Eating a high-protein diet definitely has its pros and cons. There’s no doubt that cutting back on carbs while loading up on protein has definitely helped plenty of women shed pounds. “Protein is great for anyone trying to lose weight. Since it’s digested slower than carbs, it helps you to stay full and satisfied after your meal,” says Torey Armul, R.D.
But one common downside of going high with the protein is that it can also leave you a bit, ahem, stuffed up. Yup, we’re talking constipation, diarrhea, and other not-so-pleasant gastrointestinal issues. The good news is you don’t have to grin and bear it if constipation is an unpleasant side effect of your high-protein diet.
Here’s what’s going on below deck when your high-protein diet is making you constipated—and what to do about it.
with either constipation or diarrhea as a result of a high-protein diet. But the issues may be indirectly related to the protein.
If you’re dealing with constipation, it might be what you’re not eating that’s messing with you. “It’s not the protein but a lack of fiber that causes constipation,” says Armul. “People eat less fiber on a high-protein diet since they’re more focused on eating animal proteins, which don’t have any fiber at all.”
Fiber, which is found mostly in fruits, veggies, and grains, adds bulk to your stool, drawing water and waste through your GI tract. That, in turn, helps ensure the foods you eat move more efficiently right on through. “By keeping things moving, fiber keeps you feeling good, reduces bloating, and removes any potential irritants in the GI tract,” says Armul. In short: Fiber is key.