If you’re going to mess around with whey, there are some things you need to consider. And recent news makes the topic even more important for those adding supplements to their shakes.
Remember Little Miss Muffet? Nobody ever told us, but she was lactose tolerant. How do we know? Because she was happily eating her “curds and whey.” Those of us not raised in Wisconsin are less likely to be familiar with these two words but they’re both dairy products.
Curds are made by curdling milk with an acidic substance like vinegar or lemon juice. The liquid portion which is drained off is whey. Whey is also a liquid by-product of cheese production. After childhood poems, the most popular exposure to whey is in “Whey protein,” commonly added to shakes by athletes, exercisers, body builders and people trying to gain muscle. It might surprise you to learn that whey is often hiding in our food products, even “non-dairy” items which are processed and prepared.
This is part of what makes trying a dairy-free lifestyle so difficult. To help sort through the nutrition labels, use this comprehensive list of the most common dairy ingredients present in foods. Whey is present in a variety of processed and prepared food products. Whey protein is composed of lactalbumin and lactalglobulin, and is found in both food products and health supplements. Other common forms of whey present in food products are sweet whey, whey powder, whey protein, whey protein concentrate, and whey protein hydrolysate.)
Here’s some great news for active adults. Even if they’re lactose intolerant, athletes, exercisers, body builders and people who want to gain lean muscle can still consume protein by using collagen instead of whey. It can be taken before and after activity: to pre-load before a workout, or to help with recovery after exercise.
Check the label and be sure the collagen protein you are choosing contains NO added whey. Some “newer” collagen proteins, such as AminoRip, contain NO lactose, NO dairy, NO carbs, NO fats, NO sugar, NO high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), NO sorbitol, NO gluten, NO soy, and NO whey.
Here’s another reason to pay attention to your choice of protein supplement. Consumer reports testing found that due to contamination, some “protein shakes” exceeded United States Pharmacopeia (USP) standards for exposure to heavy metals when three or more servings were consumed a day. Failing the heavy metal test were some of our most popular protein shakes, including EAS’s Myoplex and Cytosport’s Muscle Milk.
It’s easy to forget that whey protein is a dairy product, and important to remember that collagen is an alternative protein. If a person is, in fact, lactose intolerant, then ingesting whey protein can cause him or her to experience great discomfort with symptoms like abdominal discomfort, belly cramps, diarrhea, nausea, itch or watery eyes, and even possible asthma attacks. The more you consume, the more severe the symptoms would be.
Whey protein doesn’t cause the problem, but because you’re taking large amounts in a shake, symptoms can manifest themselves for the first time in people who generally are capable of handling small amounts of lactose. Lactose intolerance is different than a milk allergy, but people often confuse the two because the symptoms can be identical (bloating, stomach pain). These two conditions are not related, however. It’s the immune system which is reacting to a milk allergy.
Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, is all about the digestive system. Lactose intolerant folk don’t produce enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down the sugar in milk. Amazingly, it’s estimated that 75% of all people decrease in production of lactase during adulthood. The intolerance really ramps in during childhood, though, particularly for Mexican Americans who jump from 18% at age two to a whopping 47% by age 10. That’s a lot of potential tummy aches.
Non-dairy products may also contain lactose. If you know – or even suspect – that you’re lactose intolerant, then spend some time reading product labels. Any of the following ingredients mean the product has lactose: dry milk solids, nonfat dry milk powder, milk by-products, curds, and whey. It’s also good to know that dairy products which are “fat reduced” or fat free” generally present higher lactose, as do low fat foods, which often incorporate dairy solids.
I think I’ve milked this topic for all it’s worth and now I have a stomach ache. See you again next week.