10 Best Lactose Free Protein Powders in 2020 [Buying Guide]

Back in the day, protein powders were pretty simple. You only had milk & egg or 100% egg white. Then whey protein hit the market and protein powder selections began to expand dramatically. 

Jump to 2020, and there’s the plant-based protein trend, whey (of course), milk, good old egg, and even beef. 

There’s also lactose free protein powders. 

Back then, specific products that targeted digestive problems were uncommon. Now, it’s a different story. 

What good is a protein powder if you can’t digest it? 

You guessed it, no good whatsoever.

This article gives you a list of the best lactose free protein powders. 

After all, if muscle growth is on your goal list, and you’re lactose intolerant, you need the convenience of a good lactose free protein powder if you want to make progress. 

Let’s get started!

In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:

Quick Answer – 10 Best Lactose Free Protein Powders

  1. NutraBio 100% Whey Protein Isolate (Editor’s Choice)
  2. JYM Supplement Science Pro Jym Protein Powder
  3. OPTIMUM NUTRITION Platinum Hydrowhey Protein Powder
  4. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder
  5. PEScience Select Vegan Protein Powder
  6. Naked Nutrition Naked Pea Protein Isolate
  7. Nature’s Best Plant Based Vegan Protein Powder
  8. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Organic Plant-Based Protein
  9. Legion Whey+ Protein Powder
  10. Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein Powder

Reviews – The Best Lactose Free Protein Powders

1. NutraBio 100% Whey Protein Isolate (Editor’s Choice)

If there was such a thing as a protein that rated higher than 5 stars, this would be it. 

This is hands down the best protein on this list.

Their labels redefine transparency and break it down to the exact amount in milligrams of flavorings, sweetener and other ingredients. 

There’s no guesswork here, folks. 

This product provides 25g of pure whey isolate protein and is suitable for lactose intolerant individuals. It’s also 3rd party tested for purity, potency and quality.  

100% Whey Protein Isolate features 11 flavors, such as Root Beer Float, Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss, Bourbon Banana Nut, Raw Unflavored, Cinnamon Sugar Donut, Alpine Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate, Blueberry Muffin, Pancakes and Maple Syrup, Strawberry Ice Cream and Ice Cream Cookie Dream.

Wow!

If this product has a downside, it’s that it contains 60mg of sucralose. 

Still, this is the best protein for lactose intolerant users, whether they are bodybuilders, strength athletes, fitness enthusiasts or anyone looking to add protein to their diet.

We choose this to be the best Lactose Free Protein Powder in this list.

PROS 

  • Exceptional Quality
  • Full Label Transparency
  • 25g Of Whey Isolate Per Serving

CONS

  • Uses A Small Amount Of Sucralose
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

2. JYM Supplement Science Pro Jym Protein Powder 

Generally, whey is still considered the premium protein source despite the significant increase in plant source protein powders. 

One of the potential disadvantages with whey is that it digests very quickly. We use the word “potential” because it’s a disadvantage based on intended use. 

First thing in the morning or after a workout, you want a fast digesting whey protein. 

Yet, if you’re at the start of a long day at work or school and you know you may not be able to get to a planned meal, or if it’s just before bed, the rapid rate of digestion that whey provides would be a disadvantage. 

That’s where Pro Jym protein powder comes in. 

Here’s the ideal choice for any scenario where you have to go several hours longer than planned without a meal. 

Pro Jym protein powder provides 24g of fast and slow digesting proteins from whey isolate, milk isolate, casein and egg white. 

This combination of high quality proteins creates a sustained release effect that keeps your protein needs covered for several hours longer than whey can by itself. 

If you’re a bodybuilder or athlete, that’s a huge benefit. The fact that a lactose free protein is this good is an even bigger benefit. 

This is the best choice in a multi-source lactose free protein that allows for sustained digestion. 

