If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve wrecked a toilet after chugging a protein shake or devouring a steak. This leads to a puzzling question: Is all that protein to blame for your super-sized dumps, or is there another culprit at play?
For context, DUDEs should aim to eat about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day—for the average guy, that’s about 55 grams daily. Upping your protein intake isn’t always a bad idea. In fact, you probably need more if you’re trying to pack on muscle mass.
However, one possible side effect of excessive protein intake is explosive diarrhea. Keep reading to learn how protein can trigger bowel movements, what types of protein do the most damage, and how to avoid a blowout if you’re bulking up.
Does Protein Make You Poop?
Protein itself doesn’t make you poop. Instead, it’s the source of your protein (and the additives) that can give you a case of the runs. Specifically, beans, dairy, and fatty meats are common culprits of diarrhea.
Protein is a macronutrient, not a laxative. When you consume protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids during digestion. Those amino acids get absorbed into your small intestine and are used to aid muscle growth, hormone production, and immune function.
You might have heard horror stories about “protein poops,” especially if you’re a gym rat. But much like other bro science theories, there’s a lot of context missing. A high-protein diet on its own isn’t to blame for your big dumps. Rather, it’s the type of protein you eat that affects your bowel movements.
4 Causes of Protein Poops
Let’s look at four ways protein can lead to bigger, sloppier deuces.
1. You’re Lactose Intolerant
The lactase in dairy-based protein like whey, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt can jack up your digestive system, especially if you’re lactose intolerant.
2. You Eat Fatty Protein Sources
Animal protein sources with a high fat content like red meat, bacon, and pork can be difficult for some people to digest, leading to loose stool and diarrhea when the food makes its way out the other end.
3. You Don’t Eat Enough Fiber
If you’re hyper-focused on eating protein, it’s easy to forget about fiber: the stuff that bulks up your stool and regulates gut motility. Without enough fiber, your stool can become watery and loose.
4. Your Protein Powder Has Artificial Sweeteners
A lot of protein supplements contain artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, sorbitol, erythritol, and sugar alcohols. These make the powder more palatable, but the flip side is that they can have a laxative effect, especially for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
How to Avoid Diarrhea from Too Much Protein
It’s possible to ramp up the amount of protein you eat without suffering from explosive diarrhea. Just stick to these tips.
Eat Lean Cuts of Protein
Sure, that giant ribeye steak is packed with protein—but it’s also full of fat that can jack up your digestive system. If you want to avoid protein diarrhea, eat lean cuts of meat and fish like chicken, turkey, and tilapia.
Up Your Fiber Intake
Adult dudes need 30-38 grams of dietary fiber per day, which you can get from leafy green vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lentils, and legumes. These will improve your stool consistency and keep your pooping schedule on track.
Try a Different Protein Powder
From artificial sweeteners to dairy, there are several reasons why you might suffer from post-protein shake shits. Accordingly, you’ll have to narrow down the root cause, then find a protein powder that’s easier on your gut. Instead of whey protein powder, try a plant-based protein powder, or one without artificial flavors or sweeteners.
Does Protein Make You Fart?
As if diabolical dumps weren’t enough to worry about, protein consumption can also lead to the dreaded protein farts. In the same way that protein itself doesn’t really affect your bowel movements, it’s the source of your protein that determines how stinky your gas gets.
Specifically, the sulfur in poultry, fish, beef, pork, and dairy can make your farts reek like rotten eggs. Sugar alcohols like sorbitol, erythritol, and glycerol can also crank up the stank-o-meter on your flatulence.
Can Too Much Protein Cause Constipation?
If you’re plugged up after eating a bunch of high-protein foods, you might be wondering if there’s a link. It’s technically possible for a high-protein diet to cause constipation, but not directly.
For example, if you’re focused on slamming protein shakes and eating pounds of meat instead of getting enough fiber, vitamins, and other nutrients can lead to lumpy, hard stools that are hard to squeeze out.
You can also get constipated if you’re dehydrated. A high-protein diet requires water to metabolize everything, so if you don’t get your 15+ cups a day, you might be firing blanks on the toilet.
Need Wipes for Your Protein Poops?
Whether your catastrophic protein poops are caused by a steak dinner or one too many protein shakes, you better be ready for the aftermath. Don’t count on a roll of sandy two-ply, unless you want to walk around with a scorched hole.
Next time you’re at the supermarket stocking up on all the meats, make a detour to the TP aisle and snag a pack of DUDE Wipes. It’s like a spa treatment for your ass after every dump.