Incorporate Exercise Into Your Day
Research suggests that reducing sedentary behavior can help relieve constipation . In other words, simply moving more allows food to pass through your digestive system smoothly.
There are lots of exercises you can do while on the keto diet, such as light cardio , resistance training, and flexibility workouts .
One helpful tip would be to take a short walk after every meal. On top of improving digestion, walking after meals suppresses hyperglycemia to keep your blood sugar levels under control and promote weight loss .
Not Getting Enough Movement
Most of us are aware of the benefits of regular physical activity. But one benefit you may not be aware of is that movement throughout the day increases gut motility. This means that by moving your body, you are also stimulating your bowels to move. Additionally, exercise reduces transit time in the intestines . So be sure to get up and move throughout the day. Even a short walk can help significantly with constipation.
How Prevalent Is Constipation On A Keto Diet
The prevalence of constipation on a low-carb or keto diet can be as high as 50% according to some studies.1 Clinicians familiar with low-carb diets, however, feel it is closer to 25%.2 The good news is that clinicians also agree that constipation is usually mild and self-resolves over time, or it is easily treated with home and over-the-counter remedies.
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Increase Your Water Intake
Drinking more water can relieve keto flu symptoms such as headache, nausea, fatigue, and constipation caused by dehydration .
A clinical trial done on 117 patients showed that increasing fluid intake to 1.5-2.0 liters per day in addition to consuming a high-fiber diet, increases stool frequency in those with chronic functional constipation .
If youre uncertain about whether you should drink more water, check your urine color. It should be colorless to lemonade in color if youre optimally hydrated. However, if its a darker yellow, then its a good idea to drink up .
Are You Choosing The Right Sources Of Dietary Fat Some Oils Can Cause Diarrhea
While a little bit of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fats are required from our diet, more is not better. In particular, our digestive systems have a limited tolerance for vegetable and seed oils high in omega-6 fats. Early in our human research, we found out that feeding our patients a high fat diet made with soybean, corn, safflower, or sunflower oils promptly made them feel nauseated and caused diarrhea. Given that a well-formulated ketogenic diet eaten to maintain body weight provides 70-80% of oneâs daily energy intake as fat, the majority of this fat intake needs to come from mono-unsaturated and saturated sources such as olive oil, high oleic versions of safflower and sunflower, coconut oil, lard, butter, cream, and high fat cheese.
Here are some fats and oils that we recommend:
Makinen KK. Gastrointestinal Disturbances Associated with the Consumption of Sugar Alcohols with Special Consideration of Xylitol: Scientific Review and Instructions for Dentists and Other Health-Care Professionals. Int J Dent. 2016 2016: 5967907.
Speth JD, Spielmann KA. Energy source, protein metabolism, and hunter-gatherer subsistence strategies. J Anthropol Archaeol 1983 2:1â31.
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Final Thoughts Keto Diet And Smelly Bowel Movements
When dieting, it is best to limit carbohydrates to 20g per day, and ideally, you should aim to keep this amount below 30 grams. However, if you are looking to lose weight, it is better to eat less carbs every day. When you do eat carbs, you should consume them as protein, with fat filling up the remainder. Depending on the type of food you ate, you may have to cut back on the amount of total carbs you consume, but the results will be worth it.
To maximize the benefits of the keto diet, you should eat more fat-rich foods. These are generally higher in saturated fat than those found in other food groups, and therefore contain more sugar than is recommended. High-fat food sources are often associated with contaminants and hormones, so it is advisable to buy products from organic sources. You should also try to eat as much produce as possible that is local and organic. The Environmental Working Group provides a list of the least-contaminated foods and the ones that should be avoided.
While many people might think that avoiding processed meats is difficult, this isnt true. Some are high in carbohydrates but low in vitamins and minerals. You should also avoid breads made from flour, which are often highly processed. Moreover, try to eat more seafood and shellfish instead, as they contain significant amounts of carbohydrates. To keep your body healthy, it is important to maintain a proper mindset, which is essential to follow the ketogenic diet.
Adjustment To Fewer Carbs And More Fat
Our bodies are designed to digest three macronutrients: carbs, fats, and protein. All three play important roles in health. However, when you follow the keto diet, your carbohydrate intake is drastically reduced.
Because carbohydrates like fruits and whole grains are some of the most common sources of fiber in the diet, transitioning to this low carb way of eating can lead to digestive issues like constipation.
Plus, some people may have a hard time transitioning to the very high fat content of the diet, which can also cause GI upset.
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The Myth Of Lacking Fiber
Cutting high carb foods like grains, vegetables, and fruit, reduces your fiber intakeand many people erroneously blame keto diet constipation on this lack of fiber.
However, contrary to what you mightve heard, a lack of fiber does not, by default, cause constipation.
