You’ve gone vegan and are looking for a plant-based protein powder to add to your smoothies. But there’s something you can’t help but wonder as you browse the options – Does vegan protein powder make you poop more? It’s a fair question, especially if you’ve recently ditched the meat and dairy. Your body is adjusting to a new diet with different types of fiber and nutrients.
All that extra roughage from the veggies, grains, and beans can definitely speed things up in the bathroom department. So what happens when you throw a scoop or two of vegan protein powder into the mix? Here’s the lowdown on how vegan protein supplements can impact your gut health and whether or not you’ll be making extra trips to the porcelain throne.
WHAT IS VEGAN PROTEIN POWDER?
Vegan protein powder is a plant-based supplement used by vegans and vegetarians as an alternative to whey protein powder. It’s made from plant proteins like:
- Pea protein – extracted from yellow peas, it’s a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids.
- Rice protein – made from brown rice, it’s high in branched-chain amino acids but low in lysine so often blended with pea protein.
- Hemp protein – from hemp seeds, it’s a good source of omega-3 fatty acids but has low protein content so multiple servings are needed.
- Soy protein – from soybeans, it’s a complete protein but can be estrogenic for some. Look for non-GMO soy protein isolate.
- Nut butters – like almond butter or sunflower seed butter, often added for creaminess and healthy fats.
- Superfoods – such as maca, spirulina, chia or flax seeds may be added for extra nutrition.
The protein content can range from about 15 to 30 grams per scoop depending on the product and ingredients. Vegan protein powder tends to be less processed and more alkaline than whey, so some people find it easier to digest. However, the plant fiber and higher carb content could lead to increased bowel movements or temporary digestive changes for those not used to it.
If you’re new to vegan protein powder, start with a small amount (1/2 scoop) and gradually increase to allow your body to adapt. Be sure to drink plenty of water which can help reduce any potential stomach upset. While vegan protein may cause temporary changes in digestion, there’s no evidence that it directly causes diarrhea or long-term gastrointestinal issues. The pros definitely outweigh the cons for most people.
DOES VEGAN PROTEIN POWDER MAKE YOU POOP MORE?
You’ve probably heard that vegan protein powder can cause some…gastrointestinal issues. Is there any truth to the claim that plant-based protein supplements make you poop more? Let’s get to the bottom of this.
Fiber and digestion
Many vegan protein powders contain a good amount of fiber, typically 3-5 grams per scoop. Fiber is great for digestive health and keeping you regular, but too much too fast can definitely cause an uptick in trips to the bathroom.
If you’re not used to consuming a lot of fiber, the extra amount from protein powder may come as a bit of a shock to your system at first. The good news is, that this effect is usually temporary as your body adjusts. To avoid unwanted effects, start with a half or single scoop and build up slowly. This allows your gut bacteria and bowels to adapt at a comfortable pace.
Ingredients like bran or flaxseed
Some popular vegan protein powders contain ingredients high in fiber like wheat bran, oat bran or ground flaxseeds. These “poop promoters” naturally speed up digestion and stool movement. Again, the key is moderation and gradually increasing your intake.
As with any protein powder, vegan or not, drinking plenty of water is essential. Fiber and protein need water to do their jobs. Without enough H2O, digestion suffers and constipation can occur. Aim for 6-8 glasses per day as a good rule of thumb.
The bottom line
While vegan protein powder may temporarily increase bowel movements for some, staying hydrated, starting slow and choosing a powder suited to your needs can help. Your body will likely adjust over time. And the benefits to your health and the planet are well worth a little extra potty time!
HOW VEGAN PROTEIN IMPACTS YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Vegan protein powder is plant-based, so its impact on your digestive system and bowel movements may differ from whey-based powders. Here’s what to expect:
Most vegan protein powders contain a good amount of fiber from ingredients like pea protein, rice protein or hemp protein. Fiber helps promote regularity and can increase the frequency of your bowel movements. The more protein powder you consume, the more fiber you’ll intake, which may lead to slightly looser stools or more frequent trips to the bathroom, especially when you first start using it.
Your body will likely adjust over time, but be sure to drink plenty of water to help the fiber move through your system. You can also start with a lower amount of powder and build up slowly to allow your body to adapt. Some people find that certain plant proteins, like pea protein, tend to be more irritating to the gut. If you experience discomfort, you may want to try a different vegan protein powder with a blend of rice and hemp proteins.
Improved Gut Health
Vegan protein powder made from whole foods contains prebiotics like beta-glucans that feed the good bacteria in your gut. This can help improve your gut microbiome and digestive health over time. Some research shows plant-based diets high in fiber tend to support a more diverse gut bacteria population. Your gut bacteria play an important role in breaking down food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating waste. Keeping your gut bacteria balanced and happy will benefit your overall health and regularity.
