If you want to lose weight, but don’t experience regular bowel movements, you may wonder – can constipation cause weight gain?
The answer is yes! But constipation weight gain doesn’t happen for the reason most people think.
Keep reading to learn the different ways chronic constipation leads to weight gain. You’ll also learn how to get your digestive health back on track to make your weight loss attempts more effective.
Does Constipation Cause Weight Gain?
When most people ask – can being constipated make you gain weight, they’re talking about the backed up fecal matter in your digestive tract.
If you haven’t had a recent bowel movement, you may start asking questions like can constipation cause weight gain on the scale, or how much weight gain does constipation add?
If severe constipation has been a problem for quite some time, this can lead to excess weight. In fact, backed up stool can accumulate anywhere between 5 to 20 pounds or more in your intestinal tract.
While not pooping on a regular basis may not result in a sudden weight gain, not going regularly can lead to some unwanted long term weight on the scale.
That’s not typically the case if your lack of regularity isn’t chronic. Having a random bout of constipation every once in a while won’t lead to a big jump on the scale. How much extra weight when constipated you add depends on how long the sluggish bowel movements persist.
For instance, if you weigh yourself before and after a bowel movement, you may notice a loss of 1/4 of a pound. Since stool is made up of 75% of water, that 1/4 pound loss is mostly water weight.
According to the CDC, the average man produces 1 pound of poop each day, while a woman produces about 14 ounces. If you’re not ridding your digestive tract of waste on a regular basis, the unwanted weight may start to add up.
That’s why it’s a good idea to improve common digestive issues that lead to chronic constipation. Let’s talk about a few of the common causes of constipation. We’ll also touch on how these issues compound into weight gain from constipation.
How Constipation Leads to Weight Gain
Beyond the fecal matter that accumulates when normal bowel movements don’t happen, there are three more reasons weight gain from constipation might occur.
If you have chronic constipation and difficulty losing weight, you could be dealing with digestive conditions or chemistry imbalances. These include:
- Low Stomach Acid Levels
- An Anabolic Imbalance
- An Overwhelmed Liver
Let’s explore each topic separately. Learning the cause of your constipation can help you figure out how to lose weight if chronic constipation and weight gain is a problem.
Long term weight loss won’t happen if you don’t work to improve your underlying causes of constipation.
Low Stomach Acid Levels
Even though most people don’t associate stomach acid levels with intestinal health, please understand stomach acid plays an important role when it comes to staying regular.
Stool moves at a pace according to its pH level. A stool that isn’t acidic enough can lead to constipation. And what makes stool more acidic? The stomach acid your body produces to break down food.
But once again, constipation and weight gain goes far beyond the excess fecal matter in your body.
Why Low Stomach Acid Leads to Weight Gain
When your body doesn’t produce enough stomach acid, you don’t have the ability to break down food properly. This can lead to nutrient deficiencies since you’re unable to access the nutrients from undigested food.
Not digesting food effectively means your body isn’t getting the minerals it needs to function. That’s when cravings for junk foods like potato chips, fast foods, white bread, and sugar occur. Even eating too much “healthy food” like whole grains becomes a problem for some.
Eating too many carbs and sugar leads to insulin spikes. This can even result in insulin resistance if this happens often enough.
Spiked insulin blocks your body from burning stored fat. If this happens all day because you eat carbs all day, your body never has the ability to burn stored fat.
When you have low stomach acid production, you may not produce enough stomach acid to break down nutrient dense foods like red meat. When you can’t break down high nutrient foods, most people tend to gravitate towards a poor diet filled with greasy foods and simple carbs.
Even mainstream weight loss diets don’t help since many consist of mostly easy to digest carbs. Most weight loss diets lack sufficient foods that help take off excess weight – like essential proteins and healthy fats.
Other Medical Conditions Caused By Low Stomach Acid
And craving more carbs for immediate energy instead of tapping into body fat stores is just the tip of the iceberg. There are even more health problems that come along with poor absorption of food.
