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Thread: Whey protein - Stomach cramps

  1. Default Whey protein - Stomach cramps

    #1
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    Recently I have been experiencing abdominal cramps around 30mins-1hour after taking whey protein (concentrate).

    I'm fairly convinced that I am NOT lactose intolerant, because milk causes no problem whatsoever.

    My intake of whey has been very high recently, because it's cheap and makes dieting easy to manipulate. However, I had been consuming this amount (200g/day) without any problems for a couple of weeks.

    Last night the pain reached an all time high, to the point where my housemates took me to A&E out of concern, although by the time I was seen (about 5 hours after it had started) the pain had subsided and I was just sent home again.

    There is no diarrhea/vomiting either.

    This morning I had the normal quantity of milk I consume with my shake on it's own (1 pint), and suffered no problems. However, when I took 100g of wpc (the usual amount in a shake) with water, I began to get pain again. I had perhaps 50-60gs worth of shake, before being convinced that this was the cause of my pain. It is limited however, which suggests that the total volume of protein is part of the issue.

    Obviously for the time being I will be cutting out whey shakes altogether, but I am wondering if there is any likely reason(s) for such a severe reaction?
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  2.  
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    Any fibre in your diet? Enough vitamins? Lack of vitamin C will cause constipation as will a number of other deficiencies. There are two less than obvious reasons for the gripes (gripping pains in the gut).

    One is dehydration. You are taking in a lot of fluid to be sure, but protein requires water for its digestion and you may be shortchanging yourself on that score.

    The other is that whey, milk etc contains a lot of calcium. Calcium and magnesium form a tight balance in the body, just like sodium and potassium do. Not enough magnesium in the diet will lead to cramps - its a classic sign. Redress the balance with Epsom Salts? Cheap and effective, or eat more leafy greens like cabbage etc.

    Personally I recommend eating real food first and foremost. Failing that always, always on any diet (high calorie bulking, low calorie cutting, high carb, low fat, high protein etc etc) take extra vitamins minerals and EFAs as an insurance policy.

    Hope this helps.
    jtwigg likes this.
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    Thanks Wotan, I was hoping you'd respond!
    I eat around 200g spinach/broccoli (each) for fibre, and am usually regular.
    Would dehydration cause such rapid onset of pain?
    Would Mg deficiency lead to cramps every time I consumed the stuff or more randomly?
    I drink a fair amount, and usually have fairly pale urine, so I don't think dehydration is a problem here, unless a relative lack of fluidrotein at that specific time could be a problem? (around 1 pint of milk for 100g whey)

    This way of dieting is far from ideal, but it's the most cost effective way of dealing with things. I will try to address the issues you've mentioned and stick to solid food for a week or so, then try a lesser dose of whey again with a glass of water or so before, does this sound like a reasonable approach?
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    Well it can't hurt can it? I must admit that it doesn't sound much like dehydration and the magnesium problem would continue for as long as it took for the problem to be addressed. So maybe its not that!

    There is another thing that happens with restrictive diets, and that is the problem of sensitisation. It doesn't always happen, and some races/cultures have lived on range-restricted diets for thousands of years with no problems (think of the Eskimo's diet). But it can - and maybe that is what is happening with you. Maybe you are now becoming sensitive (not allergic, note) to particular proteins in the whey. I believe Hail and Nu have touched upon this subject a few months back.

    The only answer is to back off the whey for a time until things cool down a bit. Sometimes they never do and you'd have to undergo some specific diet therapy to overcome the problem. This is a bit like increasing exposure to pollen proteins in order to overcome hayfever.

    If you post up why your diet is as it is maybe I can think of something to get round the problem that way?
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    Sure thing. It probably has some seriously glaring holes in it tbh!

    Morning: 100g whey in a pint of whole milk (homogenized crap unfortunately, can't afford the good stuff!)
    Lunch: 400ish grams of whatever reasonably lean meat I can buy at tescos. Most recently pork loin steaks.
    Evening: 100g whey in a pint of whole milk
    Whenever: 200grams(ish) spinach & brocolli. Although I have been guilty of missing this on the odd day (stupid I know).

    That's it. Sensitisation seems like a distinct possibility given the high relative reliance on dairy-based stuff, but it's about as cheap as I can do really...

    The thing I find most odd about it is that milk alone gives me no problem (although I've only tried 1 pint in one sitting today), so unless there's a protein/other component in Whey concentrate that is fairly low concentration in milk but higher in the whey, I can't see why this would be an issue.

    Thanks for your input Wotan!
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    Drank 4 pints of milk yesterday, not a single problem. What on earth is in whey that isn't in milk?!
    Will be booking an appointment with my doctors this monday to see if I can get any sensitivity tests etc done....
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    I used to get stomach cramps (in fact got quite ill) if I had more than a scoop of whey at once. Especially if I became quite dependant on the shakes.

    I wondered about intolerances etc. In the end I came to the conclusion it was just a new food and lot to digest in one go. I can have 2 scoops now but my "tolerance" has improved with my ability to eat a large high protein meal in one sitting. Remember 100gms whey + milk is equivalent to dropping 3 large chicken breasts in your stomach in one go.

    By all means get checked out but if you've no experience of allergies/intolerances prior to this you might just need time to adapt to a high protein diet. Take some time off it, reduce your whey intake and then try build it up again. Try some other powders; casein, Isolate, egg, rice (gross), pea etc. Some of MP whey supplements contain extras to help you digest it, or better yet get some real food!
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    Yes, I doubt I will have to eliminate it completely. Am on solid food for now. It's not like I'm not used to high protein diets though...I generally like to hit around 400g/day which is probably overkill, but has never given me trouble before. I think you are possibly right about not being used to such a heavy reliance on the shakes however, although it's odd that it took a few weeks to develop.

    I was looking at true whey as a possibility, although I have no idea how much difference digestive enzymes will make; I always thought they'd get digested themselves haha! Worth a try though. I would use solid food regularly, but it costs me around 50 quid per week versus under 30 using large amounts of shakes.
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    Uhmm, this is just a stab in the dark but I can think of two things that might be happening.

    1. You are feeding particular types of gut flora with large amounts of one macro at a time - protein. It might be that putrefactive type bacteria are having a whale of a time at your expense. Some of their by-products might be quite irritating until they themselves get digested.
    Something like that anyway.

    2. The other thing that might happen is that your enzymes levels are being pushed to their limit by the sheer quantity of extra protein. If this is the case then a simple enzyme supplelment will sort that one out. You don't need an expensive bells and whistles job in this case - the problem is with the protein so all you need are those enzymes really.

    How does this sound? Plausible??
    The Moderate Moderator

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    Gut flora: would that not produce large amounts of gas? This has not been a symptom, just pain. I was under the impression that this would pan out in a similar manner to lactose intolerance where gas/diarrhea would ensue?

    Digestive enzymes sound worth a shot, do they actually work? I've always been skeptical?
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