My protein shake makes me nauseous.

The average protein shake makes me nauseous, which is why I created drink wholesome. It is made with a short list of simple ingredients, making it perfect for people with gut issues and sensitive stomachs. Order samples to see if my simple protein powder is right for you. 


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Why my protein shake makes me nauseous. 

Written by Jack Schrupp & endorsed by Baylee Reller, RDN

What is nausea?

Nausea is the feeling of discomfort that makes you feel as though you might vomit, but may or may not lead to vomiting. It is a feeling that everyone dreads, and you have almost certainly experienced it at some point – perhaps while reading in a moving vehicle, or after drinking too much coffee. There are many causes of nausea, including motion sickness, medication, viral infections, and even the foods you eat.

The timing of the nausea often indicates the causes, so if you feel nauseous shortly after drinking a protein shake, it is likely that the protein shake is causing the nausea. How long nausea lasts depends on the cause. Nausea from eating food will usually start to improve after a few hours. Nausea from other causes can last a lot longer. Call your doctor if your nausea lasts for more than a week.


Can protein shakes make you nauseous?

If your protein shake makes you nauseous, you are not alone. The average protein powder makes me nauseous too. Moreover, if you are sick of side effects like this, you have come to the right place. In this article, I will explain why protein supplements cause nausea, and cover the top ingredients to avoid, especially if you have gut issues or a sensitive stomach. 


Why my protein shake makes me nauseous?

Protein supplements can cause a number of gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, including nausea, for a number of reasons. Here are a few of the most common.

Food additives can cause nausea.

First of all, there are two types of protein shake: ready-to-drink (store-bought) protein shakes, and protein shakes made with protein powder. Nearly every ready-to drink protein shake, and most protein powders, contain food additives. Here I am talking about ingredients like emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, and flavors.

Food additives cause nausea because they look nothing like real food. Basically, your gut has a hard time digesting ingredients that do not look like real food. These ingredients therefore linger in your digestive tract which causes one of two things to happen: either your gut absorbs extra water, causing diarrhea, or you feed your gut bacteria, which release gas. Gas, in turn, causes bloating, stomach pain, and feelings of nausea. It can also cause constipation as it slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon).

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

Sweeteners can cause nausea. 

Artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and stevia are added to many protein supplements to make them sweet, and are popular because of their intense sweetness – a pinch can be used to achieve the same amount of sweetness as several tablespoons of sugar. This intense sweetness is also why they can make people feel sick. Essentially, it is easy to overdo it, and many protein shakes and powders are thus way too sweet. These types of sweeteners also activate bitter taste receptors in addition to sweet taste receptions, which can make you gag. 


Dairy can cause nausea.

Dairy-based proteins like whey and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, are known to make people nauseous. This is especially the case for individuals with lactose intolerance (over one third of adults), as they cannot full digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As you now know, partially digest food can cause a range of unpleasant GI symptoms. 

Protein isolates can cause nausea. 

Finding an additive-free, dairy-free protein supplement is hard. Finding an additive-free, dairy-free protein powder made with real foods is next to impossible. Why? The vast majority of protein powders are made with protein concentrates and/or isolates, foods stripped of everything but the protein. They appear on the ingredient list as “pea protein” and “whey protein,” and require heavy mechanical and chemical processing to become protein powder. Manufacturers often use chemical solvents like hexane to separate the protein from the food.  As a result, your protein supplement looks nothing like real food. 

In addition to being bad for your gut, protein concentrates and isolates also taste chalk. Because they no longer contain fats, carbs, and other nutrients, they have a chalky aftertaste that can trigger your gag reflex (make you feel like you are going to vomit).

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Why drink wholesome

Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we make delicious, easy to digest protein powders with egg whites and almonds. The egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried, and the almonds are just roasted, pressed to remove some oil, and ground. Minimally-processed ingredients like these are a better-tasting, gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates. Our protein powders are also free from nauseating ingredients like additives and artificial sweeteners. Order samples to see for yourself. 

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easy to digest

“Tastes great blended with frozen fruit. It’s hard to describe, but this protein powder just makes me feel good! I used to use whey, and it always made bloated and gassy.” – Amy

Read more reviews or take the quiz.


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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.


Understanding the Queasiness: Why Protein Shakes Can Trigger Nausea

Protein shakes have long been celebrated for their role in muscle recovery, weight management, and overall health improvement. However, they can also have an unwanted side effect: making you feel nauseous. In this comprehensive blog post, we’ll delve into the reasons why protein shakes can sometimes lead to nausea and explore why options like egg white protein powder and almond protein powder are often gentler on the stomach, reducing the risk of feeling queasy.

