“Lisa, how can I make my hair look gorgeous?” is something no one asks me, ever. No. My readers send me questions like this: “Lisa, I started a high protein diet recently and have been farting like crazy. Why is this happening? How come you haven’t written about this topic before? It would make a really good blog post, don’t you think?”
Dear Death Farts,
Thank you for reading my blog! And, you’re right – I haven’t written about this subject matter before. Know why? ‘Cause it’s about FARTING! And I’m dignified, and stuff…Ok, we all know I’m not that dignified, so here’s what I found out. Oh, and by the way, I’m not a doctor or a dietician; this is just information I found on the web.
Why Does A High Protein Diet Cause Gas?
The Atkins Diet was really popular a decade ago because you could eat lots of protein and fats, cut your carbohydrate intake significantly, and lose a lot a weight. There were several problems with that diet. First, the weight you lost was mostly water weight, which means once you went off the diet, you gained it all back. Second, many people chose to eat really fatty foods like steak covered in butter, which just clogs your arteries. Third, when you cut out all your carbs you’re pretty dippy because your brain runs on glucose, which comes from carbohydrates. If you are considering doing this diet, another silent but deadly side effect is lots of gas.
If you are a bodybuilder, like me and Death Farts, you also increase your protein intake, but not necessarily for weight loss; you are trying to grow lean muscle mass. Unlike the Atkins Diet, bodybuilding diets include a lot of carbohydrates, because they are needed to help you absorb all that protein. Also, things like butter and bacon are not allowed, nor are processed foods. (Here is a sample of the first bodybuilding diet I used for my first show: The Bikini Diet.) Sure, you will look and feel great, except for, you know, protein farts when you first start.
When the eggs or meat you just ate go through your digestive system, they get broken apart into amino acids. If the amino acids are not readily absorbed, then they begin to ferment in your gut. (Nice!) The gases released during this fermentation process are hydrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide. The stinky smell comes from concentrations of hydrogen sulfide that get released.
According to to MerkManuals.com, the average person um…passes wind 13 to 21 times per day. Whew! If you are doing more than that, and are also feeling bloated and uncomfortable, you should check with your doctor to make sure you don’t have something else like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a gluten sensitivity, lactose intolerance, colon cancer, or any other GI problem. If you’re not sure of the cause, you can keep a food journal. But if the only change in your diet is increased protein, you may be asking…
How Do I Fix This?
- Check your protein shake for lactose.
If you are lactose intolerant (like me), your stomach cannot properly digest the sugar found in milk products (lactose). Many protein shakes contain whey, which is derived from milk. If this is your issue, find a lactose-free protein shake. When I drink shakes with whey, I use a lactase enzyme supplement that helps me to digest dairy.
- Reduce your protein intake. If the protein you are eating is not being absorbed, it can mean that you are eating too much protein for your body to handle, so a simple fix, if you want to do a high protein diet, is to ease into it, i.e. – don’t go from a 3 oz. chicken patty at lunch to 15 egg whites for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Start slow, wait for your body to adjust and then slowly increase. (Source: Teambaram.com: High Protein Diet – The Smelly Truth)
- Balance out your carbs. Carbohydrates help you to absorb protein. If you are not absorbing the protein, consider adding some carbs. That said, some carbohydrates like fruits and veggies (especially brussel sprouts, broccoli, and asparagus) can also cause gas. (Don’t poot the messenger.)
- Make sure you get enough water and fiber. The faster you get that protein through your system, the less time is has to ferment and get stinky. Water and fiber help to move everything out in a timely manner. (Source: forum.Bodybuilding.com)
- Spread out your meals. While your gut might not be able to handle a 9 oz. steak at dinner, it may be able to handle three 3 oz. servings spaced a few hours apart. This is one of the reasons why most bodybuilding diets include six or more meals per day instead of the customary three. Bodybuilders need to know that the protein is being absorbed to grow their muscles.
- Ask a pharmacist about over-the-counter options. Some common ones on the market are Beano or Gas-X.
Hope that answers your question and gives you some solutions! Do you have a question you would like me to research? I’d love to hear from you.
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