Sick of protein powder stomach cramps? 

Sick of protein powder stomach cramps? Learn what causes protein powder stomach cramps, and how to avoid them once and for all.

If your protein powder makes you cramp, switch to drink wholesome. It is made with a short list of simple ingredients for people with gut issues and sensitive stomachs. Order samples to see for yourself. 


vanilla protein powder

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How to avoid protein powder stomach cramps. 

Written by Jack Schrupp & endorsed by Baylee Reller, RDN

What is a stomach cramp? 

A stomach cramp is a non-medical term used to describe pain or discomfort in the abdomen. The pain is usually sudden or sharp, and can occur anywhere from the lower chest to the groin. Although you may perceive the pain as coming from your stomach, abdominal pain can come from a number of different organs, including the small intestine and colon. 

Depending on the cause, stomach cramps can last for minutes or hours. Stomach cramps caused by eating too much food, for example, only last a few minutes. Stomach cramps caused by menstruation, on the other hand, can last for hours. Please consult a medical professional if your stomach cramps are unexplained or persistent, as they may be symptoms of a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. 


What causes stomach cramps? 

Stomach cramps are a common symptom and most people experience them at some point in their life. The most common causes are indigestion, constipation, a stomach virus, and menstruation (if you are a woman). Other causes include stomach conditions like iIrritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease. Some foods can cause stomach cramps, including some protein supplements.  


Can protein powder give you stomach cramps?

If your protein powder gives you stomach cramps, you are not alone – many people experience stomach cramps after drinking protein shakes. 

Why does protein powder cause stomach cramps? 

The reason why your protein powder gives you stomach cramps probably has nothing to do with the type or amount of protein. Most protein powders can cause stomach cramps because they are made with added ingredients that are hard to digest, or dairy-based proteins.

To be fair, every stomach is unique, and an ingredient that triggers cramps for one person may not have the same effect on another. There are a few ingredients that tend to pose digestion challenges for many individuals, however, and I cover them below.

As a rule of thumb, look for a short list of simple ingredients when buying protein powder. The fewer and the simpler the ingredients, the less likely it is that a protein powder will upset your stomach. 


Why drink wholesome

drink wholesome is additive-free.

One reason why our protein powder does not cause stomach cramps is that it is additive-free. Many other protein powders, on the contrary, contain food additives such as emulsifiers, thickeners, artificial sweeteners, and flavors. Even in small quantities, ingredients like these can cause gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms including bloating, cramps, constipation, diarrhea, and flatulence, particularly for individuals with existing gut issues.

Due to their dissimilarity to real food, additives are only partially digested by the body. Incomplete digestion can lead to two possible outcomes: either the gut absorbs excess water, causing diarrhea, or the additives feed the bacteria in the gut, which release gas. Excessive gas in the gut can result in painful symptoms such as cramping, and even cause constipation.

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

It is highly likely that you incorporate a protein shake into your daily routine. Consider how quickly small amounts of additives can add up as a result. Regardless of whether you have gut issues or not, the regular consumption of food additives can disrupt regulatory pathways within the intestines. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and various systemic inflammatory disorders.

Furthermore, food additives, particularly artificial sweeteners, have the potential to disrupt the delicate balance of the gut microbiome, a community of microorganisms that help with digestion. Over time, this can impact your ability to digest food and absorb nutrients.

the alternative:

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

drink wholesome is dairy-free.

Another reason why our protein powder will not cause cramps is that we do not use dairy-based proteins. In contrast, many protein powders contain whey and/or casein protein, which are derived from the production of cheese and yogurt. These dairy-based proteins sourced are known to provoke digestive issues, especially for the one-third of adults who have lactose intolerance.

Individuals with lactose intolerance lack the necessary enzymes to fully digest lactose, the sugar in dairy. As mentioned above, the incomplete breakdown of food can lead to undesirable GI side effects.

vegan vanilla protein powder serving suggestion
vanilla protein powder lifestyle image 1
drink wholesome is made with real foods.

A final reason why our protein powder will not cause cramps is that we use real food proteins, not protein concentrates or isolates. In contrast, nearly every other protein powder is made with one or both of these protein sources, which are foods stripped of everything except the protein content.

Making protein concentrates and isolates involves extensive mechanical and chemical modifications. In certain cases, chemical solvents such as hexane are utilized to extract the protein from its natural source. Consequently, the substance you scoop into your protein shake is a far cry from real food.

Your digestive system is designed to handle minimally-processed or unprocessed real foods, rather than protein concentrates and isolates. This is why emerging studies indicate that refined ingredients like these have the potential to disrupt the delicate balance of your gut microbiome. If you have pre-existing gut issues, this is absolutely something you want to avoid.

vegan chocolate protein powder lifestyle image 1
chocolate protein powder 14 servings serving suggestion

Instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we use egg whites and almonds. The transformation of egg whites into protein powder requires nothing more than pasteurization and drying. Similarly, almonds only need to be roasted, pressed (to remove some oil), and ground. These minimally-processed ingredients contribute to a protein powder that is easily digested and promotes gut health.

Unlike protein isolates and concentrates, real foods like egg white and almonds contain enzymes and other digestive aids that help you break them down. Moreover, egg whites, in addition to their low fiber and low FODMAP content, help maintain a healthy pH balance in the gut and promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Our happy customers claim to experience fewer digestive problems with our egg white protein powder than with any other protein supplement.

