Bloating & whey protein powder

Written by diane marks
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Bloating & whey protein powder
Whey protein powder is made from milk. (Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Whey protein is made from cow’s milk and is used in diet foods, protein shakes and body building supplements. Because the supplement is made from milk, it may cause bloating if you’re lactose intolerant, milk intolerant or have a milk allergy. These conditions cause similar symptoms that need to be assessed by your doctor. Don’t attempt to self-diagnose or self-treat without a clinical diagnosis.

Lactose Intolerance

According to the Whey Protein Institute, whey contains small amounts of lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. Not everyone is intolerant to lactose to the same degree. Your friend who is lactose intolerant may be able to use whey protein power without any lactose intolerant symptoms, while you experience symptoms. If you’re lactose intolerant, your small intestines fail to create enough lactase, a digestive enzyme, to break down the sugar found in the whey powder. This will cause gas, bloating and diarrhoea 30 minutes to two hours after ingesting diary products, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Whey Intolerance

It’s possible that you are unable to digest the whey protein. Like lactose intolerance, your symptoms are a result of not being able to digest a certain aspect of the supplement. Whey intolerance is less common but will cause bloating, gas, diarrhoea, stomach cramping, abdominal pain and nausea. Whey intolerance is not the same condition as an allergy because it does not involve the immune system. Whey intolerance is a digestive condition that will not cause any other symptoms outside that system.

Milk Allergy

If bloating accompanies other symptoms that affect many areas of your body, you may have a milk allergy. Milk is one of the most common food allergies; it can cause minor to severe symptoms. If you’re allergic to milk, you will develop symptoms from using whey protein powder. Your immune system malfunctions and reacts to the whey proteins as if they are dangerous. The body attempts to fight off the proteins but instead triggers common allergy symptoms. Other symptoms may include diarrhoea, vomiting, skin rashes, hives, facial swelling, difficulty in breathing and dizziness, according to


If your bloating continues or is triggered by more than one food, you may have a more serious condition. Common digestive diseases that can cause bloating from consuming dairy products include Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and coeliac disease.

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