Does protein powder make you poop?

Does protein powder make you poop? In this article, you will learn how to supplement your dietary protein intake without upsetting your stomach.

This article was written by Jack Schrupp and Brittany Adelman, RDN.

Protein powder and poop

Can protein powder make you poop?

Protein powder can make you poop. Although some people tolerate a protein shake without any issues, others report changes in their bowel movements after incorporating protein powder into their diet. There are many reasons why this is so. 

For one thing, high protein foods may stimulate bowel movements due to the fact that they trigger the release of hormones like gastrin and cholecystokinin. These two GI peptides are known to play important roles in digestive processes including gastric acid secretion and gut motility.

What is more, certain types of protein, like whey protein, are absorbed really quickly. This may result in increased colonic transit time.

That said, neither of these explanations explain why some protein powders make you poop, and others do not. To really make sense of it all, we have to take a closer look at the ingredients.  

Why does protein powder make you poop? 

I myself used to wonder, “Why does protein powder make me poop?” It never made any sense to me, until I started learning more about protein powder ingredients. It turns out the average protein powder makes me poop because it is full of added junk.

Here are the top 4 reasons why protein powders make you poop. Keep in mind that what triggers side effects for one person, may not trigger them for the next. That said, it is safe to say that if your protein powder makes you go to the bathroom, one (or more) of these ingredients is to blame.

1) Food additives can make you poop.

Food additives like emulsifiers, thickeners, and flavors tend to draw water into the colon, increasing the liquid content of the stool. This happens because they are hard to digest and create high osmotic load.

When the osmotic load is high, there is more osmotic pressure. Osmotic pressure is the pressure exerted by a solvent (usually water) as it moves across a semipermeable membrane (in this case the colon) in order to balance the concentration of solutes on each side of the membrane. 

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

acacia fiber, acacia gum, artificial flavors, ascorbic acid, aspartame, calcium carbonate, carrageenan, cellulose gum, dextrin, dicalcium phosphate, dipotassium phosphate, gellan gum, guar gum, gum arabic, inulin, locust bean gum, maltodextrin, mono- and diglycerides, ‘natural’ flavors, rice bran extract, rice dextrin, rice hulls, rosemary extract, silica, silicon dioxide, sodium alginate, sodium bicarbonate, soluble corn fiber, soy lecithin, sunflower lecithin, tocopherols, tricalcium phosphate, xanthan gum, zinc oxide

2) Dairy-based proteins can make you poop.

Dairy-based proteins like whey and casein can make you poop because they contain lactose, a sugar most adults cannot fully digest.

3) Sugar alcohols can make you poop.

Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols resist digestion and can have a laxative effect. Common artificial sweeteners are sucralose and acesulfame potassium. Common sugar alcohols are erythritol, sorbitol, and xylitol. 

4) Insoluble fiber can make you poop.

Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool. If you eat a lot of it at once, it will make you poop. Most vegan protein powders contain some insoluble fiber. Some protein powders, especially those intended to help with weight loss, contain added insoluble fiber. In many cases, this added fiber is in the form of xanthan or guar gum, which are also used as laxatives

5) Preexisting gut issues can make you poop.

It is important to understand how the body breaks down and absorbs protein. When you eat dietary protein, it enters the stomach where stomach acid and enzymes start to break it down into smaller components.

From there, the partially digested proteins move into the small intestine, where enzymes called proteases break them down into amino acids. Amino acids are then absorbed through the intestinal lining and enter the bloodstream, which transports them throughout the body.

If any part of this complex process is not working properly due to preexisting gut issues, the protein you eat will not be fully broken down and absorbed. Not only will this deprive you of the amino acids you need to stay strong and healthy, but it will also cause painful side effects like diarrhea.

Other things that can make you poop

Here are a few factors that can lead to increased bowel movements. Understanding the bigger picture can often help you manage your digestive issues more effectively.

Food sensitivities

Food sensitivities or allergies to certain ingredients in protein powder can trigger digestive issues like diarrhea. For example, some individuals may be sensitive to soy, whey, or gluten, which are found in many protein powders.


Some protein powders contain caffeine, which stimulates contractions in your gut and moves poop toward your rectum for removal.

Gut health

Everyone has a gut microbiome consisting of trillions of bacteria that help with digestion. Changes to the composition of your gut microbiome caused by poor diet, medication, stress, and other lifestyle factors can impact your ability to digest foods like protein powder.

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drink wholesome will not make you poop

Our protein powder will not make you poop because we use a short list of simple ingredients free from food additives, dairy-based proteins, and protein concentrates and isolates.

Our ingredients

egg whites

egg whites





monk fruit

monk fruit

NOT our ingredients

  • acacia gum

  • acesulfame potassium

  • artificial flavors

  • carrageenan

  • erythritol

  • guar gum

  • inulin

  • maltodextrin

  • 'natural' flavors

  • silica

  • soy lecithin

  • sucralose

  • xanthan gum

  • xylitol

Note that instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we use whole food protein sources like collagen, egg whites, and almonds, which are easier to digest and absorb. Whole food protein sources also have unique digestive benefits: collagen can reduce bloating and improve digestive symptoms, egg whites can help restore your mucosal intestinal barrier, and almonds can improve the composition of your gut microbiome.

It follows that our customers experience fewer digestive issues with our protein powder than with any other type of protein supplement. Order samples to see for yourself. 

Digestion tips from a dietitian

Here are some practical tips and strategies from our nutrition expert on how to best incorporate protein powder into your diet: 

1. Gradually increase your protein intake: Start by introducing protein powder in small amounts and gradually increase the serving-size over time. This allows your body to adapt and reduces the chances of digestive discomfort.

2. Space out consumption: Instead of consuming a large amount of protein powder in one sitting, divide your intake throughout the day. This helps your body digest and absorb the protein more efficiently.

3. Consider individual tolerance: Pay attention to how your body reacts to different types of protein powder and choose protein powders that align with your unique dietary needs and preferences.

4. Pair with digestion-friendly foods: Although protein powders are convenient, it is beneficial to pair them with other foods that promote digestion. For example, consuming protein powder with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can provide additional fiber and nutrients that support digestive health.

Remember, everyone’s digestive system is unique, so listen to your body and adjust your protein powder consumption accordingly. By following these tips, you can optimize digestion and make the most out of your protein powder supplementation.



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