The Vegan Bodybuilder's Guide to Farting and Bloating
Somehow, some way and somewhere along my arduous journey to becoming a (self-proclaimed) LEGENDARY vegan bodybuilder, I established myself as a vibrant and vivacious, fun-loving, vegan blogger babe who farts… a LOT.
Okay, who am I kidding? It was totally this post about the disgusting side of being a vegan bikini competitor in my early days of competing that put me on the map as a crass and brutally honest fit chick with a good sense of humour and a great ass (again, self-proclaimed.) 😉
I certainly don’t hide the fact that as a vegan bikini competitor turned pro, obviously I eat a LOT of plant-based protein and fibrous, farty foods to create my plant-built physique. But apparently because I am both fit & attractive, it is an unwritten rule that hot girls don’t fart. And apparently I should be keeping my bodily functions to myself.
Well screw that! I am a REAL person and I’m getting REAL tired of having to respond to every single one of my clients who ask what they can do about the bloating and farting they’re experiencing since switching over to a vegan diet.
It’s time for me to finally write an insightful blog post explaining WHY we meatless meatheads fart so damn much and WHY we can wake up with a flat stomach every morning but look six months pregnant by 6pm every evening.
Sound familiar? Trust me, my bloated vegan brethren, you are not alone!
I actually hear this complaint from clients all the time. They love their customized vegan meal plans. And they’re destroying their workouts every day. They feel great, sleep great, have glowing skin BUT for whatever reason, they are farting up a serious stink storm and feeling like a bloated whale as each day goes on.
So what gives, Coach Shorkey?! Do we just have to accept that to be a vegan bodybuilder is to be forever farty and bloated?!
Well vegan fit crew, today I’m gonna break it all down for you. I bet you can hardly contain your excitement! Or are you just holding in a fart? 😉
Before we begin, let me first explain what exactly a fart is. Most of us can gather that a “fart” is pretty much just air that is trapped inside of us. But most peeps don’t know what exactly causes us to hold in that air and more importantly, why we vegan bodybuilders seem more farty and bloated than our animal-eating counterparts.
Believe it or not, there are many fart-causing culprits. A lot of new vegans especially notice their increasing fart expenditure upon making the switch from a standard American diet. And it’s worth noting that this is usually thanks to the increase in veggie intake.
Veggies are jam-packed full of fiber which is, of course, jam-packed full of nutrients so whether you’re farty or not, you should still include a TON of green veggies in your daily diet. I always specify “green” veggies because I personally consider them to be “free foods.” Green veggies are so low in calories and high in nutrition that if there’s anything you’re going to eat in excess, make it them greens, yo!
And remember, a diet high in fiber (i.e. vegan) ensures your digestive system is chugging along smoothly AND bonus for those of us trying to lean down: fiber keeps us feeling full for longer so green veggies really are the perfect food for anyone on a diet.
That being said, a huge serving of fibrous green veggies IS hard for your body to digest. So if you’re finding that your incessant farting and basketball-sized, protruding stomach is just way too outta control, here are a few tricks to allow for high vegetable consumption with minimal discomfort.
Drink a glass of water with every fiber-heavy meal.
- Water helps move fiber along your digestive track, making it more easily digestible therefore causing less bloat.
Opt for cooked veggies over raw.
- If you’re going to binge on an entire bag of pre-washed baby carrots dipped in Sriracha mixed with Dijon mustard (a prep diet dipping MUST), just know that steamed IS easier on digestion than raw. Celery, carrots, cucumber & bell pepper are typically fine eaten raw. It’s the raw cruciferous veggies that you wanna watch out for.
- ALWAYS cook the fartiest veggies aka the cruciferous fart makers.
- Broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, collards etc. Love ’em all but best to eat late at night when you’re by yourself and can fart in peace. 🙂
- Cruciferous veggies are bad for gas because they’re high in a sugar called “raffinose” which we lack the necessary enzyme needed to break that shit down. So when raffinose passes through our digestive tract in “whole” form, it ferments in the lower intestine, causing all kinds of uncomfortable farty, bloated times! And FYI – it’s not just cruciferous veggies that contain raffinose. Yams and sweet potatoes also rock out at Fart-a-Palooza.
- And all farting and bloating aside, the main reason you HAVE to cook cruciferous veggies is because we have to kill the “goitrogens” in them. When we consume broccoli raw for instance, we consume these “goitrogens” which have been found to suppress thyroid gland function and even create an enlarged thyroid.
- Sometimes I’ll take the Vitacost.com brand of alpha-galactosidease which is basically a vegan version of Beano (containing the enzyme that breaks down raffinose.)
