Protein Shakes and Farting: The Smelly Truth.

No one likes to talk about it, but flatulence (i.e., farting) is a common side effect of protein shakes and powders. More than just stinky, it can be both embarrassing and uncomfortable. So what can be done about it?

First and foremost, protein (depending on it’s source, quality, etc.) can be harder for your body to break down and digest. For some people, gas and bloating is the result. However, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to help find a protein supplement that results in the lowest amount of flatulence possible.

Do I even need protein powder or shakes? This question is paramount because most Americans already get more than enough protein from their diets. Protein supplementation is necessary only if your diet isn’t providing you with the protein your body needs. Generally, this is the case for athletes, bodybuilders, power-lifters and other heavy exercisers. Calculate your protein requirement; you may be able to eliminate protein supplementation – and the subsequent flatulence – altogether.

Am I lactose intolerant? Whey protein is great for building muscle, but it’s derived from milk. According to the Whey Protein Institute:

Individuals with lactose intolerance should select a pure whey protein isolate, which has less than 0.1 gram of lactose per tablespoon (20 grams). Research has shown that most people with lactose intolerance have no trouble taking this very small amount of lactose. Individuals with lactose intolerance should avoid whey protein concentrates as they usually contain lactose and the amount can vary greatly from product to product.

Alternatively, people with lactose issues may want to experiment with other protein types such as soy or hemp – though these are generally considered less effective for supporting muscle growth.

Is my protein high quality? Not all protein powders are the same. Many lower-quality options contain fillers to enhance flavor or taste. Unfortunately, they can also cause bloating or gas. And some types of protein are more digestible than others. If your current protein supplement is causing excessive gas, shop around for a new brand. It’s about finding a high quality and digestible protein that works for you.

The bottom line: Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet to reduce protein-induced flatulence. But with a little trial and error, you should be able to find a protein supplement that meets your body’s needs and supports your goals without too much stinkiness.

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  1. How weird, I just went searching for this earlier this morning! The best piece of advice that I found made sense once I thought about it.

    Mix up a protein shake. What do you see at the top? Probably air bubbles. Let it sit for several minutes (probably in the fridge) and settle. Then drink.

    Since I just found this piece of advice an hour or so ago, I have no idea if it works. But I’m going to give it a shot! I’m also preparing to switch to another type of powder to see if that helps.

    • Ingested gas has no relationship to flatulence. You might swallow air or drink carbonated beverages but that gas will be eructated (burped.)

    • I have been farting so bad it is just terrible. They are hot, thick and frequent. I’m sure it is from the shakes. Soy protein.

      • Because their nutrients are being decomposed instead of being absorbed. The protein is rotting.

        Your digestive system uses bacteria to break down a lot of the substances in your food, so that nutrients can be extracted.

        Proteins are broken down in this way, and the types of protein you eat will determine which types of bacteria are breeding most enthusiastically in your gut. If you eat plenty of a particular organism’s favourite food, it will thrive and multiply. If you eat very little of the food it likes, then it will starve and its numbers will decline.

        When you start to eat an unfamiliar food, it usually takes a couple of months for the ‘right’ gut bacteria to multiply up to the point where they can fully exploit the new substance. This is only a problem if your diet is OVERsupplying a substance. If you are only eating as much as you can benefit from, the population remains controlled.

        But if the nutrients that are released remain in your gut, even more bacteria can use them as a source of food, and several different populations can multiply out of control; each type feeds on what another type left behind. The smell you have noticed is the waste products left behind by the bacteria which feed on the waste products of other, less smelly types.

        If you change your protein supplement, it might take a couple of months for the bacteria to ‘catch up with’ the new diet you are giving them, or they might be able to adapt more quickly, depending on which species you have overcultivated.

        If you are taking in the right amount of protein, its components will be absorbed through the wall of your gut, and will not be available to be further broken down by ‘gut flora’.

        The ‘right’ amount is a maximum of about 80 grams a day, INCLUDING the proteins in your normal dietary foodstuffs. This is the most that can be absorbed through a normal gut wall; a longer gut will sometimes absorb more, and a shorter gut usually won’t even be able to handle this much. The length of your gut, and its protein handling capacity, varies from person to person; being bigger doesn’t always mean you have a longer gut, or a high absorption capacity.

