5 Whey Protein Powder Side Effects - Dairy Risks
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5 Whey Protein Powder Side Effects – Dairy Risks

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Dairy Risks

In today’s article, I’m going over the potential 5 whey protein powder side effects you may experience when drinking a shake. These effects don’t apply to everyone, but they apply to many. Everyone enjoys drinking a protein shake, there’s no negotiating that. However, not many people know exactly they’re dealing with when the protein actually enters their body after digestion. I’ll be talking about whey protein, which in my opinion, can offer many side effects if you’re not careful. I’ll be discussing five of them, and how you can deal with them if you yourself are dealing with them right now.

What Is Whey Protein?

I’d like to give a brief description of whey protein before jumping right into the article. Many people drink whey protein but don’t have the slightest clue what it really is or where it comes from. That’s really an issue, in my opinion, which is why I’m here to inform you.

Whey protein is derived from the milk of a cow, where it is processed through a series of facilities and factories to achieve the powder form. It contains lactose and dairy properties and is a byproduct of making cheese; the other byproduct being casein protein.

Whey protein is the most popular supplement on the protein powder market by far. It is projected to keep rising in value as time goes on. There are plenty of whey proteins out there, some good, some bad. The video down below describes the journey of whey protein from cow to pantry if you’d like to check it out.

There should be awareness raised about the side effects of whey protein, since not too many actually know about them. I have only 5 of the several side effects whey protein has, which may not apply to everyone but applies to many.

1.) Milk Allergies

As I mentioned, not everyone is allergic to milk. If you are, however, you should be very cautious when it comes to whey protein. As a matter of fact, stay away from whey protein if this is you because it can provide you with some nasty side effects.

5 Whey Protein Powder Side Effects - Dairy Risks

Allergic reactions, over-exaggerated responses from your immune system, vary depending on who you are. Typically, allergic reactions to milk aren’t very threatening, just rather annoying. Harmless allergic reactions to milk include…

  • Sneezing
  • Watery Eyes 
  • Itchy Eyes 
  • Runny Nose
  • Fatigue 

If you suffer from allergies, you may have experienced a handful of these in the past. However, there exists a group of deadly allergic reactions. These are the reactions you need to look out for and take immediate action, known as the anaphylaxis reactions. They include…

  • Hives/Itching
  • Tightness in the Throat
  • Wheezing/Shortness of Breath 
  • Tingling in Hands/Feet
  • Swelling 

These allergic reactions are treated with an on-hand epinephrine pen, or Epipen. If you are prone to anaphylaxis symptoms, I suggest you stay away from whey protein and casein protein since they both derive from milk.

2.) Lactose Intolerance

Moving on to another side effect that happens when dealing with the milk in whey protein is lactose intolerance. People tend to think lactose intolerance is a form of an allergic reaction. Actually, it has nothing to do with your immune system but rather, your digestive system.

5 Whey Protein Powder Side Effects - Dairy Risks

Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder that prevents your stomach from completely digesting lactose due to a lack of the enzyme lactase. After digestion, if not enough lactase is produced by your body, some lactose will remain in your stomach. The remaining lactose is taken to your colon, where it ferments, and you experience side effects such as…

  • Bloating
  • Gassiness
  • Vomiting
  • Upset Stomach 
  • Abdominal Cramps 
  • Diarrhea 

Lactose intolerance may hit harder for some, while it may hit softer for some. I know for me I experience a bit of gassiness and bloating when drinking whey protein. However, for many people like me, it doesn’t really bother us. We can tough it out because we like the taste of whey protein and its results.

If this isn’t you, however, I suggest swapping over to a vegan protein powder since it has absolutely no traces of milk. I’ll leave a link here to a review of one of my favorite vegan protein powders that I’ve personally tried.

3.) FDA Unregulated

This isn’t so much a side effect but more of a thing to be wary about when it comes to protein powders. They aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. It’s astonishing to know that protein powder companies are still not being regulated in the year 2020.

5 Whey Protein Powder Side Effects - Dairy Risks

This became a real issue when, in 2018, the group Clean Label Project released their study on the properties in protein powders. The group found immense traces of toxic substances inside protein powders, which outraged the public. Not only were companies lying about their ingredients, but they were putting harmful substances in them. The list includes…

  • Arsenic
  • Pesticides
  • Contaminants
  • Heavy Metals (Lead)
  • Terazosin 
  • Dimethylamylamine (DMMA)
  • Toxins 

You’ve probably never even heard of some of these chemicals/metals, and finding them in protein powders doesn’t help the cause. I wrote an entire article on the situation with the FDA and protein powders if you’d like to check it out, it exposes many protein companies.

4.) Acne

It is said that dairy products can cause a person to experience more acne, and whey protein powder is no different. Dairy protein powders start to cause a surface in acne after consistent drinking. Teenagers are more prone to acne due to their hormonal change, and a whey protein powder doesn’t help the cause.

5 Whey Protein Powder Side Effects - Dairy Risks
Dairy increases the amount of sebum produced on the surface of your skin, sebum bein oil coming from your pores. Your pores opening runs the risk of bacteria/oil building up, leading to the pimples you see on your face, back, and chest.

The worst thing you can do is pop the pimples that surface on your skin, resist the urge at all costs. Not only can the bacteria spread on to more of your skin, but the resulting pop can lead to scarring, and those never go away. Try switching to a vegan powder if you’re dealing with acne with your protein powder.

5.) Kidney Damage

This side effect is a controversial one, as studies show that only a certain group of people experience kidney damage. Your kidneys are responsible for filtering any waste found in the blood, and disposing of it as waste. You need your kidneys to live to prevent any build-up of waste that can overload your organs.

The argument here is that protein powder provides too much protein into the blood that overworks the kidneys after consistent drinking. You may have two little beans, but overworking them is still a possibility. However, the research states that only individuals with pre-existing damage to their kidneys are prone to protein powder damage.

Their kidneys are already in rough shape. Adding more protein to filter puts them under more stress and greater risk at kidney failure. People with normal functioning kidneys have nothing to worry about as their little bean workers can more than take it. If your kidneys are in worse shape, I suggest being very cautious with your protein consumption in general, along with seeing a doctor.


There you have 5 whey protein powder side effects. As you have read, not every side effect applies to every person. As a matter of fact, you may be reading this and realize you’re not affected by any of these side effects. This article aims to raise awareness for those who may suffer some of the side effects and prepare them to face them head-on.

Got any questions? Leave them down below, along with any comments you may have!