Constipation on Keto Diet – Causes, Remedy and Prevention
The ketogenic diet continues to be a popular low-carb eating plan in recent months and over the last few years. This is because it’s medically proven to help followers lose and maintain a healthy weight and positive overall health.
Despite the many health benefits of keto, there are also side effects, the most common of these being constipation and diarrhea. These happen especially in the early days of the eating plan when you’re body is adjusting to the program.
The basic idea of keto is that dieters drastically cut down on carbs whilst increasing fat and protein intake. This forces the body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Whilst in ketosis, the body uses fat stores as the source of fuel (that is glucose) and energy instead carbs. This leads to weight loss and shedding body fat.
The constipation means that you have less than 4 bowel movements per week. So if you’re new to keto and you find that you’re not as frequent to the washroom like you used to be, we’re here to help. Find out
- why keto constipation happens,
- what to do to treat it…and
- how to prevent it going forward.
What Causes Keto Constipation?
The question on people’s mind is if keto is supposed to be a healthy diet, why does it cause constipation and make it hard to poop? There are a number of reasons dieticians attribute to this reduced bowel movement as a result of the ketogenic . Here are the three common causes.
1. Inadequate dietary fiber intake
Even without going on the ketogenic diet, your typical Standard American Diet, (SAD) is super short on the daily recommended dietary fiber intake. It’s well documented that constipation is an epidemic in United States.
The average adult in the U.S. consumes 10 to 15 grams of fiber daily. This is well below the USDA recommended intake of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
So how does this affect fiber intake with this weight loss program? The standard keto diet is made up of only 5% of carbs (about 20-50 grams). Carbs provide you the main source of fiber. It is recommended we consume 225 to 325 grams of carbs daily. When you cut out that much amount from your diet as is found in keto, your Gastro-Intestinal (GI) tract is bound not to be happy with you.
Read on to find out how to fix the problem of low fiber intake.
2. Making the switch from a high-carb to a high-fat (low-carb) diet
Over the years our digestive system has become used to breaking down meals high in carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These are called macros. For anyone attempting to weight loss, it’s recommended not to consume excessive amounts of carbs.
All of sudden keto is on the block, you’ve heard and read about all the plenty health benefits and you jump on. This is an ultra low-carb diet. Switching from a traditional high-carb to a low-carb (high-fat) diet too quickly will most likely present problems for your digestive system, at least for lots of people as we have seen.
Because of this sudden switch, your GI tract will need time to adjust to this new way of healthy eating. If you’re experiencing ketosis constipation and ketosis diarrhea, this could be the reason during this adjustment phase.
3. Eating low-fiber carbs
On the keto diet, only 5% of your macros should come from carbs. The vast majority of fiber in your diet is obtained from carbs. If you’re eating the wrong kind of carbs, then you will have problems in digestion and you likely will become constipated.
The key to resolving this is to consume healthy high-fiber carb sources such as vegetables and whole grains. Eating low-fiber carbs such as white rice and white bread leads to little to no bowel movements. So replace these with high-fiber veggies, nuts and whole grains.
Question: Is constipation a sign of ketosis?
Ketosis is the metabolic state your body is in when it’s using fat as a source of energy instead of carbs. However, it needs to be said that constipation is not necessarily a sign of ketosis.
Other Attendant GI-Tract Problems You May Experience
1. Acid Reflux
There are other digestive system problems you may experience alongside keto constipation. One acid reflux. It’s medically proven that fats take the longest time to exit your digestive system. The delayed emptying of the stomach means some discomfort may occur. This potentially leads to an elevated risk of acid reflux as regurgitation and heartburn may occur.
2. Keto Diarrhea
If your keto diet food list is well put together, diarrhea is usually not a common side effect. Once again it occurs as a result lack of fiber in your diet. But while you try to figure out what is causing the diarrhea, ensure you have adequate electrolytes and fluid. If the diarrhea lasts more than a 7 days please see your doctor immediately.
How Do You Deal With Constipation on the Keto Diet?
Although the keto constipation doesn’t last very long, it’s important to know what helps to remedy the situation if you experience it. It’s important because in the long-term if left untreated, constipation can lead to other health complications.
These include hemorrhoids, anal fissures, impaction and rectal prolapse. In most cases, keto constipation should go away after your digestive system has adapted to the new diet. This should be a few days to a few weeks. However, should you continue to experience keto constipation (and bloating), try any of the following home remedies:
1. Drink enough water
This is self explanatory. Drinking plenty of fluids will ensure that you have enough in your system to aid with digestion.
How do you get enough fiber on a keto diet? Along with drinking more H2o, ensure you’re consuming keto-friendly foods that are also rich in high quality fiber. Here are 11 healthy, low-carb foods, that are high in fiber and — most importantly — tasty! These will help your digestive system to digest your food.
Leafy greens, Cabbage, Flax seeds, Coconut flakes and Chia seeds. The others include Avocado, blackberries, broccoli, psyllium husk, cauliflower, and nuts.
2. Go for a walk after meals
If none of the suggested home remedies work in resolving the issue, please speak to your medical doctor. They would in the best position to advice you further from this point forward.
Are there any recommended laxatives you can take for keto constipation? Even though you may get over the counter (OTC) drugs to help you pass stool, it is still recommended to speak to your doctor first so they make the correct prescription.
How to Avoid Constipation on the Keto Diet
The side effects of the ketogenic diet such as diarrhea, constipation and keto flu may put people off. You need to realize that a lot of these negative symptoms are transient. A lot of these symptoms go away after you body has adjusted to the change into healthy eating.
Try the following steps during the adjustment phase and also if you continue to experience poor bowel movements after your body is comfortable with the diet.
1. Your diet
It’s important to ensure that your keto food list consists of fats and proteins that are wholesome and least processed, if possible unprocessed. Processed foods do not give you much nutrients anyway. Ensure you have as much of the good sources of the keto friendly vegetables, legumes and fruit variety.
2. Fiber may not always be the problem
A lack of dietary fiber is generally presented as one of the main causes of keto constipation but this is not always true for everyone. If you’ve tried all the suggested remedies for keto constipation, perhaps even using fiber supplements and still have constipation issues, then you may have to REALLY look at what you’re eating.
When you switch to the ketogenic diet, a lot of the day to day items on your food menu will be nuts, full-fat dairy products and cruciferous veggies. These are medically proven to be difficult for humans to digest and can lead to constipation regardless of the diet.
So do not always blame the lack of dietary fiber or the high fat you’re consuming. You may need to adjust or do a bit of tweaking to find the real cause of keto constipation in your particular case.
3. Ensure you’re drinking enough water
Yes, you’re probably tired of hearing it. We’ve all heard that we need to drink as much water as possible. You need at least 8 glasses of the beautiful liquid daily. A common cause of constipation on low-carb diets is dehydration.
This causes the body to absorb lots of water from the colon thus making your intestinal content much dryer and harder to pass out. Drinking adequate water will fix this.
4. Gradual introduction
Introduce keto gradually to your digestive system. Although this may lead to reaching ketosis much longer than expected but it will help you adopt the diet nicely.
5. Take a fiber supplement
Can you take a fiber supplement on keto? Yes, you can take fiber supplement to help in the treatment of keto constipation. However, it’s difficult to find get all your normal fiber needs from supplements. Ensure you’re eating enough keto-friendly sources of fiber.
Keto constipation will likely happen in the early days of the keto diet but should be less problematic as your digestive system finally adjusts.
If you continue to experience constipation issues after trying the recommended home treatments and remedies, it may be time to work with your doctor. They will help you tweak your diet to find your sweet spot and you should be happy on keto.