Protein powders are a popular way to maximize protein intake. As protein is crucial for the growth and development of muscle, getting enough protein is key if you want to see progress with your physique.
There’s a whole range of protein powders available today. They come in different forms depending on what they’re made from.
Some come from plants such as soybean, rice, and hemp powder; some come from milk, such as casein and whey powder; and others come from eggs.
In recent years, pea protein has become a popular plant based powder as an alternative to milk and egg based products.
But, protein powders can come with potential downsides including digestive issues like constipation, whereby people experience difficulty going to the toilet and may not be able to go regularly.
Whether or not a protein powder causes these side effects usually depends on what type of powder they are, as well as your body’s response to it.
Here, I’ve explained what pea protein is, whether or not it causes constipation, as well as possible reasons why you may experience constipation when using pea protein,
What is Pea Protein?
Pea protein powder, also referred to as pea protein isolate, is a kind of protein derived from yellow peas.
It’s often added to shakes, smoothies, or foods like oatmeal to maximize daily protein intake.
As it’s derived from peas, pea protein is vegetarian and vegan friendly.
The amount of calories, protein, carbs, and fats will vary by the brand of protein powder being used but pea powder is high in protein at around 15 grams per 2 scoops.
This makes pea powder a great source of protein.
As well as being high in protein, pea powder is also rich in iron and other nutrients, making it ideal to incorporate into your diet.
However, as with other protein powders, there can be downsides.
In the next sections, I’ve explained the potential impact of plant protein and pea protein on digestion, including constipation.
Can Pea Protein Cause Constipation?
Pea protein does not commonly cause constipation. This is because pea protein generally doesn’t cause many side effects and people tolerate it well. As a result, you shouldn’t experience digestive side effects when using pea protein.
To expand on this further, pea protein doesn’t commonly cause constipation.
This is because pea protein typically doesn’t cause a lot of side effects and most people can tolerate it.
In comparison to peas, pea protein is relatively low in its fiber content. As it’s lower in fiber, it doesn’t cause the same digestive issues such as bloating that people can experience when eating peas, particularly when they eat a lot of them.
As pea protein is vegan, it’s also ok for those with lactose intolerance who may experience digestive side effects after consuming protein powders made from milk such as casein and whey powder.
Depending on the brand, pea protein can also be ok for those with IBS or other digestive conditions who follow a low FODMAP diet.
As pea protein is low FODMAP, it doesn’t cause the same digestive issues that other protein powders can in those with IBS.
Related article – Why pea protein is a good, low FODMAP option
With this being said though, whilst pea protein doesn’t usually cause constipation there are sometimes people who experience constipation when using pea protein powder, which I’ll now go onto discuss.
Why Does Pea Protein Make Me Constipated?
Pea protein doesn’t usually cause constipation. However, consuming more than the recommended amount can lead to side effects.
Other factors, such as not getting enough fiber in your diet or having poor hydration levels, can also lead to constipation when using pea protein powder.
As I mentioned, pea protein is usually well tolerated by people and shouldn’t cause side effects such as constipation.
However, sometimes some people do experience constipation when using pea protein and there can be different reasons for this.
One possible reason people experience constipation when using pea protein is because they’re consuming too much of it.
Using an excessive amount of protein powder of any kind, by which I mean going above the amount that is recommended, is going to put you at higher risk of experiencing side effects including constipation.
To find the recommended level, you should check out the instructions on the product that you have, as each product will come with its own guidance and advice.
It’s worth keeping in mind that although you may want to increase this dose, it’s not worth causing side effects and isn’t going to guarantee better results.
Another reason you may experience constipation when using pea protein is due to your diet, specifically your levels of fiber intake and your levels of hydration.
Both fiber intake and hydration play a significant role in digestion, with low levels leading to constipation and other issues.
Check out this *fun* video which explains what causes constipation:
Although peas are high in fiber, most of this fiber is removed to create the pea protein isolate.
So ensuring that you get enough fiber from other sources in your diet is important to avoid constipation.
Foods that are high in fiber include many vegetables and fruits, as well as whole grains. So incorporating enough of these into your diet is important.
Equally, whilst you might mix pea protein with a drink, or with a meal, ensuring that you stay hydrated throughout the day is important.
The recommended intake of water for an adult may be higher than you think.
For men it’s recommended that they have 15.5 cups/ 3.7 liters a day and for women it’s recommended that they drink 11.5 cups/ 2.7 liters a day.
This amount may also increase if you’re exercising intensely or often, as you lose fluids through sweat.
So ensuring adequate hydration levels is also important to avoid constipation when using pea protein.
Finally, you may experience constipation from pea protein for no clear reason.
Everyone reacts to products in their own way and for some people it may cause constipation even if they follow advice on recommended intake, consume enough fiber, and maintain hydration levels.
Sometimes finding the right protein powder is a matter of trial and error until you find one that works for you.