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I'm planning on bodybuilding for a few months, and I want to start using whey protein. I'm lactose intolerant and experience serious stomachaches whenever I drink milk.

I see "lactose free" label on some whey protein supplements, but there isn't any lactose-free protein supplements in Turkey that I could find. Do other whey protein supplements have too much lactose? If I use those supplements, will I experience stomachaches?

For example, something like the Bodybuilding.com 100% Whey Powder states in its allergen information that it contains milk, but doesn't state anything about lactose.

  • Lactose is the primary sugar found in milk, so if it contains milk it will contain lactose. As Robin says, depending on how sensitive you are, any lactose could cause upsets. Is internet/mail order an option in Turkey? – JohnP Jul 26 '12 at 14:59
  • @JohnP Turkish customs doesnt allow supplements for individuals. But there a lots of provider, like GNC – Eray Jul 26 '12 at 17:30
  • You need to look for whey protein isolate. – aris May 4 '19 at 5:54
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It's unlikely that whey protein would contain a significant amount of lactose. Depending on your level of sensitivity even trace amounts could cause problems, but more likely than not you'll be fine with any whey protein you eat. If you can buy a small portion to try, that would be best.

Alternately, unless you're vegetarian, meat is a good source of protein, as are eggs, and food sources are always better than supplements. If you can get enough protein from meat and eggs, you might not even have to bother with the whey protein.

  • Are there other protein alternatives to Whey? – Eray Jul 26 '12 at 9:33
  • Other than natural foods, there are protein powders that are made from peas, soy, and a few other sources. – JohnP Jul 26 '12 at 14:58
  • I see a lots of soy protein, in GNC store. Are they equal to Whey? And as a second question : Can i trust 'lactose free' labeled Whey proteins? – Eray Jul 26 '12 at 17:58
  • They're not equal to whey, but if you have a bad reaction to whey protein, then that's your other option. I'd still just go for eating eggs though, but I admit I'm generally pro whole foods and anti supplements. I wouldn't expect whey protein to have lactose, but only you would really know if you can trust the labels of supplements sold locally. – Robin Ashe Jul 26 '12 at 18:04
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I am in disagreement with the official answer. If something contains milk, it contains lactose. Whey protein powder is a by-product of cheese production and, in essence, a milk product. A Whey Concentrate can vary between 29% - 89% protein by weight and Whey Isolate is considered 90%+ protein by weight, with the remaining being carbohydrates in the form of lactose. There's a good chance that you will not be fine with any whey protein you eat.

If you're lactose intolerant and determined to consume whey protein, your best bet is going to be to look for a 100% Whey Isolate as it will be lower in lactose. Don't confuse this with a 100% Whey Protein Blend as they are not the same thing.

Additionally, many protein powder manufacturers will add lactase (the lactose digestive enzyme) into their protein powder to aid in digestion. Look for this in the ingredient list. Any whey protein listed as "lactose-free" is likely just loaded with lactase. This is the same way they sell lactose-free milk and yogurt.

In agreement with the official answer, however, there are many alternatives. Vegetarian protein options (vegan blends, pea, hemp, soy) and of course the gold standard which is whole foods (meats, eggs, legumes, etc).

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I would suggest skipping whey protein all together as whey protein while functional is the lowest quality of protein available. Instead I would strongly recommend looking at an egg based protein powder as eggs are the most complete form of protein you can find. Additionally simply eating soft boiled eggs will help you reach your protein goals as well. All the best.

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