Lactose Intolerance

Whey Protein and Lactose Intolerance

Lactose Intolerance + Whey

You left your milk for long and it curdled.

Appealing as it had looked, you grabbed the cup of milk and gulped it down your throat, straight into your bowels, relishing the moment.

Now you didn’t see this coming and suddenly, you dropped the cup obviously not savoring your drink anymore.

Now, all that wells in you is that pain in your stomach plus the hate and regret for the cup of milk that caused it.

An overview

Many people have trouble processing dairy foods, and may not even realize it.

Some of the most common problems that can be caused by dairy include digestive disorders, upper respiratory tract infections, muscle and joint pains, urinary tract irritation, headaches, and unfortunately, many people experience acne and eczema developing on their bodies.

When we talk about milk, we are usually referring to cow’s milk.

Cow’s milk is a complicated and highly specialized food designed for the growth, development and nourishment in baby cows.

It contains vast amount of nutritional contents from vitamins to proteins, to minerals and carbohydrates.

What is lactose?

Lactose is simply the type of sugar found in all kinds of mammal milk.

When we say mammals, we mean that it is found in human breast milk, cow’s milk and camel’s milk.

And the lactose is exactly the same.

Each lactose molecule is made of two individual sugar molecules with one glucose molecule linked to one galactose molecule.

Our bodies can absorb glucose and galactose quite easily, but we can’t absorb them when they are linked together as lactose.

So, the presence of the enzyme in our intestines breaks the link and separates the glucose and galactose making it easier for our bodies to digest most dairy products such as milk.

What is lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is not a medical problem.

It is as old as the day we were born.

Yes, it has been there ever since we were little children.

The fact although, is that lactose is well tolerated in some people than the others.

While, in some it just has some negative effects on their health.

Without lactase, and the bacteria in our intestines, lactose can’t be broken down and absorbed.

However, they don’t break it into glucose and galactose for us.

Instead, bacteria ferment the lactose, releasing lactic acid and gases in the process.

And this is the reason some people experience symptoms that makes them really uncomfortable such as bloating, cramps, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

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How do I know if I am intolerant to lactose?

If dairy products upset you and make you uncomfortable, then you can ask your doctor for a lactose intolerance test.

However, one of the ways it would be detected is that if you are lactose intolerant, the lactose you eat will make it all the way down to your intestine.

Once there, the bacteria ferment it and cause hydrogen gas which passes into your bloodstream, then into your lungs, and comes out in your breath.

According to diagnosis diet, during the lactose tolerance test, you will be given some lactose, and then your breath will be tested for hydrogen gas.

If you breathe out hydrogen gas after eating lactose, you are lactose intolerant.

However, if dairy products bother you and your test result is negative, then you don’t have lactose intolerance, it could be other factors such as allergies to other ingredients in dairy products.

Lactose intolerance can typically be distinguished from milk allergy by less severe symptoms and a person’s history of problems with dairy, but sometimes doctors aren’t able to differentiate the two right away.

Other tests include:

  • Stool acidity test. Undigested lactose also increases the amount of acid in the stool. Doctors may use this test to diagnose lactose intolerance in young children.
  • Food allergy testing. If your doctor suspects a milk allergy, you may be sent to an allergist for skin testing or have a blood sample drawn for laboratory allergy testing.

What now: Do you have to give up dairy products?

Lactose intolerance is not dangerous to your health.

The symptoms are generally mild.

If you have lactose intolerance, there could still be ways for you to comfortably enjoy dairy products such as:

  • You can consider eating foods with little to no lactose content.
  • Decide how often you want to take dairy proteins.
  • You can buy over-the-counter lactase products to help you digest lactose.
  • When you buy any product, be sure to read the labels. While some labels would say the product contains o per cent protein. There could still be little amounts of protein that could bother some people.

Are there foods with no lactose content?

There are many dairy products which contain little to no lactose.

Some of these foods include the following:

  • Heavy cream (not half-and-half),
  • Hard cheeses (the bacteria used to age cheeses removes the lactose)
  • Sour cream
  • Butter
  • Ghee (this is clarified butter and almost protein-free)
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Types of Milk Protein

There are basically two types of proteins that are found in milk.

These are Whey proteins and Casein protein.

When milk curdles, you find two things, curds (clumpy protein) and whey (the watery stuff that floats on top). Curdling separates out these two groups into the clumpy caseins and the watery whey.

