Can Someone With Irritable Bowel Take Whey Protein Powder?

Three jars of whey protein powder sit on a white counter.
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If you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, you may not be able to take whey protein powder. Whey protein powder is made from cow's milk. Whey is one of the two primary proteins found in dairy. states that diary products are a common food that can trigger IBS symptoms. If you notice that your symptoms worsen after ingesting whey protein powder, discontinue use and talk with your doctor.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is a common digestive condition that causes severe stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, gas and bloating. Certain foods commonly trigger IBS symptoms, such as milk, chocolate, fruits and vegetables. IBS is a chronic condition that has no cure but most people's symptoms can be managed through diet, medication and lifestyle changes. The cause of the condition is still not fully understood, although it is known that IBS is not caused by a physical defect in the digestive system. The cause is most likely from misfiring of the brain to the nerves in the large intestine.

Whey Protein

If you've noticed that dairy products cause your IBS symptoms to flare-up, you may want to avoid ingesting products that contain whey or casein proteins. Talk with your doctor about using a challenge diet to determine if you can tolerate the whey in protein powders. A challenge diet is performed under a doctor's supervision. Eliminate all dairy products from your diet for two weeks, then drink a whey protein shake and record how your body responds. If you don't notice any symptoms, inform your doctor and continue using the whey protein. If you develop symptoms, stop taking the supplement until you can be evaluated by your physician.

Allergy Consideration

If you're allergic to whey proteins, you will develop symptoms similar to IBS. A whey protein allergy is related to a milk allergy and will cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, bloating, gas and abdominal cramping. An allergic reaction to whey will also affect other areas of your body, such as your skin, sinuses, lungs and cardiovascular system. You can have both IBS and an allergy to milk. If you are allergic to whey or you've been diagnosed with a milk allergy, do not use whey protein powder.


If whey protein powder causes your IBS symptoms to become worse, you need to avoid the consumption of whey protein and all other products that contain whey proteins. Whey protein is found in yogurt, ice cream, half and half, milk, custard, baked goods, soups and some salad dressings.