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How to Work Around Dairy & Lactose Intolerances

Dairy, lactose and intolerances - why it doesn't have to mean the end of your favourite foods

I’m one of the many people in Australia diagnosed with lactose intolerance, and if you were looking at a scale of severity - mine is as severe as it gets. But I'm still able to indulge in my favourite desserts, cheesy pizzas, milkshakes and everything in between.

How? I’m able to achieve this feat with the use of an amazing enzyme called lactase.

What is lactase?

Lactase is an enzyme generated in the small intestine that helps break down lactose (a type of complex sugar found in diary products) into glucose and galactose (types of simple sugars) so it can be easily absorbed into our blood stream through the intestinal wall.

If lactose is not broken down (or cannot be broken down due to not enough lactase) it absorbs water - and water cannot pass through the intestinal wall, so it sits there and causes all sorts of upsets. Bloating, cramps, discomfort and diarrhoea are some of the fun symptoms you can experience. 

When we’re born, our body is able to produce the lactase enzyme naturally, but as we age many people start to produce less of it. Science is not entirely sure why, although some say this links back to our evolutionary origins and the question should be 'why are we lactose tolerant'. But what we do know is lactose intolerance generally comes down to the upset in balance between lactose and lactase.

When we are out of balance (either through consuming too much lactose or not producing enough lactase) an intolerance to lactose can develop and digestion problems occur.

So what's the fix for lactose intolerance?

The answer for those lactose intolerance can seem simple - just manually add lactase back into your body when you know you’re about to consume something with lactose in it. This can be done with lactase supplements - many of which can be found at chemists for a relatively low cost.

But it's important to be aware of how much lactose you are consuming. A few adjustments to your diet may allow you to consume your favourite dairy foods without the need for supplementation. If you know you can have that it's only on your 3rd cup of milk that you start to experience discomfort, substitute or replace this in your diet to spread out your lactose intake so you are only consuming what your body can process.

Unfortunately for many the condition doesn’t get better – once the body loses the ability to produce lactase it stays that way, and can get worse over time, to the point where the body completely stops producing lactase and no amount of lactose you have is able to be tolerated.

So if you’re like me and hate being that person who asks for lactose free options for desserts, the easier alternative is to take your lactase tablets everywhere.

Because let's face it, lactose free desserts are no where near as tasty as their full flavoured cousins… and a burger without cheese isn’t really a burger!

Protein supplements suited for lactose intolerant individuals

A question we see all too often in Customer Service is ‘Which protein powders do you sell that are lactose free?

If lactose sensitivity is your only dietary issue, you’ll now know that you can enjoy any of our protein powders with the help of lactase tablets. Simply take a tablet or two depending on your level of intolerance to reverse the effects of lactose.

Before we get into the individual products, sometimes customers forget that if they mix their protein powder with regular milk, the milk is going to be the main cause of their issue. It’s a fine line to inform a customer of this, and not to make them feel silly… so we’d prefer for you to you know straight up.

Whey Protein Isolate

While most think Whey Protein Isolate (WPI) is lactose free due to incorrect marketing strategies by a handful of companies, it technically isn’t free of lactose but has approximately 350 milligrams in every 30 gram serve. This minor amount makes it safe for all but the most sensitive individuals. Even in this situation, simply taking a lactase tablet will remove the lactose issues while allowing you to have the best protein tasting experience.

Bulk Nutrients Whey Protein Isolate WPI


Thermowhey is predominantly Whey Protein Isolate (WPI), so can be considered the same for the purpose of lactose sensitivities.

Bulk Nutrients Thermowhey Weight Loss Protein

Protein Matrix+ and Total Meal Replacement

Protein Matrix+ was our first protein based product with the lactase enzyme added to it. So although Protein Matrix+ contains WPC (which has a fairly high amount of lactose) with lactase enzyme in the mix it means the lactose can be digested. For those still producing lactase naturally this is a non issue, but for those that aren’t, Protein Matrix+ is a Godsend.

This means that while Protein Matrix+ and Total Meal Replacement contain lactose, the added lactase enzyme means it’s safe for lactose intolerant customers.

Have you seen lactose free milk at the supermarket? They run off the same concept. It’s just normal milk with a lactase enzyme added and it’s now labelled Lactose Free.

Bulk Nutrients Protein Matrix+

Pea, Rice, Soy, Egg, Beef and Earth Protein powders

These are protein powders with zero lactose in them. So the obvious question must be asked, why not jump straight to these instead of dealing with lactase enzymes and whey proteins? Well, it’s all about the taste! Whey proteins provide a great mouth feel (yes, it’s a thing) and an amazing milk shake experience.

With the exception of Earth Protein, each of the products listed above taste like their name suggests (Earth Protein is a blend of Pea, Rice and Fava Bean Proteins). Soy Protein for example is made from soy, and so Rice Protein is made from rice. Compare these to whey protein which is sourced from cow’s milk and it’s unsurprising there’s a big taste difference.

That’s not to say the proteins in this list are bad, as our R&D Department have done amazing things turning plant based proteins into delicious shakes. Just don’t expect them to be as creamy as whey proteins.

This range is perfect for those that are vegan, or have other intolerances/side effects to dairy which aren’t only limited to lactose issues.

Bulk Nutrients Earth Protein

Summing up

The days are gone where those with lactose sensitivities need to avoid all dairy products. The lactase enzyme which is added to Protein Matrix+ and Total Meal Replacement means that users with lactose sensitivities can enjoy them with a clear conscience, knowing that the WPC in them won’t cause any issues.

Not convinced? Find out how to choose the best dairy free protein for you in this detailed guide.

Nick Telesca - Technical Support Officer at Bulk Nutrients

Nick Telesca

Nick is Bulk's Customer Service team's Technical Support Officer.

Which is our way of saying he's the guy whose job it is to answer your obscenely technical supplement questions.

More about Nick Telesca
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