        Supplement manufacturers (and the magazines that promote them) are keen to pretend that a higher intake is possible, or useful, or even necessary. But this position is based on making profit, not on anatomical truth.

        A high concentration of protein also slows your ‘gut transit’ (the time it takes for food to pass through your digestive system; this would allow your gut flora even more time to decompose the excess proteins.

  2. Kevin Mullen says:

    4 drops of peppermint oil in the shake and the farts are all gone!

  3. Also there are other sources of protein for those that still need shakes instead of whey. There is Pea which is high in arginine, and one of the most readily absorbed plant based protein sources. Some hemp protein shakes (ones that use raw protein), contains certain enzymes that help the body absorb it more readily. Plant based protein sources usually have additional nutrients in them too, hemp has omega 3 and 6. Brown Rice protein is what my trainer recommends most.

  4. My boyfriend of 17 years has always been flatulent, but it was mostly confined to the regular flapper bed-fart in the middle of the night that would wake me up even from a coma-like sleep, and that he would always deny in the morning.

    Three years ago he decides to eat healthier, give up meat and poultry and get serious working out. And, oh happy day, he starts drinking whey protein shakes. Three times a day. Every single day. Needless to say, his flatulence has increased. Exponentially.

    But he’s much healthier now (and waaayy hotter) and has taken off at least 10 years. Mostly in the sex department. He has the sex drive of a guy in his 20’s. And he’s 47!

    So it’s true that there’s a silver lining to every cloud, even the sulfurous kind. And what’s more, he manages to never fart during sex. TMI, but there it is. And thanks for confirming what he says about all the flatulence (that it’s the protein shakes).

    • Ha! That is so hilarious! He is probably lactose intolerant. I bet if quit drinking the cow’s milk and switched to vegan protein drinks sweetened with stevia you will be a much happier girlfriend. doitandloseit*com

      • DonttThinkSo says:

        I’d like to disagree on this one. Protein is protein. I’m a vegan drinking Soy Protein shakes. Fart like a cow.

  5. There’s a reason we latinos put raw garlic in our pots of beans (destroys the enzymes and folds the proteins that cause gas). 1-2 Beanos a day will do the same. Garlic suppliments work for some (in pill form MIGHT work) but a raw little clove of garlic a day swallowed like a pill is much better and almost guaranteed to work. Lastly, certain oils (like the peppermint above) can stimulate the stomach and fight off flatulence, such as peppermint, mint, spearmint, pumpkin, cataway, citrus family as a whole, fennel, cloves, and even moreso try using 1-2 cups of different herbal teas as well, as they settle the stomach and put your internal juices and air to work.) I find that black tea especially with pomagranite, hibiscus, or any other strong red edge work well for me.) And I cannot recommend a daily diet of garlic in food enough, as it’s amazing for digestion and blood health. Just chew a couple leaves of mint of basil (or your favorite gum) to avoid garlic breath though.

    • While the mint of basil may help the breath, the other problem with taking raw garlic is it comes out of your pours when you sweat and you are the stinkiest dude around. You can (sometimes) hold back the farts, but no joy on holding back what your sweat glands do. I tried raw garlic for health reasons a few years back and luckily I had friends who politely asked if I took garlic and asked if I had heard of taking it in pill form (vs. raw). Later, when working (in an office) with a guy I recommended raw garlic to, the stink was unmistakable. I apologized for my earlier recommendation and I politely suggested he take the same road I did – pill form.

  6. christopher says:

    seems too much that we eat plus vitamins-supplements add to this problem.peppermint oil-this i will most certainly give it four shots.thanx Kevin.

  7. Just as a follow-up – the “let the shake sit and settle for a bit” test failed yesterday. Trying a probiotic and yogurt added to the diet & see if that helps :)

    • YES! Probiotics can be a fantastic help in relieving gas and smelly feces. For whatever reason, our GI flora get upset and unbalanced. Probiotic capsules often do the trick for me. It will eventually straighten out by itself but the probiotics hasten the process. (I often refer to them as Fart Pills.) Yogurt and related products can do the same as well as providing first-rate nutrition.

  8. Chaostheoryman says:

    Some protein powders give me gas, some don’t, so I’d say experiment around a bit. The vegan ones made from pea and hemp give me the most gas, so unfortunately I’ve not gone the vegan route for protein. I’m currently freaking over Jay Robb’s, which doesn’t need milk, has no antibiotics or hormones in its whey, mixes with a spoon, and tastes great. Here’s to creating (or getting, or making, or keeping) hot boyfriends!

