Last updated on November 3rd, 2022 at 06:26 pm
You’re definitely not the only person to ever ask, “Why Does Whey Protein Make Me Thirsty?”
In fact, this is an extremely common occurrence.
So, is there a certain ingredient in whey protein that makes you so thirsty?
Is there potentially an issue with your diet in general?
Or is this simply an unexplained mystery?
Allow me to explain exactly why whey protein makes you so thirsty.
Why Does Whey Protein Make Me Thirsty?
The reason that whey protein makes you thirsty is that protein in general has a diuretic effect. Therefore, you will typically urinate more often, which in turn will make you feel thirsty. Plus, if you’re also following a high-protein diet you’ll require more fluids to process the proteins. Furthermore, if you’ve reduced your carb intake, this also decreases the amount of water your body retains.
Protein Has a Diuretic Effect
Your raging thirst is not so much about whey protein itself, but rather protein in general.
In the simplest of terms, protein is actually a diuretic.
In other words, protein consumption has the ability to make you urinate more often, which of course means that you’ll generally feel more thirsty anyway.
So, if you’ve only recently taken up whey protein, or simply increased your dosage, then your protein consumption will obviously be much higher.
And this in turn will make you want to pee and therefore leave you feeling thirsty.
So, first things first, if you are consuming protein shakes then you need to increase your water intake.
Let’s face facts, whether you lift weights, are an endurance athlete, or simply looking to lose weight, then you probably realise that protein consumption is essential.
In fact, in any of these circumstances, protein can be your best friend, so you’ll naturally want to increase your intake.
And of course, one of the easiest ways to achieve this is through consuming whey protein shakes.
However, the body requires more fluids in order to efficiently process protein.
If you think about it, a standard whey protein shake typically contains approximately 20-25 grams of protein.
So, for many of us, this could signify a 20-30% increase in daily protein consumption.
Additionally, I know that in the name of building muscle, you may not be adverse to ingesting two protein shakes a day.
In effect, you have increased your protein consumption by almost 50% overnight.
So, in order to help your body process this additional protein intake you will need to increase your water intake accordingly.
However, in truth, this doesn’t actually occur to most of us, and this is why you may constantly feel thirsty.
Are You on a Low Carb Diet?
Okay, I’ve spoken of the requirement to take on more fluids when you increase your protein intake.
Plus, most of us who exercise or follow a calorie-restrictive diet understand the importance of protein.
Furthermore, it is recommended that anyone who has a protein intake in excess of 30% of their daily calorie intake should significantly increase the amount of water (or hydrating fluids) they consume.
However, in truth, most trainees and dieters will typically be consuming 35-40% of their daily calories in the form of protein.
So, this will automatically mean that you’re going to feel more thirsty.
With that being said, a high-protein diet will often mean that your carb intake reduces.
In fact, low-carb diets have become all the rage in recent years.
However, what most people don’t realise is that carbs cause the body to store water.
Basically, carbs are used for energy, but any energy that is not used immediately will be stored as glycogen.
But, every single gram of glycogen will generally have around 3 grams of water attached to it.
In fact, this is why carbs get such a bad rap, in terms of weight loss.
Essentially, the unused glycogen in your body (with additional water attached) may cause water retention or bloating.
So, most people automatically assume that it’s carbs that are making them fat.
But, in truth, through regular exercise and a well-balanced diet, this should never be an issue.
Although this doesn’t stop many people drastically cutting down their carbs.
Therefore, if you’ve reduced the number of carbs in your diet, the amount of water your body stores will also reduce.
Then, when you add to this that your protein intake has increased, you typically won’t have enough water to process these proteins.
The end result is of course that you constantly feel thirsty.
So, while consuming whey protein may add to these issues, it certainly isn’t the only reason that you probably feel dehydrated.
Drink Water After Your Whey Protein Shake
So, by now I hope to have drummed into you that you’ll definitely need to be consuming more water if you’re taking whey protein.
Plus, this is even more true if your diet is also high protein and you’ve reduced your carb intake.
However, one of the most common times to consume whey protein is immediately post-workout.
And this actually makes a great deal of sense.
Whey protein is a fast-absorbing protein and will therefore deliver amino acids into your bloodstream in double-quick time.
And this is essential for muscle recovery and indeed for muscle growth too.
But, something else to consider is that you’re likely to be ever so slightly dehydrated after a workout anyway.
You’ve just used a ton of energy, you feel fatigued, and you’ve probably been sweating a fair amount too.
In other words, you need to be consuming more water anyway.
Now, while most people will mix their whey protein with water, there are some who prefer to use milk.
In essence, by doing so, you’re increasing your protein intake even more.
Okay, I will admit that milk is a hydrating fluid, especially the full fat variety.
However, I would advise that you actually take on more water following your protein shake anyway.
And this is regardless of what you mix it with.
Basically, your workout has caused you to “lose” water and you’re now consuming a macronutrient that requires water in order to be processed.
For me, I would generally mix my whey protein with approximately 400ml of water.
And once consumed, I will typically drink another 500ml of water immediately afterwards.
I can guarantee that if you follow this routine, you won’t feel thirsty at all after consuming whey protein.
Should You Mix Whey Protein With Milk or Water?
So, as you can see, the main reason that whey protein makes you thirsty is that protein is actually a diuretic.
Therefore, even simply following a high-protein diet will usually make you want to urinate more often, so your need for water increases.
Additionally, the body actually requires more water to process protein efficiently.
However, you cannot lay the blame solely at the feet of whey protein.
You will typically be taking whey protein because you are exercising more and potentially eating a lot healthier.
Your need for water can be further increased if you also happen to be following a low-carb diet.
Basically, carbs cause the body to store extra water.
So, when you put all these factors together, you now require more water, but are storing less water at the same time.
The result is of course that you’re going to feel much more thirsty.
Further Protein Powder Reading
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.