Lactose intolerance is a pervasive digestive disorder caused due to the inability of one’s body to digest lactose in dairy products. Millions of people are lactose intolerant worldwide; hence lactose-free products are on the rise nowadays, for instance, alternatives to whey protein. It is the most common in East Asia, where 90-100% of the population is affected and barely present in the U.K. Only 5-10% of the total people experience it.
What is Lactose Intolerance?
There’s a specific enzyme called Lactase which is necessary for our body to digest lactose. When our body doesn’t produce enough Lactase, lactose cannot be broken down as simple glucose, i.e., sugar. When the undigested lactose moves through the large intestine, the bacteria break down the lactose into acids and gases. This causes acute symptoms of diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal cramps. Whey is known as the liquid part of milk when it’s separated from its solid position after the process of curdling. 100g of whey has 0.9g of protein.
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About Whey Protein
Whey protein contains necessary amino acids in an adequate amount, which helps in bodybuilding. This is why bodybuilders use whey protein and its supplements. Does the real question arise whether a lactose intolerant people should exclude dairy products from their diets completely? The answer is no. Dairy products are rich in nutrients necessary for the body. In such cases, one is to consult a doctor and only eat the dairy products allowed. A dairy product widely consumed in such conditions is complex and mature cheese as it lacks lactose.
Our body has eleven amino acids and depends on us to obtain the remaining nine through the medium of food. People must consider taking in plant-based powders as an alternative. They prove to be very useful to provide the human body with the necessary nutrients that might lack one is unable to consume dairy products. Since this protein powder is purely natural, it is considered to be very healthy for the muscles.
Since whey is derived from milk, people who are lactose intolerant may not use it. The actual amount of lactose in whey protein differs from product to product as they’re manufactured in three different kinds- whey concentrate, whey isolate, and whey hydrolysate. Whey isolate is more processed than whey concentrate and whey hydrolysate, containing less lactose than the other two.
Alternatives To Whey Protein For Lactose Intolerance
Using whey isolate is a safer option for lactose-intolerant people, but there are better choices. Here’s a list of alternatives to whey protein if you’re lactose intolerant.
- Pea Protein
- Brown rice protein
- Soy protein
- Hemp protein
- Goat protein
- Egg white protein
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Pea Protein is a derivative of yellow split peas, and then it is made into a powder as a form of supplement. The pea protein powder is not just high in proteins and irons. It does not contain other food allergens such as soy, gluten, tree nuts, fish, etc. Moreover, pea protein has all nine of the essential amino acids in adequate amounts as well.
Pea protein powder is also less in calories, so it is an excellent choice for people trying to reduce their weight. Still, it is also a good choice if you want a vegan, hypoallergenic and comparatively, easily digestible plant-based protein.
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Brown Rice Protein
As the name suggests, brown rice protein is extracted from brown rice. The protein in brown rice is separated from the rest by processing it through selected enzymes. When the protein gets isolated, it turns into a powder form. It is a good choice for people who have any food allergies since it does not contain any food allergens. The only minor issue is that brown rice does not include all essential amino acids. It’s incomplete when taken on its own. You can mix it or take it with other protein supplements such as pea protein to ensure that our bodies get all the amino acids as per requirement.
At times, people don’t use brown rice protein because they think it contains carbs. But here’s the surprise! There’s only 2g of carb in one tablespoon of brown rice protein, thereby being an excellent alternative to whey protein.
Soy proteins (e.g., tofu and tempeh) are commonly used in different meals, but soy protein powders are less widely used. Soybeans are usually high in protein and low in fat. Soy protein contains all essential amino acids and is a complete protein, unlike brown rice. It is highly nutrient and is an excellent choice to add to dishes as it can be used in varieties of cuisines.
Hemp protein is a derivative of hemp, so it’s a good choice for vegans as well. It has a substantial amount of amino acids. Over time, it has become a good choice as it is suitable for developing lean muscles and recovery.
Moreover, hemp protein also contains Omega-3 and Omega-6, which is absent in other botanical proteins. Vegans and vegetarians don’t have too many choices for getting Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, so hemp protein supplements give them this advantage.
Egg White Protein
It is a fact that egg whites are a top source of protein for building muscles. Egg proteins are an excellent choice for people who aren’t vegan. Egg protein is easily digestible and does not contain any lactose. They are also highly bioavailable.
This means that our bodies use it more easily when digested. It is a package of nutrients and is also low in carbs and fat. Hence, truly one of the best alternatives to whey protein.
As we see above, there are plenty of alternatives to whey proteins. Proteins have become a necessity in today’s world of building muscles and bodybuilding in general, but just because you’re lactose intolerant or vegan shouldn’t stop you from consuming the proteins needed for your body.
Other than the five mentioned in the list, there are other choices, such as Goat protein. Goat protein is a good choice for people who aren’t vegetarians or vegans. So, get going and choose the best alternative to whey protein for yourself. Each body is different with different needs. out of all these alternatives to whey protein, choose the best one for yourself.
Dr. Karen Gill is an ABMS board certified pediatrician whose expertise includes breastfeeding, nutrition, obesity prevention, and childhood sleep and behavior issues. She currently lives and practices in Portland, Oregon, where she also volunteers for CASA for Children and the Red Cross.