7 Reasons Why Protein Powders Are Causing Digestive Problems

7 Reasons Why Protein Powders Are Causing Digestive Problems

If you’ve been hitting the gym lately and trying to bulk up, you may have turned to a protein shake. When in Rome, do as the Romans, right?

However, you may have noticed some unusual intestinal discomfort shortly after drinking your shake, which may leave you wondering if your protein powder could be the source of your digestive problems.

Here are seven reasons why protein powders could be causing you digestive problems:

  • Food sensitivity to ingredients in your protein shake
  • You are consuming too much protein
  • Your protein powder contains artificial sweeteners
  • Your protein powder is contaminated
  • You drink your protein shake immediately after a workout
  • You drink your protein powder too fast
  • You are not drinking enough water with your protein powder

  • Keep reading to learn more about why your protein powder could be the cause of your digestive stress!

    1. Food Sensitivity to Ingredients in Your Protein Shake

    The most common cause of digestive problems from protein powders is a food sensitivity to an ingredient in your powder. Whey and casein are two of the most common types of protein powders out there, with whey protein being the most popular one. 

    However, both of these are milk-based protein powders. This is problematic for most as it is estimated that 68% of the world’s population suffers from lactose malabsorption. That means that even if you don’t have an aggressively violent reaction to milk products, it’s more likely than not that your digestive system is having a hard time digesting it. Try switching to a vegan protein powder and see if your digestive issues improve. 

    2. You Are Consuming Too Much Protein

    High-protein diets have been overhyped recently, especially with the rise in popularity of the Paleo diet or the Caveman diet which emphasize protein above all else. Although protein is without a doubt an essential building block of every diet, people should also be familiar with the risks associated with an overconsumption of protein.

    Some of the most common consequences of eating too much protein include:

    • Weight gain
    • Bad breath
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhoea
    • Dehydration
    • Kidney damage
    • Increased cancer risk
    • Heart disease
    • Calcium loss

    As you can see, many of these risks are digestive issues. Even if you’re trying to seriously bulk up or cut body fat, protein should never exceed 35% of your daily calories. If you suspect that you’re already getting at least 10% of your daily calories from protein in the rest of your meals, try cutting out the protein shake entirely and see if that will help with your digestive problems.

    3. Your Protein Powder Contains Artificial Sweeteners

    Although protein powders are usually sold in health stores, that doesn’t automatically make them all a healthy choice for you. In fact, many protein powders come with as much as 23 grams of added sugar per scoop! 

    As you can probably imagine, consuming too much sugar can damage your digestive system and could even lead to IBS. Excess consumption of sugar could lead to digestive problems like:

    • Bloating
    • Diarrhoea
    • Gas
    • Sugar intolerance
    • Liver damage
    • Metabolic dysfunction

    Take a closer look at the nutritional info of your protein powder and confirm that it doesn’t pack too much sugar per scoop. Try switching it out for a protein powder without added sugars if you suspect this could be the cause of your digestive problems. 

    4. Your Protein Powder Is Contaminated

    As you may know, protein powders are categorized as dietary supplements. This means that the FDA leaves it up to the product manufacturers to accurately test and label the ingredients of their products. So, even if your protein powder claims to have the purest, most natural ingredients, there’s no way to actually verify that the information is correct. 

    This has led numerous independent organizations to test the quality of protein powders. The Clean Label Project tested the 134 best-selling protein powders and found that:

    • 70% of protein powders were contaminated with lead.
    • 74% of protein powders were contaminated with calcium.
    • 55% of protein powders were contaminated with BPA. 

    You likely won’t have the tools at home to test each tub of protein powder you purchase, but given the data available it’s safe to assume that it will be contaminated with one thing or another. 

    5. You Drink Your Protein Shake Immediately After a Workout

    Many people believe that there is an “anabolic window” of about 30 minutes after you finish your workout. That is, food consumed during this 30-minute window will be more beneficial to muscle growth than food consumed once the window has closed. This may lead athletes to chug their protein shakes immediately after their workout is complete. 

    However, the science behind the anabolic window claim is inconclusive. A 2013 meta-analysis did not find a strong correlation between muscle growth and immediate protein consumption following intense physical activity. 

    So, if you’ve been trying to wolf down on your protein before your anabolic window is up, you should consider slowing down. Letting your body go back to its normal state after intense physical activity will help your digestive system be ready to handle your protein shake.  

    6. You Drink Your Protein Powder Too Fast

    Although you may be starving after a particularly vigorous workout, you should remember to pace yourself with your protein shake. Protein is a complex molecule, which means it takes our digestive system a little longer to process it. 

    Take it slow next time you drink your protein shake, no matter how hungry you are. Give your digestive tract enough time to process the protein powder and see if that helps with your digestive issues! 

    7. You Are Not Drinking Enough Water With Your Protein Powder

    Many people choose to mix their protein powders with skim or almond milk, which can be a great way to add even more protein and some extra calcium to your shake. However, just because your protein shake is liquid doesn’t mean it’s hydrating. You should always remember to drink plenty of water immediately after a workout, even if you are consuming a protein shake. 

    Dehydration can lead to mild and severe digestive problems, such as:

    • Acid reflux
    • Stomach ulcers
    • Constipation
    • Bloating
    • Nausea

    Don’t forget to drink plenty of water after your workout, even if you are drinking a protein shake!

    How to Prevent Digestive Problems From Protein Shakes

    If you are committed to drinking your protein shake after a workout, the best way to prevent digestive problems is to support your digestive system. An unhealthy gut could make problems worse for you by slowing down your digestion and reducing how effectively you can absorb the nutrients from your protein powder. 

    Download the OSbiome app from the Apple App Store today to learn more about improving your gut health! This nifty app will help you track your gut health habits as you work towards a healthier gut. 

    And if you’re very serious about improving your gut health once and for all, you can order our Gut Health Test Kit today to get 15 proprietary wellness reports and a personalized plan for improved gut health. Are you ready to discover your formula to a healthier gut?