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.
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:
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
Read on to find out about our top benefits of lactose-free protein powders.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last updated: 13 December 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.