Gluten Free and Dairy Free Protein Powder 101-Sports Nutrition for Celiacs

I’ve heard this question several (OK, many) times in the past year.

What gluten and dairy free protein supplement do you recommend?

And quite honestly, I was flummoxed.

Although I have celiac disease, I have not had to contend with dairy sensitivity. I have always used whey or casein proteins, which are milk-based. Whey protein isolate has had the lactose removed, and so many with a lactose intolerance can tolerate a straight whey isolate. However, some with a dairy sensitivity cannot tolerate even a whey isolate.

"Just Say No" if you're dairy intolerant

"Just Say No" if you're dairy intolerant

I am the first to tell you when there is something I am unfamiliar with. In these cases, I usually run around in a fairly obsessive state of learning until I have found an answer. My friends, I am here to share my new found knowledge of the dairy and gluten free protein powder world.

There are 5 basic types of gluten and dairy free protein powders. (This is what I am aware of as being fairly common and easy to find. I believe there may be more (spirulina?), so if you know of some please share in the comments!

The five I will be addressing here are egg white protein, gemma (pea) protein, rice protein, soy protein, and hemp protein.

Egg White Protein

Egg white protein is created by seperating the yolk and converting the white to powder. It tends to be a bit high when it comes to creating sulfur with digestion. (The polite way of saying it can give you WAY smelly gas.) Upon mixing it is a thinner consistency. In my opinion best when mixed with other types of protein, for both the taste, texture, and certainly for the gas factor.

Gemma (Pea) Protein

This is fairly new to the scene, becoming more popular when whey protein prices went up a couple years back. It is, just as it sounds, derived from peas, making it a vegan-friendly option. Gemma mixes into a thick consistency and has a slightly nutty flavor. The Gemma that I have tested is also non-GMO. Gemma can be used on its own or mixed with another type of protein such as…..

Rice Protein

Also a vegan friendly option. The rice protein I tested is also non GMO and derived from brown rice. Rice protein mixes
to a thinner consistency and has a gritty texture, but a “cleaner” flavor.

Soy Protein

Soy protein is derived from defatted soybean flakes. There has been much media controversy and conflicting research about the use of soy supplements in the diet, as well as the GMO situation (GMO=genetically modified organism.) That discussion could fill several books, and is far too much for the scope of this article, but be aware that it exists. You can find research and articles to back up both sides of the story, from the “soy is evil!” camp to the “soy is the best food ever!” camp. Make an educated and independent decision, whatever your decision may be. It is a vegan friendly option.

Hemp Protein

Despite some individuals wishing otherwise, this hemp does not make you high. Sorry, folks, it would be a lot more expensive if it did. Hemp protein does have a couple of unique characteristics though. Hemp protein contains essential fatty acids and fiber! In a 30 gram serving you would get 4 grams of fiber and 6 grams of fat along with your 15 grams of protein. The others contain a bit more protein per serving, averaging 24-25 grams, and little to no fat and fiber. I have not tasted hemp yet. (And I know some of you have, so pipe up in the comments!) Hemp is a vegan friendly option.

As always, check your labels and with the manufacturer if needed to verify gluten free status. I have used rice and gemma from True Protein, and I will be posting my review next week. Stay tuned!

Check out the Gluten Free and Fit 101 page if you’re looking for a place to start here in the gluten free and fit community.

If you are looking for free, sensible, information on setting up a healthy gluten free diet, click here.

If you’re looking for a step by step guide for living more healthfully gluten free, “7 Tips for Living a Healthy Gluten Free Life (without making yourself nuts in the process)” is finally ready.

Have you used a gluten free and dairy free protein powder? What did you use and what did you think? Let me know in the comments!

True Protein Website
Jay Robb Website
Lyle McDonald’s Bodyrecomposition Website, and his Protein Book

Filed Under: celiac diseaseGluten Freenutrition


About the Author:

RSSComments (98)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Kate says:

    Sorry about calling out one brand, but GNC is really great when it comes to different sensitivities. A lot of their products are gluten free and dairy free, and if they are it is clearly stated under the ingredients. I really like their Soy Protein 95. As always, check the label, but they have a lot to choose from. :)

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by kbouldin and Jennifer Harris, Gluten Free Fitness. Gluten Free Fitness said: New post-#Glutenfree/Dairy free Protein powder 101 #celiac #gf #fitness [...]

  3. Erin says:

    Hi Kate!
    No worries on giving brand names, we’re here to share. My issue with GNC has always been that their prices are higher than online merchants. As you mentioned though, labels can be very helpful, so that’s a positive for them.

