Connor Sellers is a personal trainer and senior coach at Total Shape. His mission is to inspire people to relentlessly pursue their fitness and lifestyle goals. He believes staying fit has an overall positive effect on one’s body, mind, and spirit. Read more more about us here.
I have to admit that when I first got questions from clients about low FODMAP protein powders, it took a bit of research and a few conversations with my dietitian to fully understand the concept.
As it turned out, there were loads of products with high FODMAP content that, for some people, could be a contributing factor to bloating and stomach upset.
But rather than taking the approach of analyzing hundreds of protein powders, we sat down and took a closer look at what types of protein powders tended to contain high FODMAP ingredients.
Let’s start with some basics, though.
What Does Low FODMAP Protein Mean?
Low FODMAP means a supplement or protein powder that contains little to no fermentable carbs. If you’re sticking to a low FODMAP diet, then there is a long list of sugary and other carbs that you want to avoid at all costs.
While your meal planning might take care of that to avoid digestive issues, it’s often processed foods and supplements that could cause some issues.
Generally speaking, most of the main brands of protein powders have moved away from having products that contain fillers, additives, and unnecessary fat and carbs, hence are considered low FODMAP.
Clean protein is very much a trending demand.
However, during my research for this post, I did encounter a lot of products that contained a considerable amount of carbs, some of which would not be suitable for a low FODMAP diet.
The Low FODMAP Diet is often followed by people who suffer from IBS or digestion disorders, and bans foods such as asparagus, celery, sweet corn, dairy, and most wheat-based products.
- Natalie Keegan, Health and fitness writer
What Protein Powder Is Low FODMAP?
I’ll go into different types of protein sources in the next section, but the pressing question you probably have is whether there is a type and product that would be most recommendable.
Based on conversations with dietitians and nutritionists, I have managed to narrow things down to a selection of different types.
However, in that process, we did keep going back to brown rice protein powder as one of the lowest FODMAP options available. This also seems to be supported by some studies that I was able to find .
Our top recommended brown rice protein is Performance Lab Sport Brown Rice Protein Powder.
Keeping in line with the company’s goals, the label is very clear, and the product doesn’t contain unnecessary carbs that would be classified as high FODMAP ingredients.
How Different Types Of Protein Are Suitable
To dig a little deeper into this topic, I decided to publish the list of popular proteins we looked at to help you understand whether they are FODMAP friendly.
1 - Whey Protein Isolate
This is a more expensive form of whey protein powder, and it’s generally classed low FODMAP. The reason for this is that it contains very little lactose, which would be rich in fermentable carbs.
2 - Whey Protein Concentrate
Whey protein concentrate is the more common and cheaper form of whey protein, but it would in most cases be quite high in lactose. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see anything from 5% to 10% lactose content.
For that reason, it’s not suitable as a low FODMAP option.
The differences between whey isolate and concentrate are discussed in detail on this page.
3 - Hydrolyzed Whey
In some cases, it’s hydrolyzed whey protein isolate, which would make it low in lactose or almost lactose free in some products. However, don’t just assume that and take a close look at the label for lactose content.
4 - Egg Protein
The great thing about eggs is that they naturally don’t contain carbs. Adding eggs to your diet is certainly a good option . However, that doesn’t mean that an egg protein powder doesn’t contain some added sugars. The key is to always check the label to be sure that your egg protein powder suits your low FODMAP lifestyle.
5 - Brown Rice Protein
Brown rice protein is low FODMAP and one of our favored choices. Just keep in mind that you may need to stack it with others to get the full amino acid profile. For vegans, hemp protein may be an option, while eggs could work for others.
6 - Soy Protein
Soy protein is, in most cases, low FODMAP. However, this is largely dependent on the manufacturing process, which should remove the oligosaccharide content.
We did find some cheaper products where this was not the case, so be careful. Several soy-free proteins may also be considered low FODMAP.
7 - Pea Protein
Our analysis showed that pea protein powder had varying levels of FODMAP, which made it a lot more difficult to decide.For that reason, we would generally advise staying away from any product with pea protein as its main ingredient unless you’re 100% certain based on the nutritional label.
8 - Hemp Protein
This is generally considered to be low FODMAP unless it has some fillers or additives (more on this in the next section). It’s fast becoming a favorite for many athletes as it's the only plant that contains the full profile of amino acids.
Watch Out For Hidden Ingredients
The unfortunate reality is that too many protein powders deliver a lot more than just protein. In many cases, it’s to make them taste better, but some have a legitimate reason to add carbs and fat.
An example of this would be protein shakes that double as a meal replacement or a mass gainer, but it’s important to remember that they serve a completely different purpose.
If you’re looking for a low-FODMAP shake, then don’t just look for those artificial sweeteners and flavors that may be harmful. They won’t pose too much of an issue.
What you have to look out for is to total carbs and whether they are from sugar or fiber.
Let me explain.
Some products might have 5 to 10 grams of carbs, but if most of that is from dietary fiber, then it could actually be a bonus.
However, if the product is laced with sugar to make it taste more appealing, then you’re almost certainly looking at fermentable carbs.
Avoid them at all costs, as they are significantly more likely to cause an upset stomach. Proteins without artificial sweeteners oftentimes could pass as low FODMAP, so those are better options if you’re serious with the restriction.
Your Ideal Solution
I already briefly mentioned a product above that our team tends to recommend for a low FODMAP diet.
Performance Lab’s Protein Powder has just consistently exceeded our expectations, and transparency about their ingredients is definitely a bonus.
Because it’s brown rice-based, you may need to stack it with hemp for a complete amino acid content.
This combination of plant-based powders is suitable for vegans and in addition to that, it’s certified organic, GMO, soy, gluten, and cholesterol-free. Personally, we haven’t been able to find a better option.
If you’ve had some good results with it, then please share them with us on social media.