Allergy free protein powder is an excellent way to add protein to meals and snacks but without the top 9 allergens! In this post, you'll learn why protein powder can be useful, how much to use, allergy free brands, and recipes to try!
What is protein and why is it important?
Protein is made up of amino acids which help build and repair tissues, build muscle mass, and many other functions in the body. In short, protein keeps us going strong!
Getting enough daily protein may not be a challenge if you’re including a 2 to 3-ounce portion of meat, poultry, fish, at one or two meals per day.
But protein is important to have throughout the day, even in smaller amounts. Protein helps slow down the digestion of the rest of the meal making you feel more satisfied for longer after the meal. In other words, protein helps the meal stick with you longer.
How much protein do I need?
The amount of protein you need depends on your age, activity level, and a number of other factors.
The Dietary Reference Intake for protein in the United States is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram body weight. For someone weighing 150 lbs, that would be about 55 grams of protein.
For kids, protein needs vary based on age.
- 1-3 years old: 13 grams
- 4-8 years old: 19 grams
- 9-13 years old: 34 grams
- Girls 14-18 years old: 46 grams
- Boys 14-18 years old: 52 grams
For reference, a 3-ounce piece of meat, poultry, or fish has about 20 grams of protein.
If you'd like individualized recommendations for yourself or your child, I can help in my nutrition coaching program!
Benefits of protein powder
Many of the common food allergens are good sources of protein so it can sometimes seem difficult to find good alternatives.
Cow’s milk, for example, provides 8 grams of protein per cup. But many popular milk substitutes such as oat, almond, and coconut milk have only about 1 gram per 1 cup serving.
Adding protein powder to these milk substitutes can give a protein boost!
Protein powder is also very versatile! You can mix it into many different foods to add that extra protein. Oatmeal, dairy-free pudding and yogurt, pancakes and waffles, muffins, granola bars, no-bake snack bites are just a few places where you can add protein powder.
Should I give my child protein powder?
Protein powder can help to add protein to meals where protein options are limited.
Breakfast is a meal that many people struggle to get in some protein, especially when managing multiple food allergies. Adding a little bit of protein powder to oatmeal or a smoothie can give your child a protein boost.
With that said, I wouldn’t recommend adding protein powder all day long to your child’s food. If there is already a protein source in the meal (meat, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts/seeds, eggs, dairy products), then protein powder may not be necessary.
Which protein powder is best for me?
When I choose a protein powder, I consider the following things:
- Is it safe? Of courses, this is always an important question when you’re managing food allergies. Always check ingredients carefully every time you buy any food, including protein powder. You might also want to contact the manufacturer to ask about production practices to ensure there is no risk of cross-contact with other allergens.
Protein powder options that are free of the top 9 allergens include:
- Rice protein
- Pea protein
- Hemp protein
- Pumpkin seed protein
- Sunflower seed protein
- What are the ingredients? Protein powders often have “extras” added to them including vitamins, minerals, and sweeteners. I look for powders that have minimal ingredients. This is also an important consideration if you’re choosing the protein powder for children as their vitamin and mineral needs are less than that of an adult.
- What does it taste like? When you’re buying, you won’t know what it tastes like so it comes down to trial and error. When shopping for protein powders, look for small sample-sized packets so you can try a little before committing to a large canister.
I like to buy unsweetened protein powder. This way, it has fewer ingredients and it’s more versatile. I can use an unsweetened protein powder in a sweet or savory dish without throwing off the flavor.
Allergy friendly protein powder brands
As I mentioned earlier, there are more and more plant-based protein powders ideal for those with dairy or egg allergies.
Unfortunately, many of these plant-based protein powders have advisory statements (“Manufactured in the same facility as tree nuts” for example).
These are a few brands that don’t have advisory statements and are free of the top 9 allergens.
Nutribiotic Rice Protein powder - This one is unflavored and the only ingredient is brown rice protein. It also has no advisory statements so it’s a great option for those avoiding any of the top 9 allergens and it's also gluten free.
It has been my go-to protein powder for a while because my son would actually eat it without complaints! It’s easy to add to foods without ruining the flavor.
For 2 tablespoons of this powder, you’ll get 12 grams of protein and 60 calories.
Orgain natural unsweetened plant-based protein powder - Made with Orgain’s organic protein blend which includes pea protein, brown rice protein, and chia seeds, this option isn’t good for those with legume allergies but it is free of the top 9 allergens and is gluten free.
Varieties include chocolate, vanilla, and natural unsweetened. I prefer the natural unsweetened because, again, it’s versatile. My son can detect it when mixed into foods but it’s not a turnoff for him and that’s good enough fro me!
Ingredients include pea protein, brown rice protein, chia seeds, and Orgain’s organic creamer base (acacia gum, high oleic sunflower oil, rice dextrin, rice bran extract, and rosemary extract), natural flavors acacia gum, guar gum, and xanthan gum. So it has more ingredients than the Nutribiotic brand but is still pretty clean.
Two scoops (¼ cup) of this protein powder provides 140 calories, 21 grams of protein as well as 4.5 grams of fat (0.5 grams saturated fat), 7 grams of carbohydrates including 4 grams of fiber. It also has 35 milligrams of calcium and 6 milligrams of iron.
Hemp Yeah! - Like Nutribiotic, Hemp Yeah! protein powders contain just one or two ingredients depending on the variety you choose. It is hemp-based so it's free of the top 9 allergens and certified gluten free.
I haven't had a chance to sample this one but the Max Protein variety contains just two ingredients (hemp protein and oregano extract) and one serving (¼ cup) contains 140 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fiber.
OWYN (Only What You Need) - This company makes ready-to-drink shakes as well as protein powder. There isn't an unflavored/unsweetened variety; flavors include vanilla or chocolate.
The protein is sourced from pea protein, pumpkin protein, and chia seeds and the powders also contain OWYN's superfoods and greens blend (broccoli, kale, and spinach). It is flavored with cane sugar, monk fruit extract, and natural flavors.
These protein powders are certified gluten free and free of the top 8 allergens. One serving (2 scoops) provides 140 calories and 20 grams of fiber.