Whey protein (or other dairy) and joint pain

by (3697) Updated May 30, 2013 at 10:19 PM Created October 26, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Has anyone ever experienced joint pain from the use of whey protein or other dairy?

I've used various forms of protein powders after working out for years but less so since moving toward a Paleo approach about 2 years ago. I've always experienced some knee pain and soreness and attribute a lot of that to having abused my knees too much while playing college football and other sports (rightly or wrongly). I think, but am not sure, that my knees start hurting again whenever I try to incorporate a whey protein shake PWO. I also have some pimples this week, which I don't think I've had in YEARS. I've been taking NOW foods whey protein (unflavored, no sweetner, etc) for about 2 weeks.

I've read much of the back and forth on this site about the use of liquid food PWO, and my question is not whether such an approach is the best approach or not. Please let's not address that again. Thanks.

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12 Replies

7946 · October 26, 2011 at 2:00 PM

I think you'll have to give it a serious test via elimination. As best as you're able, have one month where you DON'T take it, and the next month keep EVERYTHING the same and start incorporating it again - it's the "keep everything the same" part that's hard, because there are potentially TONS of variables that might interfere.

Keep detailed food/workout logs, etc. Match it exactly except for the addition of whey. Don't substitute whey for something else, either - make the whey the only difference between your trial months.

Let us know what you find out!

20 · April 28, 2012 at 8:43 PM

What happens to you is what matters. What anyone "says" is irrelevant-empirical data trumps current knowledge as we know so little as to the whys. I personally suffer greatly with the consumption of dairy and esp. whey protein. The naysayers and defenders of conventional medicine will say it's the placebo effect (as if that isn't somehow a mystical explanation) but what if you never anticipated any problem but the effect preceeded the observation? This happened to me. Whenever I traveled my knees got well and I could run again. At first that made no sense until I asked myself, what changes are there in my life when i travel? The answer: diet! I didn't consume whey protein but only ate in restaurants. My usual staple at home was a bowl of oatmeal with nuts and berries and a scoop of whey protein. When i got home, the pain resumed with consumption of dairy. I have suffered arthritis for 12 years and after 12 years of not being able to run with even some musculoskeletal deformity, I am able to run again and even quite vigorously-as an older man and after 12 years of disabilityafter having discontinued dairy products. I tested the theory-went off whey=better/on whey=worse=on=better-off=worse etc. It never waivered. You can believe that or the rantings of the skeptics who say things like Pleaaaaase? That's ridiculous! You're imagining things-ha, ha, ha, that's absurd-I never saw that in my first year biology book. They forget the info in their biology book today wasn't in the biology book yesterday. That's why empiricism is so valuable-it tells us it exists just not why it exists. Some people think the only things that exist are the things that are already explained and then purport to be the smart ones-which is actually stupid. If whey hurts-discontinue whey. ABTW, my joints systemically pop and crack-including my temporal mandibular joint when i consume dairy-and that would be empirically demonstrable if science even cared to look.

20 · April 23, 2012 at 5:37 AM

Milk, butter, Yogurt, Ice Cream, Cheese - all of them!!!! In 1999, after worsening lower back pains that were just annoying but not all that bad (yet), I left the US for Australia and over the next two months fell in love with their frozen yogurt and ice creams and found myself with agonizing lower back pains especially when I first got up in the morning that took hours to go away. I couldn't get out of car seats without taking very long slow movements, carefully balanced. I was afraid to sit because I didn't know if I could stand up. Acupuncture treatments were so painful that I would be shaking and crying on the table, freaking out the acupuncturist.

After a full year of these painful, worsening (the worse it got the more ice-cream and yogurt i ate!) symptoms, thinking the end of my life must be near, I went on a juice fast and low and behold, the pain literally vanished in days, to keep coming back on one-day notice every time i stopped the fast, till i wised up and stopped the dairy, after three weeks of start and stop fasting. Over the next few years, every time I had joint or lower back pain I investigated and found that the restaurant or someone was sloppy and put either butter or carnation condensed milk or whatever dairy in the food - it always caused pain 6-12 hours later, and affected worst the muscles and joints I used the most the previous day.

I eventually realized that soy products seem to make the problem even worse. Dropping the soy seemed to allow me to dabble more and more into dairy as an exception when the temptation is there, with minimal effects. Goat is safer but not if I repeat it several days in a row. Sheep no better than cow.

It is now 2012 and realizing I was sensitive to other things, getting rusty lethargic feelings and ear ringing, I have been for the past few years on a totally gluten free, dairy free and soy free diet, largely a paleo diet with little carb. I've done full detoxification using BioRay products amongst other ways, getting rid of amalgam from my mouth. etc.

