The Best Lactose-Free Protein Powders of 2021

The Best Lactose-Free Protein Powders

Protein is an essential macronutrient that serves as the building block of muscle growth, strength development, and good health. To get that vital protein into their bodies, many people make use of protein powders. Protein powders offer a convenient, healthy, quick-absorbing method of fast-tracking amino acids to the muscle cells.

For many people, however, lactose intolerance prevents them from getting those benefits. In this article, I’ll highlight the 10 best lactose-free protein powders to help you get all the benefits of protein powder without the bloating that comes from lactose. 

A Quick Overview of The Top 3

Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey

  • 30 grams protein
  • Added lactase enzyme
  • Low carbs & fat
  • Mixes well

Transparent Labs Organic Vegan Protein

  • Plant based
  • 20 grams of protein
  • Rice & Pea protein

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant-Based Protein

  • Plant-based protein
  • Pea + rice + sacha inchi protein
  • 24 grams protein
  • 1 gram sugar

The 10 Best Lactose-Free Protein Powders:

1. Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey

Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey

Pros:

  • 30 grams protein
  • Added lactase enzyme
  • Low carbs & fat
  • Mixes well

Cons:

  • Added artificial flavorings

Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey is a whey isolate that has had the lactose removed. Each 39-gram serving contains a whopping 30 grams of protein along with only 3 grams of net carbs and a single gram of fat. This hydrolyzed form of protein includes enzymes designed to predigest the protein to allow for faster digestion absorption into the body.

An additional blend of digestive enzymes has been added to break down the powder. This includes lactase, making this a great option for people who are low in this enzyme. The taste, texture, and mixability of this protein powder is outstanding. The turbo chocolate flavor is extremely tasty and this powder can be shaken with water or milk without any clumping. 

Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey is well priced for a hydrolyzed whey protein. You can buy it for about the same price as a whey isolate powder.

2. Transparent Labs Organic Vegan Protein

Transparent Labs Organic Vegan Protein

Pros:

  • Plant based
  • 24 grams of protein
  • Rice and pea protein

Cons:

  • Quite expensive

Transparent Labs Organic Protein is a 100% plant-based protein that delivers 24 grams of protein per serve. Being a plant-based protein source, it does not contain any lactose, making it perfect for people who are lactose intolerant. This powder is high in rice protein which happens to contain a high level of the protein leucine. Leucine is a key muscle-building amino acid.

There are just 3 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fat in this protein powder. It also incudes 4 grams o dietary fiber to improve digestive health. 

Transparent Labs Organic  Protein makes use of standardized organic rice and pea based protein blend in a 2:1 rice to pea ratio. This combination has been seen in research studies to be as effective as whey protein in terms of its muscle-building properties. 

3. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant-Based Protein

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant-Based Protein

Pros:

  • Plant-based protein
  • Pea + rice + sacha inchi protein
  • 24 grams protein
  • 1 gram sugar

Cons:

  • Quite expensive

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% has been the world’s top-selling protein powder for a long time. This product is a vegan version of that powder. That makes this an ideal protein for people who have lactose intolerance. It provides you with 24 grams of protein per serving, along with 7 grams of carbs and 1 gram of sugar. 

There are no sweeteners or artificial ingredients in this product. The protein source here is a blend of the following:

  • Organic pea protein
  • Organic brown rice protein
  • Organic sacha inchi protein

Each scoop of Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% also includes an AncienTrim Organic Grain Blend, which delivers fiber, vitamins and essential amino acids. 

4. IsoPure ZeroCarb Keto-Friendly Protein

IsoPure ZeroCarb Keto-Friendly Protein

Pros:

  • Zero Carb
  • Zero sugar
  • 25 grams protein
  • 5.5 grams added BCAAs 

Cons:

  • Not the tastiest of protein powders

IsoPure Zero Carb Keto Friendly protein powder is a favorite product among the keto community that is also popular with those who have lactose intolerance. It delivers 25 grams of protein with no carbs or sugars.

This is a whey isolate powder that has had all of the milk fats removed to leave you with a 90% pure source of protein. It is also fortified with extra vitamins and minerals to boost your immunity and general health. Each serving adds 5.5 grams of branch chain amino acids to fast track your post-workout muscle rebuild. In addition, you get 2.3 grams of added glutamine per scoop.