  4. Jon Fernandes says:

    Gemma Protein ftw! I am waiting for the day a hemp isolate will be made without the fiber and fat. That would be really cool. =]

  5. Erin says:

    Hi Jon!
    Well, for now you can just use the hemp for a longer-digesting protein or more of a meal replacement idea. Have you tried the hemp protein?

  6. Jon Fernandes says:

    Yes, i have had hemp before. just recently i had some lying around and was mixing it with gluten-free oats. its a little pricey for me right now so I’m sticking with gemma and whole foods.

  7. I agree that you should just find a protein powder you like and stick with it. Disregard all the hype, find what works for you. For me, that is an unflavored whey protein I found at They don’t seem to be very well-known, but they have a great product. I like the unflavored variety, as it makes it much easier for me to add it to most of my meals.Try to visit if anybody want more info.

  8. Love your opinion. Maybe muscle protein information may help someone there.

  9. Russ says:

    I tried Trader Joes brand Hemp Protein Power (chocolate and vanilla) and liked it quit a bit – mixes well, tastes ok. Not as high in protein as other kinds (9g), but high in fiber (11g).

    You can see the label here:

  10. Erin says:

    Thanks Russ!
    Great to know-I’m always wishing there was a Trader Joe’s near me!

  11. Ella Walker says:

    i also have lactose intolerance that is why i always avoid dairy products.~’*

  12. well we do have some lactose intolerance in our family and we just cut out on dairy products. `”.

  13. AmandaonMaui says:

    I am trying out Garden of Life Raw Protein right now. The price is really good for the number of servings you get (I happened to get mine on sale, so that was even better! Seven dollars off!).

    The problem is that there is a distinct flavor (earthiness, nuttiness) and it’s grittier than the Plant Fusion. I’m kind of getting used to it though, and I love how many different kinds of sprouts they use in the blend.

    It’s the Raw Protein, the Raw Meal contains oat grass, wheat grass, and barley grass juice. They don’t list the Raw Meal as gluten free.

  14. AmandaonMaui says:

    Oh wait, yes, it is listen as gluten free. Pardon my mistake.

  15. Erin says:

    Hi Amanda,
    I’d be my guess that the brown rice protein is what is making it gritty, and maybe the buckwheat that is giving the nuttiness.
    Cool stuff and good to know about another option!

  16. Matt says:

    Hi all,

    Does anyone know of any diary/lactose free protein bars?? I can tolerate Whey Isolate, but not Whey Concentrate – when I was having the protain bars widely available I nearly reached the moon.

    If dairy free protein powder is all there is so be it but protein bars are not so filling, if anyone knows of a brand they can tell me what’d be awesome!



  17. Erin says:

    Hi Matt,
    As far as a commercial bar, look into Quest Bars. They use whey protein isolate. Or, consider making your own bars :) It’s easy, I promise.

  18. Matt says:

    Hi Erin,

    Thanks so much for your reply! I’ve been looking into making my own protein bars, but I’ve also checked out the Quest bars which look promising but then I noticed each bar has around 12-15g of fiber per bar. Is it okay to eat that much fiber in one serving?

    I have around 30g of fiber a day so no problems there and I’ve no problem substituting but will having 12 or 15 g of fiber in one serving… Cause any emergencies?


  19. Shannon says:

    Hi, I am curious if any of you can give me a recommendation of protein powder for my kids. I have a 4 year old and an 18 month old. My baby was just diagnosed with asthma, but they are both very sickly in general. I am planning to put us all on an allergen free diet (no eggs dairy soy gluten) and see if that will help. I just need protein source for their morning smoothies. Any recommendations are much appreciated!

  20. Erin says:

    @ Matt-Good question! I generally have a fairly high fiber diet ordinarily because I eat a metric ton of vegetables. If your fiber intake is habitually low, you may want to start with half a Quest bar a day and see how you do. (Although your fiber intake looks good to me) There’s no problems with eating a whole bar, but it is definitely an individual tolerance. The only way to know is to give it a try! (I hear they have a chocolate flavor coming out soon!) Also, Zing bars are good and also made with whey isolate. I reviewed them here, and since they have also added new flavors .

    @ Shannon- I would recommend looking into a rice protein if you are thinking of a protein powder. Here’s one:
    I have also heard good things about Nutrabiotic rice protein, although I have not personally tried it. Good luck!

