Knowledge BaseYou're questions answered.

Can plant protein powder cause diarrhea?

Yes, plant protein powders can sometimes cause diarrhea, especially if they are consumed in large quantities or if the consumer has a sensitive digestive system. The primary reasons for this are the presence of non-absorbable carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, and high levels of fiber found in some plant proteins, which can alter digestive processes and lead to gastrointestinal distress (1).

Plant protein powders, such as those derived from peas, rice, or hemp, often contain higher fiber levels than their animal protein counterparts. This fiber can be beneficial for the digestive system, promoting regular bowel movements and aiding in cholesterol management. However, for individuals not accustomed to high-fiber diets, this sudden increase can result in excessive gas production, bloating, and in some cases, diarrhea (2). Additionally, many plant protein powders include additives like xylitol or inulin, which are intended to improve taste and texture but can cause laxative effects if ingested in large amounts (3).

To minimize the risk of diarrhea when consuming plant protein powders, it is advisable to start with smaller doses and gradually increase your intake as your digestive system adapts. Also, consider choosing protein powders that are free from artificial sweeteners and excessive fiber or those that contain digestive enzymes to help ease digestion. Ensuring adequate hydration when increasing protein intake is also crucial as it helps manage and mitigate any potential digestive issues (4).

It's important to note that while plant protein powders can cause diarrhea, they are generally well-tolerated by most people and provide a valuable source of protein and other nutrients. If you experience persistent adverse effects, it may be wise to consult a healthcare provider to rule out allergies or sensitivities to specific ingredients commonly found in plant protein products (5).


  1. Ford, A. L., Nagulesapillai, V., Piano, A., Auger, J., Girard, S. A., Christman, M., & Tompkins, T. A. (2018). Microbiota stability and gastrointestinal tolerance in response to a high protein diet with and without a prebiotic, probiotic, and synbiotic: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in older women. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 118(4), 615-630. Retrieved from
  2. Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and prebiotics: Mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients, 5(4), 1417-1435. Retrieved from
  3. Lattimer, J. M., & Haub, M. D. (2010). Effects of dietary fiber and its components on metabolic health. Nutrients, 2(12), 1266-1289. Retrieved from
  4. Mehta, S., Naim, A., & Patel, S. (2020). Artificial sweeteners as a cause of obesity: weight gain mechanisms and current evidence. Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 11, 2042018820938274. Retrieved from
  5. Vandeputte, D., Falony, G., Vieira-Silva, S., Tito, R. Y., Joossens, M., & Raes, J. (2017). Prebiotic inulin-type fructans induce specific changes in the human gut microbiota. Gut, 66(11), 1968-1974. Retrieved from
Add to this Answer

Protein Reviews

In-depth analysis of protein powders to support your goals.
All Reviews
hello world!