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Keto Constipation - How to Combat Digestive Issues on Keto

Published September 26, 2019
Ben Kissam

Written By: Ben Kissam, BS

Ben has a B.S. in Movement and Sports Science and over 7 years Certified Personal Training Experience.

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<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@type":"BlogPosting", "headline":"Keto Constipation - How to Combat Digestive Issues on Keto", "datePublished":"September 26, 2019", "description":"Having stomach troubles on the keto diet? You’re not alone. Here’s what you need to know about keto constipation.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/08/bathroom-sign-male-woman-restroom-toilet-thumbnail-0247.jpg" }, } ] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">Does Keto Cause Constipation?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">How Do I Keep From Being Constipated on a Ketogenic Diet?</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">What Helps Constipation Fast?</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">Disclaimer...</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">Keto Constipation—Wrapping Up</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>We know it’s not the easiest thing to talk about. But digestive issues like constipation are common any time you switch your diet. Rest assured, if you’ve recently gone keto and are no longer ‘regular,’ you’re not alone.</p> <p>Several things might lead to digestive issues in the early days of the ketogenic diet. An influx or decline in particular macronutrients, how much fiber you’re eating, and even how much you exercise all get factored in when it comes to going number two.</p> <p>Yep, we <i>also</i> think that’s a funny sentence. But if you’re constipated, a little ‘bathroom’ talk will be just what the doctor ordered. </p> <p>In this article, we’ll look at what causes keto constipation, and how to keep yourself from experiencing other GI issues when you switch to a low-carb diet.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section1"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"Does keto cause constipation?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"The keto diet doesn’t ‘cause’ constipation, but some people experience constipation and other gastrointestinal issues when reducing carbs and upping fat intake."}}]}</script> <h2>Does keto cause constipation?</h2> <p>The keto diet doesn’t ‘cause’ constipation, but some people experience constipation and other gastrointestinal issues when reducing carbs and upping fat intake <sup>1</sup>.</p> <p>Here are a few reasons you might experience constipation or other GI issues when you switch.</p> <h3>Your body is adjusting</h3> <p><i>Any</i> dietary changes, not just <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide/" rel="noreferrer">going keto</a>, can cause gastrointestinal issues <sup>2</sup>. This includes upset stomach, indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation. </p> <p>One major adjustment the body must make is a new <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/why-you-should-be-calculating-your-macros" rel="noreferrer">macronutrient split</a>. On the ‘Standard American Diet,’ most people eat about 45 percent of their daily calories in the form of carbs. On a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s 225 grams of carbohydrates <sup>3</sup>.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-into-ketosis" rel="noreferrer">Switching to keto</a>, which means eating fewer than 50 carbs per day, is a drastic switch. Since fat and carbs are digested differently, it might take a few days for your body to get used to breaking down higher amounts of fat. </p> <h3>You’re not eating enough fiber</h3> <p>What was your main source of fiber before switching to the ketogenic diet? If it was whole grains or fruit, a lack of fiber might be making your trips to the bathroom sparse.</p> <p>Fiber is a plant-based nutrient that’s important for gut and intestine health <sup>4</sup>. Without fiber, food has a hard time making its way through the digestive tract. </p> <p>If you’re new to the ketogenic diet and are tracking macros, you may find yourself shying away from certain veggies due to their amount of carbs. Remember that fiber is not only good for keeping you regular but essential for overall health. Stick to <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/the-best-low-carb-vegetables-to-eat-on-keto/" rel="noreferrer">low-carb veggies</a> and dark leafy greens to make sure you are getting plenty of fiber each day. </p> <h3><span style="font-size:.8em;">Keep in mind…</span></h3> <p>If you weren’t eating any fiber before going <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide/" rel="noreferrer">keto</a>, you might experience, er, ‘opposite’ symptoms of constipation when you switch.</p> <p>If you’re experiencing other GI issues or have an upset stomach in the early days, the influx of crunchy veggies like broccoli and cauliflower might be responsible <sup>5</sup>.</p> <p>By no means are we saying <i>don’t</i> eat those veggies—just add them in slowly if you’re finding the spike in fiber is leading to other stomach issues. Your body should adjust pretty quickly.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dairy-milk-glass-outdoor-0247.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dairy-milk-glass-outdoor-0247.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dairy-milk-glass-outdoor-0247.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/dairy-milk-glass-outdoor-LR-0247.