Photo credit: Exercise Tradewinds 2009

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Anyone heard of protein farts?

You know, the awful gas that passes when you eat too much protein?

I’ve had my fair share of protein farts in my past (my apologies to anyone who’s sat within a 5-foot radius during those times) and I want to say that the air I pass is now fresh as the trade winds passing through Waikiki on a cool, summer day.

Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I still don’t have awful gas anymore. Here’s how you can stop your protein farts.

Step 1: Fiber is your friend.

“Protein farts” is the term that most people use to describe the foul odor that emanates from a person who works out hard and drinks a lot of protein shakes and eats a lot of meat in general. The noxious fumes have very little to do with eating protein – it actually has to do with a lack of dietary fiber.

Non-soluble fiber is fiber that isn’t absorbed by the body during digestion. These fibers can be found in sweet potatoes, oats, granola, vegetables, fruits, and a lot of other things. Non-soluble fiber stays intact and acts as roughage to clear the intestines. You see, protein farts smell bad because there is a lot of leftover debris in the digestive tract and it’s rotting. Seriously, it’s just stuck there, bacteria is munching on it, and they release gasses with that awful rotting smell and that’s what a protein fart is.

So what should you do? Start looking at the nutrition labels for everything you eat. Check to see how much dietary fiber you’re getting from your current foods. If it’s not a lot, then you should head over to the grocery store and find things that are. If you eat organic apples, sweet potatoes, or yams or any other fruit or vegetable with soft skin, don’t peel them! If you’re eating white rice, consider eating brown rice. If you’re eating white bread, try eating rye bread. If you’re eating a kiddie cereal for breakfast, try a more nutrient-rich cereal brand like Kashi or Bob’s Red Mill.

But doesn’t fiber make you fart more?

Yes it does, as evidenced by this moniker by Bart Simpson:

“Beans, beans, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot.”

However, everyone passes gas! It’s inevitable. On average, people fart 15 times a day (source)! The idea of eating more fiber is that you want healthy digestion and nothing rotting inside you so that you pass scentless gas. And if you have the choice, wouldn’t you want several, mild farts throughout the day, rather than one, huge, weapon-of-mass-destruction-type-of-fart that will probably come when you’re sitting next to that cute, single boy/girl you like?

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