As we mentioned earlier, protein shakes can be made from either animal or plant-based protein powders.
Plant-based protein powder is gluten-free and, as such, can be quickly absorbed and used.
Also, whey, which is from cows, tends to be a bit harder to digest for lactose intolerant persons.
But if you do not have an intolerance for dairy, whey is relatively easy to digest, and you may find that it digests faster than plant protein.
Protein powder can sometimes cause its users to experience certain unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, gas, nausea, vomiting, constipation, bloating, and stomach cramps.
Eating too much protein powder tends to cause these symptoms, especially if the person is not lactose intolerant.
Therefore, if you are already on a high protein diet, you are not recommended to consume protein drinks.
People with lactose intolerance have digestive difficulties with whey protein, while they seldom have issues with plant-based protein powders.
If you are lactose intolerant, often having a protein shake can cause your intestines to become swollen, resulting in stomach cramps.
However, suppose you do not have a medical condition with digestive issues. In that case, it is unlikely that you will experience the above symptoms from having a protein shake made with either whey protein powder or something derived from plants.
But, should you eat way more protein than your system needs, you will likely have abdominal cramps and other digestive discomforts because your system is having difficulty digesting and absorbing all that protein.
Protein Shakes and Bowel Movements
So, do protein shakes make you poop?
Yes, regardless of its source, a simple protein shake can make you poop, especially if you use too much protein.
Of note, some plant proteins are naturally quite high in insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to your stool and acts as a laxative.
Consequently, eating a lot of it in one sitting will make you poop.
The same goes for other protein powders containing added insoluble fiber.
But for some people, even using only the recommended amount in their protein shake will cause them to have digestive problems, like gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
A dietician explained that there are three reasons why protein shakes can cause almost immediate pooping.
1) Lactose sensitivity
Since most protein powders are made from dairy, they will cause disruptions within the gi tract.
To avoid this, opt for the vegan protein powder formulations, as they are dairy-free.
You can also try whey protein isolate (WPI), as it is extremely low in lactose.
2) Sensitivity to artificial sweeteners in the powders
Artificial sweeteners, particularly the ones that are sugar alcohols, are well-known for causing diarrhea.
These sweeteners tend to pull water into your gut, and that makes your stool quite loose.
If you find that you only have diarrhea when you drink protein powder and are fine consuming other forms of dairy, then try to find the powders without manufactured sweeteners.
3) Drinking protein shakes way too quickly
Try not to gulp your protein shake. Drinking it slowly will give your digestive tract time to break down and absorb it properly.
Does Eating Protein Make Me Constipated?
Eating high protein foods should not make you constipated; however, if you stop consuming adequate water, fruits, and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, you are setting yourself up to become constipated.
Your protein intake should be moderate and not outweigh the rest of the essential nutrients your body needs to function properly.
Furthermore, if you consume a higher ratio of protein powder in your daily diet, you watch the amount of high-protein food you eat.
But essentially, the constipation is a result of the lack of fiber and not the protein content.
Are Protein Shakes Right for You?
Fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes need more protein than the regular Joe. These active persons need high protein diets to help repair and build muscle mass.
Anyone can find and use a suitable protein shake to help boost their gains and refuel their cells. If you prefer to avoid protein shakes, try maintaining a healthy diet while eating high-protein meals.
Also, when choosing the right protein shake, read the label carefully and opt for soy if you can’t digest dairy.
How Long Does It Take to Digest Protein Shake?
There is no one answer to this question, as each brand and formulation tends to vary.
Nevertheless, you can expect the protein shakes with the highest amino acid content to digest the fastest, as these aid digestion.
Also, the digestion process is complex and can be impacted by various factors. But most formulations should be digested within an hour to two hours.
Furthermore, you can also get fast-digesting and slow-digesting protein shakes.
Protein shakes are very helpful and healthy supplements meant to help your body recover after a workout session and aid muscle growth.
Unfortunately, they can have unwanted effects on the digestive system, like diarrhea, bloating, and gas.
The bottom line is that protein shakes can make you poop based on certain factors. For example, if you drink it too quickly or drink too much.
In such cases, you must watch your intake and substitute soy-based dairy formulations when necessary.
Also, suppose you believe you have severe gastrointestinal side effects.
In that case, especially if those persistent symptoms, we recommend immediately discontinuing that shake and seeking medical attention to prevent further complications.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I really need a protein shake?
No. However, if you are pretty active, you will need to increase your protein intake by consuming protein-rich foods.
Is protein generally easy to digest?
No. protein is one of the most challenging macronutrients that the body needs to break down and absorb. This is why you will have gastrointestinal symptoms, like gas and stomach cramping, if you eat it too quickly or too much at once.
What are the signs of protein overconsumption?
When your body has an excess amount of protein, you tend to feel irritable, nauseous, and experience dehydration, headache, and diarrhea, among other symptoms.
Does protein powder affect gut bacteria?
Yes, it can affect the gut microbiome in people with dairy sensitivity.
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