We know it does wonders for muscle growth, but is protein powder good for gut health?
Spoiler alert: it actually is. In this article, we analyse a range of protein sources from meat, whey protein, collagen protein, pea protein and vegan blended protein to find out which protein sources are the best for gut health.
Is protein good for gut health?
Have you heard of the saying too much of one thing is good for nothing? Well, that applies to protein consumption, too.
When you’re focused on building muscle, it’s common to increase your animal protein intake and decrease your carbs to maximise your results.
A 2013 study found that a high protein, high fat and low carb diet can put some strain on our microbiome and negatively impact our digestion.
Too much animal protein in our gut also releases chemicals linked to colon cancer and diabetes.
It also puts stress on our kidney and liver function, causing symptoms like nausea, dehydration, fatigue and injury to the respective organs.
If you’d like to learn more about why too much meat is bad for gut health, you can read all about it here.
Before you hit the panic button, there’s good news. A diet high in protein and fat is completely healthy so long as you eat enough fiber too. That means bringing back some of those carbohydrates and eating plenty of diverse plant-based fibre sources like sweet potato.
A good rule of thumb is to eat 12 to 15 grams of fibre per 1,000 calories.
While you’re at it, avoid high fat, red and processed meats and opt for the leaner cuts instead. This will help you keep your cholesterol in check.
Is protein powder good for gut health?
While eating too much protein in the form of meat may impact your gut health, proteinpowder has been found to improve gut health.
Yep, that’s right. Protein powders contain a range of peptides (the building blocks of protein) that are easier for the body to digest and can even ease inflammation in the bowel.However, not all proteins powders are cut from the same cloth. Whether protein powder is good for gut health will depend on a few things.
It’s no surprise that the best results come from the best quality products. Quality protein powder can be characterised by its purity (that means no nasty chemicals have found their way into them), and the quality of the source (whether it’s made from dairy, soy or potato).
The lower the quality, the less benefits you can expect, especially when it comes to gut health. Therefore, you need high quality protein powder for good gut health.
Protein powders can be processed in varying degrees. The more refined it is, the higher the quality will be, and the easier it will be for your body to absorb (that’s the argument anyway).
All forms come with their own benefits and functions, so it’s important to choose the right form of protein for your goals. And in any case, all forms of protein powder can be good for gut health.
Protein isolate is considered more bang for your buck, while concentrates and hydrolysates tend to be gentler on the gut, especially if it’s whey protein you’re considering.
You can learn more about the different forms of protein powder in this article.
Social proof can sometimes help you find the best products. Take a look at reviews and recommendations from relevant experts in the field and look to see what protein powder is good for gut health based on the results people are getting.
How much protein does the protein powder contain? What are the carb and sugar levels? How easily is it absorbed in the body?
While these questions may not directly impact your gut health, it will impact your overall fitness goals, so it’s still worth considering.
Your gut sensitivities
Lastly, you should always consider your own sensitivities. There’s no point trialling out the best whey protein powder if you know your gut reacts poorly to lactose.
A protein powder that is good for gut health is one that doesn’t flare you up.
Make sure to look out for any ingredients, like lactose, nuts, gluten and soy, that may cause inflammation, bloating or pain in your gut, and find a hypoallergenic option instead.
What is the best protein for gut health?
The best protein powder for your gut health will depend on whether or not you’re sensitive to lactose.
If you aren’t, then any whey protein from our range checks all the above boxes.
Our Althlete Standard Whey Protein Powder is our crowd favourite. The bioavailability is high, and we’ve included plenty of digestive enzymes to supercharge your gut health while helping you build muscle.
With our HASTA tick of approval, you know there aren’t any banned or harmful substances used to make this.
If you do have sensitivity to lactose, then collagen protein powder should be you go-to for gut health.
We’d recommend our HASTA certified TENDOFORTE® Collagen Regenerate. Championing the ingredient of the year (Tendoforte), it’s packed with hydrolysed bio-active peptides that support gut health alongside the health of your skin and muscles.
Is whey protein good for gut health?
If you aren’t lactose or dairy intolerant, then whey protein can be beneficial to your gut health.
Whey protein, a by-product from cheese, is a predigested protein. That means it is easier for your body to break down than whole protein from meat.
Not only is it easier for your body to break down, but it was found to improve inflammatory bowel disease in both rodents and humans.
It also contains glycol macro peptides which is an ingredient that has a prebiotic and probiotic effect on your gut’s microbiome. These ingredients stimulate digestion and stop your cells from binding to toxins.
Collagen protein for gut health
Collagen, a super food that aids digestion, is equally beneficial for your gut health.
While our bodies naturally produce collagen, you can also find it in foods like bone broth, stewed beans and fish with edible bones. But the best results and the highest concentration comes from supplements like collagen protein.
It also helps with wound healing and promoting connective tissue within your digestive tract, helping your gut repair from conditions like a leaky gut.
In fact, it can help with a range of symptoms like bloating, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, and stomach cramps.
So in summary, that’s a big tick of approval for your gut!
Pea protein for gut health
Pea protein, a vegan protein made from yellow split peas, is good for gut health.
What makes pea protein so great is its hypoallergenic properties. This should be the go-to protein powder for gut health for anyone who suffers from allergies, intolerances or sensitivities.
It also has fewer FODMAPS (carbohydrates that cause inflammation in the bowel) which makes it easier on your digestive tract, making it suitable for people with irritable bowel syndrome.
Despite being vegan, pea protein contains as much Leucine protein as the crowd favourite whey protein, all while being free from lactose or other animal by-products.
It’s easy to overlook vegan protein powder if you don’t consume a vegan diet, but here’s why you should give it a go (hint: it’s good for gut health!).
The term ‘vegan protein powder’ is quite broad, and can refer to protein powders sourced from ingredients like soy, peas, potato, brown rice or hemp. So naturally, each type has its own impact on gut health.
For example, Soy protein powder has been found to promote microbial diversity in your gut at a more efficient rate than non-vegan protein powders.
And a blend of soy and pea protein powder support your gut health by promoting the colonisation of good bacteria, like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
This brings us to an important point: vegan protein powders have the highest nutritional profiles when they’re blended.
Plant-based protein powder is less digestible than alternatives that contain amino acids (like whey protein). So the way around this is to combine them and create a ‘complete’ protein in the process.And, it’s more environmentally friendly which just makes you feel good.
What is the best vegan protein powder for gut health?
The best vegan protein powder good for gut health is one that has to tick a few boxes. Ideally it should:
- Be low in carbs and sugars
- Be made from high-quality ingredients with a decent bioavailability
- Contain plenty of prebiotic and probiotic peptides to support digestion and no harmful chemicals or additives
- Be made from a blend of vegan protein sources to make a ‘complete protein’
- Be free from any allergens that could flare up your gut.
At Body Science, any vegan protein from our Clean Vegan Protein range fits the bill.
Not only are our products made from a blend of high-quality, real ingredients with no additives like artificial sweeteners or colourants, but they also come in a range of flavours for you to take your pick from.
Let’s take our Clean Plant Protein Premium Vanilla for example. Each serving contains less than 5g of carbs, with a whopping 8g of fibre and 30g of protein. It’s made from sustainably sourced, 100% real ingredients like pea, rice, faba bean, ancient grains, sunflower seeds and plenty of digestive enzymes, making this protein powder good for your gut health.
Protein powder and gut health:
If you prefer vegan protein, make sure the one you purchase contains a blend of protein sources to ensure you get the full benefits.
And lastly, always choose the protein powder made from the highest quality ingredients free from any harmful substances.