If you suffer from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, you may be looking very closely at every food you eat to ensure that it’s 100% gluten-free. That doesn’t just mean all the usual suspects—bread, noodles, flour, and everywhere else gluten usually hides. You’ll take a hard look at the places where gluten may be concealed (think sauces, soups, and supplements).
Protein powder is one area of concern for many people trying to go on a gluten-free diet. Seeing as manufacturers don’t always reveal the ingredients that are in their products. There is a very real concern that taking a protein powder could expose you to a hidden source of gluten.
Below, we’ve listed everything you need to know about whey protein and gluten. As well as the best gluten free protein powder options for you to consider. By the time you reach the end of this page, you’ll be ready to dig into protein powders with the full confidence. And you won’t end up accidentally consuming hidden gluten!
Whey Protein + Gluten: Do the Two Mix?
Whey protein is derived from whey, which is the thin, yellowish-transparent liquid that is produced when milk turns into cheese. On its own, whey has no gluten. Milk is 100% gluten-free. Which means that you can usually take whey protein supplements without worrying about being exposed to gluten. In fact, whey protein is often used as a gluten replacement. Meaning it’s usually safe for those with gluten sensitivities.
That being said, there are a number of whey protein products that may end up containing gluten. For example, some of the “cheap” whey proteins are thickened using ingredients that contain some gluten. Whey protein bars can also be made with wheat, barley, rye, and other gluten-containing ingredients.
So what should you do? Should you consume whey protein and take the risk that you’re exposed to gluten? The answer is yes and no!
No, you should just consume “any” whey protein powder, especially powders made with a lot of chemical ingredients. Yes, you should consume whey protein powders. But only the proteins that are made to be as pure and free of chemicals as possible. That way, you can be sure the whey protein you’re getting is safe and gluten-free.
The 5 Best Gluten Free Protein Powder Choices
If you want to get quality gluten-free protein powders, here are your top picks:
High Quality Whey Protein – There are many high quality whey protein powders that are made using only natural, organic, and gluten-free ingredients. Naked Whey, for example, contains no added sugar, flavors, or chemicals—it’s just 100% pure whey. Even if it doesn’t taste great, it’s still a product you can trust is totally free of gluten.
Our own Vital Whey is another whey protein you can trust to be safe and pure. The protein is made entirely from grass-fed cow’s milk, and it’s 100% GMO-free, hormone-free, pesticide-free, and chemical-free. It undergoes minimal processing and has no added ingredients that could contain gluten. With Vital Whey, your protein powder is as safe and healthy as it gets!
Egg Protein -- Egg protein is another type of protein powder. You can usually consume it without worries of being exposed to gluten. Egg whites contain no gluten, so you can eat it with full confidence. You’re giving your body the good amino acids it needs without doing it harm. Egg protein digests slowly but absorbs quickly into your body. And it’s one of the top protein powder choices on the market!
Superfood Proteins – Did you know that a lot of “superfood” greens contains amino acids? While veggies aren’t a complete source of protein. You’ll find they’re loaded with a wide variety of the amino acids your body needs to build muscles. The fact that these supplements are made using only vegetables (and sometimes fruits). This means there is no risk of any gluten-containing ingredients being added. You’ll be able to take these green supplements and boost your health as safely as if you were eating a carrot or a head of cabbage in the raw.
Spirulina Protein – Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is dried, ground, and turned into a protein powder. The fact that it’s an algae (like seaweed) makes it pretty clear that it’s very gluten-free, so you can take it without worrying about being “glutenened”. Spirulina is also loaded with antioxidants. It can help to detoxify your body and improve digestive health. It’s one of the most nutrient-rich protein powders. it’s also an amazing superfood that will boost your wellness in more ways than just muscle-building.
Legume Proteins – Peas, beans, and other legumes are all great sources of protein. Which is why so many plant-based protein powders are made using these legumes. The downside is that legumes don’t contain all nine amino acids required for muscle-building. The manufacturers will often add the other amino acids using protein derived from rice, sprouted seeds, and other potentially gluten-rich sources.
You can find gluten-free legume-based proteins. But it
will take a bit more research to find the products that don’t contain any gluten ingredients. For example, some rice proteins are gluten-free, so they can be added safely to your legume-based protein powder to round out the amino acid content. However, if you are going to consider plant-based proteins, you’ll need to pay very close attention to what’s in the ingredients.
The good news in all of this is that you can find protein powders that deliver a hefty dose of amino acids without any risk of your being exposed to gluten. It will take a bit of research and careful study of the ingredients in each protein powder. This is worth it in the long run. Not only will you get the protein required to build muscle. You can also improve the quality of your diet overall by adding in these nutrient-rich protein powders—all without any risk of exposure to the gluten you’re trying to avoid!