What you eat directly affects your bowel movements. So, it comes as no surprise that making big changes in your diet, such as embarking on a keto journey, can come with some side effects, constipation being one of the most common ones.
In this article, we’ll discuss the main reason why people get constipation on keto and explore a variety of keto foods and strategies that can help you manage keto diet constipation.
What Is the Keto Diet?
The ketogenic diet, more commonly known as the keto diet or just keto, is a low carb, high fat diet whose primary goal is to push you into ketosis – a process during which your body shifts the primary source of energy from sugar to fat.
Ketosis is the main reason why people want to get on the keto diet. After all, almost all of the health benefits of the keto diet stem from ketosis. Some of them include:
- Weight loss
- Blood sugar control
- Lower blood pressure
Aside from helping you lose weight, the ketogenic diet may also help manage cognitive deterioration. However, more research is needed.
Despite its potential benefits, keto is not without its faults. In reality, the keto diet is a highly restrictive one – it’s difficult to begin and stick to and may lead to a number of uncomfortable side effects, such as constipation.
Why Do You Get Constipated on Keto?
When someone is constipated, it means they’re having difficulties emptying their bowels. Constipation comes with a number of uncomfortable and even painful symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain
- Fewer bowel movements (less than 3 per week)
- Stools that are hard, lumpy, and difficult to pass
So why does the keto diet cause constipation? There are a number of reasons why someone can become constipated on the keto diet, but the main ones are:
- Jumping into the diet head-first and leaving no transition period for your body to adjust
- Not getting enough fiber
Most importantly, the keto diet calls for a reduced intake of carbohydrates, which has been shown to have a negative effect on the digestive system, resulting in constipation in about half of dieters.
How Long Does Constipation Usually Last on the Keto Diet?
For those who are just starting their keto journey, it’s important to keep in mind that constipation is often a temporary side effect that goes away after your body has adjusted to this new dietary pattern. It usually goes away somewhere between a few days and a few weeks.
If constipation lasts longer than a few weeks, you may need to take a step back and take a deeper look into your food and lifestyle choices to identify what may be causing constipation in the first place.
Tips for Managing Constipation on a Low Carb Diet
Keto diet constipation control usually requires a few simple lifestyle changes. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Get enough fiber
One of the first things you’ll hear about managing constipation is to increase your fiber intake. It’s true – both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber play an important role in maintaining a healthy digestive system and promoting regular bowel movements.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that a diet lacking in dietary fiber is a major cause of constipation.
Considering that fiber is a type of carbohydrate, and the keto diet limits the intake of carbs, it becomes easy to eat too little fiber and experience issues with your digestive tract.
Nonetheless, there are a variety of keto-friendly high fiber foods that you can incorporate into your diet:
- Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries
- Non-starchy vegetables such as asparagus, cauliflower, leafy greens, and zucchini as opposed to starchy vegetables since they contain less fiber
- Nuts and seeds such as almonds, chia seeds, and flax seeds
While on keto, it’s crucial to make time for meal planning. This way, you can make sure that you’re following a high fiber diet by incorporating fiber-rich foods into your meals.
Hydration is key
Staying hydrated is important for a number of reasons; it helps regulate your body temperature and plays a crucial role in digestive function.
It’s no surprise that dehydration is one of the most common reasons for constipation, even more so if you’re on keto. Why? The answer is ketosis.
As we’ve already established, the main goal of the keto diet is to trigger ketosis. As your body shifts from burning glucose to burning fat, your liver starts producing ketones which is often accompanied by mild dehydration or, if left unchecked, severe dehydration.
In order to avoid dehydration, make sure to increase your water intake. This can be done in a few ways:
- Drinking more water
- Drinking coconut or other electrolyte-infused water
- Incorporating foods with high water content into your diet
- Blending smoothies
A lack of physical activity has been shown to contribute to constipation. It may be difficult to exercise while you’re just starting out on the keto diet, so make sure to start slow by:
- Taking a brisk walk
- Practicing yoga
Most importantly, don’t settle into a sedentary lifestyle – get your body moving, even if it’s just going around the block each day; the impact it will have on your overall health and well-being may surprise you.
