Many things in our diet may cause infrequent bowel movement, but does protein powder cause constipation? Protein supplements are a staple in the diets of athletes, bodybuilders, and the general public who exercise. A common condition a person’s bowel movements face is constipation, and they look towards their diet for ways to stop this. They analyze everything in your diet, and if protein powders are in your diet, you should have a read with this article. You might learn a thing or two that could really benefit you.
What Is Constipation?
Before finding out if protein powder is the main culprit of your constipation, we need to know what constipation is. Constipation is the irregular movement of your bowels that pushes out small, hard-to-pass, stools. (“Stools” is just another word for “poop” which I recently found out not too long ago)
There’s a good rule of thumb to remember if you ever think you have constipation. If you’re going number two fewer than three times a week, odds are you are constipated. There are a handful of other symptoms that can point signs to constipated bowel movements.
- Experiencing hard or lumpy stools
- Straining or excessively pushing when using the bathroom
- Going more than 3 days without having to stool
- Difficult passage of stools that persists for several weeks or possibly longer
There are many causes of constipation, the main one people look towards is their diet. People poop because of what they eat, so it’s only logical. The one nutrient people need to focus on when constipated is fiber.
Fiber is a carbohydrate, but it’s not like normal carbs that we can break down for sugar molecules. Dietary fiber cannot be broken down, so its transit down the digestive system is still in one piece. However, it does a lot when scurrying along down the intestine.
The nutrient fiber helps speed up the passage of food through the digestive system, clearing any blockage along the way. The clearing helps prevent and stop constipation since bowel movements become more frequent. If it isn’t clear, fiber makes you poop, simple.
Protein Supplementation and Constipation
Now, if you have a good enough grasp on constipation, let’s get to the question: does protein powder cause constipation? Well, the answer is pretty simple, it shouldn’t. Although protein powder doesn’t provide much fiber in each scoop, it isn’t really to blame for constipation.
The USDA suggests that adult women should be consuming around 25 grams of fibers and for men about 38 grams. Protein powders are a protein supplement. Hence they are meant to provide your body with protein, not fiber.
If you’re constipated while drinking a protein shake, your worry shouldn’t be directed at the protein powder, but at your diet. Tracking the amount of fiber you’re eating is essential when wanting to relieve yourself of constipation. Focus more on fiber supplements than protein supplements.
A rare instance of protein powder may cause constipation, but it involves many factors. Lactose intolerance may cause symptoms of constipation when drinking a dairy protein powder.
Lactose intolerance is a digestive disorder in many people where lactose is not able to fully break down. It has to do with the amount of lactase a person’s body produces, lactase being the enzyme that breaks down lactose. If not enough is produced, lactose cannot be fully dissolved, and it moves to the stomach to ferment. Side effects of fermentation include…
- Upset Stomach
Constipation is a rare symptom of lactose intolerance, diarrhea often takes in place. After fermenting in the colon, lactose causes gas to build up inside your gut. This barrier of methane gas causes foods to move down slower than usual, causing constipation.
The Meal Replacement Shake
Although meal replacement shakes are considered a little different then your conventional protein powder, I’d like to talk a bit about them. I like to think meal replacement shakes as boosted protein shakes, or protein shakes on steroids since they provide about the same amount of protein.
Take a look at this meal replacement shake below from the company Vega One. This is their All-In-One Shake, a vegan option for anyone out there who’s greener with their diet. I have below the nutrition label for the powder with a highlight on the amount of fiber. There are 4 grams of fiber per scoop, which isn’t much in terms of a person’s diet, but it’s a start. A meal replacement shake shouldn’t be your entire diet, obviously. It goes to show that even protein shakes can provide you with adequate amounts of fiber that combats constipation.
In conclusion, does protein powder cause constipation? In actuality, it can actually prevent and relieve it. Conventional protein shakes don’t provide all that much fiber since their main purpose is to supply you with protein. But meal replacement shakes are a good way to still get in solid amounts of protein along with much-needed fiber for your constipation. In rare cases, lactose intolerance may give you symptoms of constipation. If you prefer not to run any type of risk, stay away from dairy proteins like whey and casein.
Got any questions? Leave them down below, along with any comments you may have about protein shakes/constipation!