- And if you’re really dying for a giant bowl of broccoli, whip up my “Broccoli to Kill a Salty Craving With” which calls for cooking AND is made with apple cider vinegar which helps to break down food as I discuss later in this post 🙂
- I still eat cauliflower like a mo-fo but when I blend it or put it into my food processor, I find that I don’t get nearly as bloated because the blending process breaks down its cellulose (another sugar we don’t naturally produce the enzyme needed to break down.) And remember, blending cauliflower still doesn’t kill the goitrogens. So turn that shit into cauliflower oats or rice and enjoy fart-free 🙂
Another HUGE reason for excessive farting and bloating and this is a BIG one for me personally: chewing sugar-free gum.
Sugar-free gum sounds like a dieter’s God save. And it is, don’t get me wrong. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t chew sugar-free gum ALL DAY LONG especially when I’m in hardcore competition prep mode. In fact, I’m chewing some whilst I write this post.
Chewing gum busies my hungry mouth, strengthens my jaw muscles, is a welcoming burst of flavour from an otherwise bland & boring, vegan bikini competitor food plan. And it acts as a dessert when I finish my meal but still want more food or something sweet to cleanse my bland & boring palate.
The downside of chewing sugar-free gum is that it’s made with a crap load of sugar alcohols. Yes, these added “sweeteners” can be natural like stevia or xylitol or totally unnatural like aspartame or sucralose. But whether you go full-out chemical sweetener style or not, they can ALL wreak havoc on your gastrointestinal tract AND cause not only bloating and farting, but explosive diarrhea if consumed in excess. Not speaking from experience or anything… **nervous laugh**
Any kind of sugar alcohol is REALLY hard for our bodies to break down but what makes the fart/bloat situation even worse for gum chewers is that the mere act of chewing causes us to swallow more air. It’s a double whammy!
And something to consider next time you’re on a hot date and tell yourself that “fresh breath” is of higher concern than having to hold in your farts. It’s NOT. Trust me.
While you “Netflix & chill” with your love interest, my suggestion is to drink copious amounts of water with a teaspoon of mint chlorophyll added to it (a natural deodorizer and breath freshener) so that he won’t hear your stomach growling AND the constant pee breaks will allow you to release those farts if and when they do arise. 🙂
Next thing to consider is a probiotic and digestive enzyme supplement.
Anyone who has ever worked with me as their vegan coach knows that I’m a huge advocate for supplementing with both. I’ve detailed the importance of probiotics for bodybuilders in THIS POST but the Cole’s Notes version is this:
As vegan bodybuilders, we tend to eat a lot of protein. Not only is protein difficult for our bodies to break down, but when we’re eating more protein than we require, our bodies will actually convert most of those calories to sugar and then fat. And with increased blood sugar levels, you could possibly end up feeding bacteria and yeast, aka the “bad” kind of bacteria such as Candida. Additionally, when you’re eating copious amounts of protein (especially animal-based), digestion slows and your body struggles to perform its breaking down and assimilating processes. Plus many of us actually lack sufficient stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes to perform these basic functions– creating even more digestive upset.
Protein digestion (and digestion in general) is super energy intensive. And I’ve always believed that consuming a hefty dose of probiotics + digestive enzymes every morning greatly helps my body’s “eliminative processes” to function both quickly and more efficiently, allowing for better protein assimilation and an overall happy gut.
I regularly switch up the brand of probiotics I take because I never want my gut to get used to the bacterial strains I give it. I usually alternate between a more expensive one that contains a higher dose of CFUs in the 25 - 50 billion range with a cheaper, lower dose option.
I take one probiotic and one digestive enzyme every morning without fail (on an empty stomach) downed with a big-ass glass of lemon/chlorophyll water.
Digestive enzymes also keep digestion moving smoothly and quickly mostly because they really help your body to metabolize the fats and carbs you’re eating. If I had a nickel for every client who has thanked me for getting them onto the digestive enzyme train, I’d be rich. I like the Organika brand Full Spectrum Plant Enzymes.
I love my little morning lemon water ritual because lemon is a natural detoxifier and helps kick-start my digestion first thing in the morning. Plus you get that little dose of vitamin C which is known to reduce swelling and water retention.
I often get asked if it’s all the soy we vegans eat that make us so farty and bloated. To this, I say: let us acknowledge the obvious! Soy is a bean and we all know how much flack beans get when it comes to farting.
Why is that, you ask? All beans (soy beans included) contain “oligosaccharides.” This sugar molecule is similar to raffinose meaning that our bodies can’t fully break it down. And much like the other undigested sugar molecules, oligosaccharides like to sit in our guts to ferment and create fart/bloat city. But before you go chalking up another reason to hate on soy, it’s worth noting that these same sugar molecules also act as a “prebiotic” meaning they support the growth of those GOOD bacteria we talked about earlier aka they assist the probiotics in performing their job in the colon/large intestine.
