My Guide to Choosing a Low FODMAP Protein Powder
To start with: do you need a low FODMAP protein powder? Most people can meet their protein needs by eating a variety of nutritious foods – even when following a low FODMAP diet. This is also true for vegetarians and vegans!
On the other hand, athletes in training, underweight people who struggle to keep their weight up, or people who restrict several foods for other health reasons, may use the help of a protein powder supplement to meet their protein and calorie needs.
In these instances, having a protein powder to make a nutritious shake for an on-the-go breakfast or snack can be helpful (see my Café Mocha Smoothie recipe below).
How to Choose a Low FODMAP Protein Powder
It is important to remember to prioritize food first and think of protein powder as a supplement used in addition to a variety of nutritious foods.
It’s best to consult with a registered dietitian before starting a low FODMAP diet. He/she will be able to assess whether you are consuming enough protein (and calories) and recommend a protein powder if needed.
Some key things to consider when choosing a low-FODMAP protein powder are the source of the protein, the presence of any sweetener, and other (potentially) high-FODMAP ingredients.
These protein sources are considered low FODMAP:
- Egg protein
- Rice protein
- Sprouted brown rice protein
- Whey protein isolate
- Whey protein concentrate or Hydrolyzed Whey Protein – only if at least 98-99% lactose-free.
- Pea protein: selected brands (see Monash FODMAP App).
The FODMAP content of the following protein powders is unknown and it is best to avoid them during the elimination phase. After you have figured out your FODMAP triggers, you can experiment and see how you tolerate them.
- Soy protein/soy protein concentrate
- Soy protein isolate (technically an isolate has been completely separated from the fiber portion, but that depends on manufacturing methods)
- Hemp protein
Table sugar, maple syrup, and stevia are low-FODMAP sweeteners but avoid products containing these high-FODMAP sweeteners:
- Polyols (Xylitol, Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Erythritol, Lactitol, Isomalt)
Other artificial sweeteners are probably ok but there are other reasons to not recommend them (recent research has suggested they may promote dysbiosis and inflammation in the gut).
The FODMAP status of monk fruit is unknown, so, for now, it is best to avoid powders containing this ingredient.
Many protein powder products add other ingredients in an effort to boost either the flavor or the fiber. Small amounts of cocoa powder, carob powder, or açai powder in a protein powder are ok.
However, don’t purchase powders containing the following high-FODMAP ingredients:
- Chicory root or extract
- Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS)
- Isomaltooligosaccharides or IMO fiber
- Powders made from moderate/high-FODMAP fruits and vegetables (apple, cherry, pear, mango, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, brussels sprouts, beets, and artichoke)
- Natural flavors – these can contain high-FODMAP ingredients such as honey, apple, mango, pear, watermelon, agave, dates, etc. They are ok when listed as being present in amounts of less than 2%.
Other ingredients that may appear in protein powder products whose FODMAP content is unknown (and it is, therefore, best to avoid them) are:
- Alfalfa grass
- Baobab fruit
- Sprouted adzuki
- Sprouted Amaranth
- Sprouted garbanzo bean
- Sprouted lentil
Some protein powders may also contain digestive enzymes or probiotics. Although these are not FODMAPs, they are variables that may affect IBS symptoms, making it difficult to find out what your triggers are.
Finally, the Monash University FODMAP Diet App has started listing several certified protein powders that will take the guesswork out of the search.
Café Mocha Smoothie
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk or lactose-free milk
1 oz (28 g) chocolate-flavored protein powder
½ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp instant coffee (regular or decaf)
½ small, firm banana, sliced and frozen
1 tbsp almond butter
- Add the milk of choice to the blender, then the other ingredients.
- Blend until smooth.
Yield: 1 serving
Author: Antonella Dewell, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Natural Chef
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