Where does whey protein come from

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “Where does whey protein come from?” With an in-depth analysis of the nutritional value, health benefits and allergies of the whey protein. Moreover, we are going to discuss the storage and shelf life of whey protein.

Where does whey protein come from?

Whey protein is one of the primary proteins of milk and other dairy products. It is composed of many essential amino acids and needed by the body to carry out major functions. 

In milk there are two types of proteins available that are casein and whey protein. Casein protein is used for making cheese and whey protein is left behind. Whey protein is the by-product of the cheese making process. (1)

What is the nutritional value of whey protein?

The nutritional value of the whey protein depends on the brands from which you have bought whey protein.

The nutritional value of powdered whey protein, one scoop or 19.5grams,  provided by USDA is as follows; (2)

  • Calories: 75
  • Fat:  1g
  • Sodium: 75mg
  • Carbohydrates: 3.5g
  • Fibre: 0g
  • Sugars: 1g
  • Protein: 13g

What are the health benefits of whey protein?

In recent years, dairy whey protein consumption has been found to have many health benefits.

Whey protein and its components may exert an effect on antimicrobial and antiviral activity, immune-modulating activity, anticancer activity, and cardiovascular health benefits, as well as improving mood and preserving lean body mass during normal or energy-restricted diets.

Evidently, the consumption of whey proteins can have an array of benefits not associated with other protein sources such as egg and soy.

Whey protein to improve glucose concentrations and insulin response, assist with the reduction in blood pressure, improve vascular function, and improve the lipid profile. (3)

Can whey protein cause allergy?

Yes! Cow’s milk protein allergy (CMPA) is an abnormal immune reaction to cow’s milk protein, which may be due to the interaction of one or more milk proteins and one or more immune mechanisms, resulting in immediate reactions.

Cow’s milk has more than 20 proteins that can cause allergic reactions, the main allergens are casein and whey protein.

Normally, individuals who are allergic to an animal’s milk also have reactions to almost all types of animal milk, due to the presence of some of these proteins in milk from other mammalian species. (4)

How to properly store the whey protein?

The practices for good storage conditions are:

Storage conditions:

Store the whey protein package in a cool, dark, and dry environment. It is best to store containers in a pantry and not a place where moisture can reach it or light can reach it. The effects of light, Temperature, and bacterial attack can denature protein


Whey protein is kept in safe, air tight packaging in which no light can reach it. In an unopened package the seal is intact to avoid any exposure with microbes, moisture, and light. Many people also store supplements in a plastic jar which is also okay until it is not exposed to any risk. (5)

What is the shelf life of the whey protein?

Whey protein concentrate powder has a recommended shelf life of 9 to 12 months, which may be extended to 24 months under refrigeration.(3)

Their ability to be stored depends heavily on their intrinsic characteristics, including composition and physicochemical properties, as well as the environmental conditions (temperature, relative humidity) to which they are subjected during storage.

However, several studies evidenced that storage conditions can affect the structural and functional properties of high protein dairy powders. (5)

What are the signs of whey protein spoilage?

Signs of spoilage may include a rancid smell, bitter taste, changes in color, or clumping, whey protein usually denatures or goes bad by action of microbes, change in temperature and presence of moisture.

During  storage, a range of chemical reactions can lead to protein modification, in particular when they are subjected to elevated temperatures and humidities. 

One of the most important reactions is the Maillard reaction which is responsible for a loss of nutritional value and can strongly impact powder functional properties. 

Protein lactosylation could lead to protein denaturation and aggregation, and reciprocally, and are the different steps leading to the formation of brown pigments (melanoidins) due to Maillard reaction during powder storage. (5, 6)

What are the risks of consuming spoiled whey protein?

Similarly to eating spoiled foods, consuming protein powder with a rancid smell, bitter taste, changes in color, or clumping, regardless of the expiration date, could make you sick with stomach pain, nausea, possibly vomiting. (7)


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Where does whey protein come from?” With an in-depth analysis of the nutritional value, health benefits and allergies of the whey protein. Moreover, we discussed the storage and the shelf life of the whey protein.


  1. Pereira, P. C., & Vicente, F.  Milk Nutritive Role and Potential Benefits in Human Health. Nutrients in Dairy and Their Implications on Health and Disease, 161–176. 2017.
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central Website. Washington, DC. [HISTORICAL RECORD]: 100% PURE WHEY PROTEIN POWDER 2019.
  3. Pal, S., McKay, J., Jane, M., & Ho, S. Dairy Whey Proteins and Obesity. Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Abdominal Obesity, 261–278. 2019.
  4. Silva, A. R. A., Silva, M. M. N., & Ribeiro, B. D.  Health Issues and Technological Aspects of Plant-based Alternative Milk. Food Research International, 108972. 2020.
  5. A. Paul, C. Gaiani, L. Cvetkovska, C. Paris, M. Alexander, C. Ray, G. Francius, S. EL-Kirat-Chatel, J. Burgain, Deciphering the impact of whey protein powder storage on protein state and powder stability, Journal of Food Engineering, 326, 2022.
  6. Tunick, M. H., Thomas-Gahring, A., Van Hekken, D. L., Iandola, S. K., Singh, M., Qi, P. X.,Tomasula, P. M.  Physical and chemical changes in whey protein concentrate stored at elevated temperature and humidity. Journal of Dairy Science, 99(3), 2372–2383. 2016.
  7. Lillian Kubala, Gavin Van De Walle, Does Protein Powder Expire?Healthline Media LLC. 2020.

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