Building Muscle? Here’s How to Eat More Protein Without the Gut Issues

Written by: Vincent Pedre M.D.



Time to read min

If you’re looking to gain muscle, there’s a good chance you’re hitting the weight room at the gym, and hitting the protein hard in the kitchen. Protein is key to feeling satiated, building muscle, boosting metabolism, losing weight, burning fat, maintaining lean body mass, and achieving your fitness goals.

Unfortunately, many types of protein — including whole foods protein sources like eggs and beans, but also protein powders — can be hard on the gut. It’s not uncommon for my gym-loving fitness buffs to complain about bloating, indigestion, or chronic stomach pain when stacking the protein they need to get that fitness physique. Unfortunately, oftentimes, the very thing they need more of —high amounts of protein in the diet—is the culprit.

The good news is that I developed an expert solution to getting the most from your protein — without the gut health issues that often accompany a protein-packed diet. Developed with experts in a lab, I call it—HAPPY GUT® Activate Plus—the most, comprehensive, upgraded digestive enzymes you can get for a happy gut, no matter what. These complete digestive enzymes can help you digest and absorb muscle-building protein with efficiency and ease, bringing you one step closer to your fitness goals, while enjoying a happy gut, no matter how much protein you stuff in it with every meal.

Building muscle takes discipline, but it shouldn’t come with a price—leaving you with an upset stomach.


If there’s one thing all health and fitness experts pretty much agree on, it’s that protein is key to success at the gym. When you work out, especially when you weight lift with heavier weights, you damage the protein filaments — called myosin and actin — in your muscle tissues. This might sound like a bad thing. but it’s actually a good thing. It gives you a chance to rebuild those muscles bigger and stronger. Want to do this as effectively as possible? Then, you need to eat adequate amounts of dietary protein.

Hundreds of studies over many decades have confirmed this benefit of protein. For example, one randomized controlled trial showed that there’s a dose-response relationship between protein and muscle mass, which means the more you up your protein intake, the more muscle mass you will gain. Other studies have shown that eating protein is key to losing fat but preserving muscle mass during weight loss. Protein is key even if you’re not lifting weights regularly. Studies show that if you’re not eating enough of this macronutrient, your body will break down muscle in order to supply important tissues with nutrients, which can lead to a loss of muscle mass, decreased strength, and slower metabolism. 

The research shows that protein can help you achieve your fitness goals for other reasons as well. For example, studies have shown that protein reduces ghrelin levels, which is the hormone that makes you feel hungry, while boosting a hormone in the small intestine called peptide YY, which makes you feel full so you know when to stop eating. Others have shown that when compared to fats and carbohydrates, protein is the most effective macronutrient for keeping you feeling energized and satisfied, resulting in better weight loss and weight maintenance.


Muscle Growth

Whether you’re trying to crush it in the gym or just maintain general health, getting enough protein is key. But how much protein is enough? The current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day, but that number really only covers the minimum average amount of protein you need to avoid muscle loss. When you break it down, this only comes out to about 55 grams of protein for a 150-pound person. In fact, the authors of one study explain that the RDA is often misinterpreted as the “optimal intake” when in reality the optimal intake is much higher.

How much protein is enough?

At least 1.0 - 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. But if you’re looking to pack on more lean muscle, you might have to increase that to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. For a 150 lbs person, looking to gain 10 pounds of muscle weight and lose fat, that’s at least 145 grams of protein (or almost 50 grams per meal, if eating three meals daily). That’s a lot of protein for your stomach to handle on a daily basis without causing uncomfortable gas, bloating, and burping.

When I’m consulting with my patients

If you need some inspiration, here are the 10 best sources of protein:

10 Best Happy Gut Sources of Protein

Protein Source
Protein Source
* Quinoa is among the best vegetarian sources of protein with a complete amino acid profile. For easier digestion and to reduce its bitterness, soak the quinoa overnight, then rinse and cook as per package directions.☨ Sprouted pumpkin seeds are best, because the sprouting reduces the gut-irritating lectin and anti-nutrient phytic acid content on the shell and makes the nutrients more bioavailable.


When you increase your protein intake, there’s a good chance you’ll notice nothing but positive benefits — more muscle gain, more energy, more satiation. That said, there’s also a chance you end up nauseous, bloated, or with stomach pains or IBS-like symptoms.

Let’s be honest: eating the amount of protein you need per meal and daily to build muscle mass can make you feel sick to your stomach.

Of the three macronutrients, protein can be the most difficult to digest and absorb for many. Proteins are large, complex molecules made up of 20 varying amino acids, and they can take a lot of energy to break down in the digestive tract. It puts a major demand on your stomach to break down these big molecules. This is true for both whole foods sources of protein — like chicken, fish, or chickpeas — but also for protein powders.

When it comes to the most popular types of protein powders for muscle-building, whey protein concentrate will have dairy residues which could be a problem for anyone who is dairy sensitive.

This means bloating and even running to the bathroom with diarrhea after drinking just one whey protein shake. That’s why I chose hydrolyzed pea protein for my Happy Gut Nourish Protein. This type of protein is hypoallergenic and micronized to break it down into easier to absorb short-chain amino acids, allowing the protein to be digested more easily by your body without your stomach having to do a lot of the work, making it the easiest to digest protein powder you can buy, suitable for vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters alike. 


However, if you want to build muscle mass, most of your quality protein ideally should be coming from animal sources, and it’s important to digest and absorb it well so it can get to work in your body building muscle quickly. The key to this is breaking up protein efficiently, which is easier said than done as we just learned. So what do you do if you want to be able to handle the quantities of protein per meal that you need to eat in order to lose weight and/or gain muscle mass?

But don’t take my word for it, check out some testimonials from real people who use Activate Plus in their everyday life.