Whey Protein and Lactose Intolerance

Whey Protein and Lactose Intolerance

 Whey Protein and Lactose Intolerance! Renowned for its muscle growth support, enhanced exercise performance, and weight management benefits, whey protein is a popular choice among fitness enthusiasts. However, not everyone can tolerate it, particularly those with lactose intolerance. This condition makes it challenging to digest lactose. In this blog, we'll explore what lactose intolerance is, how to choose whey protein based on lactose levels, identify the symptoms of lactose intolerance, and discuss alternative protein supplements that offer similar benefits to whey protein.

Whey Protein:

Whey is a liquid that is separated in the process of cheese making. It is a protein supplement that helps in muscle growth, muscle repair, and weight management, enhances exercise performance, and supports immune function. This whey protein supplement is more popular among bodybuilders and athletes.

  • Types of Whey Protein:

Whey protein is in three forms, Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Hydrolysate. All three have different variations, Protein Content, and different processing methods.

Lactose Intolerance:

  • What is Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder where individuals have difficulty digesting lactose, and dairy products. This lactose intolerance is due to the deficiency of the lactase enzyme necessary for breaking down the lactose and the sugar found in dairy products.

  • Symptoms of Lactose Intolerance:

You will get the symptoms of Lactose Intolerance within a few hours of consuming any dairy products.

The symptoms of Lactose Intolerance would be:

Bloating: Abdomen swelling and feeling fullness.

Gas: Due to undigested lactose in the colon it increases the flatulence.

Diarrhea: Due to the undigested lactose in the colon it increases the water content, so it causes the watery stool.

Rumbling: Low or continuous sound from the intestines.

Abdominal Pain: Cramps in the lower belly area.

Whey Protein and Lactose content:

  • Lactose Level in different types of Whey Protein?

The lactose content in whey protein differs depending on the type of whey protein. 

  1. Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC)

Lactose Level: Lactose in whey protein concentrate is approximately 3-4%. Whey Protein Concentrate is the least processed whey protein type, so it has a higher amount of lactose along with fats and carbs.

  1. Whey Protein Isolate (WPI)

Lactose Level: Lactose in Whey Protein Isolate is less than 1%. Whey Protein Isolate undergoes more processes to remove lactose, fat, and carbs. It is suitable for mild lactose intolerant individuals.

  1. Whey Protein Hydrolysate (WPH)

Lactose Level: Lactose in Whey Protein Hydrolysate varies but it is less than whey protein concentrate. It undergoes a process that breaks down the protein into peptides or amino acids. This pre-digestion process makes it easy for digestion and absorption compared to concentrate and isolate.

Is Whey Protein suitable for Lactose Intolerant individuals?

Whether the Whey Protein is suitable or not depends upon the tolerance level of the individuals and the type of whey protein they choose. Many lactose intolerant people can tolerate whey protein isolate and whey protein hydrolysate due to their low level of lactose content. So choosing whey protein wisely can help with tolerance. 

What causes Lactose Intolerance?

Lactose Intolerance is caused by the deficiency of an enzyme called Lactase. This Lactase digests lactose (the sugar found in dairy products). This enzyme deficiency leads to digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. People get lactose intolerance as they age, genetic, secondary causes due to illness.

Alternative Protein Powder for Lactose Intolerant Individuals:

People with mild lactose intolerance can opt for whey protein isolate. However, those who are completely lactose intolerant can pick plant-based proteins like Pea Protein, Vegan Protein, and Plant Protein. These proteins are also rich in amino acids that support muscle growth and recovery.


The complexities of lactose intolerance and whey protein can be challenging, but making the right choice is crucial for those affected. Lactose-intolerant individuals can still benefit from whey protein by opting for types like isolate and hydrolysate, which contain minimal lactose. Alternatively, plant-based proteins offer a viable option, providing essential amino acids similar to whey protein. Making informed choices ensures that lactose-intolerant individuals can effectively meet their protein needs without compromising their health.

Check out our website for  protein recipes that make the protein routine tastier!