Make sure you check out our information on organic whey protein if concerned about the quality of your protein powder.
Also for those allergic or looking to mix a secondary quality protein that contains different branched chain amino acids, soy protein isolate might be a good bet.
Although this site primarily focuses on the many benefits of whey protein, one of the major things I’m often asked are what are some potential whey protein side effects? It’s an important question that needs answering, especially before making it regular part of your daily diet. Afterall, despite its many positive benefits, whey protein does have a few known side effects that everyone should be aware of:
Whey Protein Powder Side Effects
• Lactose intolerance – As whey is derived from milk and cheese, anyone who is allergic to lactose will also be allergic to whey protein powder. Most whey protein powders contain about 5% lactose, which although less than most milk products, can still cause concern to those extra sensitive. The lowest levels of lactose are present in whey isolate, so it is recommended that those with lactose allergies avoid concentrate if possible. Read more on whey protein types. Specifically whey protein isolate side effects are far reduced due to lower lactose concentrations for those allergic.
For those concerned about lactose allergies please check out our review of Elite Whey Protein a digestive enzyme that reduces the effect of lactose. You can also purchase it at Amazon here:Dymatize Nutrition Elite Natural Whey Protein Isolate, Rich Chocolate, 5-Pounds
• Too much protein – Often people believe they need to take an excessive amount of any given supplement, believing that its health and fitness effect will multiply with use, and whey protein is no exception to that belief. One of the main whey protein side effects is called ketosis. In laymans terms, ketosis is simply the body burning fat as fuel, however it can be dangerous when one consumes primarily protein and provides no carbohydrates as fuel, especially over long periods, and could eventually lead to kidney or liver damage if the ketosis is prolonged. Ideally you can avoid this by at the maximum eating 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, while still maintaining a healthy diet rich in complex carbohydrates and fruits and vegetables.
• Presence of sweeteners – Often whey protein powers will use Aspartame, or high levels of sugar in order to make the protein powder taste better. You need to ensure you are selecting a high quality powder (preferably organic) that uses low levels of sugar, or if using an artificial sweetener, reasonable amounts of it. Some protein powders have been known to use the equivalent of 12 cans of diet cola of aspartame per serving of whey protein.
• Processing of Whey – Buying highly processed whey protein powder can negate many of the positive effects of whey protein. Some of the highly beneficial anti oxidant amino acids present in whey can be destroyed during the manufacturing process.
Most of these whey protein side effects can be negated by choosing a high quality protein powder, that avoids high amounts of sugar and sweeteners, and has the least processing. Also using common sense and maintaining a balanced diet while supplementing with whey protein will prevent any potential nutritional deficiencies. Lastly although whey protein does contain lactose, if you are allergic, try using a whey isolate powder instead of the more common concentrate, as it contains less lactose by weight.