One of the top questions we get asked in our practice is – how can I get enough protein for my IBD? How do we know what’s enough protein? Today’s blog post will be exploring the 5 best protein powders for IBD. As well as pre-made protein drinks and nutritional supplements for people with inflammatory bowel disease from popular brands!
Many people also want to know- how can I get enough protein if I’m on a plant based diet? We will go over all of these questions plus list our top picks for protein powders.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease also known as IBD is a chronic, relapsing and remitting disease that affects the digestive system. The two most common types of IBD include Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC).
Other types of IBD include microscopic colitis and indeterminate colitis which is defined as a person showing features of IBD without an official diagnosis due to the uncertainty and complexity of the disease.
According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, roughly 1 in 100 Americans have an IBD diagnosis. And according to research, in 1990, 3.32 million people globally were diagnosed with IBD compared to 2019 where 4.90 million people were diagnosed with IBD showing a significant rise in this diagnosis (1).
Symptoms that patients commonly experience with IBD can include weight loss, malnourishment/malabsorption, rectal bleeding (depending on IBD location), fever, abdominal pain, fatigue, and joint pain.
There are many other symptoms that patients experience that are not listed above and can occur outside of the digestive tract naming these extra-intestinal manifestations.
During times of active inflammation, protein requirements increase. Additional protein can help the burden that IBD can cause on the body.
This can be difficult to achieve at times due to the inflammation itself causing nausea, a decrease in appetite, and pain/discomfort that people with IBD can experience. Fortunately, there are ways where we can meet our nutritional needs without having to compromise the digestive tract and improve nutrient absorption.
Learn more about The Crohn’s and Colitis Dietitian’s 5 best protein powders* for IBD through out this blog.
*Disclaimer: Protein powder, pre-made protein drinks and nutritional supplements are different supplemental products people can add to their day to help meet their needs. For simplicity, the title ‘best protein powders for IBD’ was used. The blog will explore and explain the top IBD friendly protein supplements. A powder or liquid form of protein can both be beneficial to help someone meet their nutritional needs.
Note: This blog contains affiliate links. Our team only chooses affiliates from companies we use and support.
5 Best Protein Powders for IBD
Protein recommendations for someone with IBD can vary depending on the severity and location of the disease. Because malnutrition can occur in up to 85% of patients with IBD, it is recommended to consume protein sources that are best tolerated and sustainable for that person.
One of the most common types of protein sources that are generally well-tolerated in IBD patients with active disease are nutritional shakes.
Orgain, OWYN, Kate Farms, and Liquid Hope Organic are the clear favorites!
Orgain, OWYN, Kate Farms, and Liquid Hope Organic round out the top 5 protein powders for IBD. These products can be a therapeutic tool for IBD patients especially when weight loss occurs in the presence of inflammation. Keep reading to learn more about the products and the best attributes of them below!
Orgain protein powders
Orgain has many product options available for people with IBD! They have 20-21 grams of protein per serving. Making these a great option to include as part of a balanced diet. Depending on what flavor you choose, Orgain protein powders also contain 4-7 grams of fiber per serving. Which is a nutrient often lacking in most diets. Orgain’s plant-based protein powder also contains 25% of your daily recommended iron! Iron is often depleted in those with IBD due to decreased absorption and increased bleeding.
Orgain protein shakes
Orgain protein shakes are a great option when you’re feeling low on energy (hello IBD fatigue). Or require something easy and on-the-go. With a creamy, chocolate flavor, and 20 grams of protein. And 40% daily recommended iron, this shake is sure to be helpful for long days.
OWYN is another great option to choose with both protein powder and ready made protein shakes! In fact, OWYN (Only What You Need) packs 20 grams of protein into their plant-based shakes, as well as 525 mg of omega-3s. This makes them beneficial to those with IBD as they have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. OWYN is also made without artificial sweeteners or fillers. This makes it easily digestible for people with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. Want to give OWYN a try? Use code CNC15 15% off!
Kate Farms carries nutritional shakes for daily nutritional needs in chocolate, coffee, and vanilla flavors. In fact, Kate Farms reports high satisfaction with an easily digestible shake. 16 grams of pea protein, and also 5 grams of fiber in a grab and go bottle.
Liquid Hope Organic
Liquid Hope Organic is a balanced, whole food, nutrition supplement mainly for individuals requiring tube feeding. However, someone can still use this product to help meet their nutritional needs by adding it to smoothies or soups due to its mild flavor. Liquid Hope boasts 9 grams of fiber/serving and 23 grams of protein.
Pairing a multivitamin with a nutritional shake may be needed in the event the formula does not meet all of the nutrient recommendations. (Don’t forget, it’s always best to check in with your healthcare provider for specific recommendations.)
These nutritional shakes are plant-based, dairy-free (no whey protein), and gluten-free, making it a more tolerable option for IBD patients.
Not to mention, these protein shakes are suitable for patients who are lactose intolerant (commonly seen in IBD patients). And have very minimal to no side-effects when used for medicinal purposes such as exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN).
How to know what type of protein is good for you
Protein, an essential macronutrient, is made from amino acids and provides our bodies with many essential functions. Research suggests that plant-based protein sources are both nutritious and anti-inflammatory for our digestive system and body altogether.
Plant-based protein sources also tend to be easily digested in comparison to animal based sources. Such as eggs, milk products, poultry, and meats. Since IBD is an inflammatory condition, incorporating foods such as plant-based protein sources that are nutrient-dense can be a therapeutic addition to a patient’s treatment plan.
Types of plant-based protein sources include tofu, beans/legumes, hemp seeds, lentils, edamame, tempeh, whole grains, seeds, and nuts/nut butters. Plant-based protein powders including pea protein like the ones mentioned above can be another quick and easy addition to the diet.
If you’re interested in trying some of the protein options mentioned in this blog, use our code CNC15 for a discount from OWYN to save money while enjoying something new and beneficial for your gut!
While there isn’t one type of protein source that’s better than the other for a person with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, it is, however, important to provide the digestive tract with a healthy variety of plant-based sources and a nutrition plan that works for the person with IBD.
Remember, we can meet our protein recommendations from many different sources without relying on animal products. Today’s blog showcased 5 best protein powders for IBD that were all derived from plants!
While protein is essential for our bodies to maintain a balanced state, it is important to remember that consuming extreme diets, like the carnivore diet which is meat heavy, can be demanding for the digestive tract for someone with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Furthermore, following a dietary pattern high in animal proteins and low in fiber can increase the risk of flares in IBD and have a negative impact on the microbiome (2).
- Wang R, Li Z, Liu S, et al. Global, regional and national burden of inflammatory bowel disease in 204 countries and territories from 1990 to 2019: a systematic analysis based on the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 BMJ Open 2023;13:e065186. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2022-065186
- Papier, K., Hartman, L., Tong, T. Y., Key, T. J., & Knuppel, A. (2022). Higher meat intake is associated with higher inflammatory markers, mostly due to adiposity: Results from UK Biobank. The Journal of Nutrition, 152(1), 183–189. doi:10.1093/jn/nxab314