High protein diets: can cause constipation

The high protein diets they are chosen by many people who have the goal of losing weight.

Although, if carried out under the supervision of a nutritionist, these are undoubtedly valid nutritional solutions, they also have an often underestimated contraindication: that of promote constipation and other gastrointestinal problems.


In the absence of other health problems, constipation is often caused by what you eat. In the case of high protein diets it is not the proteins themselves that propitiate this event but rather theunbalanced power supply which results from their higher than average consumption. In particular, in this case the main cause of constipation would be the lack or poor intake of fibre.

The fibers, which are mainly found in fruit, vegetables and cerealsThey add bulk to the stool, drawing water and waste through the gastrointestinal tract. This in turn helps ensure that the foods you eat move more efficiently until they are expelled, a mechanism which in turn makes you feel better, reduces bloating and removes any irritants in your gastrointestinal tract.

Protein shakes and powders can also trigger gastrointestinal problems, especially if they contain artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols or processed substances.

How to avoid protein-related constipation

The best solution to prevent the onset of constipation without giving up a massive dose of daily protein is to make sure you regularly combine it with foods rich in fibre. A good way to do this is to include plant-based proteins such as lentils, chickpeas, edamame, black beans and red beans also rich in fibre.

If, however, you decide to avoid legumes, which for some people can cause abdominal swelling and other discomfort, you need to fill up on low-carbohydrate vegetables such as dark leafy ones or spinach, kale and chard; or, courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and broccoli. The asparagus However, they are the best choice since an average serving can contain around three grams of protein.

Precious in a high-protein diet that also wants to be balanced at the same time seeds and dried fruit like chia seeds, flaxseeds, peanuts, almonds and walnuts, which offer a dose of fiber and protein with few carbohydrates.

Also there fruit it should be included in a correct diet, even if high in protein, because although it is rich in sugars it is also rich in satiating fibers and this makes it very beneficial for the body. A good rule to follow if you are following a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet is to choose fruits with a higher peel-to-pulp ratio, such as blueberries, because they contain much more fiber and fewer carbohydrates than other fruits without peel, such as watermelon.

How many fibers per day are indicated

To avoid suffering from constipation it is advisable to eat approximately 25 grams of fiber per day, evenly distributed in each meal.

A high-protein, high-fiber meal might consist of half a plate of vegetables, a quarter of animal proteins such as chicken, beef, fish or other, and a quarter of high-protein grains or legumes such as quinoa, chickpeas or lentils. Since a serving of leafy greens contains about five grams of fiber, a robust lunch salad packed with spinach, peppers and tomatoes should get you about half your daily requirement.

It is also essential to make sure you drink enough liquids, which are also useful for promoting correct intestinal regularity.

Drinking these teas helps fight constipation.

Other potential side effects of excess protein

  • Tiredness and mental confusion. Proteins are not a great source of energy and for this reason you do not get the same energy from a diet rich in proteins compared to a more balanced one in terms of proteins and moderate carbohydrates.
  • Weight gain. Although the common thought is that carbohydrates cause weight gain and proteins can be consumed regardless of calories, this is not the case. Even in the case of a high-protein diet, the size of the portions of what you eat makes the difference. Even with a diet rich in proteins, therefore if the calories consumed exceed those consumed, weight gain occurs. To avoid this, the advice is not to consume fatty proteins or foods rich in saturated fats but prefer mainly lean protein sources such as chicken, turkey breast or shrimp, which have a low fat content and most of their calories come from proteins themselves.
  • Bad breath. While this side effect is typically more associated with those on the keto diet, it can also affect those on a high-protein diet.


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