Does protein powder upset your stomach?
We make the best protein powder for sensitive stomachs. If your protein supplement causes bloating, constipation, cramps, diarrhea, gas, or nausea, switch to Drink Wholesome.
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We use 100% real foods.
Drink Wholesome is made with 100% real foods. Our chocolate protein powder, for example, is made with egg whites, coconut, cocoa, and monk fruit. Our vegan vanilla protein powder is made with chickpeas, coconut, vanilla, and monk fruit. Ingredients like these are good for you, and unless you have a food allergy, none of them will upset your stomach.
Dairy-based proteins can cause side effects like bloating, constipation, cramps, diarrhea, gas, and nausea, especially for people with lactose intolerance or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Common dairy-based proteins include casein and whey, which are byproducts of cheese and yogurt production.
It’s minimally processed.
Most protein powders are made with protein concentrates and isolates, heavily-processed foods stripped of everything but the protein. They’re listed on the ingredient list as “pea protein,” for example, as opposed to “peas.”
The main ingredients in our protein powders are egg whites and chickpeas. Unlike protein concentrates and isolates, egg whites are simply broken, pasteurized, and dried before becoming protein powder. Chickpeas are just dried and ground.
There is limited research into the effects of protein concentrates and isolates on gut health. It’s therefore hard to say whether or not they are upsetting your stomach. It’s safe to say, however, that protein concentrates and isolates look nothing like real food. It’s also safe to say that our guts prefer the real thing, not some heavily-processed imitation.
Most protein powders contain food additives. Although ingredients like these 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 gastrointestinal (GI) side effects.
First of all, because food additives are heavily processed and look nothing like real foods, we can have trouble digesting them. As a result, they sit in our guts for longer and ferment. Fermentation produces gas, which can cause bloating, cramps, and stomach pain. Gas also slows colonic transit and can lead to constipation. In the long term, food additives can disrupt regulatory pathways in the intestine and cause the development of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and systemic inflammatory disorders.
What exactly are food additives?
As a rule of thumb, food additives are ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Not sure what to look for? Here are 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 *Natural flavors are NOT natural.
You may have noticed that this list includes several artificial sweeteners. Some artificial sweeteners may be bad for the stomach because they alter the composition of our gut microbiota, the collection of microorganisms that help us digest food. This can lead to serious stomach pain and widespread inflammation. Other artificial sweeteners, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol, can cause diarrhea because they draw water into the gut. Avoid artificial sweeteners whenever possible.