Ask the Experts

The National Dairy Council’s (NDC) Whey Protein Advisory Panel (WPAP) consists of nationally renowned nutrition and health experts who help educate health and fitness professionals about the benefits of whey protein for active adults. Submit your question at the bottom of the page for the WPAP to answer.

Read the experts’ answers to questions posted by visitors.

Q: Can I eat whey protein if I’m lactose intolerant?

A: You may not need to rule out whey protein because of lactose sensitivities. Whey protein isolate contains very little lactose (0.1 g/20 g scoop), so it may be a great choice for you. The amount of lactose in whey protein concentrate is slightly higher (1.0 g/20 g scoop), but both ingredients contain much less lactose than a glass of milk (12 g/8 oz serving). Check the ingredients label to find out what type of whey protein is used in a specific product before buying.

Susan Kundrat, MS, RD, CSSD, Assistant Clinical Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Q: Is whey protein as beneficial as other protein sources?

A: Protein quality varies. Animal-based proteins, including whey protein, are high-quality, complete protein sources that supply all of the essential amino acids the body needs to build and maintain muscle and to function properly. Protein found in most plant foods is considered “incomplete” protein because it lacks some of the essential amino acids the body needs each day. Therefore it is important to carefully combine your plant based proteins to get all the amino acids you need. Whey protein is a natural dairy protein, fast absorbing and easy to digest – try it with breakfast or as a pre- or post-workout snack.

Doug Paddon-Jones, PhD, Professor, The University of Texas Medical Branch

Q: Does whey protein contain gluten?

A: Whey protein does not contain wheat protein or gluten. However, whey protein bars and beverages may contain added wheat-based or other cereal ingredients that contain gluten, so be sure to check the ingredients list.

Chris Mohr, PhD, RD, CSSD, Owner, Mohr Results, Inc.

Q: How can I identify whey protein? Is there a government or other departmental seal?

A: There is no official seal on food products to identify if it contains whey. The best way to find foods with whey protein is to look for these ingredients on an ingredient label: whey protein, whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, hydrolyzed whey protein. Please see the “Finding Whey” section our web site for examples:

Susan Kundrat, MS, RD, CSSD, Assitant Clinical Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Q: How much whey should you use on a daily basis?

A: The Institute of Medicine recommends that 10 to 35 percent of the total calories we consume each day should come from protein. Although most people meet minimum protein requirements at the low end of this recommended range, many more would benefit from a moderately higher protein intake. Active individuals and older adults in particular should be encouraged to follow the MyPlate recommendations (20-25 percent of calories from protein) and include a moderate amount of high-quality protein with each meal. I would also encourage you to work with a dietitian in your area to assess your daily protein intake and determine whether you are consuming too little or too much.

Susan Kundrat, MS, RD, CSSD, Assitant Clinical Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Q: I usually eat a large amount of protein at dinner, but have heard that it is better to eat smaller amounts throughout the day. Is that true?

A: Recent studies suggest that spacing protein intake evenly throughout the day helps maximize muscle protein synthesis. Try eating 20-30 grams of high-quality protein, such as whey protein, at each meal rather than loading up at the end of the day. Adding a scoop of whey protein powder to a breakfast smoothie or sprinkling it in yogurt or oatmeal is an easy way to include protein at the beginning of the day. Increase mid-day protein consumption by eating a turkey and cheese sandwich or tuna salad made with Greek yogurt for lunch.

Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, Director of Sports Nutrition, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center