High-protein diets are popular because they help the body build muscle and, thanks to their low-carbohydrate tendencies, also help dieters drop pounds quickly. However, high protein also comes with another issue: gastric distress, which can take the form of diarrhea, constipation or an unsettling combination of the two. Protein itself is not a problem for your system, but since high-protein diets often eliminate or dramatically reduce other types of food like fruits and vegetables, the imbalance is actually what creates the problem. While your body will get used to the new dietary regimen over time, you can take some steps during the initial period of your diet to keep your gastric discomfort to a minimum.
Drink lots of water. This will not only keep you hydrated but will also dilute the components of the diet that are causing your stomach to rebel. It is commonly recommended that you drink eight 8-oz. glasses of water each day. However, you can drink more than that as long as you do not start to feel bloated or ill.
Supplement your diet with fiber if you have diarrhea as well as bouts of constipation (which is common with high-protein diets). If you have diarrhea, you may think that fiber sounds like a bad idea, but establishing a regular, healthy fiber intake will help your digestive system adjust to your new diet. Fiber supplements are available in powder form, pill form, or you can get in the form of food by consuming bran muffins, rice, or whole wheat. Generally, if you are on a high-protein diet, you will not be eating a lot of muffins, so you will probably want to go with a supplement.
Take vitamins. Diets that focus on one major dietary element -- protein, in this instance -- often cause vitamin deficiencies because you are neglecting other aspects of a healthy diet. Vitamin deficiencies can exacerbate intestinal discomfort and contribute to diarrhea. Take a daily multivitamin appropriate to your age and gender to ensure you are meeting your daily dietary needs. If you are particularly concerned about any one vitamin, consult your dietitian before beginning the diet.
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables. High-protein diets frequently exclude many fresh fruits and vegetables, preferring to focus mainly on meat dishes and simple salads that have low nutritional value. Even if your diet is both low-carb and high-protein, you cannot hope to exclude fresh fruits and vegetables from your diet and avoid diarrhea because a total lack of produce will create a serious imbalance in your intestinal system that can even lead to putrefaction rather than normal digestion.
Avoid caffeine, which is a natural diuretic. When consumed in conjunction with a high-protein diet, caffeine almost always will cause diarrhea. For the duration of your diet -- or at least until your body becomes accustomed to the changes in your eating habits -- you may just have to accept the loss of your morning coffee.
Consult a physician before beginning any new weight-loss regimen.