From weight loss to better blood sugar control to healthy aging, the benefits of protein are well established.
While you can likely meet your protein needs through your diet, protein powders offer a convenient and easy way to increase your intake.
Many people following low-carb or ketogenic diets turn to protein powders to supplement their diet.
However, choosing the right one to fit your low-carb or keto lifestyle can be challenging due to the countless forms and sources of protein powder.
That said, several types are particularly low in carbs and make superb choices for anyone monitoring their carb intake.
Here are the 7 best low-carb, keto-friendly protein powders.
Whey protein is one of two proteins derived from dairy.
The two main types of whey protein are concentrate and isolate.
During the manufacturing process of whey protein powder, much of the lactose — or milk sugar — is filtered out, leaving a condensed product called whey protein concentrate.
Whey protein concentrate contains 35–80% protein by weight. For instance, a typical scoop of 80% whey protein by weight will contain about 25 grams of protein and 3–4 grams of carbs — and, if flavoring is added, possibly more (2).
Whey protein concentrate is then further processed and filtered to make an even more concentrated product called whey protein isolate, which boasts 90–95% protein by weight (3Trusted Source).
Whey protein isolates have the highest percentage of pure protein and the lowest number of carbs per serving of any whey protein.
For example, one scoop (31 grams) of this product by Isopure contains 0 carbs and 25 grams of protein, and one scoop (30 grams) of this product from NutraBio has just 1 gram of carbs and 25 grams of protein.
SUMMARYWhey protein isolate is the purest form of whey protein you can buy. It contains few — or even zero — carbohydrates per scoop.
Like its whey counterpart, casein powder undergoes processing that extracts carbs and fat, leaving a concentrated source of protein (10).
Casein powders not only offer few carbs and generous amounts of protein but are a good source of calcium, an important mineral your body needs for bone health, muscle contractions and blood clotting (11Trusted Source).
For instance, the products from Dymatize and NutraBio boast 70% of the Daily Value (DV) for calcium per scoop.
Use more water to mix casein powder than you would with whey, as casein tends to thicken when stirred.
SUMMARYCasein is a milk protein that your body digests slowly. Protein powder made from casein provides few carbs and a good amount of calcium.
They’re packed with protein, essential vitamins and minerals and other important nutrients like choline, which is important for proper brain and nervous system functioning (14Trusted Source).
Egg-white protein powders are manufactured by removing the yolks and dehydrating the remaining egg whites, turning them into powder.
Since egg whites naturally hold trivial amounts of carbs and fat, egg-white protein powders are a good option if you’re following a low-carb diet.
MRM makes a quality egg-white protein powder that provides 2 grams of carbs and 23 grams of protein — or the equivalent of six egg whites — per scoop (33 grams).
Some egg protein powders include both the white and yolk — which contains most of the important nutrients in eggs.
This egg-yolk protein powder from KetoThin boasts a good amount of fat — 15 grams — and a moderate amount of protein — 12 grams — with just 1 gram of carbs per scoop (30 grams), making it a perfect keto protein powder.
Egg-yolk protein powders do contain a relatively high amount of cholesterol, which was long thought to raise cholesterol levels in your body and contribute to heart disease (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
However, research suggests that dietary cholesterol has little to no effect on blood cholesterol levels in most people. Thus, there is no significant link between the cholesterol you eat and your risk of heart disease (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
SUMMARYEgg protein powder is an excellent choice if you follow a low-carb or keto diet. Egg-white protein powder contains only the protein from the white, whereas whole-egg protein powder includes the white alongside the yolk.
Collagen is the most common structural protein in your body. It’s primarily found in your hair, skin, nails, bones, ligaments and tendons (22Trusted Source).
Collagen’s unique composition of amino acids gives it many purported health benefits, such as promoting body composition in older adults, as well as healthy skin and joints (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).
Collagen protein powder, also called collagen peptides, is made from animal byproducts — usually cowhide, cow bones, chicken bones, eggshell membranes and fish scales.
Most available collagen protein powders are tasteless and unflavored, making them great to stir into soups or drinks like coffee.
What’s more, they’re naturally carb-free.
Vital Proteins makes a beef collagen product that contains 0 carbs and 17 grams of protein for every two scoops (20 grams), while Sports Research offers a similar product with 0 carbs and 10 grams of protein per scoop (11 grams).
Many flavored collagen protein powders are fortified with medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are fats found in foods like coconut oil.
MCTs are easily digested and absorbed, providing your body with an alternative source of fuel — particularly when you severely restrict carbs, as with the keto diet (27Trusted Source).
For instance, one scoop (17 grams) of this product by Perfect Keto offers 1 gram of carbs, 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat from MCTs.
SUMMARYCollagen protein powders, which are derived from the connective tissues of animals and fish, may offer unique health benefits. Some are fortified with MCTs, which benefit those following a keto diet.
Soybeans are a type of legume that’s naturally high in protein.
Keep in mind that manufacturers sometimes add sugar and flavorings that can contribute unwanted carbs.
For example, this vanilla-flavored soy protein isolate product by NOW Sports holds 13 grams of carbs and 25 grams of protein per scoop (45 grams).
A better option is this unflavored product by the same company, which has 0 carbs and 20 grams of protein per scoop (24 grams).
SUMMARYBecause it’s naturally high in protein, soy makes for a great protein powder. Unflavored powders have almost no carbs and are packed with protein, though flavored varieties may be higher in carbs due to added sugars and flavorings.
Similar to soy protein isolate, pea protein powder is made by grinding dried peas into a powder and extracting the carbs, leaving an isolated powder.
Manufacturers frequently add sugar — and therefore carbs — to increase palatability.
For example, this flavored pea protein isolate from NOW Sports packs 9 grams of carbs with 24 grams of protein per scoop (44 grams).
On the other hand, one scoop (33 grams) of the unflavored version contains just 1 gram of carbs alongside 24 grams of protein.
SUMMARYPea protein powder, which is very low in carbs, offers you a great protein boost — but watch out for flavored varieties, as these often harbor more carbs.
Rice protein is a popular plant-based protein, particularly because it’s hypoallergenic — meaning it’s unlikely to cause allergic reactions.
Most rice protein powders contain 80% of protein by weight, less than that of soy or pea protein (30Trusted Source).
While rice is particularly rich in carbs, rice protein powder is typically made by treating brown rice with enzymes that cause the carbs to separate from the proteins.
For instance, this chocolate-flavored rice protein powder product from NutriBiotic contains just 2 grams of carbs but 11 grams of protein per heaping tablespoon (16 grams).
The same company also offers a plain rice protein powder with 2 grams of carbs and 12 grams of protein per heaping tablespoon (15 grams).