If you’ve read even a few of the amazing keto success stories, I’ll bet you were excited to get started! At least right up until that first time you rushed to the bathroom singing diarrhea, cha, cha, cha.
The good news is a ketogenic diet is amazing for weight loss. The bad news – it’s not all that amazing when digestive issues are present. You know, like poop rushing out your backside.
While diarrhea happens to different people for different reasons, it’s not a side effect you just have to live with. Let’s talk about some of the reasons keto disaster pants is a thing. Then we’ll get to the steps you can take to keep your pants clean.
Is Diarrhea Common on Keto?
If you’ve had lots of stomach pain, abdominal cramps, and other forms of GI System distress since starting a high-fat lifestyle, you may be wondering if diarrhea is caused by keto. Are you doomed to spend the rest of your keto days in the bathroom? Should you quit your high fat diet?
Diarrhea is one of the most common side effects after starting a high-fat diet. The good news is keto diarrhea doesn’t last forever. If you take the right steps, that urgent need to go could become an embarrassing symptom of the past. Even better – you can often get rid of it in only a few days.
We’re all different people with different body chemistries. This means the cause of my diarrhea may not be the same reason you experience diarrhea. Except my keto diarrhea is non-existent. This is mostly because I have a secret trick that stops the trots in their tracks! More on that in a minute.
Before we talk about how you too can quit running to the bathroom with the runs, let’s talk about a few of the common reasons Montezuma wants his revenge! And let’s do it stat before I spout out anymore loose stool synonyms. I’m starting to sound like a teenage boy who happens to be knowledgeable in digestive health.
Common Causes of Diarrhea for Keto Dieters
Too Much Fat
It’s true keto is a high fat diet and you do need to eat enough fat to get your body into the fat burning state of ketosis. But you’re not doing yourself any favors if all of the fat you eat is rushing out your backside. This is common if you followed low calorie diets for a long time.
In order for your body to process healthy fats correctly, you need proper bile flow. Following the standard high carb, low fat diet can lead to sticky bile. This happens because these diets contain more than their fair-share of processed carbs. They’re also very low in fat compared to keto.
This combo of highly processed carbs + very low fat leads to poor bile flow. Poor bile flow can lead to the urgent need to hit the bathroom anytime you eat a few too many fat bombs or other foods high in fat.
If you experience loose stools when you add more healthy fat to a low carb plan, try upping fat intake at a slower pace. Even though this may slow your fat loss, sometimes slow and steady is the best approach. Just ask your disaster pants how they feel about rushing the process.
Also, the kind of healthy fats you add to your keto meal plan matters.
Coconut oil is a great fat to add to your plan. This is especially true when it comes to symptoms that are likely a result of poor bile flow, like diarrhea, It’s the easiest fat for your body to break down. Your body can do what it’s meant to when you eat fats right for your chemistry. This means you won’t have to know where the closest bathroom is every time you leave the house.
Another cause for the ooey-gooey in your pants is eating too many keto-friendly processed foods. Low carb protein shakes, meal bars, and keto candy – I’m looking at you. Just because a product makes claims of low net carbs on the label, that doesn’t mean it’s a great choice on a low-carbohydrate diet.
When you look up reviews for keto gummies, you’re met with some, ahem, colorful reviews.
If a product has a review that says, “This WILL cause your rectum to enter turbo mode and empty your entire life out your rear,” that’s probably not the best choice. I suppose saying sugar alcohols could be the cause of keto diarrhea may be an understatement; at least in some instances.
Keeping these sugar substitutes in a keto plan could not only destroy gut bacteria and raise blood sugar levels, but they could also send your entire GI tract in a tizzy.
We recommend our Keto Decoded Members keep most keto-friendly food-like products out of their plans for the best results. Still, I understand these foods could slip in every now and then. If you want to avoid anything from slipping out of your backside, read the label of the low carb foods you buy.
Avoid or limit products with ingredients that end in “ol” when digestive distress is a problem. A few of the popular sugar alcohols that can cause digestive distress in some people include: sorbitol, erythritol, maltitol, and xylitol.
Even if the thought of sugar alcohols don’t make you wince in pain, it’s still a good thing to minimize these products. Avoiding sugar alcohols can keep your gut microbiome happy, help control sugar cravings, and to avoid unnecessary blood sugar spikes.
