If you recently began a high fat diet and now you’re dealing with keto constipation, you’re not alone! It’s estimated more than 30% of low carb dieters experience keto diet constipation after starting their new diet.
But do keto and constipation really go hand in hand? Or is the cause of your chronic constipation caused by some other factor?
Keep reading to learn what constipation means, what can lead to fewer bowel movements, and how to improve this painful side effect that may come along with a low-carb lifestyle.
What Is Constipation?
Before you can determine if you’re experiencing low carb diet constipation, you first have to fully understand what the term means.
While some sources indicate constipation includes not having regular bowel movements on a daily basis, that’s not always the case. According to NCBI, “Normal bowel frequency ranges between three bowel movements per day to one movement every three days.”
Other constipation symptoms include:
- Stool that is hard, dry and difficult to pass
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Bloating or a distended stomach
- Difficulty passing gas
So what’s the best way to determine if your new way of eating is causing constipation? If you see a drastic change in bathroom habits after switching from the standard American diet to a low-carb diet, you could be experiencing constipation on keto.
If you went from daily bowel movements to noticeably less trips to the bathroom, that’s a good indication that you’re constipated. Straining to empty your bowel counts too.
Does Keto Make You Constipated?
Even though constipation and keto seem synonymous, a keto lifestyle itself doesn’t cause constipation. While you may feel backed up on keto, other keto dieters might experience diarrhea on a high-fat diet. Which side effects you experience on a ketogenic diet often comes down to your bio individuality, aka your body chemistry.
While there are different reasons you may experience keto constipation, one reason that isn’t mentioned enough is low stomach acid. This is especially common when you bounce around from mainstream diet plans back to low carb diets.
When you follow mainstream diets nearly devoid of animal protein, your natural stomach acid production is reduced.
Examples of low protein plans include programs like Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. These diets don’t promote animal protein the same way a low carb, keto, or a carnivore diet does.
Stomach acid has a use it or lose it effect. If you don’t eat meals with sufficient animal protein often, your body naturally produces less. When you switch to a diet that’s higher in animal protein, you may need help producing adequate stomach acid. That’s important since this gastric juice is vital for breaking down meat.
Not having enough stomach acid is a common cause of chronic constipation. Even if you didn’t have trouble evacuating your bowels pre-keto, the animal protein most low carb diets promote could be enough to lead to keto constipation.
If you believe low stomach acid is the root cause of your constipation on keto, take the free digestion course. You’ll learn how to improve digestive issues quickly and effectively. You’ll also learn about an anabolic imbalance, which is another common reason for keto diet constipation.
In the meantime, watch below for an overview on both possible causes for constipation. Either of these could show up when switching to a keto diet.
Other Common Causes
While improving digestion and balancing body chemistry goes a long way in improving keto constipation, there are dietary changes you make on a ketogenic diet that can lead to unpleasant digestive system side effects – like constipation.
Some of the main reasons you may experience constipation on keto include:
Not Eating Enough Food, Especially Fat
Keto is a high fat diet. Still, there are many keto gurus who teach you to purposely limit fat intake on keto.
Unfortunately the root of these teachings goes back to the same old calories in vs. calories out approach. While overeating fat also isn’t a great idea for weight loss, you still need to eat enough fat in order to trigger ketosis.
Ramping up fat on keto can also help move sludgy bile, which is the system your body uses to digest fat. Since bile also acts as a lubricant for the colon, eating more fat can help push waste through the digestive tract faster – aka, you poop!
If you’re new to keto, the best fats to use to slowly ramp up fat intake include coconut oil or MCT oil. These are great additions to keto-friendly coffee, which can also help you poop since caffeine is a stimulant.
The Keto Flu
The transitional period where your body shifts from using carbs as fuel to its new fuel source of ketone bodies is often referred to as the keto flu. This transition might lead to constipation due to mild dehydration.
Once you begin keto, you may notice more trips to the bathroom – even if you’re not pooping on a regular basis. Dropping carbohydrates from your diet has a diuretic effect. Typically you pee out a lot of important electrolytes at the start of a keto diet.
If you don’t properly hydrate with plenty of water and electrolytes, you could become dehydrated on keto. Dehydration often leads to constipation since you need enough water sent to the bowels for proper movement.
Imbalanced Gut Flora
A healthy gut microbiome is an important piece of the stay regular puzzle. When some people make the swap to keto-friendly foods, they believe they need to nix vegetables completely.
The problem is the friendly gut bacteria you need for a balanced microbiome feed on soluble fiber. If you don’t get enough fiber-rich foods on keto, especially low-carb veggies like leafy greens, the bacteria starve and gut dysbiosis can result.
While you still need to skip starchy vegetables, like potatoes and corn, keep other high-fiber foods as part of a well rounded ketogenic diet.
While some people turn to a probiotic supplement to balance gut flora, it’s important to alternate different strains of bacteria. This ensures you don’t form an imbalance in any one strain from overuse.
