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Protein Diet & Stools

author image Antonius Ortega
Antonius Ortega is a 13-year veteran of the fitness industry and an athletic trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. His articles on fitness, health and travel have appeared in newspapers such as the "The Hornet," "The Daily Bruin," and "Stars and Stripes." Ortega trains in Orange County.
Protein Diet & Stools
Steak on a plate Photo Credit DAJ/amana images/Getty Images

A high-protein diet can be a good way to cut back on calories and maintain lean muscle mass. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, high-protein diets help you lose weight because they often mean eating fewer carbohydrates. Any extra carbohydrates you eat that your body can’t use for immediate energy typically get stored as fat. A diet that is higher in protein may affect bowel movements and cause stools to become harder and darker. Hardened stools can lead to hemorrhoids and constipation.

High-Protein Diets

A high-protein diet typically means getting more of your daily total calories from protein sources. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, you should try to get around 10 to 30 percent of your daily calories from protein. Generally, a daily intake obtaining more than 30 percent of your daily calories from protein is considered a high-protein diet.

Lack of Fiber

Most protein sources – with the exception of legumes – contain little or no fiber. Animal and dairy sources of protein come with no fiber. Lack of fiber affects the way protein and other nutrients are broken down in your system. According to Mayoclinic.com, fiber promotes the passage of food through your digestive system and increases the bulk and softness of your stools. Fiber also helps bring water into stools making them softer and easier to pass.

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Too much protein without fiber can make your stools harder, resulting in constipation. According to MayoClinic.com, you're probably experiencing constipation if your stools are hard and dry and you pass less than three stools a week. Adding more fiber to your diet can help prevent this blocked, stuffed condition. Try to acquire around 25 to 35 g of fiber in the foods you eat daily.


Hardened stools from a high-protein diet can cause you to strain during bowel movements. Straining – especially while constipated – can cause hemorrhoids to form. Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins in your rectum. They can be either internal or external. Try to bulk up your stools with high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. You should also cut back on protein until your stools get softer and bowel movements become more regular.

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  • "ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer”; American College of Sports Medicine; 2010
  • “NSCA’s Guide to Sport and Exercise Nutrition”; National Strength and Conditioning Association; 2011
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