Managing lactose intolerance and your protein powder

Do you ever feel as if your protein supplements are causing you stomach problems?

It’s definitely not something you should put up with.
Let’s look at how lactose intolerances can affect the protein powder you choose.

There’s more to protein powder than standard whey. You’re probably already be familiar with whey protein isolate, concentrate, casein, and plant-based protein powders like pea protein. You might even have a supplement shelf stacked high with various different protein powders. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products and milk. It is digested in the body by an enzyme called lactase. What happens if your body can’t produce enough lactase?

Could you have a lactose intolerance?

If you experience these symptoms after consuming dairy or foods derived from dairy (including whey protein), you may have an intolerance to the lactose in dairy:
> flatulence/gas
> stomach cramps, pains and gurgles
> diarrhoea (several times a day and after eating dairy)
> bloated stomach
> feeling nauseous

These symptoms could also suggest irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or a milk protein intolerance (a reaction to the protein found in cow’s milk). To get a proper diagnosis, keep a food and symptoms diary and see your Doctor for tests and advice. But if this checklist of symptoms sounds familiar, the warning signs are there.

Different protein powders for different lactose sensitivities

So you’re lactose intolerant: which protein powder should you use? Good question. If you are lactose intolerant (but not allergic to milk protein), you’ll need to choose your protein powder wisely. If your intolerance is mild, try a whey protein isolate (WPI). Many people with a mild lactose intolerance do well on WPI because the manufacturing process of cross-flow micro-filtration separates the protein from lactose, meaning WPI has far lower levels of lactose than other forms of whey protein powder and can be tolerated far better by people with sensitivities.

If your lactose intolerance is more severe, and you can not take whey protein isolate, then you could try a hydrolysed whey protein isolate (HWPI). This form of whey protein has even less lactose than WPI because it goes through a superior filtration process which results in certain enzymes being pre-digested. This mirrors what happens in a healthy digestive system, good news if your own digestive system lacks the appropriate amount of lactase enzymes. HWPI really is the elite of whey protein shakes.

If your lactose intolerance is so extreme that you need a plant-based protein powder, pea protein is a great choice. It’s not made from green garden peas as some people think; it’s actually from split peas (pulses). It’s helpful for anyone who can’t use any kind of whey protein powder at all. Choose an organic pea protein powder and use it as you would whey protein: in post-workout shakes, in smoothies, or as a protein supplement during the day. Of all the vegetable based protein powders, it’s the one which delivers the most complete spectrum of amino acids (as well as around 85% protein per serving).

One final challenge for gym goers with lactose intolerance is choosing a protein powder to take at night. You’ll want a slow-release protein supplement to see you through the night. Whey protein isolate is a fantastic product but is digested quickly, so it’s not a good choice for nighttime. Try pea protein powder with added “good fats” such as nut butters, instead of miscellar casein protein powders or milk protein (MPC). It might be just what you’ve been looking for.

Earn your body and train well!

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