One of the best parts of a keto diet is adding back all of the formerly forbidden dairy products that were previously off limits. Most conventional diets recommend you avoid foods like cheese, heavy cream, and yogurt because they’re high in fat. That’s precisely the reason dairy becomes a staple on a low-carb diet. Most cheeses, creams, and some forms of yogurt are high in fat and low in carbs.
But if you were lactose intolerant before starting keto, cutting back on your carb intake doesn’t magically cure your body of its indifference to dairy. In fact, even if you didn’t realize you and lactose weren’t BFF’s pre-keto, it could still be the cause of your emergency evacuations.
Increasing dairy intake, as a lot of people do on keto, can lead to negative side effects like diarrhea. You may have a limited tolerance when it comes to dairy. This means you may not even realize it has any effect on you until you up your cheese consumption.
If you believe dairy could be the cause of your loose stools, try an elimination diet. Remove all cheese, creams, and yogurts from your plan for at least a month. When you notice your bathroom visits become less frequent, then you know you’re on the right track. If once you add dairy back in you’re back to regular bathroom runs with the runs, then it’s likely you just found your culprit!
Too Much Magnesium
A good way to send unsuspecting keto dieters rushing for the toilet is by adding too much magnesium to a low carb plan. Even though most experts recommend you supplement with magnesium on keto, more is not always better.
This is especially true if you lean towards a catabolic imbalance, as many chronic dieters do. Soft and loose stool is only one indicator of a catabolic imbalance. To understand all of the validators of this imbalance, take the free Keto Digestion Course. This course is helpful when it comes to customizing a keto diet for your body so that you finally lose the weight!
Even though this is a state most people naturally want to be in during the day, some people can get stuck there most of the time. Cutting carbs low and eating some of the healthy fats recommended on a keto diet can make this imbalance worse. So can adding too much magnesium … even though all of the keto experts in the land told you to stock your body up on this necessary electrolyte.
If you’re leaning towards a catabolic state most of the time, that doesn’t mean you should avoid all magnesium entirely. It does mean you should cut back your dosage considerably. Be sure to use a high quality form of magnesium, like Magnesium Malate sold on Natural Reference since not all magnesium supplements are created equal.
Pssst … Improving chemistry imbalances isn’t talked about much in the keto mainstream. It’s one of the biggest steps that helped me lose 100 pounds after struggling with yo-yo diets for decades. Just because you don’t understand digestion, don’t ignore this important piece of your health puzzle. Take the free Keto Digestion Course to help with weight loss and improve your overall health.
Some who are new to a keto diet report diarrhea as one of the unpleasant side effects of switching over to a high fat plan. Other keto flu symptoms can include nausea, bloating, headaches, low energy levels, and increased cravings. Basically any flu-like symptoms you can think of can happen when your body burns through all of it’s glycogen stores to switch over to its new primary energy source of fat.
While your body can go through an entire array of fluctuations during the period referred to as keto flu, I believe diarrhea at this stage is more likely caused by your body attempting to adjust to the heavy increase in fat. The best way to help your body adjust is to ramp up fat intake at a slower pace.
In case your diarrhea is due to your new eating plan, let’s talk about some of the quickest ways to help your body transition through the keto flu. This stage typically happens after the first week of your new diet as you transition to fewer carbs. The symptoms can persist for quite some time if you don’t take the right steps to help your body out.
Great ways to make it through the keto flu stage include:
- Avoid an electrolyte imbalance by supplementing properly for your chemistry
- Drink enough water without drinking too much water (overdoing water can wash away much needed electrolytes)
- Have 1-2 cups of a high quality bone broth to help balance electrolytes
- Keep carbohydrate intake low to help transition from burning carbs to burning body fat instead
- Avoid cheat days while becoming fat adapted (Heck – not even occasional cheat meals are a good idea at this point – especially since some people experience diarrhea after eating carbs on keto)
- Eat enough fat to transition into ketosis (Although MCT Oil isn’t the best idea right now since this can loosens stools)
- Keep protein intake moderate since high protein can kick some sensitive individuals out of ketosis
- Avoid seed oils, no matter how many times the American Heart Association tells you these fats help you avoid heart disease
- Keep in mind, some artificial sweeteners can keep some keto dieters out of ketosis
Sludgy Bile Flow
Finally, we get to the piece de resistance of this blog. (Hopefully you read that with the fancy French accent as was intended when I typed out the phrase piece de resistance). That fancy phrase is code for – thick and sticky bile flow is my jam! But mostly because I dealt with this issue for decades, yet had zero clue.