IsoPure Zero Carb Keto Friendly protein powder mixes well, making it suitable for a spoon and glass blend if you don’t have access to your normal shaker bottle. 

5. Vega Vegan Protein & Greens

Vegan Protein & Greens

Pros:

  • Plant-based
  • Pea + rice + sacha inchi protein
  • Natural organic greens
  • Tasty flavors

Cons:

  • No added BCAAs

Vegan Protein & Greens is a popular plant-based protein powder that makes use of a blend of vegan protein sources. It uses the same protein blend as Optimum Nutrition 100% plant-based protein powder, that being …

  • Organic pea protein
  • Organic brown rice protein
  • Organic sacha inchi protein

Each serving of Vegan Protein & Greens contains 20 grams of protein.

This protein powder is unique on this list because it includes such natural organic greens as alfalfa sprouts, broccoli, spinach, and organic powder. It comes in a range of tasty flavors including berry, chocolate, tropical, and coconut almond. 

This product is both vegan and keto-friendly. 

6. Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder

Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder

Pros:

  • 21 grams protein
  • Plant-based protein blend
  • Lactose-free

Cons:

  • High in carbs
  • Quite expensive

Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder provides you with 21 grams of plant-based protein powder in every serve. That protein comes from a blend of hemp, rice, pea, and chia seed sources. This combination ensures that you are getting a complete amalgamation of all the essential amino acids. 

This is a pure, organic source of protein that is also GMO, dairy, soy, gluten, and lactose-free. You get 3.5 grams of fat and 15 grams of carbs with this product, which is quite a bit higher than most other protein powders on this list. Keep in mind, however, that that carb count includes healthy fiber and sugar alcohols. 

Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder is a relatively expensive protein powder, working out to about 9.5 cents per gram of protein. 

7. Plantfusion Complete Plant-based Protein Powder

Plantfusion Complete Plant-based Protein Powder

Pros:

  • 21 grams protein
  • Very low in carbs
  • Enzyme blend 

Cons:

  • Not 100% organic

Plantfusion Complete Plant-based protein powder stands out among plant-based protein powders due to its very low carbohydrate content. With just 2 grams per serving, it provides you with the low amount that you’d get in a whey protein powder. It also provides you with 21 grams of protein and 3 grams of fat. 

The protein content in this product is a blend of Pea Protein Isolate, Artichoke Protein, Organic Sprouted Amaranth Powder, and Organic Sprouted Quinoa Powder. There is also an enzyme blend to enhance the digestive process. All the flavors and sweeteners used in this plant-based protein powder are completely natural. 

Plantfusion Complete mixes very well, resulting in a smooth, consistent, and clump-free protein shake. It mixes well both in water and in milk. 

8. Muscle Milk Protein

Muscle Milk Protein

Pros:

  • Lactose-free
  • Whey + Casein Protein
  • Great flavors 

Cons:

  • Only 16 grams of protein power per serve
  • 9 grams carbs

Muscle Milk is a ready-to-drink protein shrink that is extremely popular. What’s more, it is lactose-free, making it a very convenient product for people who are lactose-free. This product, which is put out by CytoSport, is a blend of whey isolate and casein protein. That ensures that you get a medium release of amino acids into your system.  

As well as the familiar ready-to-drink version, Muscle Milk also comes in powdered form. One scoop of this powder gives you 16 grams of protein at the low energy cost of just 150 calories. That makes this a great option for people who are trying to get cut as they pack on lean muscle mass. In addition to the protein in this product, you also get 17 different vitamins and minerals. There are 9 grams of carbs, including 2 grams of fiber. 

Muscle Milk comes in a range of delicious flavors, including Banana Crème, Red Velvet Cake, Strawberries n’ Crème, and German Chocolate Cake.

9. Bulk Supplements Egg White Protein

Bulk Supplements Egg White Protein

Pros:

  • Pure protein source
  • 25 grams protein
  • Lactose-free
  • Well priced

Cons:

  • No added BCAAs

Bulk Supplements Egg White protein powder is made from the albumin of eggs, providing you with one of the purest forms of amino acids that exist. It has 25 grams of protein that is free of fat, soy, and lactose. This powder mixes well so that you end up with a clump-free drink consistency. 

