Whether you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant, understanding which protein powder to buy can get pretty confusing.
But don’t worry, we can help with that. In this article, we take a deep dive into non-dairy and lactose-free protein powder – and recommend our top favourites.
In this article, we’ll run through
- The ins and outs of dairy-free and lactose-free protein powders
- The benefits of lactose-free protein powders
- Some of the best lactose-free protein powders
- Who can have lactose-free protein powders and where to get them
What are lactose-free protein powders?
While the majority of people who need a lactose-free protein powder can have dairy-free alternatives, there are a few dairy protein powders that are naturally low in lactose.
Some of these include:
- Whey concentrate: Contains approximately 79–80% protein and a small amount of lactose.1
- Whey isolate: Contains roughly 90% protein and less lactose than whey protein concentrate.2
- Whey hydrolysate: Contains a similar level of lactose as whey concentrate, however proteins in this powder have already been partially digested.3
Plant-based protein – a big deal
Just a couple of decades ago, plant-based was still a niche concept- especially in the context of sport and fitness.
Thanks primarily to social media – celebrities, athletes and fitness influencers have led the charge- showing it’s possible to be fit, healthy and strong while following a plant-based diet.
Today, companies pour funds into research in order to discover new ways to meet the nutritional needs of consumers without using animal products.
As a result, the world of plant-based nutrition is expanding constantly with new products.
The global plant-based protein supplements market is forecast to be worth a staggering $4.51bn by 2025.4
7 benefits of lactose-free protein powders
Read on to find out about our top benefits of lactose-free protein powders.
Kinder to animals
The more we know about the horrors of factory farming and unethical practices in the dairy industry, the more we look to plant-based versions of our favourite foods.
It’s an inescapable fact that the more you buy more plant-based food, the less you buy into questionable practices which aren’t fair to the animals we share the world with.
Now that nutritional science has isolated the highest quality plant protein and plant-based products are enriched and fortified with the necessary nutrients to fuel an active lifestyle, many people are turning away from animal proteins.
Better for the environment
The animal agriculture involved in producing animal products comes with a huge environmental burden.
Whether it’s deforestation to create livestock pastures or greenhouse gases emitted in the keeping of cattle, animal products leave a dent in the environment.8
More and more people are looking for ways to reduce the impact they have on the environment.
There is perhaps no surer way to reduce your carbon footprint and help save the planet than to go plant-based.
Dairy allergies are on the rise- and the dietary supplements industry is listening.
Even in the absence of a milk or egg allergy, some people wish to avoid these foods due to sensitivities or mild intolerances.
Luckily, plant-based and lactose-free protein powders are derived from a range of sources including pea, hemp and soy, meaning those experiencing common allergies don’t need to miss out on the benefits of protein supplements.
More knowledge about plant-based nutrition
Wannabe fitness buffs might tell you there’s no way you can get all the nutrients you need from plants alone.
Nutritional scientists would beg to differ.
While it’s true that plants don’t tend to contain ‘complete’ proteins, the right combination of plants will give you the full amino acid range you need – without the calories, fat, cholesterol and potential for the bio-accumulation of toxins from animal products.
Therefore, more and more people are choosing the benefits of dairy-free protein shakes and plant-based nutrition.
- Better macros
Plant-based proteins are generally lower in fat and calories than animal-based proteins, making plant-based a better choice if you’re looking to lose fat and gain lean muscle.
Further, plant-based proteins are naturally higher in fibre, too.
Fibre helps you feel fuller for longer, fills you up with fewer calories than protein and helps keep digestion running smoothly – all of which help promote weight loss.
Peace of mind
If you’re regularly consuming protein powder, it’s important to consider exactly what you’ll be putting into your body.
You don’t have to be a vegan to choose a plant-based protein powder.
Ethically-minded meat-eaters who enjoy a farm-reared steak may also choose a plant-based protein, as it can be virtually impossible to know about the life and health of the animals used in the production of animal-based protein powders which include animal-derived products such as gelatin or collagen.
You have more choice
If you’re not a fan of a certain type of dairy-free protein powder, you don’t have to keep powering through it.
Thankfully there is a wide range of sources for vegan and lactose-free protein powder, meaning you can find something that tickles your tastebuds with ease.
9 of the best lactose-free protein powders
Here is our pick of the 6 best plant-based protein powder products:
This vanilla-flavoured protein powder for lactose intolerant people is made from a blend of pea protein and rice protein, and weighs in at 20g dairy-free protein per serving.
- Low in sugar
- Suitable for vegetarians and vegans
- Used with pea protein isolate and rice protein
- Free from lactose
Honor Lois – 5/5
"So it’s not exactly the McFlurry Vanilla taste I was hoping for and it’s definitely more of a caramel taste but you know what, I’m okay with that! It’s super yummy, very sweet but not sickly and goes super thick when blended with plant milk and even water! I
t’s also very smooth and hardly chalky at all unlike a lot of protein powders! Defo recommended."
