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Does protein make you gassy? Here's what dietitians say


Feeling gassy? you're not alone. We all pass gas an average of 13 to 21 times per day, While some of us blame protein-rich foods as the source of our bloating, protein is not the primary culprit. That said, certain food components and ingredients found in protein supplements can be the main culprit behind those extra teeth.

For help identifying these gas triggers, we talked to registered dietitian nutritionists. They'll explain what ingredients to look for and share their best tips for managing gas when you're experiencing more gas than usual.

protein and gas

Flatulence is a natural process of passing gas through your intestines. Chelsea LeBlanc, RDN, owner of Chelsea LeBlanc Nutrition in Nashville, Tennessee, explains that we shouldn't feel embarrassed when we have gas, because passing gas is actually beneficial to our health. She says, “As your body breaks down food, it creates gas, and swallowing can lead to a build-up of air. Passing gas and burping are smart ways for your body to get rid of this excess air and gas, preventing bloating and discomfort.

Research has found that your gut microbiota produces 0.2 to 1.5 liters of gas per day when metabolizing food., Each person's microbiota is unique and composed of trillions of bacteria. The health of your gut and what you eat can affect how much gas is produced.

According to Mary Spano, MS, RDN, CSCS, CSSD, Dymatize's sports nutrition consultant, “There is no scientific evidence that protein increases gas production. While protein itself is not responsible for gas, many protein-rich foods contain other compounds that can increase gas. Lactose in dairy products, hard-to-digest carbohydrates in beans and peas, and sugar alcohols in some protein bars can increase gas and bloating.

Protein Supplements and Gas

Protein powder is commonly used by athletes, people with weight loss goals, and people trying to consume more protein. When it comes to choosing a powder, you have a variety of options: milk-derived proteins like whey or casein, or plant-based proteins like soy, rice, pea or hemp. If you are lactose-intolerant, try to avoid whey and casein as their lactose content can cause an increase in gas.

Other ingredients mixed with protein powder may cause gas-like results. Sugar alcohols are found in sugar-free products and some brands of protein powders. Spano explains that ingredients ending in “-ol,” such as sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol, and erythritol, are sugar alcohols. LeBlanc also warns that non-nutritive sweeteners like sucralose (aka Splenda) or stevia can also cause gas bubbles in some people. Gums and thickeners such as xanthan or guar gum, and certain fibers such as inulin and chicory root may also contribute.

Additionally, even if you don't use protein powder but enjoy plant-based protein sources like beans, lentils, peas or grains, these foods can also cause gas. Legumes and grains are rich in dietary fiber and starch, some of which the body cannot fully digest and produces gas as a byproduct. If you suddenly start eating more of these foods, or eat too many at once, they can also contribute to gas.

Tips for Gas Management

1. Choose the right type of protein powder.

Both LeBlanc and Spano recommend choosing whey protein isolate, which is easier to digest and contains almost zero lactose, especially if you're lactose sensitive. Or choose dairy-free plant-based protein powders, such as pea, hemp, brown rice or soy. What works best for you will be a personal choice, so talk to a registered dietitian to get more information about what will work best for you.

2. Avoid sugar-free products.

Double-check whether your favorite foods and supplements contain sugar alcohols and non-nutritive sweeteners, which may be responsible for your stomach problems.

3. Work slowly during meal times.

If you find that you are quickly eating your food within minutes and suffering from gas afterward, slow down your eating by chewing and sipping. When you eat or drink too fast, you swallow excess air which can lead to bloating and gas.

4. Sip herbal tea.

Drink a cup of peppermint, ginger, chamomile or fennel tea, which can help hydrate you and move food through the digestive tract and may have gas-soothing properties.

5. Seek medical advice.

People with irritable bowel syndrome or lactose intolerance may feel as if they are constantly experiencing gas, bloating and painful digestion. If you feel like you've tried everything and are still suffering from GI problems, consult your doctor to rule out any other possible digestive problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do you reduce inflammation with protein?

Check your protein supplements and other protein-rich food products for potentially inflammation-causing ingredients (such as sugar alcohols, non-nutritive sweeteners, gums and whey proteins) and avoid these if you think they're a trigger for you. Choose a free content from. Plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, peas and grains are high in fiber and can lead to bloating and gas if you increase your intake too quickly. Gradually add them to your diet, watch portion sizes and eat them slowly to help reduce unpleasant symptoms.

2. What are the symptoms of eating too much protein?

Eating too much protein can cause nausea, bloating, gas, constipation and dehydration. If you're only focusing on protein, you may neglect other nutritious foods. Make sure you eat a balanced plate of all food groups and include fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains and proteins. Consult a registered dietitian nutritionist to find out how much protein you need.


There is no evidence that protein-rich foods like chicken, fish or beef cause flatulence. Some protein supplements and food ingredients such as lactose, sugar alcohols, non-nutritive sweeteners, gums, thickeners and fiber may contribute to increased gas. Be sure to double-check the ingredient lists of products you commonly consume to detect any potential gas culprits. Keep in mind that consuming plant-based proteins like beans, lentils, peas and grains can also cause gas, so increase your intake gradually to get their health benefits without any discomfort. Consult a medical provider if you experience persistent pain, gas, or bloating.


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July 2024
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