Unprocessed whey is a cheese production byproduct and is 100% gluten free. After curdling and straining the milk for cheese production, the watery part of the milk separates from the fatty parts and that’s where the whey is found.
What is whey protein?
The whey protein which is commonly sold as a dietary supplement is a mixture of proteins that have been isolated from the whey. The 2 main types of protein found in milk are whey and casein, which both need to be processed before being sold as dietary supplements. Whey protein contains a complete range of easily absorbed essential amino acids.
Is whey powder gluten free?
Although pure whey protein powder is gluten free, a lot of commercially sold whey protein supplements usually contain other ingredients besides whey and may contain gluten. Unflavored whey protein doesn’t taste too good, so it’s usually flavored, and quite often contains sugar or artificial sweeteners. It’s important to ensure that the product you are purchasing does not contain any gluten ingredients such as food starch, caramel color, malt sugar, maltodextrin and dextrin. Some whey protein powders include the amino acid glutamine, which is not derived from any gluten containing foods, and does not need to be avoided.
Types of whey protein
Whey powder is available as whey concentrate, whey isolate or whey hydrolysate, which are all gluten free in pure form and are safe for individuals with celiac disease. Whey concentrate is less processed than whey isolate or whey hydrolysate, consists of approximately 70–80% protein, and contains some lactose and fat. Whey isolate is more processed and consists of at least 90% protein, but is lacking in other beneficial nutrients found in whey concentrate, and contains less lactose and fat. Whey hydrolysate is even more processed with heat that separates amino acid bonds which allows the protein powder to be digested and absorbed quicker.
Certified gluten free protein powder
Although there are manufacturers of whey protein products that make gluten free whey powder, they might also be producing other products which are made with gluten, and there is a chance that their gluten free whey products may have been contaminated from equipment that has been in contact with gluten. To avoid cross contamination, ensure that the whey protein product that you are purchasing is certified gluten free protein powder.