At 81% protein, this protein powder from rice is dairy-free, soya-free, gluten-free and suitable for vegans.
This protein powder boasts a high digestibility and amino acid profile.
- Natural ingredients
- No added sugars or sweeteners
- Vegan, Dairy-free, Soya free, Gluten-free, Raw, Non GM
- Free from lactose
Mystery shopper 01 – 5/5
"A lot of people would complain that doesn’t taste good, but I think they should think of this as a medium to combine with tasty food and not to use alone. If you want chocolate flavour go for one like that.
But this if you want great protein (81%!!) and vegan with no soya. For me, this is the healthiest. I wouldn’t want Pulsin to make this “tastier” by adding anything nasty. Keep it clean."
Made with pea protein and fortified with essential nutrients such as zinc and vitamin B12, this powder makes delicious lactose-free protein shakes containing only natural flavourings.
- Sugar free, gluten-free, no artificial ingredients
- Suitable for vegans and vegetarians
- Only 78 calories per serving
"I've tried a lot of chocolate protein shakes and quite honestly they've all been disgusting besides this one. I use it with coconut milk and it's perfect! I'm anxiously awaiting more stock to come in."
Made with a custom blend of soya protein, pea protein, brown rice protein and hemp protein to deliver a full amino acid profile, this dairy-free powder has an impressive 25g protein per serving for the growth and maintenance of muscle mass.
It also contains branched-chain amino acids profile (BCAA’s) leucine, isoleucine and valine.
- Dairy-Free Protein Source
- Low in Fat & Sugar
- Use of natural sweeteners
Senseinomore – 5/5
"Makes a great vegan muscle building shake when mixed with a plant based milk like soya, oat or almond milk"
Made up of the 3 branched-chain amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine, this protein powder contains 5g of BCAA’s per serving. It’s also completely dairy-free and suitable for vegans.
- Made with Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine
- Post-workout support
- Vegan friendly
Comprised of a unique blend of plant-based protein from hemp, pea, pumpkin and alfalfa sources, this protein powder boasts a full range of amino acids which form an easily-digestible protein.
At 25g protein per scoop, this powder is also low calorie and low sugar, with 133kcal and 0.2g sugar per serving.
- Low in sugar
- Source of BCAAs
- Non-GMO, suitable for vegetarians and vegans, gluten-free, non-dairy ingredients
Freddy01 – 5/5
"This is my go-to protein powder now. Taste isn't overly sweet or overpowering like other ones I have used before. Reasonable price for the amount you get in each bag."
Made with a blend of pea, rice and hemp protein, the USN Pure Vegan Protein Blend provides 23g of protein per serving.
It also contains Vitamin B12 and Iron contribute to normal energy-yielding metabolism.
- Zero sugar, zero soy
- Energy & immune support
- Uses natural sweeteners
- Suitable for vegans and vegetarians
Charlie_S16 – 5/5
"BEYOND HAPPY with this whey. I have tried loads of vegan protein powders, and none tick all the boxes like this one does: smells amazing like cocoa (a lot of plant powders can smell odd - a bit like Playdough?!), tastes amazing - not overly sweet, just right, mixes well in liquid and oats or cream of rice, and the macros are really good, high protein and low fat and carbs which is also quite rare for a plant-based protein powder.
I use this everyday and can confirm, as a vegan bodybuilder, it works. Not a bad price either! This is now my new GOAT."
This high quality plant-based protein powder is ideal if you’re after something that is natural – but tastes great.
Predominantly made using Pea Protein Isolate and Rice Protein Concentrate, this provides 21g of protein per serving.
- Just 104 calories per serving
- Made with natural flavouring and sweetener
- Suitable for vegans and vegetarians
jacky – 5/5
"For me personally the best vegan protein shake so far. I've been vegan for six years and I'm glad I tried this protein shake. The protein shake tastes very natural. And for me this protein shake is a pleasure after every workout."
Looking for a versatile dairy and lactose-free protein powder? PHD Smart Protein – Plant offers just that.
Whether you want to drink your protein or bake it into something tasty, the choice is yours. And with 12g of protein per serving you’re still on track to reach your protein goals.
- Low in sugar
- Suitable for vegetarians and vegans
- Less than 100 calories per serving
CT2021 – 5/5
"Really good protein also to make mug cakes, waffles, baking, etc. It tastes really good, great amount and for a fair price. I would definitely buy it again. I tried Eton Mess, Chocolate cookie and salted caramel flavours and all of them are delish."
Why do people say a plant-based diet isn’t good for working out?
Read on to find out why some people say a plant-based diet isn't good for working out.
We need plenty of protein in our diet to build strong muscles which will help us perform at our best.
It’s a common misconception that you can’t get enough protein from plant-based sources.
To understand this, we must first understand that when we talk about protein, we are talking about a range of amino acids.
There are 20 amino acids in total which make up protein. 11 of these amino acids are made naturally by the body, while the other 9 must come from the food we eat.
