Ultimate Guide for Whole30 Approved Protein Powder

So you want to know if you can have protein powder while on a round of Whole30. Well, the answer is a little complicated. But you will find the answers you are seeking to this question.

First off let’s start at the beginning. The Whole30 program is a 30-day nutritional reset designed to help individuals identify foods that may negatively impact their health.

Created by CEO Melissa Urban and Dallas Hartwig in 2009, the program focuses on whole, unprocessed foods while eliminating certain food groups that are commonly problematic for many people.

Here are the key components of the Whole30 program:

Allowed Foods:

  • Meat, Seafood, and Eggs: All varieties, provided they are not processed or contain any non-compliant ingredients.
  • Vegetables: All vegetables, including potatoes.
  • Fruits: All fruits, in moderation.
  • Natural Fats: Healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and oils (e.g., olive, coconut).

Eliminated Foods:

  • Sugar and Sweeteners: All added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or natural (e.g., honey, monk fruit extract, stevia).
  • Alcohol: All forms, even for cooking.
  • Grains: All grains, including wheat, oats, rice, corn, and their derivatives.
  • Legumes: All beans, lentils, peanuts, and forms of soy including derivatives like tofu and soy sauce.
  • Dairy: All dairy products including cow, goat, or sheep milk, except clarified butter or ghee.
  • Processed Foods and Food Additives: Foods containing carrageenan, MSG, sulfites, or other non-compliant ingredients.

Rules and Guidelines:

  • No Cheating: The program requires strict adherence for 30 days with no slip-ups; otherwise, participants must start over.
  • No Weighing or Measuring: Participants are encouraged to focus on non-scale victories and not to weigh or measure themselves during the 30 days.
  • Reintroduction Phase: After 30 days, foods are reintroduced one at a time to monitor their effects on the body.

The Whole30 diet is often described as a short-term nutritional reset designed to teach people about the effects of different foods on their health and well-being. Many use it as a starting point for making long-term dietary changes.

To find out more about the rules of Whole30 check out Whole30 Beginner’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

woman in white v neck shirt holding red heart shaped lollipop

Can you drink a protein shake while doing Whole30?

While on the Whole30 program, the general guideline is to focus on whole, unprocessed foods and avoid highly processed or convenience foods, which typically include most protein shakes.

Why Protein Shakes Are Not Recommended:

  1. Whole Foods Focus: Whole30 emphasizes eating whole, unprocessed foods for full nutritional benefits, including fiber, vitamins, and minerals often lost in processing.
  2. Additives and Sweeteners: Many protein powders and shakes contain added sugars, artificial sweeteners, or other non-compliant ingredients (like dairy, soy, or certain preservatives) not allowed on Whole30.
  3. Food Relationship: Part of the Whole30 program’s goal is to reset your relationship with food. Encouraging you to eat real meals instead of relying on meal replacements.

Exceptions and Considerations:

There are a few scenarios where a protein shake might be considered acceptable,

  1. Pure Protein Sources: If you find a protein powder that is made from a compliant source (like egg protein) and contains no additives, sweeteners, or other non-compliant ingredients, it could technically be allowed.
  2. Post-Workout Nutrition: For active individuals who need additional protein for post-workout nutrition needs, a compliant Whole 30-approved protein powder might be considered. But the best option for post-workout nutrition is whole food sources of protein.
  3. Plant-Based Whole 30: If you are following the Plant-Based Whole 30 program you may need to include protein powder to ensure you’re getting enough protein. Plant-Based Whole30 emphasizes eating plant-based foods and abstaining from animal proteins.
poached egg with vegetables and tomatoes on blue plate

Alternatives to Protein Shakes:

Instead of protein shakes, Whole30 encourages consuming whole food primary protein sources. Here are some alternatives:

  • Eggs: Hard-boiled, scrambled, or any other preparation without non-compliant ingredients.
  • Meat: Slices of chicken, turkey, or other compliant deli meats.
  • Fish: Canned tuna or salmon (in water, with no added sugars or non-compliant oils).
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or other nuts and seeds, (no peanuts).

Example of Post-Workout Snacks:

  1. Hard-Boiled Eggs and Vegetables: Quick, easy, and portable.
  2. Chicken Salad: Made with compliant mayo and served in lettuce wraps.
  3. Tuna Salad: With compliant ingredients, served with sliced cucumbers or bell peppers.

Overall Recommendation:

  • Whole Foods First: A great option while following Whole30 is to obtain protein from whole food sources. Options like eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, and nuts are encouraged.
  • Minimal Processed Products: If you opt for a protein powder, read the ingredient list thoroughly to ensure compliance. But understand this should be an exception rather than a rule.
red strawberries on white ceramic bowl

What are potentially compliant protein powders?

When looking for compliant protein powder options, it’s important to understand that most protein powders are generally not recommended on the Whole30 program.

However, if you are determined to find one, here’s a comparison to help you decide which might be better:

Whey Protein

  • Source: Whey protein is derived from dairy, which is not allowed on Whole30.
  • Compliance: Whey protein powders are not compliant because they contain dairy.
  • Recommendation: Whey protein is not an option for Whole30.
shallow focus photography of green pea on brown wooden surface

Plant-Based Protein

  • Source: Plant-based proteins can come from pea protein, hemp, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Compliance: While plant-based protein powders might have a better chance of being compliant protein powders. However, many still contain non-compliant ingredients like added sugars, soy, or other food additives.
  • Potentially Compliant Options: If you can find a plant-based protein powder that is made from compliant ingredients and free from added sugars, sweeteners, soy, grains, dairy, and other non-compliant ingredients, it might be acceptable.

