Protein Farts: What the Research Says About This Phenomenon

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    It’s important to get enough protein in your diet. But does a high protein diet – or the use of protein supplements – make you gassy? Let’s review the facts.

    Protein is very important for the health of your body. Your body uses proteins to make muscles, organs, tendons, and more, including various enzymes, hormones, and molecules that keep your body functioning at a high level. That’s why it’s important to get enough protein in your diet. In some cases, people even use protein supplements, especially when involved in intense exercise.

    That said, some people have attributed the presence of excess gas to their protein intake. Is there any merit to these claims? Is increased flatulence a side effect of a high protein diet? If you’d like to fart less, should you lay off the protein shakes? Let’s see what the research says.

    Does protein make you gassy?

    We have good news: There’s no evidence linking protein intake with excess gas. If you’re experiencing excess gas, you can rule out your protein consumption as the cause.

    The average person farts between 8 and 14 times a day, and some people fart even more often. Experts maintain that passing gas up to 25 times a day can be considered normal. This is all well and good and is a normal way that your body gets rid of intestinal gas. Flatulence is caused by swallowing air – such as when we eat too quickly, chew gum, etc. – and by digestive fiber and starches that get fermented by our gut bacteria. You can also develop gassiness from your body’s failure to digest certain sugars, like lactose, properly.

    So, if you’ve been upping your protein intake and are noticing an increase in gassiness, you may want to consider the non-protein components of your diet. Do your protein-rich meals or shakes include sugars, starches, or fiber? Are you consuming dairy-based protein? It is far more likely that increases in flatulence are caused by the non-protein elements that are sometimes added to protein supplements. For example, some protein powders contain sorbitol, a common thickener and sweetener.

    While protein hasn’t been demonstrated to be a cause of excess gas, there is some evidence to suggest that consuming certain proteins can affect how your farts smell. These “protein farts” are striking for the pungency and can make people stop and wonder about what they’re eating.

    What causes protein farts?

    As described above, your excess gas is likely not caused by your high protein diet. Instead, you should consider the non-protein components of your diet, including any additives to your protein supplement.

    Some proteins can affect the smell of farts, however. For example, some proteins include cysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid that, when broken down by your gut bacteria, can produce a very smelly gas called hydrogen sulfide.

    Are there any health risks from increased flatulence?

    More often than not, increased flatulence isn’t something to worry about. You may find it annoying, and you may want to take steps to reduce it. But it’s rarely a sign of any major health problem.

    However, your increased flatulence may be a sign of digestive problems, including an intolerance for certain types of foods. If your flatulence is linked to bloating, stomach ache, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal issues, you may want to seek the counsel of a medical professional.

    Doctors can help you figure out any food intolerances you have and then help you design a diet that’s better for your digestive health. They can also identify or rule out any underlying conditions.

    Tips and tricks to reduce protein farts

    Farting is perfectly normal. But if you’re concerned you’re farting too much – or you’re exceeding the normal range of daily farts – there are some steps you can take. For starters, you can start cutting back on dairy products, fruit, dried fruit, foods rich in insoluble fiber, beans, legumes, and some vegetables.

    Next, you can try consuming smaller meals, chewing more slowly, and taking small sips when you drink (as opposed to chugging down large gulps). Similarly, you can avoid or limit chewing gum, artificial sweeteners, and carbonated beverages. If you’re using a protein supplement, try using one that doesn’t contain sorbitol.

    If your doctor has identified a food intolerance, you’d do well to limit or avoid intake of that type of food. You can also use digestive enzymes to support the digestion of protein, carbs, starches, and fibers. (Care/of’s digestive enzymes are shown to relieve gas after meals.) Probiotics can also be helpful for populating your gut microbiome with beneficial bacteria that promote healthy digestion. (Care/of’s Probiotic Blend is an excellent option.)

    Studies show that mint tea can be helpful for addressing flatulence related to indigestion. Studies likewise show that green tea can be beneficial for digestive health. Furthermore, ginger has carminative properties that can support digestion and reduce flatulence. Exercise has also been shown to manage indigestion. Try to get a little more exercise if you can!

    Final takeaways

    Proteins are important to the health of your body, and it’s important to be sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet. While some have wondered about the connection between protein intake and increased flatulence, research to date has not demonstrated such a link. There’s some evidence to suggest that certain proteins can affect the smell of farts.

    Some protein supplements include additives that can contribute to gassiness. If this is the case, you can change the type of protein supplement you’re using. You may also want to talk to your doctor about whether you have any food intolerances, since these can contribute to digestive problems.

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    Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS
    Medical Content Manager
    Dr. Montrond-Correia is a licensed naturopathic physician and a certified nutrition specialist (CNS). She holds degrees from University of Bridgeport, Georgetown University, and University of Saint Joseph, and supplemented her education with internships in the health and wellness space. She's focused on research, herbal medicine, nutrigenomics, and integrative and functional medicine. She makes time for exercise, artistic activities, and enjoying delicious food.
    Our Editorial Staff
    Freelance Contributor
    The Care/of Editorial Team is made up of writers, experts, and health enthusiasts, all dedicated to giving you the information you need today. Our team is here to answer your biggest wellness questions, read the studies for you, and introduce you to your new favorite product, staying up to date on the latest research, trends, and science. Each article is written by one of our experts, reviewed both for editorial standards by an editor and medical standards by one of our naturopathic doctors, and updated regularly as new information becomes available.