Written by Carina Fabia
Last updated on: Sep 18, 2022
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Vegan protein powder causes bloating in some people. This can also happen with whey protein powder. Bloating may only occur when you start taking a protein powder for the first time. And over time your body adjusts. Or it may be a permanent issue which needs addressing.
Interestingly, those who switch from whey protein to one of the plant based protein powders tend to experience far less bloating and digestion problems. This is because most vegan protein powders are hypoallergenic making them easier to digest.
Whey protein powders tend to contain high levels of diary. Lactose intolerance is a common problem in today’s society (1) and studies have shown even those who don’t normally suffer with dairy products have reported more bloating and gas after taking whey protein powder (2). Vegan powder is dairy free. For this reason lots of people find their stomach less bloated and more comfortable within weeks of switching to a vegan protein supplement.
Studies have shown the high fibre present in protein shakes and bars can lead to bloating (3). Consuming protein shakes in excess, can result in stomach problems. Such problems can be eased or fixed completely by reducing the amount of protein supplements consumed.
Sometimes the ingredients added to vegan protein powders can cause bloating. The sweeteners xylitol and erythritol are such ingredients. These ingredient can lead to a protein powder a high amount of sugar alcohols which can cause stomach complaints (4). So, if you are experiencing bloating it is important to look carefully at your protein powder’s label to try and find possible ingredients which are causing your problem.
The plant based protein used in the supplement can also cause bloating or even flatulence. The reason for this is the plant based proteins used are often high in lectins. Such protein sources are beans and legumes. Consuming too many lectins can make you feel bloated and full (5). If you are finding after a few weeks of using a powder you are still feeling bloated and uncomfortable, it might be worth trying a different type of vegan protein powder which is not so high in lectins.
Lectins are found in all types of plants. Plant based foods such as beans, peas, soybeans and lentils contain some of the highest levels of lectins (8).
Foods containing high levels of lectins can result in some lectins binding to the cells that line the digestive tract. This action makes it difficult for the body to breakdown and absorb nutrients, which can result in bloating and flatulence (3).
Vegan supplements are made from plant protein. Nearly every plant protein will contain high levels of lectins (hemp seed is an exception). This isn’t a problem as lectins are fine when consumed in the right quantities. However, it is important for those who suffer from bloating and stomach discomfort to think carefully about which vegan powder they use. Fortunately, for those on a plant based diet who have problems with one type of vegan protein powder there are lots of alternatives. This means finding one which does not cause bloating should be a straightforward process. If you are looking for vegan protein powder completely lectin free one which is based on hemp seeds is the way to go.
Some protein shakes are sweetened by non-calorific artificial sweeteners (NAS), they are a popular choice world-wide due to their low-calorie count. However, some studies have shown that NAS’s can drive the development of glucose intolerance and cause intestinal trouble (4). This makes it worthwhile to check your vegan protein powder to see if any artificial sweeteners have been added and if so, in what quantity. If you find it does contain NAS it might be worth swapping to a different brand or type of vegan protein powder that has a lower level of sweeteners. Xylitol and erythritol are two examples of non calorific artificial sweeteners which, when consumed in large doses, can cause stomach upset.
When excess wind builds up in the body it can make you feel full and bloated. It can also make your stomach look and feel larger. Bloating can make you feel really uncomfortable and self-conscious so it is important to also consider if there is something else, other than your choice of vegan protein powder, that is causing you to feel this way.
It might be that you are over eating, constipated, have an undiagnosed allergy or swallowing too much air as you chew. If you have tried a different vegan protein powder and tried to rule out other possible causes of your bloating. It is important that you consult a medical professional. This will help to determine whether an allergen or medical condition is the cause of your bloating.
Whether bloating has been caused by a vegan protein powder or something else, there are some ways in which you can ease the pain and discomfort. As long as you don’t have any health conditions that could be causing you to feel bloating here are four great ways to ease bloating.
1) Go for a walk. By walking you are able to help release any excess gas your body has built up. Walking is also an activity that helps relieve constipation and the gassiness it can cause.
2) Have a long bath. The hot water can also help you to relax and release any excess gas that is making your feel bloated.
3) Abdominal massage. This can help you to relax whilst also helping to relieve bloating and discomfort.
4) Yoga. This not only helps you to relax but the gentle movement from one stretch to another can help to remove any unwanted gas.
Protein helps your body repair cells and make new ones. Therefore, to be healthy, it is vital to ensure you are meeting your daily protein intake requirement (6). Vegan protein powder is often used as a supplement in order to meet these daily protein requirements. This is especially true for those following a plant based diet, athletes and those pursuing fitness goals.
Additionally, studies have shown increased protein intake helps build and preserve muscle. And reduce cravings, which can help with weight loss.
A further benefit of vegan protein powder is it is hypoallergenic. This means it is free from lots of allergens. This makes it a popular choice for those trying to avoid certain allergies. Vegan supplements are also popular for those following a plant based diet in order to reduce their risk of certain health conditions. Studies have also shown that vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of conditions, such as ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity (7).
Before you start using vegan protein powder it is important to research the different forms of protein powder to help you decide which one is best for you.
It is also important to carefully check the label to see which additional ingredients are being used. This will help you decide whether or not the protein powder is likely to cause you any discomfort or bloating. Pay special attention to the plant-based protein being used and whether it has a high level of lectins, as well as the use of non-artificial sweeteners.
Remember to also look carefully at the measurement and instructions for how to use your protein power. Over consumption of any protein powder can lead to bloating and stomach upset.
If you find that the vegan protein power you have is making you feel uncomfortable, try switching to a different type of vegan protein powder. There are lots to choose from, so you should be able to find a plant based protein which works for you. And does not cause any bloating issues.