I always feel bloated and lack energy. A dietitian told me to cut back on protein powder and eat a variety of foods.

A coffee protein shake and bread with spreadable cheese.
Coffee protein smoothies and low-calorie bread with spreadable cheese could do with some variation. Getty
  • A 41-year-old woman submitted an average day of eating for review by an expert for Insider’s Nutrition Clinic.
  • She said she feels “stuck in an eating rut,” and said her diet includes lots of artificial low-calorie foods and caffeine.
  • Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine said cutting down on protein powder could reduce bloating.
  • If you’d like to have your diet reviewed by an expert, fill out this form.
  • The advice in this article isn’t a substitute for a professional medical diagnosis or treatment.

A 41-year-old woman, who asked for her name to be omitted for privacy purposes, told Insider she’s fed up with feeling bloated and relying on caffeine for energy.

The e-commerce business owner submitted an average day of eating for Insider’s nutrition clinic, where qualified dietitians and registered nutritionists analyze and offer advice on readers’ eating habits.

She said that she deals with binge-eating episodes and relies on caffeine, processed carbs and lite, diet and fat-free foods.

Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine told Insider that assessing your overall lifestyle is just as important as your diet. Poor sleeping habits could lead you to drink more caffeine to stay awake, so it’s something “you should gradually wean off from, rather than going cold turkey,” she said.

She starts her day with a coffee protein smoothie

A coffee protein smoothie.
Sandra starts her day with a coffee protein smoothie. Getty

Our nutrition clinic volunteer said she wakes up at around 8:30 A.M with a “noticeable distended stomach.” She takes a probiotic gummy and multivitamin.

Ludlam-Raine advises hydrating with a glass of water first thing and to make sure her probiotic and multivitamin are OK to take on an empty stomach.

She said even though she’s not usually hungry, she makes a coffee protein smoothie from unsweetened almond milk, six packets of Stevia, two scoops of chocolate protein powder, and lots of instant coffee.

“I also eat a small breakfast such as a high protein, low calorie wrap with Laughing Cow cheese,” she said.

Ludlam-Raine, however, advises having no more than one scoop of protein powder per shake and cutting down on the sweetener to help reduce bloating.

Ludlam-Raine recommended adding some fruit to her smoothie or vegetables to her wrap to help the businesswoman hit her five-a-day and improve gut health.

She would benefit from more food and water after working out

After breakfast on weekdays, the online business owner does a 45-minute HIIT workout. She said she drinks a sugar-free Gatorade and eats a piece of string cheese after.

Unless sweating profusely or working out for more than 60 minutes, it’s unlikely she needs a Gatorade, which may contribute to bloating, Ludlam-Raine said.

“She may benefit from adding an apple and crackers to her string cheese to give her body some carbohydrates as replenishment,” Ludlam-Raine said.

She eats a big lunch, but eating little and often might reduce bloating

She said she eats a “very large” lunch at around 2 P.M, usually consisting of frozen microwavable vegetables, with a large bowl of Greek yogurt with protein powder and four packs of Stevia, and four slices of low-calorie bread with Laughing Cow cheese.

But eating smaller meals and snacks might reduce bloating, Ludlam-Raine said.

“For snacks I recommend including both protein and produce like hummus and carrots, apple and cheese, nuts and dried fruit, or oat cakes and nut butter with banana,” she said.

Hummus and carrots
Hummus and carrots is a healthy, satiating snack. Getty

Ludlam-Raine recommends getting protein through whole foods rather than supplements, such as a baked potato with tuna and salad or a bowl of lentil soup with whole wheat bread.

“I doubt her body needs an additional scoop of protein powder, especially as this may be causing her bloating to worsen too, depending on the additional ingredients and how sensitive her gut is to them,” she said.

Put your health before your work, Ludlam-Raine said

She said she goes back to work after her walk but realizes she’s “ravenous” around 9 P.M. so she has a large dinner (usually the same as lunch), but she doesn’t like eating so late.

“It sounds like she gets over-hungry, and long gaps between meals can contribute to bloating,” Ludlam-Raine said. She recommends making dinner in the slow-cooker so it’s low effort but provides more variety.

A post shared by Nichola Ludlam-Raine Dietitian (@nicsnutrition)

She said she would also like to eat more whole foods and feels better when she does, rather than processed, low-calorie food and caffeine.

Ludlam-Raine said a good place to start is varying your diet – try avocado on toast with eggs and tomatoes one morning, for example, or oatmeal (a great source of fiber but typically doesn’t contribute to bloating) with your choice of milk, Greek yogurt, and berries.