Sick of protein powder diarrhea?
Written by Jack Schrupp and reviewed by Ella McGonagle, M.S. Nutrition
Sick of protein powder diarrhea? Switch to drink wholesome. It is additive-free, dairy-free, and made with real foods, not protein isolates. 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.
Does protein powder cause diarrhea?
If protein shakes make you run to the bathroom, you are not alone. Many people experience protein powder 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 powders that make you poop, you have come to the right place. Here are a few tips on how to choose a protein powder that doesn’t cause diarrhea.
How to avoid protein shake diarrhea.
Choose a protein supplement that is dairy-free.
Dairy-based proteins like whey and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, are known to cause diarrhea. This is particularly the case for individuals with lactose intolerance.
People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. Partially digested lactose draws water into the colon because it has a high osmotic load.
High osmotic load refers to a situation in which the concentration of solutes (in this case unabsorbed lactose) in a solution is relatively high. 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 equalize the concentration of solutes on both sides of the membrane. Basically, unabsorbed lactose increases the liquid content of the stool, which causes diarrhea.
In summary, if you are at all lactose intolerant, over one in three Americans are, avoid protein powders made with whey and casein.
Choose a protein supplement that is sugar alcohol-free.
Many protein powders are sweetened with sugar alcohols, which are carbohydrates partially resistant to digestion. Like lactose, sugar alcohols can have a laxative effect because they are poorly absorbed and therefore pull water into your colon. Common sugar alcohols include erythritol, sorbitol, and xylitol.
Choose a protein supplement that is low in fiber.
Some plant-based protein powders contain lots of fiber. Fiber absorbs water, which softens stool and causes it to pass through the digestive tract more easily. Too much fiber, as you can imagine, can cause diarrhea. Note that certain protein powders, especially those intended to help with weight loss, contain added fiber. As a rule of thumb, more than 10 grams of fiber per serving is too much.
Choose a protein supplement that is additive-free.
Most protein supplements contain food additives, which look nothing like real food, and are therefore hard to digest. As a result, they pull water into the intestines, soften stool, increase colonic transit, and cause 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
Why drink wholesome?
Our protein powder does not cause diarrhea because it is dairy-free, sugar alcohol-free, low in fiber, and additive-free.
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.
Moreover, unlike the vast majority of protein powders, drink wholesome is made with real foods, not protein isolates or concentrates. Isolates and concentrates, which are labeled as “pea protein” or “whey protein” as opposed to “peas” or “whey,” are foods stripped of everything but the protein. They undergo extensive mechanical and chemical processing, and many cases, chemical solvents like hexane are used to extract the protein. The end result is an ingredient that looks nothing like real food.
As you just learned, the less an ingredient looks like real food, the harder it is to digest. Partially digested food is the leading cause of diarrhea, so if you are sick of protein powder diarrhea, steer clear of protein powders made with protein concentrates and isolates