Milk is one of the easiest ways for bodybuilders and strength athletes (or athletes in general) to get protein. Other dairy products, such as the popular Greek yogurt, are great for protein as well. Those folks who are very lactose intolerant may lament not having this resource. This leads to a common question: Whey protein comes from milk, so can I use it if I’m lactose intolerant?
Does Whey Protein Contain Lactose?
Liquid whey in its raw form actually contains more lactose than the milk it came from. However, the real question is whether whey protein powders contain lactose. Yes, some whey powders can contain small amounts of lactose. It depends on if the whey powder is simply a concentrate, which has a lower percentage of protein, with some of the other components such as lactose still present to some degree, or an isolate, which contains more protein and less of anything else. You can read all you need to know about this in Whey Protein Definition, Terminology, and Production
The other thing that you need to consider, if you are lactose intolerant, is that many so-called lactose intolerant people can handle small amounts of lactose. You should read more about lactose intolerance as well.
If you can handle small amounts of dairy, you can probably handle whey. If you purchase a whey isolate, there will be very little to no lactose present, and you should have no problem at all with it. Even so, you may be able to use a cheaper whey concentrate or a typical supplement mix of concentrates and isolates. It all depends on how sensitive you are to lactose.
Remember, as well, that some people who can’t deal with milk, find that they are fine with cheese or yogurt. Greek yogurt, especially, is a great source of protein. I myself am somewhat lactose intolerant but I eat a LOT of Oikos Greek Yogurt and I even drink premixed protein shakes which contain milk protein, whey, and other sources of protein. Remember, being lactose intolerant has nothing whatsoever with your ability to digest the proteins in milk, one of which is whey. If you had a milk-protein allergy, this would be much more serious than lactose intolerance, which is NOT an allergy (again, visit the link above to learn more).
Whey Protein Products with Little Lactose
Here are some whey protein powders which contain the least amount of lactose.
Does Milk Leach Calcium From Bones?
While we’re on the subject, many folks are still convinced that milk is not a good source of calcium and will actually leach calcium from your bones. Obviously, athletes and bodybuilders would not want this to occur! Who would? That milk causes osteoporosis is a myth. I refer you to a good Quora answer to this question.