Examples of Plant-Based Protein Powders

Egg White Protein

Egg white protein powder is a dietary supplement made from the whites of eggs dehydrated and processed into a fine powder. It is a popular protein supplement due to its high protein content, low fat, and low carbohydrate levels.

How Egg White Protein Powder is Made:

  1. Separation: Egg whites are separated from the yolks.
  2. Pasteurization: The egg whites are pasteurized to kill any potential bacteria.
  3. Dehydration: The pasteurized egg whites are then spray-dried into a powder form.

Compliance with Whole30:

Egg white protein powder can be compliant with Whole30 if it meets the following criteria:

  • No Additives: No added sugars, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, or other non-compliant ingredients.
  • Pure Ingredient: Ideally, it should be a single ingredient: egg whites.
white egg on white surface

Example of a Compliant Egg White Protein Powder:

  • Ingredients: 100% egg white protein, with no added sugars or artificial ingredients.

Potential Compliant Brands of Egg White Powder:

While egg white protein powder can be a compliant protein source on Whole30, it is essential to read the ingredient list carefully to ensure no non-compliant additives.

As with any supplement, it is also recommended to prioritize whole food sources of protein whenever possible to align with the Whole30 program’s emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods.

What Are Collagen Peptides?

Collagen peptides are a form of protein derived from collagen, a structural protein found in animal connective tissues. Collagen peptides are hydrolyzed, meaning they are broken down into smaller, more easily digestible molecules.

Compliance with Whole30:

Collagen peptides can be a compliant protein supplement on Whole30, provided they adhere to the program’s guidelines. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Ingredients: The collagen peptides should contain only collagen, without any added sugars, sweeteners, artificial flavors, preservatives, or other non-compliant additives.
  2. Source: Ensure the collagen is derived from Whole30-approved sources such as grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, or other responsibly sourced animals.

Benefits of Collagen Peptides:

  1. High-Quality Protein: Collagen peptides provide a high-quality source of protein that is easily digestible.
  2. Joint and Skin Health: Collagen is known to support joint, skin, hair, and nail health.
  3. Digestive Support: Some people find that collagen peptides help with gut health and digestion.

How to Use Collagen Peptides on Whole30:

  1. Mixing: Collagen peptides can be mixed into coffee, tea, smoothies, or other beverages. They dissolve easily and are flavorless.
  2. Cooking and Baking: They can be added to soups, stews, and other dishes for an extra protein boost.

Example of a Compliant Collagen Peptides Product:

  • Ingredients: 100% hydrolyzed collagen peptides from grass-fed bovine or wild-caught fish.
  • Additives: Ensure there are no additional ingredients beyond the collagen itself.

Checking Labels:

  • Read Ingredients: Always read the ingredient list to ensure no hidden sugars or non-compliant additives.
  • Whole30 Approval: Some brands may have Whole30 approval, making it easier to identify compliant products.

Brands That Often Offer Compliant Collagen Peptides:

While collagen peptides are a great addition to a Whole30 elimination diet, remember that the program emphasizes whole, unprocessed real food. Use collagen peptides as a supplement to your diet, not a replacement for whole-food protein sources. Prioritizing nutrient-dense, whole foods will help you achieve the best results from your Whole30 experience.

By ensuring the collagen peptides you choose are compliant with Whole30 guidelines, you can enjoy the benefits of this high-quality protein source while staying true to the program’s principles.

white liquid in clear drinking glass

Final Note on protein shakes and Whole30:

It’s important to remember that Whole30 is about creating new habits and learning how different foods affect your body. While protein shakes might seem convenient, they can undermine the program’s goals.

Focusing on whole, nutrient-dense foods will provide the best results and help you stay compliant with the Whole30 guidelines.

However, if you need additional protein avoid whey and soy protein.

When looking for a protein powder it’s important to avoid added sugars. The best bet is to stick to unflavored protein powder. A great way to add flavor is with vanilla extract or cocoa powder.

You can also use almond milk or coconut milk instead of water. But avoid using fruit juice to make your shake. Certain fruit juice is compliant but it’s for cooking with not drinking it.

Embarking on a Whole30 journey can be both an exciting and transformative experience, offering a chance to reset your eating habits and discover how different foods impact your overall health.

As a 30-day nutritional reset, Whole30 emphasizes eating whole, unprocessed foods while eliminating potentially problematic groups like sugar, grains, dairy, and legumes.

This structured approach aims to improve your physical well-being and helps you develop a healthier relationship with food.

Whether you’re seeking to boost your energy levels, improve digestion, or break free from unhealthy eating patterns, Whole30 provides a comprehensive framework to achieve these goals.

If you choose to use a protein powder, ensure it fits within the strict guidelines of the Whole30 program.

  1. Read Labels Carefully: Ensure there are no added sugars, sweeteners, soy, grains, dairy, or other non-compliant ingredients.
  2. Single Ingredient: Look for protein powders with as few ingredients as possible, ideally just the protein source.
  3. Whole30 Resources: Check the Whole30 website, the Whole30 book, or approved product lists to see if there are any recommended brands.

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