As with all Bulk Supplements products, this egg white protein powder is very well priced.

10. Performance Lab Sports Protein

Performance Lab Sports Protein

Pros:

  • Plant-based
  • 20 grams of protein
  • Rice protein
  • Stevia

Cons:

  • Only available from the official website

Performance Lab Sport Protein is a 100% plant-based protein that delivers 20 grams of protein per serve. Being a plant-based protein source, it does not contain any lactose, making it perfect for people who are lactose intolerant. This powder is high in rice protein which happens to contain a high level of the protein leucine. Leucine is a key muscle-building amino acid.

There are just 2 grams of carbs and 1.3 grams of fat in this protein powder. In addition to the rice-based protein, it also includes Himalayan Pink Salt, Coconut Water Powder, Coco, Guar, and monk fruit. Instead of using sugar as a sweetener, it uses stevia, a completely natural substitute. 

Performance Lab Sport Protein makes use of a standardized organic rice-based protein called Oryzatein. This form of protein has been seen in research studies to be as effective as whey protein in terms of its muscle-building properties. 

Buyers Guide

The protein powder market is saturated, with new players coming on board seemingly every month. So how do you sort out the best from the rest? Here is a guide to finding the best lactose-free protein powder to meet your needs:

Protein Type

There are a number of different forms of protein powder. The most basic is whey, which comes from cow’s milk, being the liquid portion that results in the process of making cheese. Whey concentrate powder includes lactose, making it unsuitable for people with lactose intolerance.

Whey protein isolate has undergone a processing system that removed much of the lactose. However, it still does contain about 1 percent of lactose. 

Plant-based protein powders are free of lactose and so are a good choice for people with lactose intolerance. Of all the types of plant protein powder, pea-based protein is best because it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids.

Complete Protein

You should select a lactose-free protein powder that contains none of the essential amino acids. These are …

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Other Ingredients

In addition to protein content, be on the lookout for other ingredients that you may not want in your body. If the protein powder includes artificial sweeteners, flavorings, emulsifiers, or other chemical compounds, you may want to think twice about buying it. 

Macronutrient Makeup

Check the macronutrient content of the powder. In terms of protein, it should provide a minimum of 20 grams per serving, with the ideal being between 25 and 30 grams. The number of carbohydrates will depend on when you are taking the protein powder.

In most cases, it should be low (under 5 grams per serving). However, if you are taking the powder post-workout, you will want to have a high amount of carbs to replace the glucose you have used up in your workout. Look for a post-workout protein powder that provides a 50:50 blend of carbs to protein. The carbs should be in the form of maltose or dextrose.

You will generally find that plant-based proteins will have higher levels of carbs than animal-based protein powders.

Look for a protein powder that has low levels of fat and sugar (less than 5 grams per serve).

What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose is the sugar that is contained in cow’s milk. If you have lactose intolerance, you are unable to digest this milk sugar. This condition causes them to suffer a host of uncomfortable digestive problems, including flatulence, bloating, and diarrhea. 

The cause of lactose intolerance is a low level of production of the enzyme lactase. People who suffer from lactose intolerance will experience one or more of the following symptoms within a few minutes of consuming milk sugars …

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Nausea

When a person has a healthy amount of lactase being produced in their body, the lactose that is consumed will be broken down into galactose and glucose. These two compounds are then absorbed into the bloodstream. 

For people who do not have enough lactase being produced, however, the milk sugar is not separated into glucose and galactase. Instead, it moves into the colon. There bacteria act upon the milk sugar. This is what causes the unwanted side effects mentioned earlier. 

There are three types of lactose intolerance as follows:

Primary Lactose Intolerance

This is the most common type of lactose intolerance. In this case, the person is born producing the proper amount of lactase. However, as they age, and their diet moves away from milk, the amount of lactase that they produce drops off sharply. It is normal for a person’s lactase levels to reduce as they age, but people with primary lactose intolerance will do so at a far greater rate than normal. 