Throughout my two decade weight loss struggle, I suffered through medical conditions like painful gas, cystic acne, and nausea – especially anytime I cut out carbs. Even though the mainstream touts the health benefits of a balanced diet, that so-called healthy diet is what aided and abetted my sludgy bile flow.
Too many whole grains, combined with medications that covered the symptoms that resulted from diet foods made from too many whole grains, led to thick and sticky bile flow. When this happens, your body doesn’t have the best ability to break down healthy fats you eat.
(PS – birth control is the worst when it comes to sludging up bile and it can indeed make you fat … but so could getting pregnant and having a baby. So choose your fat, I guess 😉
Add in the fact that I wasn’t eating a whole lot of healthy fats since I mostly followed low calorie plans, and this set me up for the perfect storm of bile flow gone wrong.
I tried all of the over the counter stuff, like Pepto, antacids and Gas-X, yet my digestive system was always distressed. I was on all of the acne solutions, including two rounds of the heavy duty Accutane. I still had chronic cystic acne well into my early 30’s. Nothing cleared up any of these symptoms for good until I took the steps to un-sludge my bile flow.
How to Improve Diarrhea on Keto
You can take simpler steps from this blog, like backing off the dairy or avoiding sugar alcohols, and see if that helps. Still, nothing will work for most people as well as taking the steps to improve your bile flow. This assumes your bile flow is sticky. If you’ve spent any length of time battling the bulge, it’s safe to assume it is!
Starting a low carb diet is a great first step. Getting rid of grains and processed foods that slow down bile can make a noticeable difference. Unfortunately that’s not always the only step necessary for most people.
If you’ve read any of my books, you already know about Beet Flow. This is a highly concentrated beet green supplement that can help bile flow more smoothly. Adding this to your supplement routine can stop diarrhea in its tracks for most people in the matter of a few days.
What if you’re like me and your bile flow is extra stubborn? You can also try a suppository called Xeneplex.
Yes, I said suppository. Yes, that means you put it in your butt. Sometimes if you want to not run away from social situations screaming in pain, putting a little something-something in your butt is what it takes … or something like that 🤔
You could also try a coffee enema to get sludgy bile moving – but that sounds like a whole lotta something-something in your butt, so I prefer the Xeneplex route.
Get the directions on how to add Beet Flow to your routine here. Want to learn more about Xeneplex? Take the free Keto Digestion course. The course has instructions beyond some blogger telling you to stick pills in your butt.
The Keto Diarrhea Wrap Up
I’m at a bit of a loss on how to end this blog. I just told you to put pills in your butt, and you didn’t even buy me dinner first.
Let’s just go with the standard – we’re all different and keto diarrhea can occur in different people for different reasons. Surely something jumped out at you and made you scream “A-HA!” as you were reading this blog. If that’s the case, try that. If nothing jumps out, then start with the steps to improve bile flow.
No one ever started these steps and regretted the amazing improvements they saw in their health – so that’s a great place to start.
Want Even More Scoop When It Comes to Your Poop?
Getting your digestive tract in shape is a big deal when it comes to improved health and permanent weight loss. That’s exactly why we recently opened our private Keto Decoded Membership up to the public!
For less than the cost of a lunch out each month, you’ll get:
- Access to our private member podcasts
- Tools and resources in the Keto Decoded Membership Hub
- Free shipping from Natural Reference
- Access to our private support group – ask questions you’re too embarrassed to ask elsewhere (plus get the correct answers – just as a special bonus)
And – you have two affordable options to join!
Diarrhea on Keto Diet
More Resources to Help You Improve Weight Loss on Keto:
Keto MasterClass – Learn 3 Big Mistakes Keto Dieters Make
About That Noxema Girl – Even More Thick & Sticky Bile Talk
Dear Stevia Letter – The Reasons I Ditched Artificial Sweeteners for Good