Does Whey Protein Have Lactose? - Dairy Surprise
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Does Whey Protein Have Lactose? – Dairy Surprise

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Dairy Surprise

Who doesn’t love a nice refreshing protein shake after a hards day at work at church of iron? I sure know I do! Whether your shake consists of being vegan, egg, pea, brown rice, casein, and the most famous of all, whey. There are a lot of concerns when speaking of whey like is it useful, does it work, or is it even safe? A common question asked by people when talking about whey is if it contains lactose. Does whey protein have lactose? For those of you who aren’t aware, I’ll fill you in right now whether if whey protein is dairy or not.

What Is Lactose?

Going back to our days back in biology, lactose is a disaccharide, meaning it’s composed of two types of sugar. The two sugars that lactose is made of are galactose and glucose. Galactose is a sugar that pairs a lot with glucose, and glucose is our body’s energy source. Lactose is the sugar found in milk, cow’s milk. It is the main composer of many dairy products, like milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese, and yes, whey. Our whey protein does have lactose in it. That answers that question. Lactose can prove to cause some digestible problems in many individuals.

Lactose Intolerance 

You may have heard of this condition before, but don’t exactly know what it means. I’ll explain this as simple as I can since I have explained it plenty of times on this site. When our body consumes dairy, the sugar lactose is digested by our stomachs. To break it down properly, an enzyme must be introduced to crush it up. An enzyme is a protein that speeds up a chemical process, in this case, the breakdown of lactose. The enzyme used here is called lactase, convenient.

Does Whey Protein Have Lactose? - Dairy Surprise

Our body needs enough lactase to be produced to break lactose down completely. The amount of lactase produced by each person differs, for better or for worse. If your body produces enough lactase, then lactose will be broken down completely. This group of people is classified as lactose tolerant. If your body does not produce enough lactase to break down lactose, you’re considered in the lactose intolerant group. You or someone you know may be plagued with this condition, as over 65% of the population in the world is lactose intolerant. Some symptoms of lactose intolerance include…

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

Some of you who have experience lactose intolerance know all too well about these symptoms. It may hit softer for some. It may hit harder for others. For me, for example, I get some symptoms of lactose intolerance. For instance, I do get pretty gassy when I drink whey protein, and sometimes bloated. It does go away quite quickly, but it’s more of a nuisance than anything dangerous. If you want to know how protein farts exist, click here for an article I wrote about it, probably the strangest one I’ve written.

How is Whey Protein Powder Made?

It should be noted how the creation of whey protein includes lactose. It’s so popular, and I can guarantee that a lot of people have not even the slightest clue how whey protein comes to fruition. It all starts with milk, the liquid where the sugar lactose comes from. Manufacturers take the milk and separate it into two substances, a liquid form, and a curdled form. It’s actually interesting to note that two sources of protein powder arise from this process, whey, as we know, from the liquid, and it’s brother casein, from the curdles.

The liquid milk is dehydrated into a powdery substance, which we see in our everyday protein powders. It may also be used in different products to provide consumers with protein, like protein bars, cookies, and pre-made shakes. Since the entire process derives from milk, both whey and casein will have lactose. A reason which makes the two brothers, they come from the same source.

Lactose-less Whey

In this day in age, technology has improved very much. Things are starting to change, with technology beginning to be thrown into the mix with everything. For our lives to become a little easier, technology has improved. That goes for manufacturing and the creation of new products. The creation of normal whey protein on its own requires its own technology, but what about whey protein without lactose?

The type of whey protein that does not contain lactose is whey protein isolate. Three types of whey exist, whey concentrate, whey hydrolyzed, and whey isolate. Out of the bunch, whey isolate contains the highest amount of protein, over 90% of the whey is protein. The process of creating this whey excludes other nutrients like fats and carbohydrates. Lactose is a disaccharide, meaning it’s a sugar, classifying it as a carbohydrate. I’ll leave a link to one of a review I wrote on one of the most popular whey protein isolate out there here.

Protein Powder Alternatives

If you’re looking to avoid lactose and whey altogether if there do persists troubles in your stomach, there are plenty of other alternatives when picking protein powders. Like I mentioned in the introduction, there exist plenty of other sources people can make protein powders from. We have the very common vegan protein powder people resort to when having digestion problems like this. Some sources of vegan protein powder include brown rice, hemp, pea, and even soy. This takes whey and lactose completely out of the equation, making it safe to consume.

Does Whey Protein Have Lactose? - Dairy Surprise

Vegan protein powders have their pros and cons, however. The pros, as I just mentioned, include the missing worry you have when having to deal with lactose in your stomach. That’s one of the main benefits. A con you may face is vegan protein is the actual safety of the product itself. Some of the ingredients used in vegan protein have been shown to contain harmful chemicals like hexane, which may damage our bodies. Things to look out for when purchasing a vegan protein powder.


In conclusion, does whey protein have lactose? Absolutely, but not all the time. Lactose is a disaccharide composed of two other sugars, galactose, and glucose. Lactose is found in milk, from which whey protein, and casein protein, are made from. Technology today has found a way to form a whey protein with little to no lactose, known as whey protein isolate. If lactose just isn’t for you, vegan protein powder is always an option, just be wary of which protein you’re picking.