Secondary Lactose Intolerance

In this case, the reduction of lactose intolerance occurs in the wake of an illness or injury to the small intestine. Conditions that may lead to lactose intolerance include Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, and infection to the intestines.

Congenital Lactose Intolerance

In this case, the person is born without the ability to produce a normal level of lactase. This is a hereditary condition. This is the least common of the three types of lactose intolerance.

The following factors may make a person more likely to suffer from lactose intolerance:

  • Age – the condition is fr more common in adults than it is in children.
  • Ethnicity –  lactose intolerance is more common among Africans, Asians, Hispanics, and American Indians.
  • Premature birth – Prem babies are more likely to have lactose intolerance.
  • Diseases affecting the small intestine.

FAQs

When should I consume protein?

There is a lot of debate in fitness and nutrition circles about the best time to take protein. There is no single best time as this depends upon your specific training and nutrition goals.

If your goal is to lose body fat, then it is a good idea to have a between-meal snack that contains 20-30 grams of protein. That’s because protein is very filling. It helps to curb the appetite by reducing the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin.

If your main goal is to build muscle, then you need to take in a greater amount of protein than your body has broken down during resistance training. The excess of protein will put you in an anabolic, or muscle-building, state. You should take in 30-40 grams of protein within two hours of completing your workout.

If you usually exercise while fasted, such as first thing in the morning, then you should get some protein into your body straight after your workout.

Do I really need to take a protein supplement?

The protein supplement industry is worth billions of dollars worldwide. Over the last few years, it has done an effective job of convincing gym goers that they will never achieve their muscle-building and fitness goals without a monthly protein supplement investment.

Supplements are precisely what they claim to be; supplements to whole food nutrition. So, they should not even be considered until you have your protein meal intake sorted out. Protein powdered or liquid drinks can be useful to athletes or bodybuilders who need to take 20-30 grams of protein into their body at regular intervals throughout the day in order to promote muscle growth.

Another form of protein supplement is Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). These are used by bodybuilders and athletes to replace the amino acids that are broken down for energy during intense training and to help with muscle recovery and repair. Other amino acid formulations include Arginine and Ornithine, Arginine Pyroglutamate and Lysine, Aspartic Acid, Glutamate, Glycine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, and Tyrosine.

Whole food protein sources are preferable to protein supplements due to their slower absorption rate and their more complete micronutrient profile.

Unless you are a person who is actively working to add lean muscle mass to your physique, and, provided that you are adding a serving of complete protein at every meal, you do need to take protein supplements. That being said, a protein shake can be helpful when you are on the run and would otherwise miss out on a meal.

Are plant protein powders any good?

When most people think of protein, their mind goes directly to animal sources. But animals are not the only option. Plant proteins naturally appeal to vegetarians who are opposed ethically to eating animal-sourced products. However, they are also a good option for people who suffer intolerances and allergies to milk-based proteins. Plants also provide a whole complement of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are not available from animal sources of protein.

The major advantage of animal proteins is that they generally contain all of the essential amino acids. As we discovered on Monday, however, there are a number of plant protein sources that also contain all of the essential amino acids. 

Many other plant proteins can be combined in a meal to provide a complete protein source for that meal. For example, combining peanut butter and bread will provide a complete protein source. Here are five plant-based foods/meals that contain complete amino acid profiles:

  • Oats with beans with walnuts
  • Rice with lentils and cashews
  • Pasta with peanuts and sesame seeds
  • Wheat with peas and pumpkin seeds
  • Beans and rice

Conclusion

Finding a quality protein powder that won’t lead to nasty digestive side effects if you are lactose intolerant isn’t easy. In this guide, however, I’ve simplified that process by laying out before you the 9 best lactose-free protein powders on today’s market. Make your selection from this list, remembering that protein powders are a supplement to quality, whole-food-based nutrition. 

This article was last updated on October 19, 2021 .

By Steve Theunissen

Steve is a former gym owner, personal trainer, and 20-year veteran of the fitness writing industry. Steve has written for websites such as Hardcore Muscle, Fitness, Carblite, and Men's Health and has been a fitness expert columnist for 2 international magazines.