Protein powder can be a great supplement to your diet, but it's important to remember that not all protein powders are created equal.
Some proteins are better for muscle growth and repair, while others can help you lose weight. Additionally, different people respond to protein supplements in unique ways, which seem to lead many to often ask - "does protein make you poop?".
Protein plays a significant role in a balanced diet that supports optimal health and function. Understanding how protein powder can impact your body (and poop) can help you decide whether or not it's right for you.
This article will explain the importance of a balanced diet and regular exercise for maintaining a healthy lifestyle - particularly the role of protein. We'll also go over some common side effects of protein powder and discuss safe consumption guidelines to keep in mind.
Do Protein Shakes & Powders Make You Poop?
According to Alison Patterson, accredited practising dietitian and spokesperson for Sports Dietitians Australia, several factors can affect whether or not protein powder makes you poop.
For instance, the type of protein supplement you take can significantly impact how your body responds to it. Many consumers report fewer side effects from protein supplements made with more natural ingredients.
Additionally, the way your body absorbs the supplement can also have a significant impact on your digestion.
Ultimately, protein powder does not make you poop on its own. When you maintain sufficient protein intake as part of a balanced diet, your body will eventually begin to use the protein to fuel growth, repair, and maintenance processes.
Maintaining a balanced diet and choosing the best supplements for your body is crucial, so it's best to consult your physician before taking protein supplements.
While these supplements provide multiple benefits, the side effects they sometimes cause can be frustrating and discouraging for those beginning their fitness journeys.
If your body is adjusting to a dramatic increase in protein, you may experience stomach pain or diarrhea due to the adjustment period. However, if these symptoms persist, you may be experiencing a food intolerance or a deficiency in a specific nutrient such as iron.
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How Protein Impacts Your Digestive System
Some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort after taking protein supplements, such as stomach cramps, bloating, and diarrhea.
These problems occur because many protein shakes, bars and supplements contain synthetic ingredients or complex amino acids that are difficult for the body to digest and absorb. As a result, these supplements can often trigger indigestion and result in unwanted side effects like gas, heartburn, nausea, and constipation.
Food allergies are another crucial factor to consider when choosing a protein supplement, as even the best protein supplements can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals.
Because many protein supplements contain milk protein or other potentially problematic ingredients, individuals with these allergies must be familiar with their favourite supplements' ingredients to prevent allergic reactions.
While all protein shakes have the potential to cause digestive distress, some brands are better than others for dealing with sensitive stomachs.
You may not be able to completely change the answer to "does protein make you poop?" - but following the tips we'll cover in the next few sections can help minimise bathroom trips after taking your supplements.
How To Minimise Gastrointestinal Side Effects When Taking Protein
Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to minimise side effects and ensure you're taking the correct type of protein supplement for your goals.
In the following sections, we'll provide tips for choosing a protein powder that won't cause gastrointestinal distress and will help you progress in your fitness journey.
Remember that you can also ask your physician for advice; they can help you find a supplement that complements your overall health and diet.
1.) Avoid Allergens
First, choose a protein supplement free of common allergens like lactose, soy, and gluten.
Ingredients like these are often added to protein supplements as a filler or flavouring agent but can irritate the digestive tract or cause other allergic reactions.
Also, avoid protein supplements with excessive fillers, as these can worsen any digestive issues you may be experiencing. Scrutinise supplement labels to determine if they contain any potential allergens for you.
Common Allergens Found in Protein Powder
While many consumers have no issue consuming the ingredients in protein powder, some manufacturers use types of protein that can potentially cause problems for those with severe food allergies.
For example, one popular protein powder ingredient is whey (both concentrate and isolate versions), a common source of protein found in cow's milk and other dairy products. Unfortunately, whey is a common allergen among individuals who are allergic to milk proteins, so anyone with a severe dairy allergy should exercise caution when taking this or any other protein supplement that contains whey protein (Note: Whey Protein Isolate has next to no lactose and may be a good option).
Another common ingredient in protein powder is rice protein, a common source of allergens for people with gluten sensitivity. Finally, some products contain egg or nut protein, which can be problematic for some users. If you have any food allergies, do your research and select a protein supplement that does not contain these ingredients.
2.) Try Low Sugar Options
If you experience digestive problems when taking protein supplements, you're likely sensitive to some of the ingredients in the product. However, it can be challenging to determine which ingredients are causing the issue without experimenting with different products.
If you've experienced discomfort or unpleasant side effects from certain protein powder brands, try to choose other brands with fewer ingredients or less problematic ingredients - like sugar.
