Lactose free protein powders are supplements that deliver the protein you need for fitness and health without any dairy byproducts.
Most popular protein products are made with whey or casein protein, and while these dairy-derived products are low in lactose, they aren’t completely lactose-free.
People with severe lactose intolerance, not to mention people with dairy allergies, won’t do well with a whey or casein-based protein powder.
This is where lactose free protein powder comes in. If you want all the benefits of highly concentrated, rapidly absorbed protein with none of the drawbacks of dairy, you’ll want to check out these lactose-free protein powders.
1. Elevate Plant Based Performance Protein
If you want a lactose-free protein powder that tastes great, has clean ingredients,and is easy to blend, look no further than Elevate.
Using a mixture of pea, hemp, and sweet potato protein, Elevate has a high protein content, a balanced amino acid profile, zero sugar, and is flavored only with cocoa powder, natural flavors, and monk fruit extract.
Himalayan rock salt adds some key electrolytes, making this a great protein powder for pre- or post-workout fueling.
2. Vega One Organic Plant Protein
Vega One is a comprehensive plant-based protein and vitamin/mineral supplement. It uses pea protein (which is very well-balanced in terms of its amino acid profile) for most of its protein, while tossing in a blend of fruit and vegetable concentrates for strong antioxidant power.
It’s even got some probiotics to aid with digestion, though the label does not disclose exactly how many colony-forming units of the bacillus coagulans probiotic bacteria it contains.
Other than these superfood concentrates, there are no sweeteners or additives, natural or otherwise, making it a great choice if you’re looking for a lactose-free protein powder that’s got some superfoods as well.
3. Left Coast Performance Bone Broth Powder
Bone Broth is all the rage among health enthusiasts, and Left Coast has found a way to isolate the protein contained in beef bone broth and concentrated it into a powderized form.
As a supplement, it’s quite healthy and has the distinctive savory taste of bone broth. The protein content is exceptionally high (over 90% by weight), and even with a small amount of cane sugar as a sweetener, there’s less than one gram of sugar per serving.
The only downside is that bone broth protein powder is not as easily mixed as other protein powders. It’s best-suited for blending into smoothies and shakes.
4. PureBod Bone Broth Protein Powder
PureBod has taken the bone broth trend and run with it, coming up with a protein powder that’s extremely pure and has a very high protein content.
Given that the only ingredient is concentrated beef broth, the protein content is high, but it has a strong brothy taste and, like other “raw” bone broth proteins, is difficult to mix without a blender. This protein powder will work well for beef broth enthusiasts and others looking for a highly concentrated protein to blend into smoothies and shakes.
5. MRM Natural Egg White Protein
Egg whites are prized for their high protein content and low cholesterol content, and MRM makes one of the best egg-based protein powders.
It’s got a good balance between purity and usability: It’s flavored, but only with natural chocolate, stevia, and monk fruit extract.
It includes sunflower lecithin and xanthan gum, but no other emulsifiers. The high protein content and balanced amino acid profile make this a great choice for a lactose-free protein powder.
6. Source Nutrition Egg White Protein
Source Nutrition has a very solid egg-based protein powder that blends up thick and creamy without any lactose or dairy ingredients.
It uses its “clean cream” blend of sunflower oil and tapioca to give this protein a frothy texture, and it’s sweetened with a combination of natural flavors, stevia, and the non-caloric herbal extract luo han guo. For fans of egg protein, it’s a good choice.
7. Aloha Organic Protein Powder
Aloha uses a blend of pea, hemp, and pumpkin seed for its protein content, as well as coconut water and coconut sugar for vitamins, minerals, and flavoring.
Unfortunately, though this coconut sugar is tasty, it ups the sugar content quite a bit; for every four grams of protein, there’s nearly one gram of sugar.
For highly active athletes, this is not a big issue, but if you are using protein powder as part of a low-carb diet or as part of a program to drop fat, the sugar content might be an issue for you.
8. PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein
PlantFusion uses a mixture of pea protein, artichoke protein, amaranth powder, and a selection of amino acids to constitute its protein profile.
The protein makeup is solid, though low carb and low sugar enthusiasts will not like the choice of using fructose as an additive.
9. No Udder Protein
No Udder Protein promises a dairy free protein powder but ends up a little more complicated than necessary.
It uses a combination of pea protein, rice protein, and a couple of amino acids to create its protein profile, which is fine—the problem is that the blend has a lot of extra ingredients, like cane sugar, binders, emulsifiers, and sweeteners, that lower the protein content and dilute the product.
10. BlendItUp Protein + Smoothie Mix
BlendItUp is a popular base mixture for smoothies, and while it does contain some protein, it’s not in nearly high enough a concentration to compete with other lactose-free protein powders.
It’s nice to see extras like the vitamin blend and chia seeds included in the ingredients, but given the lack of an actual protein concentrate or isolate, the level of protein (less than 50% by weight) leaves a lot to be desired.
