Monday, August 25, 2014

Protein Powder Farts

If you read my first post of 2014, you know that I have my mind set on squatting 180# for 1 rep by the end of the year.  A few months ago I hit 160# for about 3-4 reps.  Since then, I've joined a kettle bell class 2x week, and am continuing to lift 1-2x week.  Therefore...I took a month or two off from really focusing on my squat, but am back at it now with a 5X5 of 155# this morning.
taking a breather between sets.
The point of that ramble is to say that I've had to really focus on increasing my protein intake (approximately 120g/day) to support my strength gains.  In the past I've used protein powders (whey and soy) during my internship in 2008, later from 2009-2011 Ryan and I were big fans of the Whole Foods 365 whey protein powder.  The past several years we switched over to Optimum Nutrition's natural whey and Nutrikey by NWW.  However, after changing my diet to include a lot less processed carbs, beans, and yogurt I found this past spring that I was getting really really really gassy again.  Typically in the middle of the afternoon.
Protein Stash.
After a while I was able to correlate it to the days when I drank a post workout whey protein shake or smoothie.  I checked the ingredients on both the ON and NK powders and figured it could be the flavoring or stevia, so I switched to the NK unflavored whey protein, nope same problem.  Hmmm.... apparently I've got a serious issue with dairy (which I'm still in denial about).  Next I bought the Jay Robb egg-white protein powder, and it seemed that things were a bit better.  Except that just like before, if I drank it more than 2 days in a row, serious bloating and gas would ensue.  This wouldn't be a huge problem, except that being bloated and gassy while sitting in a small office with a client for 1-2 hours is not fun.  I even tried Vega One, a vegan protein powder and that was the worst of all.

So there went my post workout and occasional mid-afternoon snack.  :-(   Over the past two years I've also figured out that I have a very hard time digesting fiber, added fiber in particular.  So switching to a protein bar, even a high quality one such as Quest, Paleo, or Jay Robb which contain inulin, an indigestible fiber are not an option.

Lets be honest, protein powders are convenient, but for some people they just aren't a good option.  I am one of those people.  During several google searches, I only came up with a few poor explanations as to why these powders cause intestinal distress.

1. You're drinking Whey Protein Concentrate which contains more lactose than the isolate form.  If you are lactose intolerant, that might be an easy swap.

2. You're protein powder contains weird thickeners or fibers which are fermenting in your gut and making you gassy.

3. You're drinking casein protein powder not whey.  Casein protein gels in the stomach, slowing digestion.  It can be much more difficult for some people to digest, and it's the protein most people are sensitive too.  Which is why a lot of people can tolerate whey protein, but not actual dairy products that contain casein (cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese).

4. You have a dairy sensitivity! Sorry, but other than switching to egg white protein, or Pure Paleo Protein which is made from beef, or Pure Pea protein, you're out of options.  Better go eat some real food.

Why does the unflavored egg white protein powder also gives me gas? I'm not sure, especially since eating actual eggs doesn't have any effect on me.  I don't recommend rice protein powders because they are high in carbohydrates.  And I'm not a fan of hemp protein powder since it is notoriously hard to digest.

So if you're like me, you're going to have to JERF: Just Eat Real Food.  (Thank you Sean Croxton for that acronym).  Below are a few post workout meals to help you re-fuel.  You want to focus on protein and carbs, you're meals shouldn't be high in fat which will slow the absorption of the other nutrients.

Salmon Patties and Sauteed Greens
Turkey, Veggie, wild rice soup
4+ oz Deli meat + small fruit and maybe a few nuts
Chicken and mashed sweet potato
Reduced fat yogurt topped with homemade granola and fruit
Turkey burger topped with sauteed greens and onions
Ground beef Hash with root vegetables
Tuna steak + steamed veggies
Oatmeal + leftover pork chop
Wrap + Salmon Salad
If carb backloading or carb-nighting...pie and low fat ice cream  :-)  Or cereal.

This is the best info I could find on protein powder intollerance


  1. Interesting. Thanks for the information. My DIL teaches the kettle weight classes:)

  2. I just like Rice protein powder of Sunwarrior or Growing naturals, it good for me and the taste is quite good

  3. I'm late to the conversation here... while I LOVE the Jay Robb egg white protein powders, I too get horribly gassy. It's unbearable, and I'm trying to figure out if taking it at night before bed is better than taking it in the morning or during the day.