Ask a Dietitian: How to Beat the Protein Bloat

Hey Jess, I've been noticing something weird lately. Whenever I eat foods high in protein, I end up feeling bloated. Can you tell me why this happens and what I can do to feel better?

woman protein bloat

Trust me, you're not alone when it comes to the bloat. We’ve all been there wishing you’d chosen leggings instead of jeans after your stomach balloons up. Nightmare.

Before we get to the factors at play and some potential solutions, let's tackle the question first: What is bloating?

Bloating occurs when your digestive system accumulates gas, air, or fluid, causing your stomach or intestines to expand. This uncomfortable sensation is often accompanied by a feeling of tightness, making you feel like there's no space left in your stomach.

If you're wondering why this happens, let's explore a few factors that may contribute to it.

Why you might have the protein bloat

Protein type

It's not just about how much protein you have, but also the kind of protein you choose. For example, plant-based proteins like beans and lentils have oligosaccharides that can be a bit tougher to digest, which could cause bloating.

Individual sensitivity

To increase overall daily protein intake, some include protein shakes and bars. Take a whey protein shake, for instance, which contains lactose. If you happen to be lactose intolerant, consuming whey protein may result in bloating, or you might find that you do not tolerate a certain sweetener very well.

Additional fiber

Pay attention to how much fiber you are also consuming, as high protein shakes can also be high in fiber, which can initially cause some gas or bloating.

The good news is that there are a few tricks to overcome the bloat.

How to beat the protein bloat

Slow down

Take your time. Often, protein shakes are gulped down within minutes, leaving you feeling uncomfortable. Also, consuming a large amount of protein in a short period can overwhelm the digestive system, increasing the chances of bloating.

Get in some movement

Try going for a walk or doing yoga. Exercise can help to reduce bloating as it stimulates the digestive system and increases blood flow, while relieving gas and reducing water retention – both common causes of bloating.

Increase water intake

Stay hydrated. When you don't drink enough water your digestion process may be disrupted, making it more challenging for your body to efficiently break down and absorb nutrients like proteins, contributing to the bloating sensation.


While individual responses vary, most people don't experience bloating from protein alone. We're well aware of how crucial protein is for our bodies and the amazing benefits it brings, however, it's quite common to feel bloated or have tummy issues after consuming certain protein sources or protein shakes. The great news is that there are handy tips and tricks you can use to alleviate bloating and enhance digestion.

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