Proteins are an especially important part of every diet. When we have a balanced diet, we consume macronutrients (fats, carbs, and proteins) and micronutrients (minerals and vitamins.) The body needs all these ingredients, but proteins always get more attention in the body as they carry out critical functions.
When proteins are consumed, they are broken down by the body into amino acids. The amino acids then enter your blood and are carried throughout the body performing functions in the immunity system. Amino acids also transport nutrients to different parts of the body. They also make up the cells of the body hence referred to as building blocks. That is not all!
Proteins area double-sided sword! While they tone your muscles (hence the emphasis of high protein diets like keto and paleo), they also cause a lot of gas and flatulence, commonly known as protein farts. If you eat a lot of proteins, then you have experienced protein farts for a fact. It’s also a common topic in the gym. Apart from being very embarrassing, protein farts can also cause discomfort.
Protein farts can make you rethink your whole fitness journey, but we have news for you! You don’t need to stop dieting or cutting down your protein intake. We talked to some nutritionists and dietitians. Here is everything you need to know about protein farts!
Causes of protein farts
- Excessive intake of proteins could be a major cause of protein farts though it’s not proven. When you consume an ideal amount of protein (one gram per kilogram), the protein will be absorbed by the body and converted into amino acids. The amino acids, which are the building blocks, ate then transported to different parts of the body like the muscles, bones, and cartilage. However, when you consume too many proteins, the excess goes to the colon. Guts microbes found in the colon then feast on it, and that’s where the sulfur, rotten egg smell in protein fats comes from due to the production of hydrogen sulfide gas.
- Protein shakes, smoothies, and powders may also be the cause. Athletes who use protein supplements may notice protein farts due to non-protein components found in these products. Protein supplements are usually recommended as they help one feel fuller even on minimum calories.
- Protein shakes and supplements are also based on whey or protein casein, which contains too much lactose. High amounts of lactose in the body can cause flatulence even if you are not lactose intolerant.
- Additives such as carrageenan, sugar alcohols such as xylitol and sorbitol ad high fructose in protein shakes may also contribute to protein farts.
- Animal proteins such as meats, eggs, beef, pork, and poultry are very high in sulfur, which causes the foul smell from protein farts. Plant-based proteins such as beans may also cause flatulence due to a short-chain carb called oligosaccharide. It’s, therefore, important to keep the intake of these protein sources to a minimum.
- Plant-based proteins may also contain anti-nutrients that could be leading to flatulence. These anti-nutrients inhibit digestion, which leads to gas formation. Some protein supplements and bars may also carry these anti-nutrients.
How to get rid of protein farts
- Switch your protein
As we mentioned, whey protein can cause flatulence. Unfortunately, most protein supplements, bars, and shakes are made from whey. Some are even made with concentrated whey with harmful additives. Switching to whey protein concentrate can help in managing the protein farts. The protein contains less lactose, which ensures that the body can digest better. There are also a bunch of non-milk protein alternatives you can try out.
- Eliminate gas-inducing carbs from your diet
While switching to more carbs may seem like a solution to protein farts, it’s temporary. Avoid carbs that cause flatulence and gas, including;
Cheese, ghee, milk, etc.
Cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli.
- Eat slowly
When your parents told you to eat your food slowly, you thought its just because they didn’t want you to choke, but that’s not all. Eating fast could make you swallow air, which leaves you bloated. Eating in a hurry can also give you stomach aches. Ensure you eat and drink your protein shakes slowly to avoid gas, which leads to protein farts.
- Cut down your protein intake
High protein foods such as meat, eggs, and beans may be causing your protein farts. It’s important to cut back on the intake to assess whether it has anything to do with your flatulence.
- Eat more fiber
Gut microbiotas love fiber, meaning they will always choose fiber over the protein in your gut. Give them the option to reduce protein farts.
- Include herbs in your diet
Ginger not only flavor your diet but is also excellent for your protein farts. Herbs can help alleviate excess gas and bloating hence help reduce gastrointestinal issues. Some ginger or peppermint tea after a meal is recommended.
- Take digestive enzymes
Protein farts may be caused by improper digestion, especially as one gets older as the digestive enzymes reduce. Incorporate some supplements to help with digestion.
- Take probiotics
When the harmful bacteria in your gut overtake the healthy bacteria, you will experience excessive gas, bloating, and digestive issues. It’s important to consume probiotics once in a while to restore the proper balance.
- Over the counter meds
You may need to get OTC remedies for quick relief. Look for medicines with activated charcoal. Also, ensure you are taking the meds at the right time. Some are intended for before you eat and others after meals.
While passing some gas out totally okay and healthy, if you notice excessive gas, bloating, and constipation, visit your doctor. In some cases, it’s not just the protein farts. The flatulence and foul gas could be an indication of something else. The gut microbes feeding on the proteins could produce small amounts of toxic metabolites. These metabolites are linked with a couple of problems, including gastrointestinal issues. A doctor will be able to determine if there are any underlying issues.
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