Protein Farts: 3 Reasons Flat Abs Cause Bad Gas


Fitness folks always have two things in common — muscle mass & bad gas. How can some look so good but smell so bad? Answer: protein farts.

Everyone knows people that are into fitness generally eat more protein. From protein shakes to egg whites to an insane amount of chicken, fit people need protein to maintain and build muscle mass. Also people who are solely trying to lose weight often experience these obnoxious fumes as higher protein diets are effective in long term weight loss programs (more on this in my ebook “The Art of Losing Body Fat!”).

protein farts

Butt [see what I did there] does protein really cause foul fitness farts?

First, Let’s briefly touch on some fart facts!

Did You Know:

  • An average person farts 14 times a day
  • Men and woman fart equally.
  • Most farts take place at night.
  • Farts are made up of mostly nitrogen and only 1% hydrogen sulfide [read: the smelly stuff].

The breakdown of food emits gas and your body attempts to rid it through flatulence. Certain foods can cause more flatulence than others and eating habits can be a catalyst to more tooting.

Protein Farts & Fiber Intake


Protein intake is vital to any gym -goer. You go to the gym to build muscle and in order to maximize that result, you should be eating anywhere between 0.8-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Sources of protein include steak, chicken, fish, beans, and protein shakes among many other sources. When protein is broken down, it emits different gaseous like nitrogen, methane, and hydrogen sulfide. Certain foods contain more of the smelly sulfur like steak and eggs and can really make anyone near you miserable.

Not only can gas be smelly, but it can also be painful.

Excess protein and not enough fiber can cause food build-up in the large intestine which causes a gas build up, giving you that awful bloated feeling. Being backed up can cause food to sit too long and rot. The benefit of protein and fiber is that it has a high thermic effect as the body has the hardest time breaking it down. The benefit of this high thermic effect is increased calorie burn.

The downside is the backside byproduct.

Unfortunately, foods like cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, steak, and beans are serious precursors to gaseous grenades so if tooting is taxing your relationships, it may be time to switch up your protein sources.


Protein Farts & Lactose

lactose intolerant protein farts

Fit people often turn to dairy products like milk, greek yogurt, and cottage cheese because of their high protein amounts. Sadly, 30% of people have some level of lactose intolerance, leading to some of the worst protein farts imaginable.

You’ve probably heard of lactose intolerance, but may not know exactly what it really is. Lactose intolerance is characterized by the symptoms that occur when your body does not make enough of a digestive enzyme called lactase to digest a sugar called lactose, which is found mainly in milk and other dairy products. 



Normally, our body produces lactase, which breaks down lactose into two simple sugars, glucose and galactose. These two sugars can then be absorbed into the bloodstream. People whose bodies don’t make enough lactase can’t fully digest lactose, causing mild to uncomfortable side effects— gas and bloating being the main ones.

Protein powders often have some form of lactose in them if they aren’t an isolate protein. Yes, most protein powders with a concentrate protein source contain lactose and can be a cause of bad gas as concentrate proteins are more difficult for your body to break down.

Here is a list of the major lactose based foods that are notorious for thunder farts:

  • Milk at (the most at 12 grams of lactose per cup)
  • yogurt
  • baked goods
  • chocolate
  • butter
  • coffee cream
  • sour cream
  • Cream cheese
  • Cheese(the least at 1 grams of lactose per serving)

Other Reasons

Size of Meals

Having too large of  a meal is a common cause of digestive problems and excessive flatulence. Undigested foods can putrefy in the heat of the large intestine and, with bacterial action, lead to the production of gases like hydrogen sulphide, insoles, skatoles and mercaptans. It only takes a small amount of these gases to create some really bad smelling flatulence.


Chew Your Food


Are we even tasting our food anymore or just shoveling it in out of habit?

If we want to avoid indigestion, stomach gas, bloating and flatulence, it’s worth remembering to slow down when eating, taste and enjoy the food and start chewing each mouthful more thoroughly.

Digestion starts in the mouth, not in the stomach. Chewing breaks up the food into more manageable pieces, increases its surface area and mixes it with saliva.

This saliva contains the enzymes amylase, which starts breaking down carbohydrates in the meal and lingual lipase to begin the proper digestion of fats. The whole digestive process can impaired when we are eating too fast.


Gastro Problems


Potential conditions underlying flatulence range from temporary conditions, such as constipation and gastroenteritis, to food intolerances, such as lactose intolerance. Digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and celiac disease, can also lead to flatulence. Certain medications and steroids can cause pretty awful gas too.


Tone Down Your Toot-Tuba

protein farts bad gas flatulence

As funny as protein farts can be, sometimes it’s just too much (ask my girlfriend). Causes of excess gas in the digestive tract range from swallowed air, breakdown of undigested foods, lactose intolerance, and malabsorption of certain foods.

Here are a few ways you can reduce your gas passing:

  1. Be sure to chew your food enough and don’t eat so fast. If you are going to keep your protein intake high, make it a little easier for your body to process by not swallowing 3oz of barely-chewed steak at a time — no matter how delicious it may be.

  2. Keep your meal sizes a bit smaller so your body can keep up. When you chug a 50g protein shake post leg day then run to a local Outback Steakhouse for a 12oz ribeye, that is a recipe for some major love puffs that, well, aren’t so lovely.

  3. If you are like a lot of people and don’t respond well to dairy, it might be time to switch to lactose free foods. Try lactose free milk life Fairlife and other lactose free alternatives. Be sure your protein is from an isolate source and not a concentrate so you can avoid any trouble from lactose.

  4. Getting enough fiber in your diet may help move things along. Some of the worst foods for excessive protein farts include beans, dairy, sulfur-containing vegetables, FODMAPs, starchy fiber foods, and processed, artificial and high-fat foods. In attempt to lower protein farts, try an elimination diet, probiotics, spices, digestive enzymes, exercise and more water.



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