Flatulence is just one of the ways that your body passes intestinal gas. The other is through belching. Intestinal gas is both a product of the foods you eat and the air you might swallow during the process.
While the average person farts between 5 and 15 times per day, some people can pass gas more often. This may be related to the foods they eat.
Certain foods can increase flatulence due to their components. If you’re eating a high-protein diet, it’s possible that you’re experiencing more farting.
High-protein diets are followed by athletes, and they’re also a weight loss method for people looking to stay fuller on fewer calories. Protein is also an essential nutrient needed to build muscle mass, which is helpful for both considerations.
Protein consumption does have its drawbacks, however. For one, your body processes protein much slower than carbohydrates, allowing them to ferment in the digestive tract a bit longer.
As bacteria ferments protein in the large intestine, gasses — mainly nitrogen — can then build up and get released through your rectum. These bacteria can also produce sulfur, which can then produce smelly farts.
With that being said, the more protein you eat, the more nitrogen buildup you’ll have in your large intestine. This applies not only to meats, eggs, and fish, but to whey protein powder and supplements, too.
Plant-based sources can also contribute. These include beans, grains, and legumes.
While protein can cause flatulence and smelly farts, this doesn’t mean you’re stuck with this problem just because you eat more protein for your dietary needs. Below are some of the ways you can ease protein-induced flatulence.
Eat more fiber
When you trade in carbs for protein, you may shed pounds and build muscle, but you also give up some of the dietary fiber naturally found in grains, legumes, and produce. This can cause you to get backed up, and may eventually lead to constipation.
Left untreated, constipation causes more gas and some uncomfortable cramping.
On average, adult women need 25 grams of fiber per day, while men need 38 grams. While not enough fiber can cause gassy constipation, too much fiber can have the opposite effect, producing even more gas.
Switch your protein powder
Whey protein is a key ingredient in many type of protein shakes, bars, and snacks. The problem is that not all whey protein is created equal. Some are made from concentrate, which are high in lactose.
Whey protein isolate has less lactose, which your body might digest more easily. Another option is to switch to non-milk sources of protein powder, such as pea and soy.
An imbalance of gut microbes is said to be one cause of gas and other gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea and constipation. If you eat a lot of protein, then you may compound flatulence issues.
One way to solve this is by taking probiotics. These are made with gut-friendly bacteria that can solve microbial imbalances in your digestive tract. Over time, you’ll experience less gas and more regularity.
Probiotics are naturally found in fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, but you can also take them as supplements. The Mayo Clinic recommends probiotic supplements with the following ingredients:
- Bacillus coagulans
- Saccharomyces boulardii
Add herbs to your diet
Certain herbs may potentially help gastrointestinal issues, thereby relieving symptoms such as excess gas and bloating. Consider drinking ginger or peppermint tea to sooth your gut, especially after meals.
Cut other gas-inducing carbs
Before you trade in protein for more carbs, you’ll want to make sure you avoid some of the more gas-inducing culprits. These include:
- cruciferous veggies, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
- cheese, milk, and other lactose-containing products
- beans and peas
Manage your protein intake
Another way to avoid gassy issues from protein is to manage your daily intake. This is based on weight. To figure out your daily protein needs, multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.36 to see how many grams you should consume.
For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you need 57.6 grams of protein per day. A doctor may recommend slightly more if you engage in intense exercise on a regular basis.
Drink more water
Water does more than hydrate your body. It also helps you digest your food more effectively. This is why many makers of protein shakes suggest that you also drink a glass of water.
You may apply this rule of thumb to other high-protein meals to speed up the digestion process, too.
Eat and drink slowly, and don’t overeat
Your parents may have told you not to inhale your food, and for good reason: Not only can eating quickly give you a stomachache, but it can also make you swallow air.
Protein shakes are no exception here. The more air you swallow, the more you’ll have gas.
If you don’t want to cut down on protein, you may consider eating your meals and snacks a bit slower. This can also help prevent you from overeating, which is considered another cause of gas.
Get enough exercise
Regular exercise is good for your heart, and can also be good for your farts by easing up on constipation and other digestive ailments. Make sure that you get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day.
Over-the-counter (OTC) remedies may help ease flatulence. Look for ingredients such as charcoal or simethicone. Read the instructions carefully. Some remedies are intended for use before you eat, while others should be taken after your meals.
Protein farts are more of an inconvenience than they are dangerous.
You may experience increased flatulence when you first start whey protein powders and snacks. You might also notice more farting after a high-protein meal. These are considered short-term effects that should ease up when you follow the remedies listed above.
In the long-term though, flatulence from a high-protein diet could be the least of your worries. If your doctor has recommended this particular diet, this is likely intended for a short-term basis. This is because too much protein on a regular basis can have long-term consequences, such as:
If you continue to experience flatulence despite dietary changes, you may want to see a doctor. They can rule out other digestive conditions, such as lactose intolerance, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.