Do protein shakes cause constipation?

Do protein shakes cause constipation? Keep reading to learn about protein shake constipation and what to do if your protein shake makes you constipated.


Protein shakes can cause constipation.

Written by Jack Schrupp & endorsed by Baylee Reller, RDN

Can protein shakes cause constipation? 

Although a common side effect of protein shakes and shakes is diarrhea, many people report that protein shakes also cause constipation. Constipation occurs when you have fewer than three bowel movements a week and your poop is hard and difficult to pass. Common symptoms include bloating and stomach pain. If your protein supplement causes constipation, you have come to the right place. In this article, I will explain what to do if you are constipated, and why many protein shakes cause constipation.

Protein shake constipation relief.

If you are constipated, and looking for relief, try the following remedies. Keep in mind that everyone is different, and that what works for you might not work for someone else. Also, remember to be patient; most of these remedies take 12 to 72 hours to work. If I were you, I would start with number 1 and work my way down the list.

1. Drink water – Drinking lots of water, especially warm or hot water in the morning, can help you poop.

2. Exercise – Movement can stimulate the muscles in your digestive system.

3. Eat more fiber – Fiber increases the size of your stool, which helps it move through your digestive tract. It also softens your stool, making it easier to pass.

4. Drink coffee – Caffeine can also stimulate the muscles in your digestive system

5. Use a laxative – If all else fails, try a laxative. Most laxatives can be purchased over-the-counter, and will usually quickly induce a bowel movement. I put use a laxative last on the list because laxatives have potential side effects, such as allergic reactions and vitamin deficiencies.


Why do protein shakes cause constipation? 

Typically, protein shake constipation has nothing to do with the type of amount of protein in your protein shake. What makes most people constipated is actually the added ingredients. Even in small amounts, additives like emulsifiers, thickeners, artificial sweeteners, and flavors can lead to unpleasant gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, including constipation.

Thus, if you are looking for protein shake constipation relief, your best bet is to avoid it in the first place. Steer clear of protein powders with long ingredient lists, and opt for ingredients you can find in nature. Keep reading to learn more. 


Why drink wholesome

Firstly, our vegan protein powder has up to 8 grams of fiber per serving. This much fiber can provide protein shake constipation relief without upsetting your stomach. 

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One reason why we make the best protein shake for constipation is that we, unlike most protein powder companies, do not use food additives. Additives look nothing like real food, and are therefore hard to digest. As a result, they sit in your gut for longer than food should, which gives your gut bacteria extra time to eat.

As gut bacteria eat, they release methane gas, which slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon) and causes constipation. Exactly why gas slows colonic transition is not well understood, but it might be because gas reduces motility (spontaneous muscle movement) within the large intestine. 

Here is a list of the most common food additives in protein powder:

acacia gum, acesulfame potassium, artificial flavors, aspartame, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dextrose, erythritol, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, “natural” flavors, maltodextrin, rice syrup solids, soy lecithin, silica, sucralose, sunflower lecithin, xanthan gum, xylitol

Over time, regularly eating food additives can also disturb the delicate balance of your gut microbiome, impacting your ability to digest and absorb food. This can, in turn, lead to more frequent run-ins with constipation and other GI side effects.

the alternative:

Protein Matrix Comprised of (Whey Protein Concentrate,  Whey Protein Isolate, Calcium Caseinate, Micellar Casein, Milk Protein Isolate, Egg Albumen, Glutamine Peptides), Polydextrose, Sunflower Creamer (Sunflower Oil, Corn Syrup Solids,  Sodium Caseinate, Mono- and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Soy Lecithin, Tocopherols), Natural and Artificial Flavor, MCT Powder (Medium Chain Triglycerides, Nonfat Dry Milk, Disodium Phosphate, Silicon Dioxide), Lecithin, Cellulose Gum, Salt, Yellow 5, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Papain, Bromelain

drink wholesome is dairy-free.

Another reason why we make the best protein shake for constipation is that we do not use dairy-based proteins. Many other protein powders, on the contrary, use whey and/or casein protein, which are byproducts of the production of cheese and yogurt.

These dairy-based proteins are notorious for triggering digestive problems, particularly in the one-third of adults with lactose intolerance. Lactose-intolerant individuals lack the enzymes needed to fully break down lactose, the sugar in dairy. As highlighted before, partially digested food can result in unpleasant side effects, including constipation.

vegan vanilla protein powder serving suggestion
vanilla protein powder lifestyle image 1

drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why we make the best protein shake for constipation is that we do not use protein concentrate or isolates. The majority of other protein powders rely on one or both of these protein sources, which are basically food stripped of everything but the protein.Making protein concentrates and isolates requires heavy mechanical and chemical processing. In certain instances, chemical solvents like hexane are employed to extract the protein. Consequently, what you scoop into your protein shake looks nothing like real, whole food.

The human digestive system is naturally built to handle minimally-processed or unprocessed whole foods, not protein concentrates and isolates. This is why emerging research shows that ingredients like these have the potential to disrupt the gut microbiome. As you just learned, a dysbiotic gut microbiome is a recipe for constipation.

vegan chocolate protein powder lifestyle image 1
chocolate protein powder 14 servings serving suggestion

Instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best protein shake for constipation with egg whites and almonds. Egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried. Almonds are just roasted, pressed to remove some oil, and ground. These minimally-processed ingredients are the reason why our protein powders are so easy to digest.