Possible Nutrient Deficiencies
Some vegan protein powders may lack certain nutrients like calcium, iron, zinc, or vitamin B12 that are more readily available in animal foods. These deficiencies can potentially impact your digestion and bowel movements. To avoid this, choose a powder that contains a blend of plant proteins, with added vitamins and minerals. You may also want to consider taking a general multivitamin and mineral supplement to address any gaps in your diet.
In summary, vegan protein powder can positively impact your digestion by providing more fiber and feeding your gut bacteria. However, be on the lookout for possible nutrient deficiencies and start slowly to allow your body to adjust. With time, your body should adapt well to plant-based protein and your bowel movements should normalize. If problems persist, you may need to switch to a different type of vegan powder or add a supplement.
HOW TO MINIMISE GASTROINTESTINAL SIDE EFFECTS WHEN TAKING PROTEIN
To minimize gastrointestinal side effects from vegan protein powder, there are a few things you can do.
Choose a powder with few additives
Look for a powder with minimal added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and fillers. These extra ingredients can irritate your stomach and intestines, causing bloating, gas, or diarrhea. Steer clear of maltodextrin, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium. Instead, choose a powder sweetened naturally with stevia, monk fruit, or coconut sugar.
Start with a small serving
When switching to a vegan protein powder or trying a new brand, begin with a smaller serving, around half the recommended amount. This allows your body to adjust slowly and reduces the chance of stomach upset. If you tolerate it well after a few days, you can gradually increase your serving size to the recommended amount.
Mix your powder thoroughly
A lumpy protein powder that doesn’t dissolve fully can be hard for your body to digest, leading to gastrointestinal distress. Mix your powder in a blender with at least 8 ounces of liquid like almond milk or a smoothie. Blending helps break up any clumps and improves the texture, making it easier on your stomach. You can also try letting the powder sit in the liquid for a few minutes before drinking to allow it to dissolve.
Drink extra water
Staying well hydrated helps your digestive system run smoothly and minimizes side effects from supplements like protein powder. Aim for 6 to 8 glasses of water per day, and drink an extra glass or two when consuming protein powder. The additional water will help the powder digest and move through your intestines, reducing constipation and bloating.
Probiotics can help
If you frequently experience gastrointestinal issues from protein powder or in general, a probiotic supplement may help improve your gut health and tolerance. Probiotics introduce good bacteria to your microbiome, which aids digestion and reduces inflammation in the gut. Take a probiotic with at least 10 billion CFUs once per day, especially when starting a new protein powder. Over time, the probiotics can strengthen your gut and may minimize side effects.
HOW TO SAFELY USE VEGAN PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS
When adding vegan protein powder to your diet, start slowly and pay attention to how your body responds. Some temporary side effects are common as your body adjusts, but you want to make sure you stay properly hydrated and don’t experience any severe or lasting issues.
Start with a small amount
Begin by adding just one scoop (usually around 20-30 grams or 2-3 tablespoons) of vegan protein powder to a smoothie or other recipe. Have it 2-3 times a week at first, rather than daily. This allows your body to get used to it gradually. Some people find that plant-based protein can cause initial digestive changes, like gassiness, bloating or changes in bowel movements. Starting slowly gives your gut bacteria time to adapt.
Drink plenty of water when consuming vegan protein powder. Aim for 6-8 glasses a day. This will help your body digest and absorb the nutrients. Lack of hydration is a common cause of side effects from protein supplements. If you experience constipation or hard stools, upping your water intake should help.
Watch for severe reactions
While some discomfort is normal at first, watch for any severe or lasting reactions, especially if you have food allergies or sensitivities. Symptoms like nausea, cramps, diarrhea, rashes or difficulty breathing require immediate medical attention. It’s best to stop using the product and consult your doctor. They can determine if you need to switch to a different plant-based protein powder or if protein supplements are right for you.
Find the right product
The specific ingredients in different vegan protein powders can affect how your body responds. If one doesn’t agree with you, try switching to another with different components, like:
• Pea protein instead of soy
• Rice protein instead of nut butters
• Fewer high-FODMAP foods like chicory root fiber or coconut
• Added digestive enzymes and probiotics for gut support
With some trial and error, you can find a vegan protein powder that gives you all the benefits without unwanted side effects. Be patient through the initial transition process, stay hydrated, start slowly and listen to your body. In no time, vegan protein powder can become a regular part of your healthy diet.