Lactose-free protein benefits and side effects
Protein powder is essential if you want to gain muscle, lose weight, or recover faster after training sessions at the gym.
But most traditional protein powders are made from dairy products—whey protein is by far the most common protein powder you’ll find, followed closely by casein protein powder, which is also derived from cow’s milk.
While these protein powders are low in lactose, their lactose content is not always zero. Further, if you are not just lactose intolerant, but allergic to dairy, any diary-derived protein powder is a no-go.
Fortunately, there are a number of benefits that can be had with a lactose-free protein powder.
Lactose-free protein powder won’t cause digestion issues. The first and most obvious benefit of a lactose-free protein powder is the lack of lactose.
Even the Whey Protein Institute admits that whey protein (as well as other dairy-derived proteins) are approximately 1% lactose by weight (1).
This can cause the classic symptoms of lactose intolerance: bloating, nausea, cramps, abdominal pain, and gas, according to the Mayo Clinic (2).
The amount of lactose that aggravates your digestive system varies depending on your degree of lactose intolerance; some people can get away with consuming whey or casein protein if their lactose intolerance is mild or moderate.
However, people with severe lactose intolerance usually are not able to consume milk-based proteins, especially in large amounts.
If you are lactose intolerant and you plan on taking a lot of protein as part of a training program, it’s best to opt for a protein powder that’s lactose-free.
Dairy-based protein can cause allergic reactions. Even hydrolyzed whey protein, which is supposed to be less allergenic than standard unprocessed whey protein, can cause allergic reactions in people with a milk or dairy allergy, as documented in a case report in the Journal of Pediatrics (3).
Mixtures of plant-based proteins offer a complete amino acid profile. One often-cited benefit of whey and casein proteins is that these protein powders have a complete profile of all of the essential amino acids your body needs for recovery and muscle synthesis.
Non-dairy proteins that are still based on animal products, like bone broth protein or egg white protein, are also intrinsically well-balanced in their amino acid profile. But the amino acid balance in plant-based protein is really only a problem if you consume just one type of plant based protein throughout the day.
A scientific review article by Vernon Young and Peter Pellett at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology evaluated the ability of plant based proteins to fulfil the nutritional and dietary needs of humans (4).
According to Young and Pellett, the ideal plant based proteins come from a mixture of different plant sources. This could come from a combination of pea protein and soy protein, or hemp protein and pumpkin seed protein to pick just two examples.
Lactose-free protein can be as high or higher-quality than milk-derived protein. Young and Pellett also cite research refuting the idea that plant proteins are of intrinsically lower quality than animal proteins.
The quality of a protein, according to the two researchers, is dependent only on its concentration in the protein source, not where the source comes from.
So, a source like rice or pea protein, which is over 80% protein by weight, can be considered equally high-quality as whey protein, which is likewise very high in its protein content.
The same may not be true for protein blends that include non-protein ingredients which significantly dilute the protein content of the supplement.
Since they are derived from non-dairy sources, lactose-free protein powders are exceptionally well-tolerated.
Protein powders in general are very safe, and given that a lactose-free protein powder is not going to have the allergenic risks of a milk-based protein powder, this is even more applicable to these supplements.
Given the tremendous quantities of protein that bodybuilders and weightlifters consume on a regular basis without issue, side effects related to lactose-free protein powders can be considered non existent.
Protein intake is going to depend on your fitness and health goals, as well as your body size. As you might guess, bigger people need more protein, in part because they have more muscles to grow and repair.
Because of this, protein needs are usually expressed as a function of your body mass in kilograms. According to a 2004 scientific article in the Journal of Sports Sciences by Kevin Tipton and Robert Wolfe at the University of Texas, strength/speed athletes and endurance athletes have different protein needs (5).
For athletes specializing in strength, speed, or power, a protein intake of 1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram of body mass per day has been the historically recommended intake level.
On the other hand, endurance athletes need slightly less: about 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass per day has been the usual recommendation.
However, Tipton and Wolfe present evidence suggesting that athletes looking to increase their body mass or their raw muscular size may need substantially greater protein intakes—possibly up to 2.5 or 3 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass per day.
Tipton and Wolfe say that there appears to be little downside to a high daily protein intake, so athletes looking to gain mass and muscle size should not worry about being on the high end of these recommendations.
If you want the benefits of protein powder but can’t tolerate dairy-based protein powders, fear not: you can get great results with a lactose-free protein powder.
If you are going with a totally plant-based protein powder, get one that’s got a blend of at least two different protein sources if possible—or use two different protein powders.
Another way to ensure you’ve got a good balance of amino acids is to use an animal-derived source of protein, such as egg whites or bone broth as your protein source.
If you want to ensure that your lactose-free protein powder is just as high-quality as a whey or casein protein source, check to make sure the actual protein content is high.
All of the best-quality lactose-free protein powders will have a protein content that’s far north of 60% by weight. Follow these guidelines and you’ll on track to get the health and fitness results you desire.