Hopefully I’m not getting too scientific and technical with my vast farting knowledge but basically when you supplement with a probiotic, you provide the natural bacteria that feed on the sugar and starch in the food you’re eating which in turn, improves digestion and provides better food absorption. And the prebiotics that you’re eating via beans supports the growth of those healthy, good bacterial strains.
And I know this is kinda unrelated but I think as women, we often forget just how big of a role PMS plays in regards to our bloated bodies. Think about it: the week or two leading up to our periods cause a major increase in estrogen and decrease in progesterone. And this combo can definitely make us retain water (easily a 5 lb. weight gain.)
So whether you’re hormone bloated, fiber-full, or just sodium bomb-ed yourself with salty, faux meats galore, here are my tried and true anti-bloating meatless meathead tips & tricks:
- Stick to lower sugar and high-water content fruits such as berries, oranges, cantaloupe or watermelon.
- Put ginger in EVERYTHING! It’s an anti-inflammatory AND digestive aid. I add fresh ginger to my smoothie every morning and to a lot of my cooked veggies or whip up Asian-style tofu/veggie dishes.
- Drink dandelion root tea or Dandy Blend herbal coffee substitute. I drink both all the time. Dandelion is not only used in herbal medicine as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory but also as a digestive aid because it stimulates the production of gastric enzymes. Hibiscus tea has a similar effect.
- Try adding apple cider vinegar to your food. You can use ACV to make a homemade salad dressing or sprinkle it directly onto foods or supplement with it if you can’t stand the taste. ACV stimulates the production of gastric enzymes which will increase the amount of acid in your stomach, aiding in digestion and helping to alkalize your body.
- And if you aren’t already drinking green tea for its metabolism-boosting/weight loss/anti-aging effects, this miracle substance has also been shown to decrease bloating and reduce inflammation in the body.
And finally, it just wouldn’t be an award-winning, anti-fart post without including my top picks for anti-bloat veggies. So here goes!
First, a moment of silence for my most loved and hated vegetable of all time: ASPARAGUS. Anyone who has followed me for a while knows how much asparagus I’ve eaten in my career as a vegan bodybuilder. And anyone who’s ever hired me as their vegan coach knows how much asparagus I cram onto their meal plans. #SorryNotSorry 😉
I go into much greater detail about the anti-bloating, diuretic effects of asparagus in THIS POST and why competitors eat so damn much of it. But basically, it makes you piss like a race horse which helps to remove the water and waste that’s causing you to feel bloated. Parsley has a similar effect so feel free to garnish your food with it as much as possible. I’ll even toss some parsley into my smoothies if I’m feeling extra bloaty.
I’d also like to give cucumbers an honourable mention because much like watermelon, they’re a great green veggie to incorporate into your food plan because cucumbers are full of water.
In case I didn’t clarify this enough earlier, WATER IS CRUCIAL FOR DIGESTION. Aim to drink a good 2 – 3 liters everyday but be sure to spread it out because drinking too much water with your meals can actually impair digestion. And obviously you want to drink a lot of that H2O when you’re working out to replace what you’ve lost through sweat.
Well I think I’ve made this post long enough! Oddly enough, I could probably ramble on about farting and bloating for an eternity but hopefully this is a good overview and I encourage you to listen to my podcast episode ALL about farting for more info.
And whatever the case, please don’t let a little gas and bloating derail you from your vegan diet or fitness goals. Instead, every time you’re feeling discouraged about ANYTHING in life, remember the wise words of my father:
“This is just a fart in the windstorm of your life.” 🙂
Just beautiful, Dad! Happy farting, kids!
-Sam Shorkey, Jacked on the Beanstalk
I eat 95% WFPB with a small amount of seafood. Plant strong does result in extra gas. But I view farting as a normal bodily activity. Plus a nice loud fart always puts a smile on my face.
I cannot tell you how helpful your post was. you have provided so much needed information. Thank you :-)
THANK YOU !!!!!!
Hi Sam. GREAT article. So much useful info here. Your writing is a breath of fresh air (pun intended). Hope you are well!
I’m stoked to have stumbled upon this article! I’m a newbie to eating plant based. The gas situation is CRAZY! I’m in personal care and a former smoker turned turned marathon gum chewer. “Sneaker farts” and Walking farts” as I race to the bathroom are sooo embarrassing!
I needed to find this article! I was starting to think it was only me. Currently sitting on the couch with my shirt pulled up over my bloat bump.
Do you have a vegan protein powder you recommend that doesn’t cause gas? Is there an ingredient I should look for and shy away from?
Thank you so much for writing this. I was starting to feel like there was something wrong with me. The bloating can be insane for me to the point where I look a few months pregnant. It’s all making sense now, I’ve been consuming tons of fiber and didn’t up my water intake!
Lots of great tips to try!