Other digestive problems associated with low stomach acid include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Health conditions like GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), leaky gut, peptic ulcer disease, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Food sensitivities or food intolerance to things like dairy products, nuts, grains, or even some vegetables
- A weak immune system
- A lack of energy and physical activity due to depleted energy levels
A chemistry imbalance that can lead to chronic constipation is called an anabolic imbalance. Since most health professionals don’t talk about the importance of maintaining good health at the cellular level, allow me to explain.
Your body naturally shifts between an anabolic state and catabolic state throughout the day. During the daytime, your body should be in a catabolic state at the cellular level. This is where your body creates energy and breaks down tissues.
At nighttime, you should switch to an anabolic state. This is when rest and repair takes place at the cellular level.
Some people get stuck in one of these states instead of naturally fluctuating back and forth. While getting stuck in a catabolic state for too long has its own problems, getting stuck in an anabolic state can lead to chronic constipation.
How An Anabolic Imbalance Leads to Constipation
When you’re in the catabolic state, most of the water in your system goes through the bowels. The water helps soften stool and move it through your system with ease.
When you’re in an anabolic state, most of the water in your system is goes through the kidneys. While appropriate at night, if you get stuck in this state for too long, it can lead to stool that’s hard, dry, and more difficult to pass.
But once again, the reason constipation causes weight gain with an anabolic imbalance doesn’t end there.
When your body doesn’t have the ability to easily shift back into a catabolic state during the day, you lose the function of breaking down old tissues and removing dead cells. This means your body begins to hold onto a lot of unnecessary junk at the cellular level.
When your cells don’t have the opportunity to get cleaned out, rebuilt and renewed, your body could hold onto excess weight.
Even though the weight gain you experience isn’t technically from constipation, your lack of regularity causes your body to hold onto junk. A system filled with junk can lead to weight gain.
When you take time to improve this chemistry imbalance, any weight loss program you try can be much more effective.
The final reason constipation weight gain might be an issue is an overwhelmed liver. Even though your liver’s main function is to filter out the junk, toxins, and other waste created in your body, a lack of regular bowel movements could cause your liver to become overburdened.
Part of the waste you need to eliminate is what’s leftover from your meals after your body pulls out necessary nutrients.
As soon as you begin the chewing motion, the digestive process begins. The gastric juices known as stomach acid and bile each play a role in helping you assimilate necessary nutrients from your food. Then all other unnecessary waste is removed through a bowel movement.
When you don’t have regular bowel movements, all of the leftover waste reabsorbs back into your system. When this happens too often, as is the case with chronic constipation, your liver could become overwhelmed and not function optimally.
If you have a hard time staying regular, your body has limited ways of getting rid of toxins and other junk. When your liver becomes overwhelmed by too many circulating toxins, it can store some of the less harmful toxins in fat cells to deal with later.
Even though shoving excess toxins into body fat doesn’t sound appealing, it’s necessary. This is a protection mechanism your body uses to help keep you safe.
The good news is this backup system is there to keep you safe from too many toxins. The bad news – even though your system is now cleaner, plumper fat cells lead to a plumper body.
Conclusion: Constipation and Weight Gain
While being backed up on a consistent basis can lead to excess weight overtime, that’s not the reason most people gain weight from being constipated. The bottom line is there are more reasons beyond the physical weight of extra poop in your digestive tract.
Instead of asking can constipation cause weight gain due to the physical backup of stool, there’s a better question. Instead, ask what’s going wrong with your digestive system or body chemistry that’s causing your constipation? Once you get to the root cause, you can work to improve whatever is going on.
If you’re dealing with chronic constipation and weight loss is your goal, take the free digestion course. The course is jam packed with the information you need to improve digestive problems naturally, like constipation.
If you prefer to work one-on-one when it comes to resolving your digestive impairments, check out my personal coaching plan. If you’re looking for lifestyle changes to help you lose weight with keto, low carb, or intermittent fasting – check out my keto mini courses.
Can Constipation Cause Weight Gain?