The 9 amino acids we must get from diet are:
Meat, fish and poultry contain all 9 of these ‘missing’ amino acids in one portion.
This is also called a ‘complete protein’ – and is the reason why many people think that animal proteins are superior.
However, all 9 amino acids can also be found in plant sources, just not always in the same plant. Some plants, including hemp, buckwheat, quinoa and soy, do contain the 9 amino acids you need to make a complete protein.12
Otherwise, with a bit of combining, you can easily get the 9 amino acids you need to make a complete protein solely from plant sources such as a blend of hemp, rice and pea.
Vitamin B12 is a key nutrient that helps us make red blood cells, build bones and has a role in energy production.
Vitamin B12 deficiency causes weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss – hardly ideal when you’re following a fitness regime.13
With some exceptions (such as edible seaweed), plants don’t generally contain natural sources of vitamin B12, so those following plant-based diets need to get them from other sources.
Fortified cereals and plant milk are great places to find your B12, and some plant-based protein powders come enriched with vitamin B12.
Vegans concerned about deficiency should consider taking a B12 supplement.
Does plant protein contain branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)?
Yes, some do.
Out of the 9 essential amino acids that your body must get from food, 3 of these are known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).
BCAA’s – so-called for the way their chemical composition is shaped- are thought to be especially good at stimulating protein synthesis as they’re stored directly and metabolised within the muscle tissue.15
BCAA’s are usually found in meat, poultry, fish and dairy products like eggs.
However, they can also be found in some high-quality plant-based protein powders.
Are dairy-free protein powders suitable for everyone?
Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, lactose-intolerant or you’re just trying to cut down on your animal products, dairy-free protein powders are suitable for most people to consume.
However if you know your body disagrees with a certain ingredient in them, we recommend speaking to a medical health professional first.
The final say
And that concludes our guide to all things dairy and lactose-free protein powder.
With a whole host of benefits and options available, choose your favourite today.
You also asked...
Yes. Whey protein is made from cow’s milk.
Pasteurised cow’s milk contains two types of protein - whey and casein.
These are separated using heat or enzymes, then the resulting whey is filtered several times to remove fat and carbohydrates, leaving a highly concentrated milk protein.
Whey protein is not suitable for people who are allergic to, sensitive to or avoid dairy for other reasons.
As whey protein is made from milk – it’s not dairy-free.
Whey is naturally gluten-free. Gluten is a form of gluey protein, which is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye.
Sometimes, manufacturers add flavourings, stabilisers or extra fibre to whey protein powders to improve the formula. This means they are no longer gluten-free.
People with coeliac disease are able to use whey protein, so long as it doesn’t have any added extras such as malt or modified starch.
Yes. There are plenty of dairy-free protein powders on the market which don’t contain any whey, egg or casein.
We love the Precision Engineered Plant Protein powder, which contains 20g protein, from a dairy-free blend of pea protein isolate and rice protein.
These two plant proteins combine to make a full amino acid profile, therefore are a complete protein.
If the lactose-free protein powders are completely free of lactose, then it is very likely that lactose-free and dairy-free protein powders are suitable for both vegans and those with lactose intolerance.
However as explained above, there are a few types of dairy protein powders that may be suitable for people with lactose sensitivity due to naturally occurring low levels of lactose.
As we explained earlier in the article, whey protein is typically gluten-free – but it is not dairy-free.
Thankfully though there are a variety of dairy and gluten-free protein powders you can get your hands on.
But just be aware of any added flavourings, stabilisers or extra fibre as they may contain gluten.
Always double-check the label.
Protein powder shakes are an easy, convenient and effective way to get good amounts of protein into your diet every day.
Protein is a key nutrient for cell repair, energy and strength. Vegetarians and vegans especially can struggle to eat plenty of protein at the levels required when taking part in sport and fitness.
This is because you’d have to eat lots of, for example, nuts, to get as much protein as from a small piece of meat.
That’s where plant-based protein powders come in. The protein content in these powders is highly concentrated, meaning a plant-based protein powder can pack up to 25g protein per scoop.
You’d need to eat a large bag of nuts to get that much from vegan whole foods.
A reason people may have avoided plant-based protein powders in the past was the fear that they don’t provide the full range of amino acids and proteins required to stay energised and build strong muscles.
But thankfully through mixing or complex mixes of protein powders, a wide range of amino acids can be consumed.
Questions like “are plant protein powders safe?” and “is plant-based protein powder good for building muscle?” are commonly asked by people worried that by bypassing animal protein, they’re also missing out on the nutrients.
Now, with advancements in nutritional science, the quality of products available and general knowledge on the subject, more and more people are choosing to fuel their workouts with plant protein.
Due to the absence of milk products, dairy-free or vegan protein powders are suitable for those who are lactose intolerant too.
Thankfully there are now a wide selection of lactose-free protein powders on the market. Some of the places you can get your hands on these include:
- Online websites for vegan protein brands
- Holland & Barrett – Shop vegan protein powders online
Last updated: 13 December 2021