Thanks for writing. I have had issues with this and I think poster Jackson makes some good points about the difficulty of working in a close environment with others. Gas is natural but not super acceptable in many social situations, plus bloating is very uncomfortable. I too tend to do cruciferous veggies at night. As a vegetarian I have had some success with white rice, eggs, avocado, sweet potatoes, A2 cheeses (france,italy,Switzerland), various greens, some carrots and beets, mostly all prepared with a pressure cooker. Digestive enzymes have also helped when eating gas causing foods and I will give ginger a try too, per the articles suggestion. Seems like one of the vegetarian/vegan downsides is the potential for increased gas and digestion difficulty with certain foods but there are certainly many upsides too.
Hi, first of all, sorry for my bad english, but even if i still learning the language, i couldn’t leave here without comment.
I really need to say: thank you!
I’m a six months vegan and i was almost thinking about give up to cheese and eggs (meat never again, for sure) because the disconfort was becaming impossible.
I’ll try those suggestions now, and, if they don’t fit me as i want to, or need to, i’ll keep researching for answers (i couldn’t find a good professional to help me with this yet).
Great post. I love enzymes. One thing though. In order for enzymes to work, they need to have food to ‘eat’. Taking them on an empty stomach is a waste.
Nice post, I appreciate you to giving this information. There are several reasons for smelly flatulence, you can make your smelly farts smell good with fart pills. Browse https://www.flatuscents.com/ and buy Flatu Scents to make your fart smell like roses.
There are many arguments about which diet is best for you. Nevertheless, health and wellness communities agree that diets emphasizing fresh, whole ingredients and minimizing processed foods are superior for overall wellness plant based diet for cancer. The whole-foods, plant-based diet does just that. It focuses on minimally processed foods, specifically plants, and is effective at stimulating weight loss and improving health. This article reviews everything you need to know about the whole-foods, plant-based diet, including its potential health benefits, foods to eat and a sample meal plan.
I enjoyed reading your blog I often farts too every morning when I wake up, it relieves me from bloating, I don’t usually eat in the evening since there is no activity at night and it’s time to relax and sleep perhaps this is the reason why I’m farting in the morning is too much using electric fan or the food that I eat at during the day after which I read it from here https://nucific.com/food-bloated/ as what they’ve mentioned some of the food that I like to eat, somehow farting makes my stomach feel better. Thank you for sharing your post.
May I suggest that you sleep with an open window, or leave your bedroom door open at all times. People have been known to die from eating to many beans for instance the night before. I’ve Googled it.
Enzymes supplement is totally not necessary, and only adds to more processed stuff. Vegetarians are healthier as they don’t eat as much processed stuff, as vegans. Thus, having a less impact on our environment, as vegetarians get all their nutritional requirements from the food they consume. Vegans on the other hand don’t, and have to resort to processed forms of nutrients, which deceives the environmental conscious activist purpose, but directly contradics
Oh my gosh!!! Thank you for writing this. I just went began, and I love how I feel: my anxiety is down and the inflammation in my sinuses is finally gone after almost two months solid. So I’m not going back. But the farting is killing me (not literally, I hope). Thank goodness I’m a stay at home mom. Your post gives me hope!!! Thank you again for your humorous honesty! I love it!
How is this article not incredible depressing? It’s basically saying to go full plant based diet we probably need to resign ourselves to feeling horribly uncomfortable and bloated for the majority of the day, as mitigated slightly by a few tricks and hacks.
I’m not worried about how my farts sound! I’m worried about how they feel working their way out for hours beforehand.
Cant we stop with the loud and proud farting nonsense? Why would a diet be acceptable if it causes physical discomfort for hours a day? Waking up with a flat stomach is a poor return for that price. And obviously you don’t work in an office or in any type of close quarters with other human beings for the majority of the day like most of us do.
There has to be a better way. This isn’t it.
Guys a do combination of Candida Diet for further information go to TheCandidadiet.com, and also Keto recipes that has not cheese or heavy cream or dairy in it. It is very strict and not easy to follow diet but with incredible benefits and results , one of them no fart at all. Basically grain are the ones which creates fermentation in our gut as well sugar and some combination of vegetables are not good together in our plate.
I cannot tell you how helpful your post was. I used to be a pescatarian who also would not eat any grains, other flours, or fruit. Now, I am a recently turned vegetarian with those same restrictions. Needless to say, when your diet consists primarily of vegetables and nuts, you’re VERY, VERY gassy. I love my diet, and I have no desire to change it, but I had been struggling to get that under control. You post hit home and provided so much needed information. THANK YOU!!
Thanks SOOO much!!! I feel I am similar to you in so many ways! Finally! Someone who understands and is suffering same stomach issues. I am not a body builder, yet very active. I am plant based and do not eat meat or dairy. My stomach flat in morning but bloated by night. I do chew gum too. But I love veggies. And gum. And working out. I guess I’ve just got to live with bloat and calm it as much as possible. Thanks 🙂