PROS

  • 24g Of Fast & Slow Digesting Protein
  • Good Source Of Calcium
  • Good Range Of Flavors

CONS

  • Artificially Sweetened
  • Flavors Such As The Caramel Macchiato Are Too Sweet For Some Users
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

3. OPTIMUM NUTRITION Platinum Hydrowhey Protein Powder

Platinum Hydrowhey protein powder provides a huge 30g of very high quality, fast digesting protein per serving. 

This makes Hydrowhey a great choice for first thing in the morning, immediately post workout and in-between meals.

When you first wake up, you’re essentially coming off of a 7-10 hour fast because you haven’t eaten since the day before and your muscles are literally starving for protein. 

Post workout, you’ll want a fast digesting protein like Hydrowhey to start the recovery process. 

Time matters because training is a catabolic event, the sooner you take in protein the sooner you can shift back to an anabolic environment. 

While it’s clear this is a great protein for bodybuilders and athletes, anyone who’s exercising can benefit from a powder like this, regardless of their goals. 

But can those who have chosen not to exercise and just want some extra protein use Hydrowhey? 

Of course, but it is expensive and specifically designed for hard training athletes and bodybuilders. 

While the quality is exceptional, there are more cost-effective choices available for those who just want some good quality protein. 

Should you decide on this product, there are some excellent flavor choices such as Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate Mint or Chocolate Peanut Butter. 

However, some users have reported the taste is a little bland, despite the good flavor variations.

The protein is hydrolyzed, which means the whey isolate protein has been broken down into smaller pieces, so it mixes easily. This is also why it digests so fast. 

Cost may be a downside to some, yet you’re getting 38 servings from a 3.5lb. container. For this kind of quality, it’s worth looking at. 

PROS 

  • 30g Of Fast Digesting Whey 
  • 15.5g EAAs (Includes 9g BCAAs)
  • Mixes Very Easily
  • This Is Optimum’s Most Advanced Protein

CONS

  • Specifically Designed For Athletes – Not The Best Choice For General Use
  • Pricy But Exceptional Quality
  • Bland Taste
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

4. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder

Like Hydrowhey protein powder, this is 100% whey isolate protein which is the highest quality protein available. 

There’s a cost difference between Hydrowhey and this protein powder, which does not suggest lower quality but rather the lack of the hydrolyzation process. 

What that means is that the protein has not been broken down into smaller particles, so digestion is a little slower. Still, all whey protein digests within a few hours. 

This product has been the flagship Optimum protein for decades. You’re getting 24g of fast digesting whey (all whey protein digests quickly) per serving. 

It’s a great choice for bodybuilders and athletes but the better price-point opens it up to anyone who wants the quality of a good whey isolate.

The downside is the bland, weak taste. Whey isolate can taste weak, and while some companies have created a thick, delicious whey isolate protein, Optimum protein powder is not one of them. 

Even though the taste may not be great, dedicated bodybuilders and athletes overlook this issue and use it because it’s a good protein powder. 

But the average person may not feel that way, making this an athlete protein only. 

PROS 

  • 24g Of Premium Quality Whey Isolate Per Scoop
  • High In EAA/BCAA Content
  • 4g Of Glutamine

CONS

  • Bland Taste
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

5. PEScience Select Vegan Protein Powder

Plant-based protein sources are the current trend in nutrition in general and protein powders in particular. 

While the products reviewed so far are designed more for bodybuilders and athletes, Select Vegan is designed for anyone who wants to add extra protein to their diet and wants to do so using vegan sources with the convenience of a powder.

Select Vegan protein powder supplies 20g of pea and brown rice protein with little fat and zero sugar. 

The combination of pea and brown rice protein creates a complete protein similar to whey and has become a popular combination among plant-based protein powders.  

There’s absolutely no artificial sweeteners as it’s sweetened with stevia. 

PEScience put a lot of effort into the taste and texture of Select Vegan. 

There are flavors such as Cinnamon Delight, Peanut Butter Delight as well as Chocolate, Vanilla and Berry.  

