On the one hand, protein shakes fill you up and rebuild your muscles after a tough workout. But on the other… They can also make your stomach feel all kinds of swollen. Plus, there's also a real risk that they'd leave you grappling with rank, room-clearing farts. Uncomfortable and embarrassing–so much so that you'd be tempted to rethink your nutritional strategy. Perhaps you don't need so much protein after all?
Here’s the truth. You don’t need to cut down on your protein shakes; all you need is to avoid certain ingredients in your protein shake choice. Find out which below.
#1 – Go vegan
Dairy-based shakes–like whey and casein–can be particularly bloat-inducing if you’re sensitive to lactose, the sugar found in milk. With lactose intolerance, your body isn't producing enough lactase to digest lactose properly. That means undigested lactose passes into your intestines, where it ferments. And guess what? The fermentation process by-products include hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide gases. Yep. Gases! So, there you go: if you’ve been bloating after drinking your dairy-based shakes, you now know why.
An easy solution for this? Go vegan. Choose plant-based protein powders like soy, brown rice, pea, and hemp. Because they’re free of dairy, they’re naturally also free of bloat-inducing lactose.
Just one thing to note, though. Individual plant proteins tend to be deficient in certain amino acids; that means they don't have the best muscle-building properties when taken on their own. To ensure you get a more balanced amino acid ratio in your shake, opt for a powder with a blend of multiple plant proteins or one that lists and includes all amino acids!
#2 – Steer clear of gluten
Many protein powders contain additional ingredients, such as flavourings, stabilisers, or preservatives. That means that some of these powders are made with gluten-containing ingredients. A little background: gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Now, this ‘bonus’ protein source can be a problem for you if you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a form of gluten intolerance associated with uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms like abdominal cramps, fatigue, and–you guessed it–bloating.
The next time you pick a protein powder, make sure it’s free from this gut-irritating ingredient. You can do so by checking its product label or specifically choosing products that have been certified gluten-free by a third-party organisation, such as the Gluten-Free Certification Organisation (GFCO).
#3 – Minimise sugar alcohols
Just hearing some of the flavours available is enough to make one drool–mint chocolate chip, caramel fudge, strawberry… It’s like stepping into an ice cream store! Unfortunately, these delicious flavours come with a serious downside. Their formulation is typically packed full of sugar alcohols (sweeteners that have about half the calories of regular sugar). Why did you think those shakes were so sweet despite their low sugar content?
Because sugar alcohols stay mostly intact during the digestive process, a good amount arrives in your intestines, where it gets feasted upon by the bacteria there (i.e. fermented). As you know by now, this process leads to a ton of gas. Cue, bloating. So, the next time you shop around for a protein shake, make sure it doesn’t contain any of the following sugar alcohols: erythritol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH), isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, and xylitol.
Lean Blend ticks all the boxes
Psst: don’t want to go to the trouble of holding up a magnifying glass to every protein powder product you come across? Here’s a simple solution for you. Lean Blend’s protein water ticks all the boxes. Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and is naturally sweetened with real fruit. Best of all? It boasts a complete amino acid profile, so you never have to worry about blending different types of protein! Once you get a taste of this light and refreshing protein water, you're never going back. Bye-bye, bloating!