For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, finding a protein powder that is gluten-free can be challenging. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, so most traditional protein powders made with ingredients like wheat protein or maltodextrin can be unsafe for gluten-free diets. Thankfully, there are many healthy, gluten-free protein powder options available made from plant-based proteins or collagen. This article will provide an overview of the best gluten-free protein powders, what to look for when choosing a product, and how to use them as part of a gluten-free diet.
What is gluten and why choose gluten-free protein powder?
Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. For those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an autoimmune response that damages the small intestine and prevents proper absorption of nutrients. This can cause symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, headaches and more. Following a strictly gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
Protein powders containing gluten from grains like wheat can be problematic. Look for a protein powder that is certified gluten-free, made from plant proteins like peas, rice, hemp or sacha inchi, or collagen, which is naturally free of gluten. Choosing a gluten-free protein powder ensures you can safely boost your protein intake without adverse reactions.
Tips for choosing the best gluten-free protein powder
When evaluating your options, keep the following tips in mind to select the best gluten-free protein powder for your needs:
- Verify the product is certified gluten-free – Look for powders that are third-party tested and certified gluten-free.
- Avoid ingredients like wheat, barley, rye, maltodextrin – Check the ingredient list closely and avoid protein powders containing gluten-based grains.
- Look for plant-based or collagen proteins – Good gluten-free protein sources include peas, rice, hemp, sacha inchi, pumpkin seed, collagen, egg white protein.
- Consider your protein needs – Decide if you want a powder with an isolated protein or a blend. Whey and casein protein isolates are absorbed quickly. Blends provide a range of proteins for sustained release.
- Evaluate taste and texture – Gluten-free powders vary in flavors, sweetness and thickness. Pick one that suits your preferences for shakes, baking and cooking.
- Avoid additives if sensitive – Some powders contain additives like gums, fillers and preservatives. If you are sensitive, look for a clean, simple ingredient list.
- Compare cost per serving – Calculate the cost per serving when comparing protein powder options.
Researching companies and reading reviews can also help determine if others have had issues with hidden gluten in a product. Contact the manufacturer directly if you have any concerns about cross-contamination.
Reviews of the top gluten-free protein powders
Here are reviews for some of the top gluten-free protein powders to consider:
1. Bob’s Red Mill Pea Protein Powder
Bob’s Red Mill offers a 100% plant-based pea protein powder that is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. It contains 20g pea protein per serving.
- Non-GMO verified
- No artificial flavors or preservatives
- Neutral, bean-like taste
- Smooth, creamy texture
This pea protein powder can easily blend into smoothies or shakes. It has an earthy flavor that works well in recipes too. The powder is not gritty or chalky. With just peas as the ingredient, this simple powder avoid additives. It’s a quality choice for those with food sensitivities.
2. Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder
Orgain offers an organic plant-based protein powder featuring pea, brown rice and chia proteins. It provides 21g protein and 5g BCAAs per serving.
- USDA organic
- Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, kosher
- No artificial ingredients
- Low net carbs
- Neutral taste
This protein powder contains a solid protein blend from vegetable sources. The powder has a smooth, creamy mouthfeel that isn’t gritty when mixed with water or milk. It has a mild flavor suitable for shakes or baking. With organic ingredients and no unnecessary additives, this is a clean choice.
3. Tera’s Whey Bourbon Vanilla Grass-Fed Whey Protein
Tera’s Whey offers a gluten-free whey protein from grass-fed cows. Each serving provides 25g whey protein from non-GMO ingredients.
- Grass-fed whey sourced from small Wisconsin farms
- GMO-free and gluten-free
- No artificial sweeteners or preservatives
- Smooth, creamy texture
- Sweet bourbon vanilla flavor
This whey protein powder mixes easily and has a lightly sweet taste. It’s a higher protein option containing only 1g of carbs and no fat. The whey comes from cows not treated with hormones or antibiotics as well. This is a good choice if you tolerate dairy. Go with the bourbon vanilla flavor for a sweeter shake.
4. Owyn Plant-Based Protein Shake
Owyn offers pre-made plant-based protein shakes containing pea protein. With 20g protein per bottle, they make a convenient gluten-free, vegan protein drink.