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="dairy-milk-glass"> </picture> <h3>3. You’re eating too much dairy</h3> <p>Many diets like paleo restrict or outright ban dairy products. But that’s not the case on keto. You’re free to eat cheese, butter, and other dairy sources as long as they <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/why-you-should-be-calculating-your-macros" rel="noreferrer">fit your macros</a>. </p> <p>If you’re constipated—or having other GI issues—dairy may be responsible. Approximately 2 out of every 3 people have trouble digesting dairy, after all <sup>6</sup>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section2"> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"How do I keep from being constipated on a ketogenic diet?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"So you’re committed to your new diet. You’re working out and feeling motivated to lose the weight. But your stomach and colon, at least to date, are not on board with the changes.\n\nWhat do you do?\n\nYou may find the constipation is temporary, like other early-on keto symptoms, and it will eventually go away. But if it’s been several days or more than a week and you’re still not going to the bathroom, try some of these home remedies for constipation."}}]}</script> <h2>How do I keep from being constipated on a ketogenic diet?</h2> <p>So you’re committed to your new diet. You’re <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/" rel="noreferrer">working out</a> and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/3-simple-tips-for-workout-motivation" rel="noreferrer">feeling motivated</a> to lose the weight. But your stomach and colon, at least to date, are not on board with the changes.</p> <p><i>What do you do?</i></p> <p>You may find the constipation is temporary, like other early-on <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-energy-how-the-keto-diet-combats-fatigue/" rel="noreferrer">keto symptoms</a>, and it will eventually go away. But if it’s been several days or more than a week and you’re still not going to the bathroom, try some of these home remedies for constipation.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/water-mason-jar-cold-ice-drink-hydration-0247.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/water-mason-jar-cold-ice-drink-hydration-0247.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/water-mason-jar-cold-ice-drink-hydration-0247.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/water-mason-jar-cold-ice-drink-hydration-LR-0247.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="water-mason-jar-cold-ice-drink"> </picture> <h3>1. Drink more water</h3> <p>One reason people get constipated is that their stool is dehydrated <sup>7</sup>. The less water there is in your colon, the more difficult it is for a bowel movement to occur.</p> <p>It’s also entirely possible that you’re dehydrated if you just <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-into-ketosis" rel="noreferrer">switched over to keto</a> <sup>7</sup>. That’s a common symptom early on. Upping your water intake may be the simple fix you need.</p> <p>Remember, your body is making adjustments and ramping up (or getting ready to) <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/how-to-measure-ketosis-with-a-home-ketone-meter" rel="noreferrer">ketone production</a> to start burning fat as its primary fuel source. That glass or two of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/water-fasting-what-it-is-and-how-to-do-it-right/" rel="noreferrer">water</a> you’re used to drinking might not be enough.</p> <h3>2. Exercise or go for a walk</h3> <p>Did you know exercise can help with constipation<sup>8</sup>?</p> <p>Interestingly, and perhaps ‘TMI,’ exercise can help you stay regular for two reasons. One, your body has less time to absorb water from your stool. And two, aerobic exercise and heavy breathing forces the muscles in your intestine to naturally squeeze, which helps things get where they need to go.</p> <p>Any kind of exercise can help, but a simple 20 to 30 minute <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/10-reasons-why-walking-is-the-best-exercise" rel="noreferrer">walk</a> after a meal might be all you need.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/broccoli-boil-cooking-stove-top-0247.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/broccoli-boil-cooking-stove-top-0247.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/broccoli-boil-cooking-stove-top-0247.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/broccoli-boil-cooking-stove-top-LR-0247.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="broccoli-boil-cooking-stove"> </picture> <h3>3. Add more fiber</h3> <p>If ‘<a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide/" rel="noreferrer">going keto</a>’ to you is eating meals comprised of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/5-reasons-to-pass-on-dirty-keto" rel="noreferrer">beef and cheese</a>, there’s a good chance you aren’t getting enough fiber. </p> <p>Trust us when we say that veggies are going to be your best friend on this diet. They keep you full, provide tons of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-micronutrients-why-they-are-important" rel="noreferrer">vitamins and minerals</a>, and make you feel great.</p> <p>Specifically, broccoli, peas, and Brussels sprouts are all densely packed with fiber <sup>9</sup>. </p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/supplement-powder-scoops-two-0247.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/supplement-powder-scoops-two-0247.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/supplement-powder-scoops-two-0247.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/supplement-powder-scoops-two-LR-0247.