Does Whey Protein Have Lactose?
If you are a regular down at the gym and love working out with weights, then you will no doubt already be familiar with the great benefits of taking a whey protein shake. Not only are they delicious and nutritious, but they sure can pack a high-powered protein punch.
A pre- or post-workout shake can prepare and feed the muscles ahead of a rigorous session but also aid with muscle recovery and repair after that grueling session with the weights. Whey protein products are among the most popular on the market today when it comes to sports supplements, and there’s little surprise.
Protein shakes can assist with the growth of muscle as well as the maintenance of that lean and sculpted physique that’s so popular and attractive. Whey protein can come in a range of delicious flavors, mixes easily with many other nutritious ingredients and is easy to consume on the go.
It’s little surprise that it’s such a popular choice with a range of sports and fitness professionals and amateurs alike. One of the most frequently asked questions though is does whey protein have lactose?
What Is Whey Protein and How Is It Produced?
Quite simply, whey protein is the bi-product you get when making cheese so straight off the bat, it’s a form of dairy. You can also get casein protein, which is also found in milk, but the process of making whey protein is to remove the water and casein content from the by-product of making cheese to leave behind the whey concentrate.
While it’s safe and effective for most adults to use, it does contain small amounts of lactose, and for anyone with a particularly acute intolerance to lactose, it would manifest in a range of unwanted symptoms included bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and all-around general abdominal discomfort.
If you are at all concerned about whether you may have a reaction to a specific brand of whey protein due to the level of lactose present, it’s probably best to check with a nutritional specialist or to seek advice and approval from your doctor.
The Levels of Lactose Found in Whey
Luckily, when it comes to whey protein, you have two main options, one of which has significantly higher levels of protein vs. lactose content than the other. For anyone with a confirmed or suspected lactose intolerance, you can reduce and minimize any side effects by sticking to the right form of whey protein to suit your digestive system.
Whey Concentrate vs. Whey Isolate
The concentrate has a much higher level of lactose present than isolate does. That’s because to make isolate, a process known as cross-flow micro-filtration needs to happen to the source whey.
In this process, the protein is further separated from the fat, lactose as well as cholesterol to leave behind a purer and more protein-rich end product with the minimum amount of lactose present. In some instances, that lactose level is virtually negligible and highly unlikely to result in any physical symptoms of intolerance.
However, if you do have a very severe intolerance and you’re unsure about what final level of lactose is remaining in the brand of whey protein you are thinking of purchases, your best bet is to contact the manufacturer directly for reassurances about their micro-filtration practices.
If you do opt for a pure whey isolate formula, it’s highly likely that it will have less than 0.1 gram of lactose per 20 grams of powder which barely registers.
Going All the Whey!
You can get all kinds of different blends of whey protein powders so if you are intolerant, avoid those that are a mix of isolate and concentrate and instead go for something that is purely made from isolate powder.
You might also want to consider taking an additional lactase enzyme supplement to ensure that you are minimizing the side effects and maximizing the increase of nutrient absorption.
One of the side effects that come from lactose intolerance is reduced digestion which can result in your body further struggling to absorb the essential vitamins and minerals from the nutritious foods that you do consume.
If you are looking for a protein shake to supplement your diet that you can better tolerate and prefer to go down a totally dairy-free option, there are plenty of alternatives on the mark.
Protein can be derived from all kinds of sources these days including soy, peas, hemp and brown rice. These non-diary protein alternatives are gaining in popularity and hold almost identically the same amino profile as whey protein and therefore can provide the same benefits but without the potential side effects.
This is a vegetable protein which very closely resembles the amino profile of whey protein and is an excellent alternative which is favored by vegetarian and vegan athletes.
Increasing in popularly, thesis a 100% natural vegetable source of protein which again features an excellent branded chain amino acid profile and again, comes pretty close to that of whey protein.
An incredible all-in-one product that is densely nutrient packed and makes another alternative source of protein with the added benefits of being high in essential fatty acids, iron, potassium, zinc, and magnesium.
Brown Rice Protein
With a high fiber content as well as increased levels of certain essential B vitamins, many athletes today are actively moving towards brown rice protein because of the additional beneficial nutrients that it can deliver.
Listen to Your Body and Make Simple Switches
If you find that you are having an adverse or unwanted reaction to a particular brand of whey protein, check the labels and try switching brands to something that has a negligible amount of lactose.
If you’re still unhappy with your symptoms and wish to find an alternative source of protein powder for your shakes which is guaranteed dairy free, the try instead one of the alternative sources we mentioned such as rice, pea, soy or hemp. It’s always a good idea just to check with your doctor before you introduce any new form of supplement into your regular diet.