Determining which foods are allowed on a gluten-free diet can sometimes be challenging. There are hidden sources of gluten in many foods such as sauces, cereals, and desserts.
Whey protein is a common nutritional supplement and is found in many foods. Many people following a gluten-free diet may be wondering if it’s safe to eat. In general, whey protein is totally fine when eating gluten-free, as long as it’s not combined with a gluten-containing ingredient.
Who should eat gluten-free?
In recent years, the health and wellness industry has boomed with promoting gluten-free diets, and the gluten-free market is still on the rise.
In addition to growing interest and public awareness of gluten-free diets, there are more people being diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
But who exactly should be following a gluten-free diet?
For one, those with celiac disease must avoid all gluten. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease in which people cannot eat gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley – as it causes the immune system to attack and damage the lining of the small intestine (1).
There are also some people who should follow a gluten-free diet – not because of diagnosed celiac disease – but because of a gluten sensitivity.
People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may not have small intestine damage but may experience headaches, bloating, fatigue, or diarrhea after eating gluten (2).
What if you’re not gluten intolerant?
There is a lack of significant compelling evidence to suggest that going gluten-free will improve your health or prevent disease if you don’t have celiac disease or experience any symptoms from eating gluten.
In fact, a gluten-free diet can be lower in certain nutrients like fiber, iron, folate, niacin, vitamin B-12, calcium, riboflavin, and zinc. This is because many gluten-containing cereals and bread products are fortified with many of these vital nutrients (3).
However, some research suggests that gluten can be problematic and worsen symptoms of Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and other inflammation-related diseases such as fibromyalgia and arthritis. Research points to the fact that gluten can weaken the intestinal lining and alter gut bacteria (4).
If you are following a gluten-free diet – regardless of whether or not you have celiac disease – it’s important to ensure you are eating a balanced diet rich in whole foods such as lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables (or you can take a super greens powder like Naked Greens).
Many may benefit from incorporating certain supplements to meet their needs, such as whey protein. Continue reading to see if whey protein might be right for you on a gluten-free diet.
How is whey protein made?
Whey protein is a high-quality protein source that is widely available in powder form.
Whey is a protein found in the watery part of milk. It’s the liquid part that separates out when making cheese, and it’s the liquid that you can find floating on top of a yogurt.
After the liquid part is separated out, it then goes through several processing steps until it eventually becomes a powder form, what many would be able to recognize as whey protein powder (4).
Is whey protein gluten free?
Pure whey protein contains no gluten and is safe to consume on a gluten-free diet. However, depending on the brand and where the protein is manufactured, whey protein can be cross-contaminated with gluten-containing products.
It’s important to be cautious of added ingredients in some whey protein products, such as flavorings, stabilizers, or preservatives that can often contain gluten.
If you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, it’s important to do your research before committing to a whey protein supplement to ensure that it is in fact 100% gluten free.
To determine if your whey protein is completely gluten-free, look for the Certified Gluten-Free seal, like we have on Naked Whey.
Benefits of whey protein on a gluten-free diet
Protein is one of the most important nutrients for our bodies, and most people could benefit from adding more high-quality protein to their diet.
Plus, just one serving of whey protein provides 10% of our daily calcium needs, which is significant as calcium is a nutrient that may be under-consumed with a gluten-free diet (3).
Whey protein is beneficial for muscle and bone health, blood sugar control, athletic performance, and metabolic health.
Whey protein is a high-quality protein source that is naturally gluten-free and can be a valuable addition to any diet – gluten-free or not.
However, many whey protein powders may have gluten-containing additives, or can be cross-contaminated with it during processing.
Be sure to do your research and look for whey protein powders that have no added ingredients or cross-contamination. Identifying the gluten-free seal on the packaging may be a helpful indicator.
There are many gluten-free whey protein options available, such as Naked Nutrition Whey Protein , that can help improve health, build muscle, and boost athletic performance.