In fact, excess dietary fiber may actually be a primary cause of constipation. A 2012 study released in the World Journal of Gastroenterology attests that stopping/reducing dietary fiber intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms.
According to the studys authors, fibers importance is rooted more in dogma than in clinical evidence. The previous strongly-held belief that the application of dietary fiber to help constipation is but a myth, the authors affirmed. This same study found that stopping dietary fiber intake had a very strong correlation with reduced constipation, not more of it.
At What Point Should I Be Concerned About This Side Effect
However, if you have a stubborn case of keto diarrhea, you should consider seeing your doctor. âIf you have diarrhea, especially multiple times per day, for over two to three days and if you’re experiencing any symptoms of dehydrationâdark colored urine, dry skin, headache, feeling dizzy or light-headed, etc.âthen you should see a doctor right away,â says Hultin. You might need more serious interventions to prevent serious dehydration and to rule out other potential causes of the diarrhea.
If keto diarrhea persists, itâs worth rethinking the eating plan, says Hultin. âIf the body is reacting to the high fat nature of the diet, that probably can’t be changed because there’s a certain ratio that must be met,â she says. No one eating plan is right for everyone, and your body might just not be cut out for high amounts of fat. Thankfully, there is a whole world of other healthy eating plans out there to discovered that don’t typically involve gastric distress. Mediterranean diet, anyone?
An earlier version of this story was written by Tehrene Firman on August 28, 2018. It was updated on March 11, 2020.
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How To Treat Constipation
Long-term constipation can lead to complications, including , hemorrhoids, and abdominal pain. Thats why you do not want it to go unchecked for too long.
If youre new to the keto diet, you may find that your constipation only lasts a few days to a few weeks. As your body adjusts to digesting more fats and fewer carbs, your constipation may get better.
If your constipation continues to be an issue, try one of these home remedies:
- Drink more water.
- bowel training , a method where you pass stools at the same time every day.
If your constipation is not better after 3 weeks, be sure to make an appointment with a doctor. They can work with you to find the best treatment.
While over-the-counter stimulants may help, its best to talk with a doctor before taking any fiber supplements or laxatives. Some of these products are high in carbs, which can derail your efforts on the keto diet.
You Have Increased Ketone Levels
This is perhaps an obvious one.”Ketones are the byproduct of burning fat for fuel, and the ketones are what your brain and body actually use for energy when deprived of glucose,” explains Dennett. To know for sure, she recommends taking an at-home finger prick test to check your blood levels. This method is also more efficient than testing your breath or urine.
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Are There Any Remedies For Keto Diarrhea
Again, Hultin says that keto diarrhea is usually temporary. But in the meantime, if youâre committed to keto, here are some things you can do to help stave off the worst of the runs:
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Keep Your Electrolytes Up
Electrolytes are compounds that make water even more hydrating. Electrolytes also keep your muscles firing on all cylinders. The primary electrolytes are sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
Magnesium has an innate laxative effect. Unfortunately, soil depletion means most foods dont contain as much magnesium as they used to. That means most people are at least slightly magnesium deficient.
Up your intake by getting a magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate supplement.
Swapping out your regular water for authentic mineral water is another viable means of getting extra magnesium into your body.
The initial stages of ketosis see your kidneys excrete far more sodium than normal. Over time this effect tapers down but in the meantime, getting in plenty of extra salt is essential.
Dr. Kiltz recommends getting roughly 12 grams of salt per day during your transition into full ketosis.
You can reduce your salt intake to roughly 5 grams per day once youre out of keto-flu territory.
How Often Should You Poop
Theres no hard and fast rule to this. Once a day is good. Five times a day is bad. Once a week should be a signal to see a medical professional. Changes in diet, fasting, and stress all play a part in the frequency of your bathroom visits.
And by the way, the proper way to poop is to squat when using the toilet. . The toilet, in reality, is an abomination. Designed by Victorians obsessed with seats. Sitting to relieve oneself was seen as the civilised way to do the business weve been doing perfectly well for millennia by squatting down.
Once we lost the ability to squat we lost the ability to poop correctly and had to rely on the porcelain tube. Sitting to poop puts your colon in a suboptimal position and can cause haemorrhoids and constipation.
Squat to poop and youll feel better about it.
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Are You Eating Low Carb Low Fat And High Protein Too Much Protein Can Lead To Diarrhea
Remember, a well-formulated ketogenic diet is low carb, high fat, and moderate protein. When cutting carbs, it can be tempting to increase your protein without increasing your fat, but the resulting high protein diet can lead to diarrhea . It is important to keep protein at about 10-20% of your daily energy need and add âgood fatâ for satiety. More on what constitutes ‘good fats’ below. Read more on how much protein you need on a ketogenic diet
First What Is Constipation
If you strain when having a bowel movement on keto, or don’t go as frequently as you used to, it is probably because you eat less fiber than you used to, especially if you used to eat high-carb and high-fiber breakfast cereals and whole grains. If your stools are dry, it is also very likely that you are not drinking enough water. Eating low carbs makes your body retains less water and excrete more water. If you become dehydrated when eating low carbs or following keto, it can not only cause constipation, but also headaches, fatigue and irritability.
