Protein shakes and bowel movements. 

Protein shakes and bowel movements are not always best friends. Learn why protein shakes can cause changes in bowel habits. 

If your protein shake causes constipation or diarrhea, 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. 


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Do protein shakes disrupt your bowel movements?

Written by Jack Schrupp & endorsed by Baylee Reller, RDN

What is a bowel movement? 

Digestion begins in your mouth and ends in your bowels. A bowel movement (pooping) is the last stop in your digestive tract. Normal bowel movements occur anywhere from three times a day and three times a week, and involve poop that is brown, soft to firm in texture, and easy to pass. Sometimes, however, bowel movements are not normal.

The two most common types of abnormal bowel movements are constipation and diarrhea. Constipation occurs when poop passes through the large intestine too slowly. Diarrhea occurs when poop passes through the large intestine too quickly. If you experience either frequently, you may have a digestive problem.

Do protein shakes affect bowel movements? 

In the short term, protein shakes are known to cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal (GI) side effects, including constipation and diarrhea. In the long term, many protein shakes can change the composition of your gut microbiome, which can also affect your bowel movements. If you frequently experience constipation or diarrhea after drinking protein shakes, you have come to the right place. The rest of this article is dedicated to helping you understand why some protein shakes can disrupt your bowel movements.


Why do protein shakes affect bowel movements? 

The reason why protein shakes affect bowel movements has nothing to do with protein. Protein shakes cause diarrhea or make you constipated either because they contain added ingredients like emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, artificial sweeteners, and flavors, or because they are made with dairy-based protein. 

Food additives look nothing like real food. Your gut, it follows, has a hard time breaking them down. Additives therefore spend more time than they should in your digestive tract, which can cause one of two things to happen: either extra water is drawn into your intestines, causing diarrhea, or the partially digested food feeds your hungry gut bacteria, which release gas as they eat. Excessive methane gas can slow down colonic transit – the amount of time it takes food to travel through the colon – and result in 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

Dairy-based proteins like whey and casein affect your bowel movements similarly, especially if you have lactose intolerance. Individuals with lactose intolerance are unable to fully break down lactose, the sugar in dairy. Lactose therefore lingers in their guts, causing uncomfortable gastrointestinal (GI) side effects like diarrhea and constipation.

Why drink wholesome

drink wholesome is additive and dairy-free.

The main reason why we make the best protein powder for regular and healthy bowel movements is that we do not use food additives or dairy-based proteins.

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 made with real foods.

Another reason why we make the best protein powder for bowel movements is that we use real food protein sources, not protein concentrates or isolates. Nearly all other protein powders are made with one or both of these protein sources. The problem with protein concentrates and isolates is that they have been stripped of everything but the protein, meaning they look almost nothing like real food.

Your digestive system is built to break down unprocessed or minimally-processed real foods, not protein concentrates or isolates. This is why emerging research points to a potential for refined ingredients like these to alter the composition of your gut microbiome. As you just learned, imbalances in your gut microbiome make it hard to digest food, thereby increasing your risk of experiencing acid reflux. As you just learned, imbalances in your gut microbiome can make it hard to digest food.

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chocolate protein powder 28 servings lifestyle image 2

Instead of using protein concentrates or isolates, we make protein powder with egg whites and almonds. Minimally processed ingredients like these tend to be much easier on the digestive system compared to protein concentrates and isolates.

Unlike protein isolates and concentrates, whole protein sources come with natural enzymes and digestive aids that contribute to smoother digestion. Egg white protein powder is particularly gentle on the gut due to its low fiber and FODMAP content, and alkaline nature, which helps maintain a healthy gut pH. Egg whites also promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Our satisfied customers, it follows, have reported experiencing fewer digestive issues when using our egg white protein powder, especially when compared to other protein supplements.

For those who cannot consume eggs, our vegan almond protein powder is the ideal plant-based protein powder for healthy and regular bowel movements. Almonds are prebiotic, meaning they foster a more diverse gut microbiome. 1 servings also contains as much as 8 grams of fiber, which can soften and add bulk to stool. This is great news for folks who regularly experience constipation. 


easy to digest

“Thank you thank you thank you. This tastes great, mixes well, and does not make me run to the bathroom like most protein powders. I will be ordering again!” – Henry

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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.