Protein powder side effects.
What are protein powder side effects?
Side effects, also known as adverse reactions, are unwanted, undesirable symptoms caused by the consumption of protein powder. Common side effects of protein powder include acne, headaches, and digestive distress. This last one is really common. I would say that over one in 5 people experience bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, nausea, or stomach pain after drinking a protein shake. The severity of the side effects varies from person to person, but it is certainly not unusual to run to the bathroom or feel terribly bloated using protein powder.
Although many people experience whey protein powder side effects, protein powder side effects are usually caused by added ingredients, not the protein itself. It is therefore important that you read the ingredient list before buying a protein powder. Look out for ingredients that you do not recognize, and as a rule of thumb, avoid ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Ingredients like these are likely heavily-processed additives that have no place in your gut. Now without further ado, here are a few of the top ingredients to avoid if you are sick of protein powder side effects.
Avoid food additives.
Most protein powders 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 bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain. This is because food additives are, generally speaking, hard to digest. They sit in your gut for longer than food should, which gives your gut bacteria more time to eat. As they eat, these bacteria produce gas, which causes bloating and stomach pain. Gas also slows colonic transit (the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon) and can lead to constipation.
In the long term, food additives can disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine, which can result in the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders. Artificial sweeteners are among the most harmful additives in the long term as they alter the composition of your gut microbiota (the collection of microorganisms that help you digest food). This can lead to serious, chronic GI problems, widespread inflammation, and permanent damage to the gut microbiome. Some sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, are also poorly absorbed by the gut (meaning they feed those hungry gut bacteria) and cause diarrhea because they draw water into your intestine. Now you finally have something to blame for those post-protein shake trips to the bathroom!
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. Food additives are not the only thing to look out for when buying protein powder for sensitive stomachs, however. There are several other ingredients that can upset your stomach.
egg whites, coconut, cocoa, monk fruit
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.
Another reason to avoid artificial sweeteners.
The artificial sweeteners in protein powder may also cause headaches. Although there is little scientific evidence that proves artificial sweeteners cause headaches – a number of studies have examined the link, but only a handful have found a positive correlation – tons of anecdotal evidence has linked artificial sweeteners to headaches.. Symptoms range from dizziness to severe migraines.
Dairy-based proteins like whey and casein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, are known to cause digestive issues, especially for people with lactose 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 intolerance, on the other hand, is clearly understood. People with lactose intolerance are unable to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As you just learned, partially digested food feeds the bacteria in your gut, which produce gas.
Casein and whey protein, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production, can also cause acne. Dairy 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 pimples. Dairy can also hinder your ability to process blood sugar efficiently, which can cause inflammation in your skin. This matters because acne is an inflammatory disease, that is, clinical evidence shows that inflammation occurs at all stages of acne development.
Avoid protein concentrates and isolates.
Finding an additive-free, dairy-free protein powder is hard. Finding an additive-free, dairy-free protein powder made with real foods is next to impossible. Why? Most protein powders are made with protein concentrates and 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. The problem with ingredients that look nothing like real food is that they are hard to digest. (Your gut always prefers the real thing, not some heavily-processed imitation.)
Instead of protein concentrates or isolates, we use 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 just finished my first bag and ordered 2 more! I Iove this stuff! I have IBS and every protein powder hurts my stomach…except drink wholesome!”
What about 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, and 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, and avocados than we do 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 protein powder.
What about 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, which may lead to kidney damage. This is only a concern for people with impaired kidney function, however, and there is little to no evidence that a high protein diet has a detrimental effect on kidney function in healthy persons.
Why drink wholesome?
Our protein powders are additive-free, dairy-free, and made with real foods, not protein isolates. They are 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.
Sick of protein shake side effects? If your protein supplement causes any unwanted symptoms, switch to drink wholesome. It is made with simple, easy to digest ingredients. Order samples to see for yourself.
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.