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="supplement-powder"> </picture> <script type="application/ld+json">{"@context":"https://schema.org","@type":"FAQPage","mainEntity":[{"@type":"Question","name":"What helps constipation fast?","acceptedAnswer":{"@type":"Answer","text":"If it’s been a few days and you still haven’t gone, a few other options might expedite things.\n\nAdding prebiotic foods to your diet, like garlic and onion might help get your bowels moving 10. So, too, might a moderate amount of magnesium, taken as an over-the-counter supplement.\n\nAnd if you’re really in a hurry, any regular coffee drinker will tell you: caffeinated coffee stimulates the muscles in your digestive system. A cup of joe might be enough to get things moving.\n\nFinally, if you’re really looking to rid yourself of constipation, laxatives—both prescription and over the counter— are an option. But talk to your doctor first if you’ve never taken them before, even if they’re over the counter."}}]}</script> <h2 id="section3">What helps constipation fast?</h2> <p>If it’s been a few days and you <i>still</i> haven’t gone, a few other options might expedite things.</p> <p>Adding <i>prebiotic</i> foods to your diet, like garlic and onion might help get your bowels moving <sup>10</sup>. So, too, might a moderate amount of magnesium, taken as an over-the-counter supplement.</p> <p>And if you’re really in a hurry, any regular coffee drinker will tell you: caffeinated coffee stimulates the muscles in your digestive system<sup>11</sup> <sup>12</sup>. A cup of joe might be enough to get things moving.</p> <p>Finally, if you’re really looking to rid yourself of constipation, laxatives—both prescription and over the counter— are an option. But talk to your doctor first if you’ve never taken them before, even if they’re over the counter <sup>13</sup>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section4"> <h2>Disclaimer...</h2> <p>We love providing health and weight loss advice. In the next few sections, what you’ll find are guidelines and cited claims about the relationship between the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide/" rel="noreferrer">keto diet</a> and constipation or other GI issues.</p> <p>That said, we’re not doctors. We’re health and fitness professionals.</p> <p>If you’re having serious constipation, stomach pains, or gastrointestinal distress, make sure to call or go see your doctor. </p> <p><a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/how-gut-health-affects-your-brain/" rel="noreferrer">Gut health</a> is essential for immune system function, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/how-gut-health-affects-your-brain/" rel="noreferrer">brain function</a>, nutrient absorption, and many other things. We want to see you healthy, so go take care of yourself if the symptoms are serious!</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section5"> <h2>Keto Constipation—Wrapping Up</h2> <p>Like low levels of energy and dehydration, constipation is a common symptom when adjusting to the keto diet. After a few days, your body should adjust. But if not, adding more fiber to your diet, exercising, hydrating, and even drinking coffee might help get your bowels moving.</p> <p>And remember, if constipation is causing you serious GI pain or discomfort, speak to a medical professional. We’re keto advocates and fitness professionals, not medical doctors. Good luck!</p> <h3>Resources</h3> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.health.com/digestive-health/keto-diet-constipation" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Keto Diet Constipation Is a Legit Issue—Here's How to Deal</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.livestrong.com/article/536966-can-a-change-in-diet-cause-stomach-pain/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Can a Change in Diet Cause Stomach Pain?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-macronutrient-ratio" rel="nofollow noreferrer">The Best Macronutrient Ratio for Weight Loss</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.livescience.com/51998-dietary-fiber.html" rel="nofollow noreferrer">What Is Fiber?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.silversneakers.com/blog/healthy-foods-upset-stomach/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">5 Healthy Foods That Can Upset Your Stomach</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/lactose-intolerance#statistics" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Lactose intolerance</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323544.php" rel="nofollow noreferrer">What are the signs of ketosis?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/exercise-curing-constipation-via-movement" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Exercise to Ease Constipation</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.health.com/food/the-most-surprising-high-fiber-foods" rel="nofollow noreferrer">The Most Surprising High-Fiber Foods</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318694.php" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Thirteen home remedies for constipation</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2338272" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Effect of coffee on distal colon function</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10499460" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Coffee and gastrointestinal function: facts and fiction. A review</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="https://www.healthline.com/health/diet-and-weight-loss/keto-and-constipation" rel="nofollow noreferrer">Can the Keto Diet Cause Constipation?</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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