Protein powder constipation.
Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition
Do you get protein powder constipation? Switch to drink wholesome. It is additive-free, dairy-free, and made with real foods, not protein isolates – 99% of supplements fail to meet at least one of these criteria. This makes it perfect for people with gut issues and sensitive stomachs, as well as for people just looking to boost their protein intake without the processing and added junk. Order samples to see if our protein powder is right for you.
“If you have a sensitive gut, you need simple ingredients.”
-Brittany Carpenter, MS, RDN/LDN
Protein powder constipation.
Does protein powder cause constipation?
Although a common side effect of protein supplements is diarrhea, many people also report that protein powders and shakes cause constipation. Protein powder 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. Although protein powder constipation affects millions of people every year, it is easily avoidable as long as you know what ingredients to look out for.
Why does protein powder make you constipated?
There are two types of ingredients that tend to cause protein powder constipation. The first is dairy-based proteins like whey and casein. The second is food additives, which include ingredients like emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, sweeteners, and flavors.
Many protein powders contain either whey or casein proteins, and almost all protein powders contain one or more food additives. These ingredients are hard to digest, and therefore cause a number of GI (gastrointestinal) side effects, including constipation.
What is the best protein powder for constipation?
Fiber rich protein shakes and powders can help relieve constipation. In the United States, foods that contain at least 2.5 grams of fiber per serving are considered a “good source of fiber,” and those containing 5 grams or more of fiber per serving are considered “high fiber.” If you are looking for constipation relief, pick a protein powder with 5-10 grams of fiber per serving. Eating less than 5 grams of fiber may not help normalize your bowel movements. Eating more than 10 grams of fiber may cause bloating or diarrhea.
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage, is the indigestible part of plants. Unlike other nutrients, it is not broken down and absorbed by the body. Instead, it passes through the digestive tract relatively intact, and speeds digestion by adding bulk to the stool.
Most protein supplements do not contain much (if any) fiber because they are made with protein isolates. There are a few protein supplement companies that make high fiber protein powders, but most of them spike their products with fiber to increase the fiber content. One popular brand, for example, adds guar gum (a food additive) to its protein powder to give it a whopping 20g of fiber per serving. Not only is this way too much fiber for one sitting, but it is also an unhealthy way to increase your fiber intake.
Why drink wholesome?
drink wholesome is additive-free.
The first reason why our protein powder does not cause constipation is that we do not use food additives. Even in small quantities, additives can cause unpleasant side effects, including constipation.
Basically, because they look nothing like real food, additives are hard to digest. They therefore sit in your gut for longer than food should, which gives your gut bacteria extra time to eat. As they eat, gut bacteria produce gas, which slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon). Why exactly gas slows colonic transit is not fully understood, but it is thought that it 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
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.
*This is the actual ingredient list of one of the best-selling protein powders in the United States.
drink wholesome is dairy-free.
Another reason why our protein powder does not cause constipation is that we do not use dairy-based proteins like whey and casein. Whey and casein protein are byproducts of the production of cheese and yogurt and therefore contain lactose, the sugar dairy. Roughly 1/3 of adults lack the necessary enzymes to fully digest lactose, which means they have a hard time digesting protein powders made with whey and casein. Partially digested protein powder (lactose) feeds your gut bacteria, which product gas. As you just learned, excessive intestinal gas is one of the main causes of constipation.
drink wholesome is made with real foods.
A final reason why our protein powder does not cause constipation is that we use real food protein sources, not protein concentrates or isolates. The majority of protein powders, on the other hand incorporate either one or both of these protein sources into their formulas. Concentrates and isolates are essentially foods stripped of everything but the protein, and rather than being referred to as “peas” or “whey,” they are labeled as “pea protein” or “whey protein.”
The manufacturing of protein concentrates and isolates involves extensive mechanical and chemical processing. In certain instances, chemical solvents such as hexane are used to extract the protein from its natural source. What ends up in your protein supplement thus looking nothing like real foods.
As you probably have learned by now. your digestive system is well-equipped to handle minimally or unprocessed real foods, not artificial imitations. Consuming anything other than real food can thus lead to adverse reactions. While the long-term effects of consuming processed food products like protein isolates are still being explored, new research suggests that they can significantly disrupt the balance of the gut microbiota, and cause lasting harm to the gut.
Apart from its fundamental role in food digestion, the gut serves as a protective barrier against harmful pathogens, plays a crucial part in educating the immune system, and influences various physiological processes. As a result, disruptions to the delicate balance of the gut microbiome have been strongly linked to the development of chronic diseases. Considering this connection, I strongly discourage the use of protein powders made with protein concentrates and isolates.
Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we make the best protein powder for constipation with egg whites and almonds. The egg whites undergo a simple process of pasteurization and drying, while the almonds are just roasted, pressed to remove some oil, and finely ground. These minimally-treated alternatives to protein concentrates and isolates are easily digested and good for the gut.
For individuals without allergies or sensitivities to eggs, egg white protein emerges as an excellent option for promoting gut health. With a low fiber content and minimal FODMAPs, egg whites are gentle on the digestive system. Furthermore, they boast the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of all whole foods. Our satisfied customers consistently provide positive feedback, reporting reduced digestive issues when consuming our egg white protein powder compared to other types of protein.
For those who cannot consume eggs, our vegan almond protein powder serves as an exceptional substitute. Almonds, unlike protein concentrates or isolates, are rich in healthy fats, fiber (8 grams per serving), and essential nutrients such as calcium and vitamin E. We prioritize almonds over other minimally-processed plant protein sources due to their exceptional gut-friendly properties. Research indicates that almonds exhibit prebiotic characteristics, which nurture the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome, ultimately fostering improved gut health.
In summary, our protein powders undergo minimal processing to prioritize the well-being of your gut.
“I’ve long struggled to find a protein powder that is both easy to digest and tastes great. As someone who struggles with chronic GI symptoms and food intolerances, I was thrilled to find that this product checked all the boxes.” – Kate
Protein powder constipation.