Overall, this is a good choice for anyone looking for a lactose free protein powder.

PROS 

  • Good Combination Of Plant Proteins 
  • 20g Complete Protein Per Serving
  • Thick Texture & Good Flavor Selection
  • Sweetened Naturally With Stevia

CONS

  • Uses Pea & Rice Concentrate Instead Of Isolate
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

6. Naked Nutrition Naked Pea Protein Isolate

One of the best solutions to lactose intolerance is to use a plant-based protein. For years the primary choice was soy, but now you have better protein sources to choose from. 

One of those sources is pea isolate, the protein used in Naked Pea. In fact, there’s only one ingredient – Yellow Pea Protein and that’s it. 

Naked Pea protein powder supplies 27g of protein with 5.7g of BCAAs, making it suitable for bodybuilders and athletes. In fact, pea isolate protein has an amino acid profile that’s close to dairy proteins. 

There’s just 2g of sugar, half a gram of fat and only 110mg of sodium, much lower than the sodium content in some of the other plant-based proteins out there. 

There’s the usual Vanilla and Chocolate flavors but there’s also Matcha and Unflavored – which you can add to recipes if you don’t want a shake. 

This protein powder is marketed to those individuals who exercise and follow a clean, healthy nutritional program. It is also ideal for anyone who’s trying to lose weight. 

And even if you don’t exercise, you can still consume it to add extra protein to your diet. The versatility and quality of this protein make it the best lactose free protein for general use.

PROS 

  • 27g Of 100% Pea Isolate Protein
  • Yellow Peas Are The Only Ingredient
  • Good Amino Acid Profile

CONS

  • May Not Be As Complete As A Mix Of Plant Proteins
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

7. Nature’s Best Plant Based Vegan Protein Powder

Nature’s Best, the makers of Isopure Whey Isolate protein, now have a high-quality entry in the plant-based protein market with Plant Based Vegan Protein Powder. 

This protein powder provides 20g of organic pea and brown rice protein with no added sugar, no artificial flavors, and no artificial sweeteners. It’s naturally sweetened with stevia and monk fruit. 

Flavors are simple with just Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry and Unflavored, which means you can doctor up the flavor any way you’d like. 

Plant Based Vegan Protein Powder is ideal for anyone trying to lose weight on the keto or low carb diet, or for anyone wanting to add a high-quality protein to their diet.

If there’s a downside, the labeling does not indicate if this is isolate or concentrate protein, and it’s a little high in sodium at 200mg per serving. 

PROS 

  • 20g Of Plant-Based Protein Per Serving
  • Vegan, non-GMO, Keto & Low Carb-Friendly
  • No Artificial Sweeteners Or Flavors

CONS

  • A Little High In Sodium (200 mg)
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

8. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Organic Plant-Based Protein

This protein powder is all organic with just 1g of sugar and it’s sweetened naturally with organic stevia leaf. Each serving supplies 24g of protein.

This product also supplies 7g of carbs from a special grain blend called AncienTrim™ which is a blend of amaranth, barley, buckwheat, durum, millet, chia, quinoa and spelt. Unlike some commonly used grains, this combination is high in fiber and protein. 

This protein is designed for bodybuilders, athletes and active individuals who lead healthy lifestyles, which includes anyone following a weight loss program.  

Flavors are typical with Berry, Chocolate, Vanilla and Unflavored. You can use it as a shake, smoothie or add it to recipes. This product is a top contender for overall use as a lactose free protein powder.

PROS 

  • 24g Of Plant-Based Protein Per Serving
  • Complete Amino Acid Profile
  • No Artificial Sweeteners Or Flavors

CONS

  • Does Not Specify If Protein Sources Are Isolate Or Concentrate
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

9. Legion Whey+ Protein Powder

Legion Whey+ protein powder contains 22g of whey isolate protein per serving. This is a product with next to no fillers and no artificial ingredients. It’s naturally sweetened with stevia. 