- 20g pea protein per bottle
- Vegan and gluten-free
- No soy, dairy or gluten
- Plant-based omegas
- Only 100 calories
- Smooth, creamy texture
These ready-to-drink shakes are shelf-stable until opened, so they are easy to take on-the-go. Owyn uses monk fruit and stevia to lightly sweeten the shakes instead of sugar. The shakes come in chocolate, vanilla, cafe latte and other flavors. This is one of the most convenient options for a quick gluten-free protein drink.
5. Sweet Mix Plant-Based Protein
Sweet Mix offers a blend of pea and rice proteins, delivering 18g protein per serving. This gluten-free, vegan powder has no added sugar.
- Blend of pea and rice proteins
- Gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan
- No added sugar
- Low net carbs
- Easy to digest
- Neutral taste
This plant-based protein powder has an unsweetened, natural flavor. The smooth, creamy texture blends well into drinks, smoothies and recipes. With just pea and rice proteins, this is a simple, clean choice. Those sensitive to additives will appreciate the short ingredient list.
What to look for when comparing gluten-free protein powders
Here are the key factors to consider when choosing a gluten-free protein powder:
Evaluate the type of protein used:
- Pea protein – extracted from yellow split peas. Vegan-friendly, hypoallergenic.
- Rice protein – extracted from rice. Vegan, easily digested.
- Hemp protein – from hemp seeds. Provides omega-3s.
- Collagen – from animal sources or eggshell membrane. Supports joints.
- Whey protein – from dairy. Quickly absorbed. Must be labeled gluten-free.
- Egg white protein – from eggs. Effective for muscle building.
Look for single protein sources or blends based on your needs.
Compare the amount of protein per serving, aiming for 15-30g. More active individuals need a higher daily protein intake.
Choose powders made using cold processing. This protects the nutritional quality vs high heat methods.
Some powders use no sweetener, while others use stevia, monk fruit or erythritol. Avoid added sugars which spike blood sugar.
Texture and taste
Powders range from gritty to smooth. Flavors vary from bland to sweetened. Pick textures and flavors you enjoy in shakes or recipes.
Look for clean labels with few extras beyond the protein source. Avoid gums, preservatives and fillers if you have food sensitivities.
Verify the product is third-party tested to confirm the accuracy of nutrition facts and screening for contaminants.
Cost per serving
Calculate and compare cost per serving. Factor in the serving size and amount of protein per serving.
How to use gluten-free protein powder
There are endless ways to use gluten-free protein powder:
Blend the powder with water, juice, milk or non-dairy milk. Add fruit, veggies, nut butter or seeds to bump up the nutrition.
Add a scoop to your favorite smoothie recipe for extra protein without affecting the flavor.
Replace up to 1/4 of the flour in recipes with protein powder. Adjust liquids as needed.
Make no-bake energy bites using protein powder, oats, nut butter and honey or maple syrup.
Stir a scoop of powder into oatmeal and top with fruit, flaxseed, cinnamon, etc.
Mix a scoop into overnight oats along with milk, chia seeds, yogurt and fruit.
Add 2-4 tablespoons of powder to any pancake batter to increase protein.
Mix powder into homemade protein bar batter made with dates, oats, nuts, seeds, nut butter, etc.
Blend protein powder into chia pudding recipes for extra protein.
Top yogurt with berries, nuts, granola and a scoop of protein powder.
Sample recipes with gluten-free protein powder
Here are two simple recipes to try using gluten-free protein powder:
Berry Protein Smoothie
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 1 scoop (25g) vanilla plant protein powder
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- 1 banana
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- Place all ingredients into a blender.
- Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Enjoy immediately.
Protein Overnight Oats
- 1/2 cup gluten-free oats
- 1 scoop (25g) unflavored collagen protein powder
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup mixed berries
- In a jar or bowl, mix together the oats, protein powder, milk, chia seeds, cinnamon and salt.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Top with berries before enjoying.
Finding the best gluten-free protein powder for you
Choosing a gluten-free protein powder is the first step. Sample a few flavors and textures to find your favorites for shakes, baking and cooking. Read labels closely and contact companies directly with questions to ensure you feel fully confident in the gluten-free status. With so many options today, you can easily boost your protein intake with smooth, creamy and nutritious gluten-free powders.