Many consumers find products with excessive amounts of added sugars may cause bloating and other unpleasant side effects. This side effect is often referred to as the "sugar rush", resulting from the sudden spike in blood sugar that usually occurs when consuming large amounts of sugar in a short time.
High blood sugar levels can also cause mood swings, fatigue, and increased hunger levels, so you must monitor the amount of sugar you consume daily.
3.) Explore Organic Options
Choosing a vegetarian or a plant-based protein powder may not be for everyone, but organic options can benefit many consumers.
For example, conventional protein shakes, bars and powders often contain pesticides and other chemicals that can compromise your health. On the other hand, organic protein powders and supplements do not contain these chemicals and may be easier to digest.
Another advantage of choosing an organic option is that it may provide additional health benefits. For example, organic hemp protein powder often contains extra vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin D and fatty acids.
Overall, choosing an organic protein powder can help you meet your fitness goals safely and sustainably while helping you avoid unknown and potentially dangerous substances.
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Generally, manufacturers make the best protein powders from whole food sources.
On the other hand, synthetic powders come with more considerable risk. In some cases, manufacturers add additives such as sugars and artificial colours to their powders to make them more appealing to consumers. While additives are typically not harmful in small doses, they can interfere with your body's natural absorption of nutrients and increase the risk of adverse side effects.
For best results, look for protein supplements free of chemical additives and choose a brand you trust.
The most common additives to look out for in protein powder include artificial sweeteners, thickeners, flavours, and colouring agents. Look for things like lecithin, gelatin, cellulose gum, xanthan gum, carrageenan, guar gum, and maltodextrin in the ingredient list and avoid products that feature these ingredients for the best results.
5.) Consider Fibre
Fibre plays an integral role in the digestive system, so it can play a significant role in determining whether or not protein makes you poop. Finding options with lower quantities of insoluble fibre should help keep your bowel movements regular. Meanwhile, increasing the amount of soluble fibre you consume in the rest of your diet can also help normalize your digestive process.
6.) Choosing the Best Supplements
The best way to choose a protein powder is to carefully read the label and look for ingredients free from added sugars and chemicals.
In time you will develop a relationship with the brands you use consistently, and their products will be the ones you trust the most. The trial and error period can be frustrating, but in the end, you'll have found a protein powder that feels solely beneficial.
We use and showcase a number of great manufacturers in this article - explore them for yourself and find the ones that work best for you!
How To Safely Use Protein Supplements
When you start using a new supplement, you must fully understand how to safely and optimally use the product. While protein powder is relatively simple and easy to use, several factors can affect your results.
First, it's essential to pay attention to your serving size and ensure you're only using the exact amount that the manufacturer recommends.
Second, pay attention to your body’s response and be aware of any adverse reactions you may experience from using the product.
Another factor to consider is your overall diet and nutrition plan. If you're already following a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, you may not need to consume any additional vitamins or minerals through supplements. In this case, a high-quality protein powder may be sufficient for reaching your fitness goals.
However, suppose your usual diet is lacking in nutrition. In that case, it may be wise to use additional supplements and protein powder to ensure your body receives all the nutrients it needs. You should also speak with your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking certain medications.
Finally, it's essential to stay hydrated at all times and never take protein shakes on an empty stomach. Everyone should drink at least six to eight glasses of water daily to get the best results, so consider keeping a log if you’re worried that you're not getting the amount you need. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps you absorb nutrients from the protein and keeps you feeling full.
Find the Perfect Protein Powder for Your Body
Finding supplements that meet your budget and needs is one of the most challenging aspects of building a cohesive and effective fitness plan.
Unfortunately, many products on the market today contain low-quality ingredients and aren't effective in helping you get the desired results. For this reason, many find themselves dissatisfied with the results of their chosen brand of protein powder, protein shakes or protein bars.
Fortunately, what we do here at The Bircher Bar is to help our audience find and get their hands on high-quality protein powders and other fitness supplements that meet their unique needs and budgets. Using our extensive knowledge and experience, we can help you find the products that are best suited to helping you achieve your fitness goals.
The products we feature and support are from leading brands in the industry that we’ve rigorously and carefully selected for their quality, price, and business practices.
Check out the products and brands we’ve linked to throughout this article and keep in mind that we have a wealth of information about different fitness supplements to help you determine which products will be best for you - if ever in doubt, just get in touch.
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That’s A Wrap!
There you have it.
Protein powders and supplements come in all manner of different shapes and sizes - often with countless different ingredients, protein types and additives. Understanding this will help you avoid unnecessary digestive discomfort and uncomfortable bowel movements.
We hope that’s helped answer all of your key questions.
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