There’s a whopping 11 flavor options: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cinnamon Cereal, Cookies & Cream, Dutch Chocolate, French Vanilla, Mint Chocolate, Mocha Cappuccino, Strawberry Banana, Birthday Cake, Salted Caramel and Unflavored. 

Now that’s quite a list of choices!

With options like that, it better mix well and it does. You can mix it into the smoothie or shake of your choice. 

While it will be a great tasting addition to your favorite drink, users have been saying that Whey+ is delicious even mixed in cold water. 

The main reason it tastes so good is because Legion only uses milk from Irish dairy farms. Irish whey is known to be richer and creamier, creating a great tasting product.

Legion Whey+ protein powder is a top contender whey isolate but if there’s a downside, it’s a little expensive. 

You can get other good quality, lactose free choices for less, so you’ll have to decide if this product meets your needs to a point where cost is not an issue. 

PROS  

  • 22g Of Whey Isolate Protein Per Serving
  • Sweetened Naturally With Stevia
  • 11 Flavors!

CONS

  • One Of The Costlier Lactose Free Powders On The Market
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

10. Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein Powder

Raw Organic Protein Powder is a completely organic powder that provides 22g of protein from a unique blend of pea, sprouted brown rice and 12 additional organic beans, seeds and grains. 

It also includes a probiotic and digestive enzyme blend. This is as natural and clean as it gets, there is nothing artificial in this product. 

Raw Organic Protein Powder is designed to support a healthy lifestyle and can be used by anyone. 

In fact, it’s a great choice for bodybuilders and athletes who want an organic, natural protein source. It’s a clean protein with a good amino acid profile which makes it ideal for recovery and muscle growth. 

It comes in Vanilla, Chocolate, Vanilla Chai & Unflavored, which means you can flavor it any way you like or add it to recipes. 

Many users will add the Unflavored powder to healthy cookies, muffins or soups. 

You can add it to just about anything for an extra boost of clean protein. You can also use any of the flavored versions for your recipes if you wish. 

Most plant-based proteins are not known for their amazing taste, and this is no exception. 

Still, with this kind of commitment to quality and the fact that it’s organic, raw and all-natural, it’s a great choice. 

PROS 

  • 22g Of Complete Plant Protein Per Serving
  • Features A Unique Protein Complex Consisting Of Pea, Brown Rice & 12 Organic Beans, Seeds 7 Grains
  • Certified Raw Organic 
  • Nothing Artificial

CONS

  • Not The Best Tasting Protein Powder
CHECK CURRENT PRICE

Buying Guide – How To Choose The Best Lactose Free Protein Powder?

When you hear someone use the term lactose intolerant, the first thing you think of is that the individual can’t tolerate milk. 

In fact, the problem is not the milk but the lactose, which is a form of sugar found in milk. 

Lactose intolerant means that the individual has problems digesting this sugar.  

If you are lactose intolerant, you are sensitive to all milk-based products. There’s no cure for lactose intolerance, the only solution is to avoid products that contain lactose.

While the degree and onset of symptoms varies, they include abdominal pain, diarrhea, bad gas, bloating, vomiting and nausea. 

Ultimately, it’s in the best interest of the individual to avoid all products that contain lactose.

TYPES OF PROTEIN 

Of course, we know how important protein is.

If you’re a bodybuilder, athlete or fitness enthusiast with the goal of building muscle, it goes without saying that protein is the most important macronutrient.  

If your goal is weight loss, protein is an equally essential part of your diet. In this day and age, many people simply want to eat healthier whether they work out or not, and that goal includes good sources of protein. (1, 2). 

With that in mind, here is a look at the types of protein available for lactose intolerant individuals. The truth is, there are a lot of great choices: 

Whey Protein Isolate – This may be a surprise of sorts, yet whey in isolate form has had the fat and lactose removed, leaving users with the highest quality protein. Isolate can have a weak, thin taste, and it does digest fast but when it comes to a good protein for any purpose, you can’t beat whey isolate.

