Protein Powder Side Effects

Protein powder side effects.

What are protein powder side effects? Looking for a protein powder without side effects? Drink Wholesome is made by hand in the USA with 100% real foods – no chalky protein concentrates or isolates, no food additives, just real foods.

Drink Wholesome makes protein powders without side effects.

What are protein powder side effects? 

Protein powder is just food. Do not expect it to do anything to your body that normal food will not. Some protein powders do have side effects, but these side effects are usually linked to added ingredients, not the protein itself. It is therefore important that you read ingredient labels when buying protein powder. 

Before we get into the dangers of added ingredients, it is important to acknowledge that some of the most common protein side effects are caused by casein and whey. 

Casein and whey protein powder side effects. 

Casein and whey are both byproducts of cheese production. They can therefore cause bloating, diarrhea, etc. for people with lactose intolerance. People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. If your protein supplement contains casein or whey and upsets your stomach, you may be lactose intolerant. 

For what it is worth, casein and whey protein are also known to cause stomach pain in individuals without lactose intolerance. It is therefore not a bad idea to seek a dairy-free alternative if you have a sensitive stomach. 

Dairy also indirectly stimulates insulin production, which regulates sebum production. Sebum, an oily, waxy substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands, can clog your pores and cause acne. 

Dairy can also hinder your ability to process blood sugar efficiently, which can cause inflammation, especially in your skin. Refer to this study for more information. 

If your casein or whey protein powder causes acne or stomach pain, it is time to look for a new protein powder. My recommendation is egg white protein powder. Unless you have an egg allergy, egg whites will not cause acne or stomach pain. Moreover, egg white are, from a nutritional standpoint, just as effective as casein and whey at helping you achieve your fitness and nutrition goals. 

Now that we have covered the side effects of casein and whey and protein powder, let us turn to the side effects of protein powder in general.

Stomach pain. 

Most protein powders are full of food additives. Food additives are heavily processed ingredients added to protein powder to improve characteristics like freshness, taste, texture, and appearance.

Although food additives are not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, they can add up quickly, especially if you drink a protein shake every day. At higher quantities, food additives can cause nasty side effects.

Because food additives look nothing like real foods, we have trouble digesting them. As a result, the trillions of bacteria in our guts have more time to eat and more time to release gas. This gas can cause bloating and stomach pain.

Accumulating evidence suggests that food additives also disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine and can result in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders. This is a good reason to avoid food additives if you have a sensitive stomach. 

As a rule of thumb, food additives are ingredients that you cannot pronounce or find in your kitchen. Not sure what to look for? Here is a list of the most common 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

*Natural flavors are NOT natural. Learn more.

protein powder supplement

You may have noticed that this list includes several artificial sweeteners. Recent research suggests that artificial sweeteners are particularly bad for the stomach because they alter the composition of our gut microbiota.

Heavy metals.

A non-profit called the Clean Label Project claims that most protein powders contain lead and that vegan protein powders contain, on average, twice the amount of lead per serving as protein powders made from animal products. They also claim that plant-based protein powders contain mercury, cadmium and arsenic, in some cases at levels above regulatory thresholds. Even though heavy metals can be dangerous, these findings are not particularly concerning. 

There is no such thing as a heavy metal free vegan protein powder. All plant-based protein powders contain heavy metals. Simply because there are detectable amounts of heavy metals in these foods does not render them unsafe to consume, nor does it discount the benefits they offer as part of a balanced diet. 

To put matters into perspective, according to a study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, we consume more metals from common foods, like kale, apples, avocados, than we consume from plant-based supplements. In other words, if you are eating a healthy serving of any of these foods, you are probably ingesting more heavy metals than you would from a serving of vegan powder.

Kidney damage. 

Research suggests that high dietary protein intake may increase the risk for chronic kidney disease in individuals with impaired kidney function. The metabolism of dietary protein creates waste, which kidneys filter. Eating a lot of protein, especially animal protein, forces our kidneys to work harder. This wear and tear may lead to kidney damage. 

Again, this is only a concern for people with impaired kidney function. There is little to no evidence that a high protein diet has a detrimental effect on kidney function in healthy persons.


Protein powders do have side effects. That said, most of these side effects are not particular to protein powder; normal foods have the same side effects. Moreover, most of the side effects caused by protein powder can be avoided by reading ingredient labels. I recommend steering clear of casein and whey protein powder as well as protein powder with food additives. 

Looking for a protein powder without side effects? 

Drink Wholesome is the ONLY protein powder made with 100% real foods. Our chocolate protein powder, for example, is made with egg whites, coconut, cocoa, and monk fruit. Ingredients like these are better for you and better tasting. Order samples to see for yourself. 

You are reading an article by Drink Wholesome, a small company from New Hampshire. Drink Wholesome has taken a fundamentally better approach to protein powder by using 100% real food ingredients. Research suggests that ingredients like these are better for you than the highly processed food additives found in most protein supplements. They are also far better tasting than the chalky protein isolates that you are probably used to. Order samples to see for yourself.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider.

Drink Wholesome makes protein powders without side effects.