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Are You Constipated Or Just Pooping Less
Many people confuse keto diet constipation with simply pooping less.
Thats because a well-formulated keto diet is based on fatty keto meats, fatty fish, and healthy fats that provide your body all the nutrients it needs in highly bioavailable formats. This means much less unusable waste that your body needs to expel.
On the other hand, non keto foods like corn, beans, and many other fiber-laden plant foods, are often visible on the other end, which says a lot about how useful they are for you body.
Excess dietary fiber can cause so much mechanical stress that it ferments and heats up our intestines. This excess heat can then go on to damage-heat sensitive organs, notably reproductive organs. Fibers fermentation process also produces noxious gasses and other chemical byproducts.
A strong case cannot be made for a protective effect of dietary fiber against colorectal polyp or cancer. Neither has fiber been found to be useful in chronic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome, the 2012 study mentioned earlier goes on to explain. We often choose to believe a lie, as a lie repeated often enough by enough people becomes accepted as the truth. We urge clinicians to keep an open mind.
So now that weve put the fiber myth to bed, lets take a truly critical look at keto diet constipation relief.
Avoid Inflammatory And Allergenic Foods
Generally speaking, the keto diet is anti-inflammatory. A keto food list cuts out most processed junk food and industrial vegetable oils, while reducing plant foods high in toxins and antinutrients.
But even certain keto-friendly foods can be inflammatory for some. Dairy allergens are fairly common, and can flare up when people eat large amounts of keto cheeses.
Nuts on keto are another popular food that can cause constipation. Though high in fat and protein, theyre also high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids along with lots of fiber.
Eggs are another nutritious food that has the potential to be allergenic.
You might be able to circumvent these potential issues by switching to raw and A2 dairy. But when in doubt, cut them out.
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Keto Maintains Gut Integrity
Sugar is also bad for your gut lining. Sugar damages your intestinal barrier by weakening little seams called tight junctions. Tight junctions prevent food particles, bacteria, and other contents of your gut from leaking into your bloodstream. When your tight junctions weaken, you can end up with gut inflammation and an unnecessary immune response, which causes digestive issues and intestinal damage.
On a keto diet, you arent eating sugar or other refined carbs, so you dont have to worry about sugar intake damaging your gut lining.
Not Eating Enough Fiber
. This amount is much lower than the recommended daily value of 300 g of carbohydrates per day.
Although people can benefit from limiting their intake of simple carbohydrates and processed foods, keto diets restrict all types of carbohydrate, including those present in high fiber fruits, vegetables, and grains.
The digestive system cannot break down fiber, so it stays in the GI tract and adds bulk to stools by drawing water into the intestines. This added bulk and water helps keep stools soft and bowel movements regular. Without fiber, constipation may be more likely.
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Stomach Acidity And Constipation
Protein provides vital structure to our body, yet it can also be difficult for the body to break down. Every gram of protein is composed of long, web-like chains of amino acids. Its up to your bodys stomach acid to break down protein into smaller components.
This process is innate to all humans, yet it might be out of practice for those whove been on a low-quality diet full of low-quality proteins. It can take some time for your body to respond to a diet centered on protein-rich meats
Stick with it, though a growing body of evidence points to the fact that ever since our caveman ancestors our bodies were made to eat meat.
Eating In A Stressed State/not Chewing Thoroughly
The key to good digestion is to eat in a parasympathetic state. Most of us are eating in a sympathetic state. We are often rushed and we arent fully chewing our food or eating in a mindful way. The gut and the brain are connected and interact with each other through our microbes. When we are anxious, it impacts our ability to properly digest food through our digestive system.
Digestion starts in the mouth. Chewing and eating in a relaxed wayalso known as mindful eating ensures we are fully digesting and getting the nutrients we need from our food. Plus, there are enzymes in our saliva that help break down and pre-digest our food before it enters the stomach. According to researchers, During mastication, the food mixes with saliva to form a bolus, a smooth mass of mechanically broken down food particles. The water in saliva moistens the ingested food, whereas the salivary mucins bind masticated food into a coherent and slippery bolus that can easily slide through the esophagus.
If our food is not fully digested or properly moistened before entering the digestive tract, this can contribute to constipation. Eating mindfully helps to relax the entire body so our digestion can function optimally. It all starts with relaxing and fully chewing our food.
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