Over the past few weeks a few of you have reached out asking me about alternatives to milk based protein supplements, specifically protein packed shakes. I’m not a nutritionist, but I’ve experimented with several types of protein supplements because I too have experienced many of the negative symptoms you’ve described after taking a whey (milk) based protein supplement.
Several studies have concluded that many of us naturally become lactose intolerant or develop an allergy to milk as we age, specifically those of us over the age of 30. These studies even go so far as to suggest that the reason we develop intolerance for milk is because we no longer need it. In fact, we are the only mammals that continue to consume milk post infancy. Even crazier-- the milk products we eat and drink are produced by another mammal.
I am one of the many people who developed intolerance for milk products, but it happened much earlier than my 30th birthday.
In 2001 I dropped a lot of weigh—FAST! In a matter of five months I lost sixty pounds. As the weight started coming off I experienced more than just physical changes to my body---I became hypoglycemic and lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is defined by our body’s inability to produce the enzyme lactase that breaks down lactose, the sugars found in milk. Typical side effects include bloating, cramps and diarrhea.
I grew up having a glass of 2% milk every morning and I loved it! The fact that I couldn’t enjoy a glass of milk without my stomach rumbling and sprinting to the bathroom shortly after was an awful change for me. I tried alternatives like lactose free and soy milks, as well as lactose free pills, but my body still wasn’t feeling great after I consumed any type of dairy product. I decided I was just doomed to deal with the consequences removed dairy from my diet for several years.
As I got older and started to workout I added Muscle Milk, a powder form of whey protein, to my diet to assist with my muscle growth and recovery. What I didn’t realize is that whey is a protein found naturally in milk—it’s actually a water byproduct of milk once it’s been strained. Many protein supplements that use whey claim to be lactose free but there is real evidence of how “clean” they are.
I mixed Muscle Milk with water for many years, and as I continued to get older it became harder for my body to process it---the bloating and cramps were consistent and they would kick in shortly after drinking a shake. As a result, I removed protein shakes from my diet too.
I started to crave milk again but I didn’t want to deal with the side effects. Then a coworker introduced me to the vanilla flavored coconut milk from So Delicious---it was love at first sip! Not only did it taste like ice cream, but it didn’t affect my stomach! Needless to say I started using coconut milk in everything, from shakes to cereal. I even discovered a slew of other So Delicious coconut treats that I could enjoy. I still use So Delicious milk in my fruit shakes, but I’ve switched over to the unsweetened flavor, which is very low in sugar (less than one gram per serving) and still tastes amazing.
Over the last two years I’ve researched protein supplements and alternatives, and recently I came across plant-based proteins---specifically powders made from peas. Yep, the little green things I used to pick out of my rice are now strengthening my body! Pea protein is highly digestible and a great alternative for people with sensitive stomachs. It does lack two amino acids, which prevent it from being a complete protein (a protein that contains all nine of the essential amino acids) but you can easily fix this by adding in a little hemp to your diet. My favorite brand of pea protein is the vanilla flavor by EVOLVE which you can find at most HEB stores. I mix this with coconut milk, my favorite fruits and BAM I have a delicious post workout treat that won’t mess with my digestive system and tastes great.
Even though I can no longer enjoy milk products without a few repercussions, I’m glad I experimented and found an alternative that satisfies my cravings and helps strengthen my body. I’ve recommended EVOLVE to several people who have all told me that they love the product and how it makes their bodies feel---their bloating is gone! If you have a sensitive stomach give this combo a shot and let me know how it works for you.