Tackling the Frustrating Problem of Protein Bloating
It’s time for some real talk. We often use this space to share helpful tips, inspiration, and ideas to help you be your best self. This time, we’re going to tackle a potentially less pleasant topic… <<dramatic pause>>… BLOATING. There, we said it. Many people experience it, especially those who consume a lot of protein. Bummer, right? Protein—the very thing that makes us healthy and strong—may also be contributing to uncomfortable, potentially embarrassing, gas and bloating. But it doesn’t have to be that way. By being aware of the problem and its potential causes, you can make small changes to address it.
What is Protein Bloating?
The answer to this question is both literal—and complex. Protein bloating is the buildup of air (gas) in your body—more specifically your intestines—when eating protein. As you might imagine, this causes discomfort, potentially embarrassing and annoying gas, and it could make you feel like someone is inflating a balloon inside your belly.
Why Does This Happen?
Protein bloat can be attributed to a number of factors. First—let’s look at the science behind this. Protein’s thermic effect—or the amount of energy needed to digest it—is very high—higher than any other macronutrients. For the most part, this is a great thing—this is why protein fills you up and keeps you satisfied for way longer than carbs. But here’s the downside: this means lots of this protein can sit in our gut, undigested (Sorry for that mental image!). This leads to indigestion and, you guessed it, gas and bloating.
So let’s clear the air (see what we did there?). This isn’t the end of the story; you don’t need to cut all that amazing protein out of your diet. Work to find a solution for your body.
- Be sure you’re balancing with other macronutrients like complex carbohydrates and fats—Healthy fats are integral to digestive health—they really move things along through your digestive system, if you get my drift. What counts as a healthy fat? TONS of the things you probably crave anyway: cheese, nuts, salmon, avocado, and olive oil, just to name a few!
- Complex carbohydrates are rich in fiber—think whole wheat bread and pasta, whole grains, sweet potatoes, and beans. Fiber is integral to a healthy digestive system.
- Turn down the froth. Since a primary cause of gas and bloating is air trapped inside your body, avoid overly frothy protein shakes. If you’re blending your own, do not over blend. The longer it goes, the more air is whipped into your shake.
- Take your time. Gulping down your protein shake without coming up for air will cause you to actually swallow a lot of air. Slow down and enjoy it. Your gut will thank you.
- Finally, be sure your diet is one that is right for you. As always, listen to your body, and don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about finding your balance, and making sure you’re consuming the right amount of protein for you.