Brown Rice Protein – Typically, this is a mainstay of plant protein powders and is almost always combined with pea protein. This combination creates a complete protein with good amino acids because each one offsets the nutritional shortcomings of the other. Of course, brown rice protein contains no lactose, but it needs to be in a formula where it’s combined with pea or some other high-quality plant protein source.

Pea Protein – This is a good protein for lactose intolerant individuals and is usually combined with brown rice protein to create a complete protein source. Pea protein comes from yellow peas and has been the subject of research despite being relatively new. (3) This is the most common plant protein source.

Soy Protein – There was a time when soy protein was the only option if you were lactose intolerant. While it has fallen out of favor in recent years, it is a common source of protein in many protein bars. Besides being lactose free, it may support heart health. But it is also considered estrogenic, which is the main reason it’s not as popular as it once was. (4)

Beef Protein – This is a relatively unpopular protein source with few choices available. If you can’t tolerate lactose, it may be an option. The problem is that it’s made of the discarded parts of a cow. I don’t know about you, but that’s a definite turn-off for me.

There are other sources, such as Hemp, which is a THC-free, good quality protein that’s sourced from the cannabis plant. 

Of course, there’s Milk Isolate which can be an excellent source if it’s lactose free. The advantage of milk protein is that it digests more slowly than whey. 

In fact, the combination of whey and milk isolate, such as found in Pro Jym, creates a good protein source that will provide a sustained release effect that’s ideal for busy lifestyles. 

PROTEIN CONTENT

An important point to consider when buying a protein powder is the actual protein content. Different types have different contents as follows: 

  1. Protein Concentrates contain 70-80% protein, with most of the carbohydrates, minerals, and fats removed. They will still contain significant lactose if the source is dairy. 
  2. Protein Isolates are 90% protein. In this case, most if not all the lactose is removed. 
  3. Protein Hydrolysate is isolate that’s further broken down into smaller particles for improved digestion. Hydrolysate, like isolate, is 90% protein. 

If you’re lactose intolerant but are in the market for a whey protein or whey and milk, you will need to start your search with isolate. 

Otherwise, many good plant-based proteins are concentrate, as we have seen in our review of PES Select Vegan. Of course, isolate is the best quality. 

TO WRAP UP

Lactose intolerance is a serious issue. Thankfully, when it comes to getting the benefits of protein powder, the market has responded with quite a few good options. 

While every protein on this list would be a good choice, Naked Nutrition’s Naked Pea protein powder is the best for general use. This is a product that fits the vegan lifestyle as well as being a good choice for anyone who wants a good protein from non-dairy sources.

If whey is on your list of protein choices, we’ve seen that NutraBio protein powder makes the best protein you can buy, bar none. Their extreme open label hides nothing, you can see how much of everything is in their product right down to the flavoring. This is the kind of transparency every company should be emulating. 

Speed of digestion is a big deal for many bodybuilders and athletes because the demands of life can often derail pre-planned meal times. 

If you’re serious about your goals, you know you need protein. What you don’t need is to have to wait an extra several hours to get to a meal or shake. For this reason, Pro Jym protein powder is our best choice in a sustained release type of protein. 

Pro Jym protein powder achieves this by using several protein sources that each digest at different speeds. This makes it a great choice before bed to help offset catabolism, as well as before a long day at work or school. Drinking a protein shake before you start your day ensures you will maintain an anabolic environment for the better part of the day. 

Lactose free means you don’t have to let lactose intolerance derail your goals, not when you have so many good choices available. 

So, what are you waiting for, go get some protein!

References:

  1. Nutrition and Diet Therapy, Cataldo, DeBruyne and Whitney, “The Chemists View of Protein” p.80-81
  2. What Is Protein Synthesis. (2015, December 27). Retrieved May 02, 2017, from http://www.proteinsynthesis.org/what-is-protein-synthesis/
  3. https://www.jrnjournal.org/article/S1051-2276(17)30151-6/pdf
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5188409/
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