Can Whey Protein Make You Sick?

Feeling gassy, bloated, or just plain nauseous after your whey protein shake? You aren’t alone! It’s estimated that 65% of the human population has difficulty digesting milk (i.e. whey). With the emergence of vegan protein powders, people are taking a step back and evaluating the benefits (and potential downsides) of consuming whey protein. Here are a few of the most common ways whey and dairy might be making you feel “sick”.



Whey is a super dense dose of dairy, and contains a whole heck of a lot of lactose – the main sugar in dairy products. Lactose intolerance arises when your small intestine doesn’t have enough lactase (the enzyme that digests lactose) in order to fully digest all that ice cream you just ate while watching Gilmore Girls. This leads to undigested lactose sitting in your intestines and fermenting. Awesome. The fermentation then causes gas and bloating and can lead to cramping and diarrhea. Some people also experience body acne and headaches because of the extra lactose in their system. Due to these adverse affects, more and more people over the past few decades are consuming less dairy and replacing it with the nut milks and other dairy alternatives now available on the market.



A whey allergy can start out as a rash, an acne outbreak or even fluid retention. You also might experience excess mucus, a stuffy nose, coughing or trouble breathing if your allergy is serious. The allergy can even stop your entire system from working, even leading to leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowels. If you notice any of these symptoms it might be time to try eliminating dairy from your diet to see if things improve, or even get an allergy test.


Sugar substitutes

Some people report extreme headaches, nausea, and vomiting when they ingest artificial sweeteners. This is an issue when many protein powders are flavored with sugar alternatives like sugar alcohols – like sucralose (Splenda). To help the shake “taste good” while keeping calories low as possible, sugar alternatives are a necessary evil in many protein powders.  


An alternative to whey protein

Vegan protein powders, especially organic protein powders are a great option for those who are feeling not-so-great after their whey protein shake or just want to reduce or diminish dairy intake. Organic, vegan protein powders, like this one by Ora Organic, contain complete amino acid protein profiles and give a clean protein source of twenty different super food proteins. They also include two servings of greens and a digestive enzyme blend in their organic protein powder to ensure tummies stay happy.


You don’t have to tolerate gassiness, bloating, or any other uncomfortable side effects when trying to be your most healthy. Step back, weigh your options, and pick the protein that supports your total health.



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