Health & Wellness > Dairy Proteins (Whey & Milk)

Higher Protein Diets

Foods and beverages that contain high-quality proteins like whey and other dairy foods and ingredients can help support health and wellness goals, including healthy aging, satiety/weight management, and exercise recovery. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) each recommend adults consume 0.8g of protein/kg body weight daily.1,2,3 This translates to a range of 46g to 56g, depending on body weight (0.8 g/70kg adult = 56g), and represents the minimum necessary intake to avoid a protein deficiency. However, minimum protein intake is not necessarily enough to optimize the health and wellness benefits associated with supplemental protein intake. In addition, the health organizations' recommendation lacks guidance on the best approach to the timing of protein intake and the appropriate amounts to consume per eating occasion to maximize the body's absorption and use of this essential nutrient.

Bolster protein benefits, factor total calorie intake

Higher protein diets

To determine individual protein needs and optimize the benefits of added protein consumption, the U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends people get between 10 to 35 percent of total daily calorie needs from protein. This is called the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range (AMDR). Australia, New Zealand, the European Union and the World Health Organization also report acceptable protein ranges as a percent of total calories.

  • Australia/New Zealand: Up to 25 percent
  • European Food Safety Authority2 : Up to 27 percent ̂
  • United States of America1:10 to 35 percent
  • World Health Organization3 : Up to 27 percent ̂

*based on 1.7g/kg of body weight - the same upper limit of daily protein intakes

On average, daily protein intake of consumers around the world falls on the lower end of the "acceptable" distribution range as a percentage of overall calorie intake. As a result, there are opportunities to use great-tasting, high-quality dairy proteins to help people achieve the benefits of increased protein intake.

Eat more protein, make more protein

Protein also plays an integral role in the body's structure, functions and regulation of all tissues and organs. Protein is essential to:

  • Antibody synthesis: helps body fight bacteria and viruses
  • Enzyme synthesis: carries out chemical reactions and read genetic information stored in DNA
  • Messenger services: transmits signals between different cells, tissues and organs
  • Transportation: carries atoms and molecules between cells and throughout the body
  • Movement: protein is the main component of muscle, which permits the body to move.

The body can make the proteins needed for these processes, but only as long as the diet contains enough available essential amino acids (building blocks of proteins). Getting enough high-quality protein, like the types found in dairy foods, can help support meeting needs for essential amino acids, to make more protein.

When it comes to muscles and movement, dairy proteins are an ideal choice.  For example, whey protein contains a specific set of amino acids, called branched-chain amino acids, including leucine, which is unique in its ability to initiate new muscle synthesis. Whey proteins are also highly digestible, rapidly absorbed, and have a neutral flavor that can be incorporated into any meal or snack with ease. 

Branched-Chain Amino Acid Content of Foods

Food Leucine Isoleucine Valine
1 scoop (36g) whey protein isolate+ 4.7g



1 scoop (36g) soy protein isolate




100g (3.5ozs) sirloin steak




100g (3.5ozs) chicken breast




227g (8ozs) low-fat yogurt




236ml (8ozs) skim milk




1 egg




30g (1oz.) peanut butter




Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 26
+USDEC Reference Manual for U.S. Whey and Lactose Products

1 U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010
2 EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA); Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for Protein. EFSA Journal 2012;10(2):2557 [66 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2012. 2557. Available online:
3 World Health Organization Technical Report Series. Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition: report of a joint FAO/WHO/UNU expert consultation. Number 935. Available at: Accessed on June 3, 2014.
4 Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients. Available at: Files/Nutrition/DRIs/DRI_Macronutrients.pdf. Accessed on June 3, 2014.
5 Australian Government, Department of Health and Ageing. Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand. Including Recommended Dietary Intakes. Available at: Accessed on June 3, 2014.