Not in every case.
Read on to discover why.
A high-protein diet undoubtedly has advantages and disadvantages. There’s no denying that eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates have helped a lot of women lose weight. “Anyone seeking to lose weight should consume protein. According to Torey Armul, R.D., because it digests more slowly than carbs, it helps you feel full and content for longer after eating.
But consuming excessive amounts of protein might also leave you feeling a little, shall we say, stuffed up. Yes, we’re referring to gastrointestinal problems including constipation, diarrhoea, and other unpleasant symptoms. The good news is that if constipation is a negative side effect of your high-protein diet, you don’t have to put up with it.
When a high-protein diet causes constipation, here’s what’s going on inside your body—and what to do about it.
Does consuming protein typically cause you to urinate or become constipated?
With a high-protein diet, it is undoubtedly possible to manage either constipation or diarrhoea. But the protein might somehow be connected to the problems. It’s possible that the cause of your constipation is something you’re not eating. Constipation is not caused by protein, but rather by a lack of fibre, claims Armul.
People who follow a high-protein diet consume less fibre because they concentrate more on eating animal proteins, which contain no fibre at all. Fibre which is mostly found in fruits, vegetables, and grains, gives your stool volume and helps your GI tract move waste and water through it.
In turn, this makes it possible for the food you consume to pass through your body more quickly. Fibre prevents bloating, lessens gas, and gets rid of any potential GI irritants by keeping things moving, according to Armul. So, fibre is important.
Protein smoothies and powders can potentially cause GI problems, so keep that in mind as well. According to Megan Robinson, RD, a board-certified sports dietitian, many of them on the market are not FDA-approved, and their ingredient lists may be vague or deceptive.
“A lot of them contain artificial sweeteners, stevia, and sugar alcohols, which can all be connected to stomach distress and diarrhoea,” Robinson claims, even if many advertise being low-carb or containing no sugar.
Additionally, Robinson advises being aware of any allergies or intolerances you may have, particularly if you take protein powders or pre-packaged drinks. Lactose can be found, for instance, in whey protein powder.
And if you have lactose intolerance or dairy sensitivity, that could be adding to your stomach discomfort, according to Robinson. She advises consumers to look for protein drinks that have been approved by either NSF Certified Sport or Informed Choice, two independent organisations that also approve protein powders.
How can I prevent poop issues brought on by protein?
Your best option is to make sure you regularly consume high-fibre foods. Armul advises chowing down on plant-based proteins like lentils, chickpeas, edamame, black beans, and kidney beans to get the most nutritious bang for your buck. “It’s two for one. You get protein, but you also get the advantages of fibre,” she explains.
However, even if you’re following an extremely low-carb diet and avoiding legumes—which contain more carbohydrates than animal protein—you can still maintain regularity by consuming higher-fibre vegetables.
By selecting vegetables with high water content, you may keep your count as low as possible, advises Armul. Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are nutritious powerhouses), cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, green peppers, zucchini, and broccoli are all good choices. According to her, asparagus is a particularly wise choice because a cup of the stalks also contains roughly three grammes of protein.
Another wise choice is to eat seeds and nuts, such as chia seeds, flax seeds, peanuts, almonds, and walnuts, which are high in protein and fibre and low in carbohydrates.
You’ve undoubtedly previously heard that fruit is beneficial for maintaining regularity. Think about including consistent servings in your diet. Fruits include a lot of fibre, which is satiating, so Armul advises her clients not to worry about the natural sugars in them.
But she advises choosing fruits with a higher peel-to-pulp ratio if you’re on a low-carb, high-protein diet (like blueberries). Compared to other fruits without the skin, they have a lot more fibre and fewer carbohydrates (say, watermelon).
Try to consume roughly 25 grammes of fibre every day to avoid constipation (spread evenly over each meal). Half of your meal should ideally be vegetables, a quarter should be an animal protein (such as chicken, beef, fish, etc.), and a quarter should contain a high-protein grain or legume (like quinoa, chickpeas, or lentils).
A substantial salad for lunch that is rich with spinach, peppers, and tomatoes should get you halfway there since one cup of leafy greens offers about 5 grammes of fibre.
Be sure to drink more water as well. Fibre dehydrates you, so drink more water as you consume more of it, advises Armul. “I suggest having a water bottle with you at all times.” Start with eight cups of water each day and increase the amount if you feel thirsty or constipated. Your urine’s colour is the best sign that you’re getting enough to drink; if it’s light like lemonade, you’re in the clear.
Are there any further negative effects of consuming too much protein?
cognitive fog and fatigue. Robinson claims that protein is not a very effective source of energy. If you follow an extraordinarily high-protein diet, it can be broken down into sugar for energy, but it takes a while to digest. Therefore, Robinson says, “You won’t get the same energy from eating a high-protein diet as a moderate-protein, moderate-carb diet.
And this is why we frequently experience exhaustion and mental haze.
gaining weight It can be simple to do the opposite—gain weight—when you’re committed to using a high-protein diet to lose weight and build muscle. How? Well, the high-protein foods Robinson frequently observes her clients consuming are frequently linked to fat. Furthermore, fat contains much more calories than fibre-rich, healthful carbohydrates, according to Robinson.
Bad breath. According to Robinson, this is frequently related to someone who is following a ketogenic diet. Bad breath can result from putting your body into the metabolic state of ketosis, which causes it to create ketones (also known as acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone).
What are the signs that I’m consuming too much protein?
Robinson states that 0.8 grammes of protein per kilogramme of body weight should be consumed every day. However, Robinson asserts, “I believe if you’re engaging in any form of physical activity where you’re exerting more than the average person, then you probably need a little bit more.”
She advises the moderately active woman to consume 1 gramme of protein for every kilogramme of body weight. If you want to know how much protein you need, multiply your weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert it to kilogrammes. The result is 68 kilos or 68 grammes of protein if you weigh 150 pounds and divide that number by 2.2.
If you’re concerned that you might go too far, pay attention to your body. Are you feeling a lot more irritable than usual, exhausted, and dehydrated? This can indicate that you’re consuming too much protein and should reduce your intake. Additionally, as usual, you can ask a nutritionist for advice on how to create a diet that is healthy for both your body and you.