What is Sweet Dairy Whey and Can I Use it as a Whey Protein Supplement?

Posted on 27 Jun 2013 20:51

Sweet Whey Powder

There are some companies that sell "Sweet Dairy Whey Powder" in bulk to consumers. This is very cheap, by the pound, compared to the typical whey protein supplement powders most strength training or bodybuilding trainees buy, and the price of whey protein has gone way up in the last year or so. The price of sweet dairy whey powder ranges from 3 to 4 bucks a pound, but it's possible to get it as low as one dollar a pound if you buy in bulk. These powders are not flavored, and, despite the word sweet, are not sweetened.

Some of the brand names that sell sweet dairy whey (powders) are Barry Farms, Bob's Red Mill, Jay Robb (see below), which all sell small amounts directly to consumers. Various other companies, such as Kraft, will sell in bulk for use in bakeries, etc.

Sweet Whey is Not Sweet

Be aware that "sweet dairy whey" or just "sweet whey" is not a replacement for a WHEY PROTEIN POWDER. To start with, the sweet part does not mean it is sweetened, or sweet tasting. Sweet dairy whey is simply fresh whey that has been dried into a powder form. It has not been concentrated and filtered like a whey protein (concentrate or isolate). It will have most all the other components of the whey liquid, including a large amount of lactose, and a very small amount of protein as compared to a whey protein supplement.

"Sweet" whey is the byproduct of the making of cheeses such as cheddar, mozzarella, and Swiss. It has a pH greater than or equal to 5.6. This is as opposed to "acid whey" which comes from the making of fresh cheeses like cottage cheese, and has a pH less than or equal to 5.1.

Now, these companies are not trying to dupe you or be dishonest. Sweet whey powder is used for cooking and baking (mostly baking) to change the texture of baked goods, etc. You'll find it in Twinkies, for example, where it is listed on the ingredients as simply "whey." If a company IS trying to sell you sweet whey powder as a protein supplement, as opposed to a whey protein concentrate, isolate, or mixture of those, then they are trying to mislead you, but from what I have seen it is the consumer simply mistaking the two things.

You can read more about whey, how it is made, what it is made for, and the different terms used in the industry at in Whey Protein Processing, Terms and Definitions.

How is Sweet Dairy Whey Used in Foods?

As stated in the above linked post, whey, is one of the proteins in milk, along with casein. There was a time when the liquid whey left over from cheese making was considered nothing more than a waste product and was siphoned off to use for animal feed, or for fertilizer. Now, it is filtered and concentrated to produce many different kinds of whey protein products, with varying amounts of proteins and functional characteristics. Whey is used in baked goods, beverages, flavorings, sauces, salad dressings, canned goods like fruits and vegetables, cheese products (like Cheez Whiz and other spreads or processed cheese such as Kraft American cheese products), dry mixes frozen foods, jams, jellies, fat substitutes, meat additives, pasta, and various dairy products.

In some foods, concentrated whey can be used in place of nonfat dry milk, either used to completely replace it or partially replace it. Also, traditional Italian Ricotta cheese is made by concentrating whey by acidifying it and then heating it. This coagulates the proteins (forms curds). Whey is no longer considered a by-product but more a coproduct of the cheese industry.

Although whey starts out as a liquid, it is rarely used in this form, as the liquid, of course, is mostly water, making it very heavy and costly to transport. Also, it is quick to deteriorate during storage. So whey is pretty much always at least condensed before being shipped to use in food products, but it may also be dried into a powder, or further modified to provide varying desirable characteristics. A sweet dairy whey powder, if sold directly to the consumer, would most likely be a condensed and dried whey. This means that most all the water is removed, but the other components of the whey, besides the protein, will be present in the same relative proportions, unless stated otherwise. There will be very little protein yield from such a powder.

Don't Get Ripped Off by Overpriced "Lactobacteria Food"

I mentioned that sweet dairy whey powder will have only small amounts of protein, with large amounts of lactose and other components still remaining. The company mentioned above, Jay Robb, sells a product called Jay Robb Sweet Dairy Whey Lactobacteria Food. This comes in 32oz (2lbs) bags. A serving size is given as one 14g scoop, yielding only 2 grams of protein but 10 grams of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are lactose, or milk sugar. The idea is that the lactose "feeds" lactobacteria in the gut thus helping to maintain a healthy gut flora. A couple of problems with this:

If you believe you need to feed your gut flora lactose, you can do it cheaper with milk and get a more nutrient dense food (more minerals, more vitamins), plus valuable protein. Few people will want to supplement with lactose, and many people are lactose intolerant. The biggest reason? As sweet dairy whey goes, it is WAY overpriced! It is almost twice the cost of sweet dairy whey powder from Barry Farms (ordered directly), for example, and it is more than twice the cost of Bob's Red Mill sweet dairy whey. Lest you think there is something different about the more expensive product, all you have to do is look at the ingredients. They all are the same: Sweet Dairy Whey. This implies a non-modified and non-concentrated product. It would appear that the Jay Robb product somehow contains slightly more protein, and more lactose, than comparable products, but this is unlikely to hold up in an independent test. If it does, however, the differences are insignificant.

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This page created 27 Jun 2013 20:51
Last updated 31 Jan 2017 20:24

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