I'm doing great, rarely have pain issues. In addition, ear ringing has nearly entirely gone away and general fogginess (brain and body rust feelings) are gone (I know those were related to gluten). Ironically, annual physicals show outstanding health and blood chemistries despite all the symptoms and relief from them. In other words, the sensitivities seem to have had no relation to the standard methods of determining one's health.

I think everything (gluten, soy, mercury and such, dairy) I mentioned contributed. But eliminating the dairy was the most obvious and striking cause of change and improvement - as simple as taking or not taking would bring on or get rid of symptoms.l In 2000, when I dropped the dairy I went from feeling like I would die of some painful lack of will to live, to getting in the best physical shape of my life, doing pilates 3x per week and the gym the same and bicycling 100 miles per week. Overnight from stopping the dairy. Within 6 months I looked and felt like a miracle took place, from going weak and pathetic to the start of a nicely built body. True story!!!!

20 · March 09, 2012 at 1:58 PM

I just know from experience that dairy HURTS me. I started having a lot of joint and foot pain, especially in the morning, when I was around 36...chalked it up to being overweight, getting older, high stress etc. I made the decision (for unrelated reasons) to stop consuming all animal products. Shortly after (like less than a week), I noticed that my pain was gone. Seemed to be likely related, but I couldn't be sure. Over the past four years, I have been VERY consistent in not eating meat. I rarely consume eggs (I eat baked goods at friend's houses, and don't ask questions...). But I have periodically fallen off the dairy wagon...especially cheese, but yogurt has happened sometimes too. I usually eat the stuff for between a week and a month, then stop again for several months. CONSISTENTLY, when I start eating dairy products, I start hurting within a week. And CONSISTENTLY within a few days of stopping, the pain goes away. I have never been tested for a dairy or casein allergy, but I guess I take the consistent results as empirical evidence that dairy is bad for me (and yet I keep falling...darned cheese...why must it be so delicious???)

6043 · October 26, 2011 at 1:53 PM

That happens to me with gluten. If whey gives you bad symptoms, don't eat whey.

0 · May 30, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Good news for those who has Dairy Allergy!! Simple treatment and very usefull solution. For years I ahve the same problem, I been told by one of the expert to use this treatment. It did work for me. Now I am using all dairy products and thanks to God there is no pain what so ever. Need help send me an email at rimshapattele@yahoo.com.

0 · August 16, 2012 at 11:58 PM

Yes, this is possible. I thought I had gluten intolerance due to my knee pain. The knee pain was not terribly painful, but was very irritating. After doing the immmune system testing (for IgA and IgG), I learned that I actually had a whey intolerance. The whey intolerance was also causing eczema. After eliminating milk from my diet, my joint pain has gone away. : )

0 · July 30, 2012 at 7:30 PM

I regularly take protein shake ( but only on the days when I work out ) . I am not sure but my gym instructor today told me that it could be due to excessive usage of protein shake. I personally don't think that I have taken excessive dosages of protein shake as I only take it when I have worked out seriously ( about two scopes with milk , mango slices and a banana )

I wouldn't call it pain but yes its a discomfort that I am developing and I am not sure if I can attribute it to protein shake. But I am worried and bit confused if I should go about it.

0 · April 02, 2012 at 3:37 PM

I got lots of aches after switching yogurt brands. When I compared the labels with the new VS older brand, I saw the difference was whey protein. I but some Whey protein isolate powder at the Bulk health food store, I tested it a few times and everytime I tried it, I'm sore all over in my joints as if I got the flu. I checked more food labels and it's even in the margarine, candy, etc. Read the labels...

370 · March 11, 2012 at 3:51 PM

Not strictly related, but possibly relevant: I recently had a protein shake after a hard workout, using the same whey I had put in my smoothie every morning before I went paleo (three months ago). So a few minutes later I was quite surprised to have my first-ever allergic reaction to a food. I don't know what it was--the protein, the additives, etc. Either way, it appears that going paleo uncovered a major problem with a food I used to eat every day. You may be having a similar problem with whey and joint problems.

691 · November 01, 2011 at 7:10 PM

Most whey proteins are highly processed coming from grain fed cows. If the cows are fed hormones and/or antibiotics, which most cows are, this will come through into the milk. Sick cows make sick milk, so the end whey product will be very inflammatory to your joints and the body as a whole. I would stay away from whey, unless it was a 100% grass fed, cool denatured processed protein. You have to know the source of the grass fed whey, which is hard to do, and it will be a lot more expensive then other whey protein powders.

5520 · October 26, 2011 at 2:44 PM

"I think, but am not sure, that my knees start hurting again whenever I try to incorporate a whey protein shake PWO."

So why in the hell are you still incorporating whey protein? Eat real food.

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