Exploring novel nutritional uses for side stream whey products from cheese production

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sport, Exercise & Rehabilitation Science


The project will explore novel nutritional uses for side-stream whey products from cheese production, focusing on the two major products: lactose and whey permeate. Lactose is a natural milk disaccharide comprising the monosaccharides glucose and galactose. Whey permeate is a deproteinised product containing predominantly lactose, milk protein derived peptides, oligosaccharides and a high mineral content. Both ingredients are used in bakery, dairy and confectionary products, often as fillers and bulking agents, but neither has added-value use for their nutritional properties.
The composition of these ingredients lends themselves to nutritional application for active individuals. Carbohydrate is the primary fuel source in most exercise modalities, such as endurance running and cycling, but endogenous stores (plasma glucose, muscle and liver glycogen) are limited and are easily exhausted. Lactose may represent a viable fuel source for exercise. The peptides and minerals in whey permeate may have additional metabolic or rehydration benefits peri-exercise. However, a lack of research of their impact on human metabolism around exercise has hindered application. Therefore, the broad objective of the project is to characterise the impact of lactose and whey permeate consumption on physiological and metabolic responses in and around exercise.

There are three broad objectives for the project: i) To characterize the impact of lactose ingestion during exercise on metabolism, including fat and carbohydrate oxidation. ii) Investigate the impact of lactose (and perhaps whey permeate) provision post-exercise on metabolism during recovery. iii) Define the potential effects of whey permeate consumption during or after exercise. Discovering more about the responses to ingesting lactose and whey permeate in an exercise context will further understanding of their nutritional application and health effects in added-value products for physically active consumers, and potentially beyond.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1898609 Studentship BB/M01116X/1 02/10/2017 30/09/2021 Oliver Joseph Odell
Description Thus far, as a result of this award we have characterised the metabolism of the milk sugar lactose during exercise.
Exploitation Route Follow up research may be spurred by these initial findings. Understanding of the benefits of lactose may motivate sports nutrition companies to develop consumer products using lactose as an ingredient.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism

Description School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences Postgraduate Researcher Travel Grant
Amount £491 (GBP)
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2020 
End 06/2020
Description Westmere Scholarship
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2018 
End 06/2019
Description Mass spectrometry analysis with The University of Surrey 
Organisation University of Surrey
Department Department of Nutritional Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Plasma and expired breath samples from Study 2 of my PhD will be analysed at the University of Surreys Department of Nutritional Sciences using GC-MS and IRMS.
Collaborator Contribution I will be conducting all of the analysis in the laboratories of the University of Surreys Department of Nutritional Sciences, with training and assistance from staff members there.
Impact I have visited the University of Surreys Department of Nutritional Sciences and presented a plan for my study and have had a tour of the facilities I will be using.
Start Year 2019