Changes in Fiber Intake
Even though a lack of fiber is often cited as the cause of constipation, sometimes adding too much fiber can also be the cause. This is the case when you suddenly change dietary fiber intake. Your body needs time to adjust to adding a lot of fiber to your diet.
Don’t make an immediate switch from a junk food diet to a high-fiber diet. Increase fiber slowly until you reach an average of 25-30 grams of fiber per day.
Also, focus on less fiber from keto processed products – like meal bars and shakes. Instead shift your focus to fiber from real food sources, like keto friendly vegetables.
While counting net carbs isn’t my favorite keto diet approach, if you’re subtracting fiber carbohydrate intake from veggies – that method works for most people.
Great sources of whole foods fiber include broccoli, leafy greens, bell peppers, flaxseed and chia seeds.
Common Food Allergens
Infrequent bowel movements can also be caused by food intolerances.
Dairy products are high on the list since a whopping 65 percent of the population has a reduced ability to properly digest the lactose in cow’s milk.
And what’s one of the foods many new keto dieters indulge in that was previously off limits? High fat dairy foods like heavy cream, butter, low carb yogurt, and cheese.
While dairy is a common food allergen, other notable sources on low carb include eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and seafood.
Even if you don’t love the idea of ditching dairy on keto, sometimes it’s a necessary evil. The good news is you might not have to avoid dairy, or the other common culprits, long term.
If the idea of giving up dairy is daunting, watch below to learn if supplementing with the right enzymes can help.
Otherwise, you can try an elimination diet where you remove common food allergens for a month. To find success, you must completely rid your diet of all sources for the entire four weeks. Once the time is up, introduce a new food every few days to see if any unwanted symptoms return.
Even though most people go into a new diet ready to take on the world (AKA – spend hours in the gym), sometimes getting into the state of ketosis gets the best of you. Sometimes all you want to do is lie around on the couch.
While inactivity can lead to negative health consequences, like a poor immune system, it can also lead to low carb constipation.
If you’re on keto and can’t poop, try going for a walk after meals to help improve regularity.
What Helps Constipation on Keto?
Now that you understand some of the causes of constipation on keto, you’re probably in need of some keto constipation relief.
Here’s a quick list of things you can try right now to get things moving:
- Increase fat intake, especially quick digesting fats like MCT oil and coconut oil.
- Try MCT oil or coconut oil in keto-friendly coffee (This can be twice as effective since caffeine is a stimulant).
- Stay hydrated by increasing water intake and by adding an electrolyte supplement – especially magnesium.
- Increase fiber content with keto-friendly vegetables.
- Avoid known food intolerances, especially dairy.
- Get active – even just a moderate walk after meals can be helpful.
The good news is these keto constipation remedies may be enough for some people to finally feel relief.
If chronic constipation is a problem for you – it’s important to learn all of the different ways poor digestion and body chemistry imbalances result in a lack of proper bowel movements. The free keto digestion course will help you learn YOUR reason for constipation so you can get to the root cause quickly.
You’ll learn plenty of tricks specific to you. For example, those who lean anabolic should take more magnesium, like magnesium citrate, to help keto constipation. But this tip isn’t helpful if you lean catabolic. It can even hurt since anyone with a catabolic imbalance should limit magnesium.
Plus, you’ll learn the right time to take magnesium since most mainstream health advice gets this wrong. (And that wrong advice can lead to other health conditions like insomnia or even keto diarrhea).
To get a sneak peak of what you’ll learn in the course, watch below to learn 4 ways constipation can lead to weight gain.
Keto constipation can result from a wide range of things, such as not eating enough fat, the keto flu, imbalanced gut flora, food allergens, low activity, or a change in fiber intake. One common cause of keto constipation that isn’t discussed enough is low stomach acid.
While many keto constipation remedies include more magnesium, more fiber, more fat (especially MCT oil), and better hydration, these may not work for you. You can learn the cause of YOUR constipation with the free keto digestion course. The course teaches you how to improve constipation based on your individual needs.
Yes, not having proper bowel movements can lead to nutrient deficiencies. These deficiencies can lead to weight gain. Constipation and weight gain are also common because your bowel is full of undigested food – which is never a good thing.
If you have insufficient stomach acid, increasing animal protein can greatly contribute to high protein diet constipation, including carnivore diet constipation. An anabolic imbalance can be another cause of constipation. You can learn how to improve both of these health issues in the free digestion course.
Constipation on Keto – The Wrap Up
The health benefits of a keto diet are vast – but if you can’t poop on keto, eating fewer carbs won’t help your long term health goals.
While ditching high carb foods like whole grains and white rice may be the cause of constipation in some keto dieters, there are often underlying causes that are much bigger than the little bit of added fiber these foods provide.
If you’re sick of yo-yo diets and the health conditions they cause, learn how to improve your digestion to make all of these amazing changes last for the long haul.
Want to work with me one-on-one to determine the best way to improve your keto constipation? Check out my keto mini courses and personal coaching options.
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