The Queasy Reality: Nausea and Protein Shakes

Nausea is a common side effect experienced by some individuals when consuming protein shakes. This unsettling feeling can range from mild discomfort to severe queasiness, sometimes accompanied by vomiting. To understand why this happens, let’s investigate some potential culprits:

  1. Lactose Intolerance: Many protein shakes, especially those made from whey and casein, contain lactose—a sugar found in milk and dairy products. Lactose intolerance is a prevalent condition where the body struggles to digest lactose. Consuming protein shakes with lactose can lead to nausea and digestive discomfort in individuals with this intolerance.
  2. Overly Rich Ingredients: Some protein shakes are densely packed with protein and other ingredients. For some people, consuming a shake with high protein content or rich additives can overwhelm the digestive system and trigger nausea.
  3. Artificial Ingredients: Protein shakes may contain artificial sweeteners, flavors, and additives. These synthetic ingredients can be harsh on the digestive system, leading to gastrointestinal discomfort and nausea, particularly in individuals with sensitivities.
  4. Unfamiliarity: For those new to protein shakes, or if you’re trying a new brand or type of protein, the unfamiliarity of the taste and texture can sometimes lead to a feeling of queasiness.

Now that we’ve identified some potential causes of nausea related to protein shakes, let’s explore why egg white protein powder and almond protein powder are often considered kinder to the stomach.

Egg White Protein Powder: A Gentle Option

Egg white protein powder, derived from the whites of eggs, is known for its gentle impact on the digestive system. Here’s why:

  • Lactose-Free: Egg white protein powder is naturally free of lactose, making it a suitable option for individuals with lactose intolerance, who may experience nausea with dairy-based protein shakes.
  • High Digestibility: The proteins in egg whites are highly digestible, meaning your body can efficiently break them down and absorb them. This reduces the risk of nausea and digestive discomfort.
  • Minimal Additives: High-quality egg white protein powders typically have fewer additives and artificial ingredients, reducing the likelihood of gastrointestinal distress and queasiness.
  • Low Fiber Content: Egg white protein powder is generally low in fiber, which can be gentler on the digestive system compared to protein shakes with high fiber content.

Almond Protein Powder: A Digestion-Friendly Alternative

Almond protein powder, made from ground almonds, offers its own set of advantages when it comes to avoiding nausea:

  • Plant-Based and Lactose-Free: Almond protein powder is plant-based and naturally free of lactose, making it an excellent choice for those with lactose intolerance.
  • Gentle on Digestion: Almond protein powder is usually well-tolerated by the digestive system, with fewer reports of nausea compared to some dairy-based alternatives.
  • Nutrient-Dense: Almonds are naturally rich in essential nutrients like magnesium, which can help support digestive health and reduce the risk of nausea.
  • Modified Fiber Content: While whole almonds are high in fiber, almond protein powder often has some of this fiber content removed during processing, making it easier on the stomach than whole almonds.

Additional Tips for Preventing Nausea from Protein Shakes

To enhance your experience with protein shakes and minimize the risk of nausea, follow these practical guidelines:

  1. Start Slowly: If you’re new to protein supplementation or trying a new brand or type of protein, start with smaller servings to allow your body to adjust.
  2. Choose High-Quality Products: Opt for reputable brands that offer high-quality protein powders with minimal additives and fillers.
  3. Proper Mixing: Ensure that you mix your protein powder thoroughly with water, milk, or your preferred liquid to prevent clumps, which can sometimes lead to nausea.
  4. Stay Hydrated: Adequate hydration can aid digestion and reduce the risk of nausea. Make sure to drink enough water throughout the day.
  5. Listen to Your Body: If you consistently experience nausea with a particular protein shake, consider trying an alternative option like egg white or almond protein powder.

In Conclusion

While protein shakes can undoubtedly provide numerous health benefits, they may occasionally lead to feelings of nausea due to various factors, including lactose intolerance, ingredient quality, and unfamiliarity. To reduce the likelihood of queasiness, consider gentler alternatives like egg white protein powder and almond protein powder, which are known for their digestive friendliness. By being mindful of the factors that can contribute to nausea and following best practices for protein supplementation, you can enjoy the advantages of protein shakes without the discomfort. Prioritize your digestive comfort and overall well-being when selecting your protein source, and you’ll be better equipped to make the most of this valuable dietary supplement.