  • Caseins

The casein portion of milk is protein-rich and contains most of milk’s calcium. Caseins are very sticky and clump together.

This makes it more difficult to digest because the proteins don’t stick together and it usually forms a lump of protein in the stomach.

Cow’s milk contains 3 to 4 times as much protein per cup compared to human breast milk and this is because it’s designed to grow a baby cow, which is much bigger than a baby human and grows much faster.

A newborn calf can weigh between 40 and 100 pounds, depending on the breed, and gains about 1-1/2 pounds per day, so it needs a LOT more protein.

  • Whey Proteins

Whey protein is much softer and easier to digest compared to casein protein.

The primary whey proteins in human milk are lactoferrin, albumin, and lactalbumin, whereas the dominant whey protein in cow’s milk is lactoglobulin.

How can I know whether I am truly allergic or just sensitive?

Luckily, there are several kinds of tests available for true milk allergy.

However, there are no reliable tests available for milk protein sensitivity, which may be even more common than true milk protein allergy.

So, just like all food sensitivities, the only way to know if you have milk protein sensitivity is to avoid the consumption of all dairy products from the diet for two to four weeks to see if you feel better overall.

What is the difference between Lactose Intolerance and Milk Allergy?

While these terms, lactose intolerance and milk allergy may sound similar, they actually describe two different digestive problems, in which one is more severe than the other.

Lactose intolerance is caused by not having enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose (the sugar content found in milk and other dairy products).

Lactose intolerance takes longer to develop and can occur at any time of one’s life.

While milk allergy is a true food allergy caused by an allergic reaction to the protein in milk.

Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance vs. Milk Allergy

The symptoms of lactose intolerance and milk allergy are quite similar.

Lactose intolerance can be genetic, or it can be caused by damage to the small intestine due to a viral or bacterial infection, Dr. Barto explains.

After the consumption of milk or any other dairy food, you’ll most likely have the following lactose intolerance symptoms.

Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Gas and bloating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Bowel movements

Milk allergy usually refers only to cow's milk, although you may also be allergic to other types of milk, including soy.

The time taken to experience symptoms of food allergy reaction to milk can vary from one person to another.

It could begin within minutes or can be delayed for several hours.

Symptoms may include the following:

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin rash
  • Swelling of the lips or throat
  • Impaired breathing
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Using Whey Protein Isolate for Lactose Intolerance

Whey protein isolate is very popular among bodybuilders not only because of the muscle gains and development that it encourages but also because of other benefits such as it contains less lactose than most other proteins on the market.

Whey protein isolate has high protein content than other types because it follows a process that separates the protein from fat, cholesterol and lactose meaning a purer protein as the end product.

This makes it very ideal and more so, a common choice for those looking to avoid high levels of lactose and the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

So, what can you use in place of whey Protein?

There is no doubt that whey protein remains the common choice for most people including bodybuilders and fitness persons.

However non-dairy proteins are not left far behind as they have been blazing the trails and gaining popularity particularly among people who are allergic to dairy products.

Add to that, non-dairy proteins provide the same benefits that are identical to the amino acid profile to that of whey protein.

If you are suffering from lactose intolerance, or avoiding whey protein for other reasons, you can consider the following food options below:

  1. Soy protein:

Soy protein is a vegetable protein that has an immense amino acid profile.

It is often considered the most effective whey protein alternative and is widely used by vegetarian or vegan athletes.

  1. Pea protein:

A 100% natural vegetable protein source made from concentrated protein fractions of golden peas.

Pea protein maintains an excellent branched chain amino acid profile, close to that of whey protein.

  1. Hemp protein:

This is nature’s gift to man with immense health benefits.

It contains high protein contents along with other nutrients such as, zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium and essential fatty acids.

4.   Brown rice protein:

Brown rice has been found to be very nutritious.

Some athletes actually prefer this type of protein because of the additional nutrients found within it such as, high levels of certain B vitamins, a good amino acid profile and high fiber content.


The fact that you are lactose intolerant does not mean that you cannot eat dairy products.

Sometimes, it could be that you just have to take little quantities, one day at a time and see if there are any reactions.

There are therefore several options available to those looking for a quality protein intake, but you should try to avoid the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Do not ignore the signs your body gives you upon digesting any diary product as it could be consequential if ignored for longer.

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