Protein powder diarrhea?
Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition
Protein powder diarrhea? 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 diarrhea? Switch to drink wholesome.
Can protein shakes cause diarrhea?
If protein shakes give you diarrhea, you are not alone. Many people experience protein shake diarrhea, meaning they have loose, watery poop shortly after drinking a protein shake. Symptoms typically last for a few hours, but some people report having diarrhea for days. Despite affecting thousands of people every day, this common side effect is easily avoidable. If you are sick of protein supplements that make you poop, you have come to the right place. Here are a few tips on how to choose that protein supplement that will not make you run to the bathroom.
How to avoid protein shake diarrhea.
Choose a protein supplement that is dairy-free.
Dairy-based proteins like whey can casein are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production. They are known to cause digestive issues, especially for people with lactose sensitivity (intolerance) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Over one in three Americans are lactose intolerant, and the prevalence of IBS is somewhere between 10 and 15 percent in the United States. It follows that you may be lactose intolerant or have IBS and not even know it. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a poorly understood condition, and it is unclear why dairy triggers symptoms. Lactose sensitivity, on the other hand, is clearly understood. People with lactose sensitivity are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. This partially digested food passes through the colon more quickly than it should, which causes diarrhea.
Choose a protein supplement that is sugar alcohol-free.
Many protein supplements are sweetened with sugar alcohols, carbohydrates partially resistant to digestion, which can have a laxative effect because they draw water into your gut. They are also high FODMAP, and can trigger diarrhea for people with IBS. Common sugar alcohols include erythritol, sorbitol, and xylitol.
Choose a protein supplement that is low in fiber.
Some plant-based protein supplements contain lots of fiber. Fiber absorbs water, which softens stools and causes them to pass through the digestive tract more easily. Too much fiber, as you can imagine, can cause diarrhea. Note that certain protein supplements, especially those intended to help with weight loss, have added fiber. Any more than 10 grams of fiber per serving is probably too much.
Choose a protein supplement that is additive-free.
Most protein supplements are full of food additives. Although not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, additives can add up quickly (especially if you drink a protein shake every day) and cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects like diarrhea.
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
When it comes to identifying food additives, go with your gut. 😉 As a rule of thumb, they are the ingredients that you cannot pronounce
Why drink wholesome?
There are two types of protein supplements: ready-to-drink (store-bought) protein shakes, and protein shakes made with protein powder. In order to make a protein shake with protein powder, you have to mix the powder with milk or water. This requires a blender or a shaker bottle, and a little extra time and effort. Some people, prioritizing convenience, prefer to buy ready-to-drink protein shakes, but if they knew what they were drinking, they would probably vomit.
Ready-to-drink protein shakes are full of emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, sweeteners, and flavors. Ingredients like these improve characteristics like taste, texture, and shelf stability, but can cause uncomfortable side effects and long-term gut damage (more about this soon). This is why I recommend that you make your own protein shakes for sensitive stomachs with protein powder. That said, not all protein powders are created equal, and many contain the same additives found in ready-to-drink protein shakes! This is where drink wholesome stands out from the crowd.
Our protein powders are dairy-free, sugar alcohol-free, low in fiber, and additive-free. Basically, they are free from the top 5 ingredients that cause protein powder diarrhea.
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.
Our protein powders are also made with real foods. Most protein powders, on the contrary, are made with protein concentrates and/or isolates, foods stripped of everything but the protein. They are listed on the ingredient list as “pea protein” and “whey protein” as opposed to “peas” and “whey.” I will not go into the details, but protein concentrates and isolates undergo heavy mechanical and chemical processing before becoming protein powder. Sometimes, manufacturers use chemical solvents like hexane to isolate (separate) the protein from the food. This means that what you end up putting into your body looks nothing like real food. If you think about it, your gut was designed to digest naturally occurring foods, not laboratory formulated imitations, so if you feed it anything but real food, it might get upset. It is therefore in your best interest to avoid protein powders made with protein concentrates and isolates.
Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we make protein powder with egg whites and almonds. Egg whites are simply pasteurized and dried before becoming protein powder. Almonds are just roasted, pressed, and ground. Minimally-processed ingredients like these are an easy to digest, gut-friendly alternative to protein concentrates and isolates.
Unless you have a sensitivity or allergy to eggs, egg white protein is the best protein for your gut. Egg whites are low in fiber, low-FODMAP, naturally alkaline, and have the highest protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) of any whole food. Our customers have experienced fewer digestive issues with egg white protein than with any other type of protein. If you cannot eat eggs, try our almond protein powder. Unlike protein concentrates or isolates, almonds contain lots of healthy fats, fiber, and other nutrients like calcium and vitamin E. We prefer almonds to other minimally-processed plant protein sources because they are more gut-friendly. Research suggests that almonds possess prebiotic properties and can improve the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome.
“I’ve had Crohn’s disease for 20+ years and it’s always been hard to find a protein powder my stomach can handle. I’ve had no problem digesting drink wholesome AND it tastes great. I highly recommend this protein powder if you have IBS or Crohn’s.” – Jesse
Protein shake diarrhea? Switch to drink wholesome.