  9. I have found the flatulence is caused by the whey AND splenda. Have you ever tried those “sugar-free” yogurts and ice creams? They are sweetened with splenda and sucralose and my body does NOT like it.

    I use a vegan shake that is easily digestible and sweetened with stevia. Those are the two most important components and I drink them every single day.

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  11. mary chris says:

    i take beano!

  12. chaostheoryman says:

    I’m a vegan; we get tons of insoluble fiber in our diets (makes things looser). We need a balance of soluble fiber (tightens things up down there), and when I started eating Metamucil fiber wafers (they taste like Graham Crackers) all my digestive problems vanished instantly. Or, take some powdered Metamucil throughout the day or at night; add ground flax seed to your diet, etc.
    I do LOVE being a vegan! My body looks better than ever, and I am no longer in conflict with it. My testosterone levels higher than they’ve been in 15 years, cholesterol numbers perfect, etc. I do use whey protein, though, so I’m sort of a cheater, so that makes me only a mere vegetarian, I suppose, in that regard…a vewheygan? I do love VEGA protein powder, developed by a triathlete, which is vegan, delicious, non-soy, and full of probiotics – but it’s really expensive. I only get it when I’m feeling flush.

  13. annoyedroommate says:

    Wish I could subtly show this to my roommate. He is crazy about protein shakes and now I realize that I’m not crazy, when he sleeps the whole room reeks of his flatulence. I have never said anything but it has gotten worse and worse. I can barely stand the smell anymore.

  14. I love the Jay Robb protein shakes. I’m lactose intolerant and I have 0 reaction. I recently tried the Vega Sport Protein and the Vega One Protein powders (plant based) and they both gave me horrible bloating and gas! I’d love to know about an alternative plant based protein that doesn’t cause issues~

  15. Am I supposed to put the peppermint drops on my anus?

  16. I have been having 2 shakes a day since I stopped smoking .. its helped with my overeating … but the wind has been so bad it even made me gag … I figured it was the shakes so had a quick look on the net & its pretty much confirmed it

    I think Its one of the things i am going to have to get used to , i have got 2 dogs so i can blame them

    • BustaBen says:

      Its both..I stopped smoking and had nasty assed farts for two months.. it sorted itself and then I took up protein shakes….

  17. Harriet Thomas says:

    Whilst taking protein shakes is there anything to stop the bloated belly

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  21. Ive been farting so much lately that my dog wont sit next to me anymore. I know this because everytime a let some out he gives me a look, jumps off the couch, and goes in his cage.

  22. Not only have my farts become more hot and juicy, but also I’ve developed a bad case of ass itch. Can this be remedied, or is my butt just on overtime? Oh, no here one comes again.

    • Stink Bomb says:

      Just shove a maxi pad up you a$$, that will cure what ails ya!

    • Steven, I know your pain. I was at Disneyland last week, and had such a bad case of Monkey-butt, that I had to cram a wad of toilet paper up my ass all day just to deal with the itch. You might walk a little funny, but it definitely works.

  23. Stink Bomb says:

    I fart like a fire fighter after a chili-cookoff contest winner. I’m a bodybuilder and do ingest around 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily, it definitely has ill effects on my stinky beanies.

    Have yet to find a cure, I find that if I take enough daily dumps, the flatulence is not nearly as bad. I do keep a enter at your own risk sign on my office door, just to be proper.

    Let it go, let it go! Better in than out.

  24. As an aside, I’ve been drinking protein shakes for months with only a little farting, but a month ago added Creatine and Aminos and now my farts can clear a room. I even try to run away – but my wife n kids ask me to go outside as they say the farts stick to me, LOL. On the plus side, I’ve seen more muscle growth last month than I have seen in a long time.

  25. I work construction and have been taking a lot of whey protein lately. When I feel one coming on I just stick the vacume hose on my butt and pre-emptively clean out the gas.

    It really does smell rotten, thanks for the article. I’ll have to try the peppermint.


  1. […] powder gives you gas: True. Some people experience gas and bloating as a result of protein supplementation. If you’re experiencing excessive gas, try switching brands. Depending on the quality of the […]

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    Protein Shakes and Farting: The Smelly Truth. | Davey Wavey Fitness…

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