FIND THE PERFECT VEGAN PROTEIN POWDER FOR YOUR BODY
Finding the right vegan protein powder for you depends a lot on your body and needs. The options out there can be overwhelming, so here are some tips to help you narrow it down.
Choose your base
The first thing to consider is what plant-based ingredient you want as the primary source of protein. The most common bases are:
- Pea protein – Easy to digest, neutral flavor. Popular in many brands.
- Rice protein – Also gentle on the stomach, but may be lacking in certain amino acids. Often blended with pea protein.
- Hemp protein – Complete protein with all amino acids, and earthy flavor. It may have trace THC.
- Soy protein – Complete protein, controversial due to potential hormone effects. Look for non-GMO, organic options.
- Nut butter (almond/cashew) – Creamy and satisfying but higher in fat. Usually more expensive.
Think about any allergies or intolerances you may have and choose a base that works with your needs. You can also opt for a blend of multiple plant proteins to get a more balanced amino acid profile.
Consider the add-ins
Extra ingredients are often added to improve the nutrition, flavor, and texture of vegan protein powders. Some beneficial add-ins include:
- Probiotics – Help support gut health and digestion. Especially good if the powder contains prebiotics like inulin or acacia fiber.
- Greens powders – Add a nutritional boost from superfoods like spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass and barley grass.
- Healthy fats – Sources like MCT oil, coconut oil or flax provide energy and help with absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
- Natural sweeteners – Monk fruit, stevia or dates can improve flavor without spiking blood sugar. Avoid artificial sweeteners.
- Digestive enzymes – Help ensure you properly break down and absorb the nutrients from the powder.
The more add-ins, the higher the likelihood of digestive issues in some people. Start with a simple powder and add from there based on your own tolerance and needs.
Test for the “perfect” powder
The only way to find the vegan protein powder that’s right for your body is to try a few different options. Pay attention to how you feel after using each one – do you feel energized? Bloated? Gassy? – and look for signs of improved muscle recovery or performance. The perfect powder for you will give you the nutrition you need without any unwanted side effects. Keep testing until you find your ideal match!
ALTERNATIVES TO VEGAN PROTEIN POWDER
If you want to avoid vegan protein powder, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives that can provide a good amount of protein. Here are some of the top options:
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a tasty source of protein. Just one ounce of pumpkin seeds has about 7 grams of protein. They also contain healthy fats, fiber, and other nutrients like zinc and magnesium. Roast some pumpkin seeds for a quick snack or add them to salads, yogurt, or oatmeal.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and contains about 15-20 grams of protein per half cup. It has a firm, meaty texture and nutty flavor. Tempeh can be grilled, baked, or sautéed and used in place of meat in many recipes. It works great in stir-fries, sandwiches, and chili.
Lentils are packed with fiber and protein. A one-cup serving of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein. Lentils have an earthy, hearty flavor and hold up well to bold spices and flavors. Use lentils to make meatless sloppy joes, shepherd’s pie, and bolognese sauce, or add them to soups and stews.
Edamame are immature soybeans that are healthy, delicious, and contain 8 grams of protein per half cup. They have a mild nutty flavor and buttery texture. Edamame can be steamed and sprinkled with salt for a snack or added to salads, rice bowls, and noodle dishes.
In addition to these plant-based sources, you might also try:
•Tofu – Made from soybeans, contains about 10 grams of protein per half cup. Great in stir-fries, scrambles, and burgers.
•Seitan – Made from wheat gluten, contains about 30 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving. It has a chewy, meaty texture and works well in place of beef, chicken, or pork.
•Nut butter – 2 tablespoons of peanut butter has 8 grams of protein. Spread on bread, or fruit, or add to smoothies.
•Mycoprotein (Quorn) – Made from fungi, contains about 13 grams of protein per 3-ounce patty or filet. Can be used like chicken nuggets, fish filets or burger patties.
•Plant-based protein bars and snacks – Look for options with 10-15 grams of protein per bar. Convenient for on-the-go.
Rather than relying solely on protein powder, mix and match a variety of these whole-food plant-based sources to get all the protein you need in your vegan diet. Focusing on a balanced diet with
So there you have it, the truth about how vegan protein powder can affect your digestion and poop. While it may cause some temporary increase in bowel movements for some people, especially when you first start using it, for most the effects seem to level off over time. The high fiber and complex carbohydrates in many vegan protein powders are responsible for the laxative effect.
The good news is staying hydrated, starting with a lower dose, and choosing a powder with probiotics can help minimize any digestive distress. Don’t let the fear of pooping more stop you from trying vegan protein powder. When used occasionally and as directed, it can be part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Your body may just need some time to adjust to all that plant-based goodness.