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10 Nov, 2023

Are protein powders bad for gut health?

Though added protein in our diet is beneficial for energy, muscle growth and repair, as well as hormone and enzyme production, there has been much debate on the impact that protein powders can have on the gut microbiome.


Protein is made up of essential and non-essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of your muscles. Essential amino acids are those which cannot be synthesised by the body and therefore must be obtained from food. Protein plays a crucial role in building and repairing tissues, supporting immune function, regulating hormones, and even assisting with weight management.

The best way to increase your intake of protein is through natural, unprocessed ingredients. Great sources of plant-based protein are legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy products. For animal protein, we recommended filling up on lean based meats, such as chicken, turkey, white fish, prawns, salmon or trout as a more sustainable options. Oily fish is also great for extra omega-3s.

However, the level of recommended protein varies hugely on the individual, with the main variables being age, weight, activity level and health goals. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 0.8g per kg of body weight, but this is a guideline for the intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all healthy people, meaning it is a very general guideline. Those who are more active tend to need more protein, which is where there has been an increased focus on protein powder as a solution to upping your protein intake to refuel or accomodate fitness goals. Where this can become counter-intuitive is when individuals reach for many of the protein powders marketed to us that happen to be filled with additives and artificial ingredients, which can be destructive to the gut microbiome. These are particularly unfriendly to those prone to leaky gut syndrome.

To ensure we are reaching the amount of recommended protein that feels right for your lifestyle, we recommend increasing the amount of plant-based protein on your plates first. Real, whole foods should always come first and supplements should not be used as a substitute. These are naturally anti-inflammatory and will increase the diversity of foods you eat to help build a stronger gut microbiome.

Protein powders are a useful way to help supplement your diet, especially if you are often on the go and/or need extra. We recommend choosing a protein powder with natural ingredients and digestive enzymes to help ease discomfort and bloating, that is sweetened by natural sweeteners such as stevia only. A go-to is Form Nutrition's Performance Protein, which has all of the above and is formulated to provide a complete amino acid profile including 5g of Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) to support new muscle growth and maintain a state of muscle protein synthesis. It also has added curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, which is a proven anti-inflammatory, antioxidant & immunity booster. This is combined with black pepper extract proven to increase bioavailability (absorption of nutrients), increasing the benefits to you.

We have included 2 x sachets of Form Nutrition's Performance Protein powder in the flavours Vanilla and Tiramisu in our newest winter Self-Care Bundle, available with every meal plan, 3-Day Reset and Soup Cleanse. Use the code CAREBUNDLE to receive your protein powder, a £50 voucher for Skinwork, and Form Nutrition's ZZZZs pills (for the first 50 only). We only have 50 to sell, so make sure to get your hands on it before they go!