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.