  21. Michael says:

    I am new to this and need some help…. It was stated on your website that Labrada PRO V60 had no Glutamine in it. The label on the side states that it contains Glutamate. Is this the same thing. I have noticed that a lot of items contain some sort of Glut… in it. Which is the bad stuff? Thank you in advance.

  22. Erin says:

    Hi Michael,
    Here’s some info on glutamate, which is an amino acid.
    It is also found in MSG, which can often be a problem for those with celiac disease. It is not gluten, but can act in a similar manner. The glutamine you have to watch for most often in sports supplements is glutamine peptides which can be sourced from wheat. So, I encourage you to contact Labrada. Formulations change often, and you always have to double check if there is any question at all.

  23. [...] Gluten and Dairy Free Protein Supplementation | Gluten Free Fitness Nutrition and Wellness with a ce… Review of gluten and dairy free protein powder options and the pros and cons of each. Protein supplementation can be helpful for many, especially athletes. [...]

  24. ankit says:

    hii erin

    do let me know ,,are mgn suppliements gluten free?

  25. rusulka says:

    FWIW. If you are gluten reactive, you may also be hemp reactive. I knew the very first time I used the hemp protein. For some it may be more subtle, and others clearly will have no problem. I wasn’t surprised when my cross-reactors blood test came back postive for hemp. The testing is fairly new, I understand, and can be ordered by your doc through Cyrex Labs. (I had an Array 4, I believe.)

  26. Erin says:

    Great info, and thank you for the reminder about hemp. The cross-reactivity tests are still fairly new, but excellent to know about. Glad you are so observant!

  27. Jenn says:

    I can’t have soy, hemp, dairy, or wheat. I’m very active and race in triathlons so I know getting that extra protein is important but finding a protein powder is tough!! I have to admit that hemp protein is not very tasty :( Hope to find something better!!

  28. Erin says:

    Hey Jenn,
    How about egg white protein powder? I have heard good things about the MRM brand, but have not yet tried it. I did try the Healthy N Fit brand and was not crazy about it. Let us know how it is!

  29. Abby says:

    hey to everybody who cares!!
    does anyone know of a cheap(er) gluten/dairy free protein shake mix??

  30. Erin says:

    Hi Abby,
    Price is largely dependent on where you purchase. As long as it’s a high quality product, definitely search online for the best price. You want to be careful though, as sometimes overall less expensive products may also be lower quality. It’s truly a case of buyer beware and research a company before you purchase. True Protein is fairly inexpensive and has good products though, so check them out and see what you think.

  31. tanya says:

    I need to stay away from dairy, gluten, wheat, nuts, oats, and eggs. It totally sucks but its for the wealth of my skin. I workout a lot and use the jarows brown rice protein mixed with vanilla almond milk so it taste better. I really wish someone could come up with a delicious frosty non everything im allergic to high protein mix :)

  32. Erin says:

    LOL Tanya! If you find the delicious frosty, please let us know! It sounds like you are on the right track with the brown rice protein and almond milk combo though.

  33. Tammy says:

    Hey I don’t know much about this but a friend gave me a bag of Usana French Vanilla protein mix. Its really good protein is 15 grams a serving and 240 calories . You can mix any kind of fresh or frozen fruit with it and make your smoothie. But, just went to buy some and its very pricey. What’s the best GF high protein mix you like? I have fibromyalgia also and this has really helped my fatigue and pain.

  34. Debra says:

    I’m not sure how readily available this is in the USA but Vega by Sequel is gulten, dairy, soy free. My son has high functioning autism and is on a gluten free, casein free, almond and egg free diet. He loves the Vega line of protein mixes.

  35. Mary says:

    First I tried Rainbow Light Vanilla Protein energizer, 15 gram rice protein, the taste is OK. then I tried Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein Dk Chocolate and it tastes good with another proten powder, but gritty by itself. Now useHerbalife Health Meal and it taste great with the Choc Hemp Protein and no after taste. All of these are GF, DF.

  36. Erin says:

    That’s awesome info Mary, thank you very much for sharing that!

  37. Erin says:

    Thanks Debra! Vega is actually available fairly easily here in the US. Thank you for sharing!

  38. Sterling says:

    Ive heard of a few products saying they are lactose and dairy free yet they are made with using whey protein.

    i understand that it can be lactose free but is there some way that it is possible to be dairy free as well ?

    im referring to magnum Nutraceuticals (quattro). it says right on there product details on their site.

    do you know something i dont ??

