Protein Powder for Acid Reflux – My Top 5 Picks

Friday 3rd April 2020

What’s the best protein powder for acid reflux?

You’ve just had a great workout and your post-workout protein shake tasted delicious.

But not long after, the burning sensation starts up again and you’re wondering if it was the protein powder that caused the acid reflux. 

No one likes to work out or even go about their day in general when their gut is rebelling. It’s not comfortable, sometimes to the point of being painful.

If you have bloating and gas accompanying it, let’s face it, it doesn’t look great or smell great, and it distracts you from bringing you A-game or feeling confident in public.

We know you’re busy, so we’ve handpicked a list of meal replacement shakes and protein powders for heartburn.

These every bit as effective as your current protein powder. 

 

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux, or heartburn, is a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid being pushed up into the esophagus, the pipe your food goes down from your throat into your stomach.

The burning sensation is a result of the esophageal sphincter, the valve between your stomach and esophagus, opening up and allowing acid to escape. 

It can happen as a standalone symptom, or as part of other digestive issues such as GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or indigestion

 

What causes Acid Reflux?

During digestion, this valve is meant to stay close, but it can relax and open for a variety of reasons.   Some people find that certain foods trigger heartburn, such as peppermint, alcohol, spicy food, or as in your case, protein shakes. Food intolerances can also cause acid reflux.

Other causes include smoking, being overweight, and certain medications. Many pregnant women also experience heartburn due to the pressure placed on the stomach by the growing baby.

 

Shakes that are Easy for Digestion are Perfect for Acid Reflux

One of the main reasons that some people struggle with certain protein or meal replacement shakes is because their bodies struggle to digest them which causes all sorts of shenanigans.

It may not be that you have to stop drinking them completely, but rather that you should find one that works for you or only take half a serving at a time.

 

What to Look For 

When it comes to choosing protein powder or meal replacement shakes for acid reflux, it will largely depend on how your body responds to a particular powder.

These guidelines can help you figure out what will work for you.

Easy to Mix 

Protein powders that are easy to mix are simply more convenient.

You get your money’s worth when you can consume all of it instead of leaving behind unmixed clumps sticking to your blender or shaker.

Whey protein is one of the easiest protein powders to mix. So mixability and drinking whey protein should go down relatively easy. Plant-based protein powders are also easy to mix. 

 

Fast digestion

Foods that are hard to digest sit in your stomach longer and increase the risk of acid reflux. These foods may also end up fermenting in your gut causing gas and bloating which can make acid reflux worse. Acid burps anyone? 

Pea and rice proteins are easy to digest and give very few people any trouble. Casein digests very slowly, so if you do struggle with digestion, try one of the other types of protein rather.

If you don’t want to go plant-based, whey is a better option.

Added Minerals or Vitamins 

It’s not just your macros (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) that you need to worry about. Micronutrients, that is, vitamins and minerals, also play a huge role in performance and overall health.

Athletes and people who train regularly may need more of certain nutrients than people who don’t, for example, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D.

Meal replacement shakes are usually full of added vitamins and minerals. If meal replacement shakes aren’t your thing, but you want to use your protein powder as a meal replacement supplement, select one with added nutrients you will need more than what they naturally contain.

Have Isolate Proteins 

One question I frequently see asked is, “does whey protein cause acid reflux?”.

Whey protein does contain dairy and some lactose which can cause some people digestive problems. That’s why you should always stick to isolate proteins. 

The main difference between isolate and concentrate is that protein isolates are often better quality than protein concentrates because they contain more protein.

Isolates are also lower in carbohydrates and fats. High-fat foods trigger heartburn in some people, if it’s a problem for you, mix your protein isolate with low fat or skim milk, plant milk, or water to further lower the fat content.

 

What to Avoid 

Chances are that if you are getting acid reflux from your protein powder, it’s down to the type of protein, the amount of protein per serving, or the added ingredients in your powder. 

Here is a list of things that you may need to avoid depending on your triggers.

Lactose

Whey and casein are milk proteins but they aren’t very high in lactose. So does casein or whey protein cause acid reflux?  

High-quality casein and whey protein isolate contain very little lactose, but if you already have a bit of dairy at some other point during the day, even this little bit can put you over what you can tolerate. In this case, a plant-based protein will be more suitable. 

Pick Non-Chocolate Shakes

Sad, but true. In some people, chocolate causes acid reflux. This is because chocolate contains serotonin which is the “feel-good hormone” which explains why we often feel better when we eat chocolate. Unfortunately, this hormone can also relax the esophageal sphincter resulting in heartburn. 

Forego Minty Flavors

While some people find that mint aids their digestion, for others it causes acid reflux. Like chocolate, peppermint relaxes the esophageal sphincter.

This action is why peppermint tea can be so soothing for some, especially if they are struggling with cramps. Spearmint simply irritates the esophagus which causes the burning sensation, but either way, best to use a different flavor.

