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Based on questions from my clients, an emerging area of interest in health and nutrition is an alkaline diet.
The idea is that the foods we eat and drink impact the body’s pH balance, and eating too many high-acid foods, such as meat and dairy, can negatively impact our health.
On the flip side, proponents of the alkaline diet claim that making choices that promote an alkaline pH level in the body can make us feel better and give us more energy.
So, is protein powder acidic or alkaline? Whey protein, pea protein, and hemp protein are mildly acidic. Casein and egg white protein are moderately acidic. However, regardless of the type of protein powder you consume, it can be mixed with liquids and other ingredients that promote an alkaline pH level.
To help you learn more about protein powder and acidity, I’ll cover the following in this article:
- Every type of protein powder and their pH levels
- Benefits of low-acid protein powder
- How to consume protein powder on an alkaline diet
- What’s up with pH vs. PRAL
How To Tell if Food Is Acidic or Alkaline
The interest in the acid-alkaline diet is still relatively new and not widespread. It is challenging to get pH scores for many food items.
One resource for people interested in this way of eating is the Acid Alkaline Diet website.
It has a color-coded food list that shows whether foods are highly acidic, moderately acidic, mildly acidic, mildly alkaline, moderately alkaline, or highly alkaline. The pH scale (also called the acid-base scale) goes from 0 for most acidic to 14 for most basic (alkaline).
It’s also important to note that whether a food is “alkaline-friendly” isn’t about the acid content of the food itself. Rather, it is about how much digestive acid it takes for your body to digest that food.
The overall effect that a food has on the body’s acid-alkaline balance is called its Potential Renal Acid Load (PRAL) score.
A positive (+) score is on the acidic side, and a negative (-) score is on the alkaline (basic) side. Unlike in math class, this means that a negative score is a good thing.
This is pretty technical, but I wanted to give you this information in case you see other resources that mention a PRAL score without explaining it.
Whey Protein Powder & Acidity: An Overview
Whey protein powder is mildly acidic. Its pH is slightly less than 7, which is considered to be neutral (neither acidic nor alkaline).
This means that whey protein powder is less acidic than whole food sources of whey protein, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, which are all moderately acidic. Buttermilk is the only dairy source that is alkaline.
This makes whey protein powder a good source of protein for people following an alkaline diet. It can fit into an overall diet that is lower in acid than the standard Western diet most North Americans eat.
- Related Article: Cholesterol In Protein Powder
Other Types of Protein Powder & Acidity
Pea protein is touted as the best protein powder for an alkaline diet. Its pH is 7.8, which is on the alkaline side (greater than 7) on the pH scale. Other types of protein powder, such as hemp and casein, range from mildly alkaline to moderately acidic.
The pH scores for specific food items are generally unavailable, but PRAL scores are published for many whole foods that are the base for common protein powders. I’ve listed the PRAL scores (where available) for these whole foods.
Keep in mind that the PRAL score for a whole food isn’t necessarily the same as the PRAL score for a protein powder made from that food since the process of making a protein powder strips away many parts of the whole food.
|Protein Powder||Acid-Alkaline||PRAL Score (Whole Food)|
|Soy (bean, raw)||Moderately alkaline||-3.7|
|Hemp||Mildly alkaline||Not available|
|Pea (green)||Mildly alkaline||120%|
|Soy (protein powder)||Mildly acidic||Not available|
|Rice (white, cooked)||Mildly-moderately acidic||170%|
|Casein||Moderately acidic||Not available|
|Egg white||Moderately acidic||110%|
Benefits of Using Low-Acidity Protein Powder
Easier To Digest
Using a low-acidity protein powder is beneficial because it’s easier to digest, which puts less strain on your body.
Protein powder is a popular choice for a pre-workout snack. However, some people experience digestive discomfort after consuming protein powder, affecting their energy levels and making it harder for them to get through a workout.
Better Energy, Digestion, and Focus
A low-acidity protein powder can result in better energy levels, digestion, mental clarity, and focus because you’re not putting as much effort into digesting it. This can lead to better performance during your workouts.
When you have more energy, you might also naturally move more during the day, which can lead to more fat loss if that’s your goal.
When your digestion is good, you get more nutrients out of your food (both your protein powder and whatever additional ingredients you choose to blend it with) and are less likely to get sick.
You are also less likely to experience aches, pains, and injuries, allowing you to enjoy your workouts and life in general. This can lead to better overall health.
Can You Consume Protein Powder On An Alkaline Diet?
Yes, you can consume protein powder on an alkaline diet. Some types of protein powder are naturally alkaline (pea and hemp), and others can be mixed with alkaline foods and liquids to make a protein shake that is overall alkaline.
Here are a few short lists of alkaline foods and liquids for making a protein shake. Feel free to mix and match to create an alkaline protein shake with your preferred protein powder.
Alkaline Liquids (1 cup per serving)
- Almond milk
- Evian, Fiji, or Hawaiian Water (these are alkaline sources of bottled water; other bottled spring water can be mildly acidic depending on the minerals in the spring)
- Herbal tea, including green tea
- Soy milk
Alkaline Fruits (½ cup per serving)
- Bananas, ripe
- Cherries, sour
- Coconut, fresh
- Figs, raw
- Lemons, fresh
- Limes, fresh
Alkaline Vegetables (½ cup per serving)
- Alfalfa grass
- Beets, fresh
- Cucumber, fresh
Alkaline Sweeteners (1 packet per serving)
Acidic Foods and Liquids To Avoid for a Protein Shake
Here are some of the most highly acidic foods and liquids to avoid when making a protein shake:
- Artificial sweeteners (Equal, Splenda, Sweet’n’Low)
- Fruit juice, sweetened
- Oranges, mandarin
- Peanut butter
Avoid these ingredients when making a protein shake, as they are all moderately to highly acidic.
Low-Acidity Protein Powder Recommendations
My top recommendations for low-acidity protein powder are:
- Natural Force Organic Whey (pH of 6.68)
- Nuvest Clean Lean Protein Pea Protein (pH of 7.8)
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the pH of Protein Powder?
The pH of protein powder depends on the specific type of protein. Protein powders can range from moderately acidic to mildly alkaline. For example, Natural Force Organic Whey Protein has a pH of 6.68. Nuvest Clean Lean Protein Pea Protein has a pH of 7.8.
What Kind of Protein Shake Is Alkaline?
The best way to make a protein shake alkaline is to mix it with alkaline liquids such as almond milk or soy milk. You can also add alkaline vegetables such as kale, broccoli, or wheatgrass. Avoid acidic fruits like oranges and pineapples. Stevia is a great choice for a sweetener because it is highly alkaline.
Do Protein Shakes Cause Acid Reflux?
No, on their own, it is not common for protein shakes to cause acid reflux. Acid reflux can occur when protein powder is mixed with slow-digesting foods (such as fat sources like peanut butter) or when a person has a pre-existing condition like GERD or a lactose intolerance that causes acid reflux.
What To Read Next
- Does Whey Protein Have Calcium?
- Does Whey Protein Have Iron?
- Does Whey Protein Have Carbs?
- Does Protein Powder Have Iron?
Rakhra, V., Galappaththy, S. L., Bulchandani, S., & Cabandugama, P. K. (2020). Obesity and the Western Diet: How We Got Here. Missouri medicine, 117(6), 536–538.
About The Author
Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement. Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete. She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.
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