  39. rusulka says:


    It’s misleading for them to claim dairy-free, and then include both whey and casein in their formula. My guess is it will turn out to be a “typo.” If you are only reactive to lactose, it’s likely clean – but you’d want to double check about how they isolate. If you react to the protein (casein) or the fat in dairy, it’s not a good option, I’d say. Also, the fact that they use sucralose as a sweetener kicks it right out of the camp. Sucralose is generic for Splenda, which is an organochlorine. (If that term isn’t familiar, it’s the chemical family used to kill termites, and used in Agent Orange and other herbicides.) Sucralose is an excitotoxin to the brain. (This is a bad thing – I work with brains everyday.) Nice, concise source of the FDA studies etc is a book called Sweet Deception. Best of luck finding your protein. My best shot has been pea protein, also called gema. VitaCost brand is pretty decent.

  40. Erin says:

    Rusulka is absolutely right that it is misleading to label it as dairy free, but in the instance of the product you posted it’s also downright wrong. The ingredients clearly state that milk protein isolate and casein protein are used in the product. There’s nothing even remotely “dairy free” about that.

    Now, I have posted in the past on my review of NeoCell’s Collagen Sport Whey Protein Isolate:
    “The interesting thing about whey protein isolate (WARNING!! SPECULATION, EDUCATED GUESSING, AND THEORECTICAL WANKING AHEAD!! This is my opinion only, and you should consult your doctor and registered dietitian about your own personal needs.) is that the lactose has been removed, so theoretically those with lactose intolerance *should* be able to tolerate it, and there is no casein protein, so theoretically those with casein sensitivity *should* be able to tolerate it, so MAYBE dairy intolerant folks would be able to use a pure, high quality protein isolate.”

    So, a very pure whey protein isolate may be tolerated by those who need to avoid dairy, but I’m not betting the farm on it by a long shot. Hope that helps!

  41. Erin says:


    Awesome! Thanks for sharing your insight :) Sucralose is tough to avoid in many sports supplements. Fortunately some are switching to stevia as a sweetener. I’d love to hear if you have any thoughts on stevia, as far as it relates to brain chemistry?

  42. rusulka says:

    Hi Erin,

    I’ve never found any detrimental info on stevia. It’s been used in Japan for over 700 years, and even longer by indigious peoples of South America. It’s the natural competitor that just won’t go away, so Corporate has co-opted it, split out the steviosoids from the rebaudiosides (so they could patent it and charge more) – hence the new market products of Truvia, etc. The doctored results try to say that steviosoids are potentially risky. But it is shown again and again that natural substances often become problematic only when isolated from their complementary compounds. (Like eggs were “bad” when they just tested the yolks, and years later discovered that the whites contain the complementary elements to diffuse cholestrol as a problem.)It’s great to find more stevia-sweetened foods/supplements available. No opinion yet about the Truvia and similar.

    As far as brain stuff, the only thing I’m aware of is that like many sweets, overexposure will cause a reduction in sensitivity, thus creating a need for things to be sweeter and sweeter.

  43. Erin says:

    Perfect, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. Totally agreed on overexposure to sweets-best bet is always to minimize all sweeteners, regardless of origin.

  44. Erin says:

    And as an aside, MRM 100% Pure Whey is a stevia sweetened product. I have not tried it yet. On the list ;)

  45. Rebecca says:

    I have just discovered egg white protein supplements because my current diet requires a breakfast of 30 to 40 grams of protein and under 10 grams of carbs. I can’t have gluten or dairy (especially dairy!!!!) and my usual drink (Fruiteen) has too many carbs. I got the JayRobb brand and think it’s worth checking out. It’s sweetened with stevia and there are no artificial additives. It has 24 grams of protein per serving and only 4 g carbs. Tastes pretty good too!!

  46. Erin says:

    Thanks Rebecca! I’ve tried a few egg white protein powders that have been , well, not so tasty so I’m glad to hear the Jay Robb is a good option!

  47. [...] safest to use rice protein instead of whey protein in this recipe. There is a great blog article by Gluten Free Fitness about options for gluten-free/dairy-free protein [...]

  48. I love the Arbonne International protein powder. They are vegan and gluten free. The proteins are Rice Bran, Pea, and cranberries. You can make protein bars from it also. I began drinking them and using other products of the company, then went on to become a consultant. I am not trying to sell here, but to make the point that I liked them so much that I felt compelled to share. When you can make money sharing something, then it is just icing on the cake.

    Find me by name on Facebook if you want more info, like actual ingredient list, etc.

  49. Melanie says:

    Hi Beth,
    I love the Arbonne Protein powder as well. The only thing I dont like is by the time you pay for shipping it gets quite pricey.

Leave a Reply

Log in here!