Don’t Mix with Dairy Milk

It might not be your protein powder. If you regularly mix your protein powder with milk for a creamier taste and texture, this may be what’s causing your acid reflux.

This is especially true of whole milk. Use a plant milk or water instead.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners aren’t always a healthier alternative to sugar.

Sugar alcohols, easy to recognize on labels as the ingredients ending in “ol” such as sorbitol and xylitol, as well as sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose, can irritate the gut and cause changes to the bacteria that reside in your gut leading to a host of digestive woes, including acid reflux.

Too many Ingredients 

Artificial sugar isn’t the only additive that can wreak havoc with your digestive system. Carrageenan is known to be inflammatory.

Chicory, preservatives, the list goes on. Bombarding your gut with ingredients isn’t a good idea if you already have a sensitive gut or struggle to digest foods like protein.

Keeping it simple with as few ingredients as possible may be what works for you.


My Recommendations

 As promised, here they are:

Unflavoured Protein Powder

NorCal Organic Pea Protein

Organic Pea Protein - UNFLAVORED

1 new from $34.99
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as of April 3, 2020 2:02 am

NorCal Organic Pea Protein is a pure organic yellow pea protein isolate. It’s a great option for vegans and is free from most allergens. 

Pea protein is one of the easiest to digest types of protein. So if you have digestive discomfort, pea protein is a great solution.

Pea protein is also perfect for people with allergies or on unique diets. This is because it’s vegan and free from dairy, gluten and soy.

NorCal Organic has their products tested at an independent lab for quality and safety so you know you’re getting a good product. 

Nutrients per Serving (2 scoops- 26g):

Calories: 100
Protein: 22g (4,8g of BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids)
Total Fat: 1,5g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Trans Fat: 0g 
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 90mg
Total Carbohydrates: 1g
Fibre: 1g
Total Sugars: 0g
Magnesium: 5% RDA
Calcium: 4% RDA
Phosphorus: 25% RDA
Potassium: 1%

Ingredients: 

Organic yellow pea protein isolate

Pros
  • Easy to digest
  • High in BCAAs
  • Mixes well with water
  • You can cut your serving in half if you prefer to do so
  • USDA Organic certified
  • Free from common allergens

Opinion:

If you want to go with a plant-based option that is easy to digest and is high in BCAAs, go with NorCal Organic Pea Protein.


Plant-Based Protein Powders 

Plant Vital Protein Powder 

Plant Based Protein Powder With Superfoods

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as of April 3, 2020 2:02 am

Plant Vital has two varieties, Protein + Greens Original and Protein + Greens Chocolate

These protein powders contain a blend of pea protein, rice protein, pumpkin seed protein, and chia seed protein. They also include veggies such as kale, broccoli, spinach, beetroot and fruits like apple and berries. 

What’s more, there are seven probiotic strains for digestive health. Pant Vital states that their product is safe for use even during pregnancy.

Nutrients per Serving (1 scoop- 33.59g):

Original:

Calories: 120
Protein: 24 g 
Total Fat: 2g
Total Carbohydrates: 2g
Fiber: 1g
Sugars: 0g
Iron: 2.1g
Vitamin B12: 6mcg
Sodium: 230mg
Probiotics: 1 billion CFU 

Chocolate:

Calories: 120
Protein: 24 g 
Total Fat: 2.5g
Total Carbohydrates: 2g
Fiber: 2g
Sugars: 0g
Calcium: 40mg
Iron: 2.1g
Vitamin B12: 6mcg
Sodium: 270mg
Potassium: 90mg
Probiotics: 1 billion CFU 

Probiotic blend (bacillus coagulans, lactobacillus rhamnosus, bifidobacterium bafidum, bifidobacterium longum, lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus casei, stretococcus thermophilus).

What do all these probiotics actually mean and do??

I’m not going to go into detail about every probiotic strain above. However, in general they have been known to provide the following benefits:

  • Strengthen immune system 
  • Treat irritable bowels and other gut issues. 
  • Help diarrhea. 
  • Ulcerative colitis Treatment
Pros
  • Produced with real organic fruit, veggies, and seeds.
  • Gives you a micronutrient boost
  • Probiotics may be helpful for those with digestive troubles
  • USDA Organic certified
  • FDA certified free of nuts, soy, dairy and egg

Opinion:

Vital Protein contains a blend of real foods with no additives such as sugar, sweeteners, guar gum, lechithins, etc. The iron, calcium, and vitamin B12 content is beneficial for everyone, especially vegans. 

If chocolate is a trigger for your acid reflux, I recommend the original flavor.

Genius Vegan Protein

Genius Vegan Protein Powder – Plant Based

2 new from $34.99
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as of April 3, 2020 2:02 am

Genius Vegan Protein is formulated to have the smooth creamy texture of whey but without any of the dairy. The ingredient responsible for this is Clean Cream™.

 It also includes Velositol™ (amylopectin chromium complex) which is shown to boost the uptake of protein into the muscles when taking whey protein. 

