T Nation

Protein and unwanted gas

Can anyone explain why excess protein gives me bad gas? Could it be that not all protein gets digested in the stomach, and then procedes to the small intestine where it comes in contact with bacteria in the small intestine to form gas?

Hi, Dynosar13. Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are produced through bacterial fermentation of protein, which reflects the presence of undigested protein in the bowel. In a healthy colon, these SCFAs constitute less than 10% of the total concentrations of SCFAs. Increased protein intake (relative to carbohydrate) can cause gas. Causes may include insufficient proteases (a pancreatic enzyme that digests protein), malabsorption or gastrointestinal disease.



Try supplementing with a protease, and if that doesn’t work, get it checked out with a doctor. Over the long haul, excellent health is impossible without good nutrition.



Good luck, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

I never get gas when eating protein. In fact, a very low carb diet, like Atkins, completely eliminates gas for me. Does this imply that I’m processing all my protein and I could even eat more of it? Or do I just have some odd intestinal flora?

Hi, yorik. As it relates to digestion, there many different points at which (and reasons why) things can break down. You are right in your assumption; i.e., you digest protein well. Count your blessings! (grin)

I have this problem as well from time to time, as I’m sure many others do. I find that cycling my protein intake up gradually, say 10% a day can help reduce this problem. For instance, going from 200 grams to 400 grams a day from maintenance to bulking is a huge problem for me, so I go up in steps of 20-25 grams and I get there in a week or so and the gas problems, while still present, are reduced. My girlfiend says I fart like a rhino. My PR with the chicks can always use some improvement.

It may also have to do with the quality of the protein you’re consuming. A five gallon tub of “Biff’s Fitness Farm” discount protein that sells for $15 is more likely to be less digestible than a higher quality protein, thus creating excess gas.

I get gas and/or digestive churning stomach when I eat whey concentrate, but not when I eat whey isolate. Whey isolate is way more expensive but the reason they use it is cuz it’s easier to digest.

I agree it’s the type of protein. I eat heaps of good quality protein and have no problem at all with gas. But as soon as I eat peanut butter (not natural) I fart like a trooper. Perhaps it’s the fat now that I think of it.