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Does Protein Make You Feel Bloated? Understanding the Causes and Solution

Does Protein Make You Feel Bloated? Understanding the Causes and Solution

It's no secret that most of America strives to be the perfect version of themselves. Who is the prettiest? Who has the best hair? Did you see that man's muscles? And, of course, who has the best body? Improving your lifestyle and working hard to reach your goals requires a lot of change if you want to be successful. Just as you will need to change your mindset, what you eat, and how active you are, you will notice changes occurring in your body as well. But, what changes are normal?

Understanding the Causes of Bloating

One of the most common questions we hear when it comes to changes in the body with a new weight loss routine is: does a high protein diet cause bloating? The quick answer is no. Quality protein does not produce gas, which is the leading cause of bloating. If you are experiencing bloating when you start your high protein diet, chances are there is another culprit serving as the cause. When we have low digestive acids and enzymes in our bodies, a lot of protein can ferment in the colon. In addition, the way our body reacts to certain ingredients in our food is likely the reason you feel like you are ready to float away. Let's look at various parts of your diet that may be causing you to feel bloated.

Why You Might Have the "Protein Bloat"

Protein is essential for muscle growth and overall health, but it's not uncommon to experience some bloating when you first increase your intake. This "protein bloat" can be attributed to various sources in your diet. It's important to identify these sources and understand how to manage them. In the upcoming sections, we'll explore different protein sources, including beans, high-fat proteins, sugar alcohols, protein powders, and protein shakes, and how they might be contributing to your bloating. Let's dive into each of these and find out how to enjoy the benefits of protein without the discomfort of bloating.


Beans and legumes are a great choice for lean protein. They range from eight to sixteen grams of protein per cup. But, in many cases, beans serve as gas producers because they contain sugars that the body can't digest. When the body fails to digest these sugars, they become fermented by bacteria in the colon and become a gaseous by product.

The good news is that bean lovers don't have to give them up all together. There are many supplements on the market to help reduce the effects of these sugars on the body. In addition, trying to reduce the portions you consume can help your body adjust. And, as your body gets used to consuming these proteins regularly, you can gradually increase your portions. Finally, rinsing your beans in water with a small amount of baking soda can remove some of the sugars that your body can't digest.

High Fat Proteins

Hight fat proteins, such as meats that are high in fat, can cause your body to become bloated. Excessive amounts of fat not only cause you to gain weight, they can lead to water retention which is a major factor in bloating. Choosing lean meats instead can prevent gas, and help with your weight loss results by causing you to consume fewer calories and less saturated fat. Try sticking to fish, skinless, light meat chicken, and turkey.

And, just because you are experiencing bloating from high fat meats doesn't mean you need to stay away from meat all together. Choose ground beef that is 90% lean. Or, stick to round, sirloin, tenderloin, and chuck cuts of meat. Pork tenderloin and loin chop cuts are also a great option.

Sugar Alcohols

Low calorie sweeteners are the biggest deliverer of sugar alcohols. In most cases, these are chemically formulated and lead to gastro problems in most people who consume them. Even in small amounts, there are triggers in sugar alcohols that cause bloating. Stay away from the following all together and you might notice a difference:

  • Sorbitol
  • Xylitol
  • Maltitol
  • Erythritol
  • Mannitol
  • Lactitol
  • Isomal

Protein Powder

We did say that protein wasn't a factor in bloating, but if you are choosing the wrong protein supplements for your body, it can be a cause. If the biggest change in your diet is adding in a protein powder, and you experience bloating, you may want to look at what type of protein you are consuming. Some people's bodies react differently to the ingredients in our protein powders. For example, whey protein powders contain lactose. If you have a lactose intolerance, consuming whey protein can lead to bloating. Look for protein powders that are labeled as whey protein isolate. These contain very little fat and lactose. You can also try using a protein supplement to help.

Additionally, be sure you are picking a protein powder that has healthy ingredients. Stay away from protein powders that contain sugar alcohols. Look for ones that are sweetened with natural ingredients such as Stevia.

Protein Shakes

Protein shakes are a convenient way to boost your protein intake, but they can sometimes lead to bloating. This discomfort is often due to added ingredients or artificial sweeteners in the shake. To minimize bloating, opt for shakes with natural ingredients and without excessive additives. Additionally, consider shakes that use plant-based proteins if dairy or whey-based shakes cause discomfort. Hydrating well and consuming shakes slowly can also help your digestive system process them more efficiently, reducing the likelihood of bloating. Remember, finding the right shake for your body might require some experimentation.

Addressing Bloating Beyond Diet: The Importance of Medical Insight

If you are experiencing the uncomfortable effects of bloating on your new high protein diet, chances are the change in what you are eating alone isn't the reason why. Besides the reasons listed above, you might notice a change because of an underlying medical disorder. Adjust your diet to help avoid the effects of bloating, and be sure to consult your doctor. Knowing the exact cause can be beneficial to your overall health.

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