While this hasn’t been established for plant protein, this protein powder still has 20 grams of protein per scoop, so there should be no problem.  

Nutrients per Serving (1 scoop):
Calories: 133
Protein: 20g
Total Fat: 3g
Saturated Fat: 0.8g
Trans Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 2.7mg
Total Carbohydrates: 7.4g
Dietary Fiber: 1.9g
Sugars: 0.1g

Pros
  • No chalky texture, it’s smooth and creamy
  • The creamer is heart healthy according to Genius
  • Stevia may be less irritating to the gut than other sweeteners for some people
  • Velositol™ may make it easier to gain muscle

Opinion:

The texture will be a plus for many people, especially those who miss the texture of whey protein. If chocolate is a trigger for you, steer clear of this protein powder. 

There is no mention of what the other natural flavors are and there are more additives, so if you have a sensitive digestive system, it may be best to try a different powder.

It’s a great option if you are lactose intolerant. 


Isolate Protein Powder for Acid Reflux

Onnit

Onnit Grass Fed Whey Isolate Protein - Vanilla (30 Servings)

1 new from $59.95
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as of April 3, 2020 2:02 am

Onnit Whey Isolate Protein comes from grass-fed cows in New Zealand. It includes a blend of digestive enzymes and the probiotic, lactobacillus acidophilus, which produces the enzyme lactase that digests lactose. I

If medium-chain triglycerides or MCT oil is your thing, Onnit is a good way to get your protein and MCTs. It comes in two flavors, vanilla and Mexican chocolate.

Nutrients per Serving (1 Scoop):

Vanilla: 

Calories: 110
Protein: 20g
Total Fat: 1.5g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Trans Fat: 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1g
Total Carbohydrates: 3g
Dietary Fiber: 1g
Sugars: 0g
Calcium: 21mg
Sodium: 123mg

Whey protein isolate: 21.3g

Mexican Chocolate:

Calories: 120
Protein: 20g
Total Fat: 2g
Saturated Fat: 0.5g
Trans Fat: 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1g
Total Carbohydrates: 5g
Dietary Fiber: 2g
Sugars: 0g
Calcium: 23mg
Sodium: 157mg
Whey protein isolate: 20.8g

Pros
  • Onnit Whey Protein contains digestive enzymes to help digestion along
  • Transparent about where the cows are from
  • You can get your MCTs and protein in one supplement
  •  It’s sweetened with stevia and monk fruit which is tolerated well by many people

 Opinion:

The inclusion of the digestive enzymes may be helpful if you struggle with digesting large amounts of protein and lactose.

The question your itching to ask is “does whey protein cause GERD?”

As mentioned earlier, I specifically chose an isolate protein so that as much of the protein is included without any additional fat and lactose. 

However, if you can’t digest any lactose at all, it’s best to find a sample to try first or use a plant protein supplement instead.

 

BulkSupplements Clean Whey Protein Powder Isolate 90%

BulkSupplements CLEAN Whey Protein Powder Isolate 90% (1 Kilogram)

2 new from $31.96
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as of April 3, 2020 2:02 am

BulkSupplements Whey Protein Isolate is free from any flavors or sugar, it only contains whey powder isolate and soy lecithin.

If you are allergic to soy, they have a grass-fed whey protein isolate that uses sunflower lecithin instead. BulkSupplements lab tests all their supplements to ensure safety and quality. It mixes well and you can flavor it with anything you like. 

Nutrients per Serving (30g- 5 Tablespoons):

Calories: 115
Protein: 27g
Total Fat: <1g
Saturated Fat:<1g
Cholesterol: 3mg
Total Carbohydrates: <1g
Sugars: 210mg
Phosphorus: 63mg
Magnesium: 24mg
Sodium: 75mg
Potassium: 122mg
Calcium: 125mg

Ingredients:

Whey protein isolate 90%, soy lecithin

Pros
  • Only whey protein isolate and soy that acts as the emulsifier
  • Not flavored so you can flavor it whatever you like
  • You can adjust the dose to suit you
  • Pack sizes come in 100g, 250g, 500g, 1kg, 5kg, and 20kg

 Opinion:

If your digestive system hates too many ingredients at once, BulkSupplements Whey Protein Powder Isolate should work well. You can buy a bulk pack or if you would like to try it first, go for the 100-gram pack.


Which Is Best protein powder for acid reflux?

The best one for you is going to depend on your digestive system, but here are the ones that stand out for us:

The Cleanest

NorCal Organic Pea Protein Check Price

The Most Protein

BulkSupplements Clean Whey Protein Powder Isolate 90% Check Price

The Most Affordable

BulkSupplements Clean Whey Protein Powder Isolate 90% Check Price

For Lactose Intolerant People

Genius Vegan Protein Check Price

 

Keeping acid reflux under control is important since it puts your health at risk long-term.

Try out our recommendations and let us know which one works best for you.

Similar articles:
My Top 5 Protein Powders for Sensitive Stomachs

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