did you think? Let me know in the comments!