What Is Whey Powder?

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Whey protein is a nutritional supplement for those seeking added protein in their diet. Remember the nursery rhyme about Little Miss Muffet eating her "curds and whey"? Whey is the liquid left over when cheese (curds) is made.

The Facts

Whey is a liquid by-product left over from making cheese. It contains lactose and protein as well as vitamins and minerals. When dried, it becomes whey powder. Many companies that produce nutritional supplements make a version of whey powder, either in individual packets or in bulk.

Function

Use whey protein powder as an added ingredient in many recipes. Make shakes and smoothies with it to get added protein in your diet. Protein is good for many reasons, especially for diabetics, vegetarians and athletes.

Considerations

When deciding whether whey powder is for you, you need to evaluate the level of protein in your diet. Use the interactive Food Pyramid tool to find out how much protein you need. Make a food diary, listing everything you eat and the number of grams of protein each item of food provides. Whey protein powder is a good supplement for those who don't eat enough protein in their regular diet. Look on the label of the supplement you choose, to see whether it has fat in it; take the fat content into account as well as the amount of protein.

Benefits

Protein is a necessary component of a healthy diet. Vegetarians often are looking for ways to add protein to their diets, and whey protein is a good choice for those who eat milk products. Dietitians recommend that people with diabetes have protein in each meal, and this is a way to add it to foods. Athletes also look for protein to help build body muscle.

Warning

About half of whey it is lactose. Anyone who is lactose intolerant will want to remember this. Those with lactose tolerance issues will want to either avoid whey protein or take a medication or supplement that helps them tolerate the lactose. An alternative to whey protein is egg whites, which can also be purchased as a powder. Read the label to make sure the brand you choose is lactose-free.

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