For those who cannot consume eggs, our vegan almond protein powder serves as an outstanding alternative. Almonds exhibit prebiotic effects, nurturing the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome. They can also promote healthy and regular bowel movements. In summary, our protein powders undergo minimal processing to prioritize the well-being of your gut.


easy to digest

“TALK ABOUT A GAME CHANGER! This protein changed my life and made my tummy even happier! Every vegan and whey protein I’ve tried has immediately hurt my stomach after drinking it, BUT THIS ONE is DIFFERENT! No bloating, cramps or gas!! I am so happy with this product, you won’t be disappointed!☺️ Now go get yours!” – Sydnee

Read more reviews or take the quiz.


vanilla protein powder

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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.


Protein Powder and Stomach Cramps: Understanding the Connection

Protein powder has gained immense popularity over the years, and for a good reason. It’s a convenient way to supplement your protein intake, whether you’re an athlete looking to build muscle or someone simply trying to meet their daily protein requirements. However, not all protein powders are created equal, and for some individuals, they can lead to an unpleasant side effect: stomach cramps. In this blog post, we’ll explore the relationship between protein powder and stomach cramps and why options like egg white protein powder and almond protein powder are less likely to cause this discomfort.

The Unpleasant Reality: Protein Powder and Stomach Cramps

Stomach cramps, bloating, and gastrointestinal discomfort are common complaints among individuals who regularly consume protein powder. These issues can deter people from reaping the benefits of protein supplementation, which include muscle recovery, weight management, and overall health improvement. Let’s delve into why protein powder can sometimes lead to stomach cramps:

  1. Lactose Intolerance: Many protein powders, particularly those derived from whey and casein, contain lactose. Lactose intolerance is a common condition where the body struggles to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products. When lactose-intolerant individuals consume protein powders with lactose, it can lead to bloating, gas, and stomach cramps.
  2. Artificial Ingredients: Some protein powders contain artificial sweeteners, flavors, and additives that can be harsh on the digestive system. These synthetic ingredients may cause gastrointestinal distress, including cramps and bloating, in sensitive individuals.
  3. Low-Quality Protein Sources: Protein powders that use low-quality protein sources or have not been processed correctly may contain impurities and irritants that can upset the stomach.
  4. Fiber Content: Some protein powders, especially those with added fiber, can be challenging to digest. Excess fiber intake can lead to gas, bloating, and stomach cramps.

Now that we’ve identified the potential causes of stomach cramps related to protein powder consumption, let’s shift our focus to why egg white protein powder and almond protein powder are often gentler on the stomach.

Egg White Protein Powder: A Stomach-Friendly Option

Egg white protein powder, made from the whites of eggs, is renowned for being easy on the stomach. Here’s why:

  • Lactose-Free: Egg white protein powder is naturally free of lactose, making it suitable for individuals with lactose intolerance who often experience stomach cramps with dairy-based protein powders.
  • High Digestibility: The proteins in egg whites are highly digestible, meaning your body can break them down and absorb them with ease. This reduces the risk of stomach discomfort and cramps.
  • Minimal Additives: High-quality egg white protein powders typically have minimal additives and artificial ingredients, further reducing the likelihood of gastrointestinal distress.
  • Low Fiber Content: Egg white protein powder is low in fiber, which can be easier on the digestive system compared to protein powders with high fiber content.

Almond Protein Powder: A Digestion-Friendly Alternative

Almond protein powder, made from ground almonds, offers its own set of benefits when it comes to avoiding stomach cramps:

  • Plant-Based and Lactose-Free: Almond protein powder is plant-based and naturally free of lactose, making it an excellent choice for those with lactose intolerance.
  • Gentle on Digestion: Almond protein powder is generally well-tolerated by the digestive system, with fewer reports of stomach cramps compared to some dairy-based alternatives.
  • Nutrient-Dense: Almonds are rich in essential nutrients like magnesium, which can help support digestive health and reduce the risk of cramping.
  • Fiber Content: While almonds themselves are high in fiber, almond protein powder may have some of this fiber content removed during processing, making it easier on the stomach than whole almonds.

Additional Tips for Preventing Stomach Cramps from Protein Powder

While egg white and almond protein powders are less likely to cause stomach cramps, it’s essential to follow some general guidelines to ensure a comfortable protein supplementation experience:

  1. Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration can aid in digestion and reduce the risk of cramps. Make sure to drink enough water throughout the day.
  2. Choose High-Quality Products: Opt for reputable brands that offer high-quality protein powders with minimal additives and fillers.
  3. Start with Smaller Servings: If you’re new to protein supplementation or trying a new product, start with a smaller serving to gauge how your body responds.
  4. Mix Properly: Ensure that you mix your protein powder thoroughly with water, milk, or your preferred liquid to prevent clumps that can be harder to digest.
  5. Listen to Your Body: If you consistently experience stomach cramps with a particular protein powder, consider trying an alternative option like egg white or almond protein powder.

In conclusion, while protein powder stomach cramps can be a common issue for some individuals, choosing the right protein source can make a significant difference. Egg white protein powder and almond protein powder are both excellent choices for those seeking a gentler, stomach-friendly option. By being mindful of the factors that can contribute to stomach discomfort and following best practices for protein supplementation, you can enjoy the benefits of protein powder without the unwanted side effects. Remember to prioritize your digestive comfort and overall well-being when selecting your protein powder of choice.