Unlike protein isolates and concentrates, real foods contain enzymes and digestive aids that promote efficient digestion. Egg whites are also low FODMAP, alkaline (helps balance the pH levels in your gut), and promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria. It is therefore no surprise that our happy customers report fewer digestive issues with our egg white protein powder than with any other protein supplement.

If you are unable to eat eggs, our vegan almond protein powder is a great alternative. Almonds have prebiotic effects, fostering the gut microbiome’s diversity and composition. They also contribute to healthy and regular bowel movements. In conclusion, our protein powders are minimally-processed to prioritize the well-being of your gut, ensuring that you can boost your protein intake without compromising your gut health. 

easy to digest

“My wife and I both love Drink Wholesome protein powder as we have had digestive issues with other supplements.” – Sean

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vegan chocolate protein powder

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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. drink wholesome is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


The Truth About Protein Shakes and Constipation


Protein shakes have become a popular dietary supplement for fitness enthusiasts and those looking to increase their protein intake. They are convenient, effective, and can help support muscle growth and recovery. However, there have been concerns and rumors circulating about whether protein shakes can cause constipation. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the relationship between protein shakes and constipation, addressing the various aspects and factors that may contribute to this issue.

The Connection Between Protein Shakes and Constipation

To answer the question, “Do protein shakes cause constipation?” we need to understand the role of protein shakes in our diet and how they can potentially affect our digestive system.

  1. Protein Shake Ingredients and Constipation

Protein shakes typically contain protein powder, liquid (water, milk, or other liquids), and sometimes additional ingredients like fruits, vegetables, or supplements. While the protein itself is not likely to cause constipation, certain factors related to the ingredients may contribute to digestive issues.

a. Low Fiber Content: Many protein shakes are low in fiber, which is essential for regular bowel movements. A lack of fiber in the diet can lead to constipation.

b. Artificial Sweeteners: Some protein shakes use artificial sweeteners to enhance flavor without adding extra calories. These sweeteners, when consumed in excess, may have a laxative effect for some individuals, while others might experience digestive discomfort.

c. Thickening Agents: Some protein shakes contain thickening agents like guar gum or xanthan gum, which can create a thick consistency. These agents may slow down the digestive process, potentially leading to constipation.

  1. Hydration and Constipation

One crucial factor often overlooked when discussing constipation is hydration. Protein shakes, when mixed with water or milk, can contribute to your daily fluid intake. However, inadequate hydration can lead to constipation, and individuals may not drink enough water alongside their protein shakes.

a. Balancing Fluid Intake: To prevent constipation, it’s essential to strike a balance between consuming protein shakes and staying adequately hydrated throughout the day.

  1. Protein Intake and Constipation

Protein is a necessary macronutrient for building and repairing tissues in the body. However, excessive protein intake, not necessarily from protein shakes alone, can potentially lead to constipation.

a. High-Protein Diets: People who follow high-protein diets without consuming sufficient fiber-rich foods may experience constipation due to an imbalance in their nutrient intake.

b. Digestive Adaptation: Some individuals may experience temporary digestive discomfort when increasing their protein intake, as the digestive system adapts to the change.

  1. Individual Variation

It’s important to recognize that the relationship between protein shakes and constipation can vary from person to person. Factors such as genetics, overall diet, and individual sensitivities play a significant role in how protein shakes may affect digestive health.

a. Tolerance Levels: Some individuals may be more sensitive to certain ingredients in protein shakes, while others may have no issues at all.

b. Overall Diet: The composition of your entire diet, including the variety of foods you consume, can influence digestive health.

c. Preexisting Conditions: People with certain gastrointestinal conditions or food sensitivities may be more prone to digestive issues, including constipation.

Ways to Prevent Constipation While Consuming Protein Shakes

Now that we’ve explored the potential factors that could contribute to constipation when consuming protein shakes, let’s discuss strategies to prevent this issue and promote healthy digestion:

  1. Increase Fiber Intake: To counterbalance the low fiber content in many protein shakes, incorporate high-fiber foods into your diet. Foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes can help maintain regular bowel movements.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Ensure that you are drinking enough water throughout the day, especially when you consume protein shakes. Proper hydration is essential for optimal digestion.
  3. Choose Protein Powders Wisely: When selecting a protein powder, consider one with minimal additives and artificial ingredients. Look for products with natural sweeteners and minimal thickeners.
  4. Gradual Protein Increase: If you are significantly increasing your protein intake, do so gradually to allow your digestive system to adapt.
  5. Consult a Healthcare Professional: If you consistently experience constipation when consuming protein shakes or have underlying digestive issues, consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized guidance.


In conclusion, the relationship between protein shakes and constipation is not a straightforward one. While protein shakes themselves are unlikely to be the direct cause of constipation, several factors related to their ingredients, dietary context, and individual variation can contribute to digestive issues. To enjoy the benefits of protein shakes without experiencing constipation, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced diet, stay hydrated, and make mindful choices when selecting protein powders.

Remember that everyone’s digestive system is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Pay attention to your body’s signals, and if you experience persistent digestive discomfort, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance on your dietary choices and overall digestive health.

By following these recommendations and understanding the nuances of protein shakes and constipation, you can enjoy the benefits of protein supplementation while supporting a healthy digestive system.