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Protein Shake for People Allergic to Whey

By Ellen Douglas

If you have a milk protein allergy, the “curds and whey” of the classic nursery rhyme may be scarier than Miss Muffet’s spider. Some people are allergic to the casein, or “curd” part of milk, and others the whey, or liquid, part. For people with whey allergies, a simple breakfast item like a smoothie may become something of a challenge, with both dairy products and some processed foods decidedly off the menu.


Dairy products form the basics of the classic smoothie. But it you’ve learned you have a whey allergy, dairy will have to be replaced. Whey, one of the two proteins found in milk, can trigger immediate symptoms such as hives and wheezing, and eventual problems that include diarrhea, cramps and runny nose. A whey allergy differs from a lactose or protein intolerance from drinking milk; your physician can help you differentiate between the two.

Foods to Avoid

Because whey is a milk protein, dairy products such as milk, cream, yogurt and ice cream are obviously problematic additions to smoothies. Goat and sheep's milk also contain whey and cause allergic reactions, warns the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. Some processed foods, such as peanut butter or chocolate syrup, may also have whey additives. While whey protein finds favor with some fitness buffs for additional protein and muscle-building, people with whey allergies should avoid adding the powdered supplement to smoothies.


Consider using fruit juice as your main liquid in the smoothie. Alternatively, frozen bananas, sweet potatoes or additive-free nut butters will add a creamy touch to the drink without adding whey. If you prefer to copy a recipe that uses dairy products, look for soy, rice or almond-based products for your smoothies. Check labels carefully. Even “non-dairy” food products may have additives like whey. Similarly, if you use protein powder in your smoothies, look for one made from soy or rice and that is certified whey-free.


When you’re using juice or nondairy milk as the base of your smoothie, add that liquid first, before placing fruit, non-dairy yogurt or ice cubes in the blender. Start on the lowest speed, then turn the blender to a higher speed, if needed. Combinations to experiment include orange juice with strawberries, a banana, non-dairy fruit yogurt and ice; bananas, pineapple, vanilla extract and ice; frozen mangoes, soy milk and honey; and cooked sweet potato, orange juice, non-dairy vanilla yogurt, non-dairy whipped topping, vanilla extract and honey or sugar. Always read the labels of dairy substitutes to confirm they don’t include whey additives.

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