Consider keto-friendly supplements
If it’s difficult to get dietary fiber from food, consider fiber supplements. ColonBroom is an excellent choice to increase fiber intake for those on keto. It’s formulated with psyllium husk, which has been shown to help regulate bowel movements and is keto-friendly.
Another great option for a healthy gut is a probiotic supplement. Probiotics are beneficial gut bacteria that promote gut health and healthy bowel movements. You can also find them in a variety of fermented foods, such as kefir, yogurt, and pickles.
In addition, consider adding some prebiotic fiber into the mix to nourish the good gut bacteria.
Before making a purchase, make sure that your chosen fiber supplement is keto-friendly, meaning it doesn’t contain any added sugars or other sources of carbohydrates.
Other Healthy Choices to Make While Constipated
When on keto, you will spend a lot of time identifying what foods are keto-friendly and what foods are not. You should also use this time to educate yourself on what keto-friendly foods prevent keto constipation and find ways to incorporate them into your diet.
Transitioning to whole foods
Whether you’re on keto or not, your diet should consist of whole, unprocessed foods. There are a number of reasons for this, but processed foods have little to no nutritional value, lack dietary fiber, and may lead to constipation.
Here are a few tips to make transitioning to whole foods easier:
- Prepare your meals at home
- Start meal planning
- Opt for fresh produce
- Ditch sugary drinks
- Stick to your grocery list
- Make healthy snacks at home
Eliminating heavily processed foods from your diet may help relieve constipation and increase stool frequency.
Reducing dairy consumption
Milk and dairy products are a popular choice among those following the keto lifestyle. They contain little to no carbohydrates and are high in fats, making them perfect for the keto diet.
Unfortunately, consuming too much dairy can have a few side effects, constipation being one of them, especially among those who are lactose-sensitive.
Here are a few ways you can reduce your dairy consumption:
- Explore milk substitutes such as almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk
- Try dairy-free yogurt
- Swap out cheese for tofu
Incorporating healthy fats
Fats are often overlooked. However, their part in your health is just as important as it is for protein and carbohydrates. Healthy fats support a healthy gut – they play an important part in maintaining the lining of the gut in top shape.
Luckily, fats are the cornerstone of the ketogenic diet, and there are a variety of healthy fats to choose from. Some keto-friendly sources of these fats include:
- Olives and olive oil
- Coconuts and coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Fatty fish
- Whole eggs
Aside from incorporating more fat into your diet, you should also limit saturated fat intake, which can be found in bacon, sausages, and other processed foods.
Balancing carb intake
The keto diet is a low carb diet that usually limits your carbohydrate intake to just 50g of carbs per day, meaning if you go over this limit, your body will probably be kicked out of the ketosis that you worked so hard for.
This can be difficult on the body as you start out on the diet. Ideally, you should start eating less and less carbs as preparation before diving into keto.
Keto and Traveling: Managing Keto Constipation on the Road
Traveling is difficult enough as it is. Add keto into the mix, and it becomes even more challenging.
It’s not easy to maintain ketosis while on the road, and neither is managing its side effects. Changes in routine, limited food options, and dehydration may all contribute to constipation and make managing it difficult.
Whether you’ll be gone for a day or traveling for a few weeks, it’s important to have an action plan in case you start experiencing constipation. Here are a few things you can do to help you maintain regular bowel movements and keep your digestive system in the best shape possible:
- Research keto-friendly restaurants to help you make healthier food choices
- Pack high fiber keto-friendly snacks
- Bring electrolyte-infused water to stay hydrated
- Keep your body moving when possible
When to Consult a Doctor?
Seeking medical advice is essential in helping identify any underlying conditions, prevent complications, and ensure your safety and well-being.
You should consult a doctor if you’re experiencing one of the following:
- Constipation lasting longer than 3 weeks
- Blood in stool
- Bloating and abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
Remember, your body may respond differently to keto, and what works for others may not work for you. Prioritize your health and seek medical advice if you’re experiencing chronic constipation or any of the symptoms in the list above.
Overcoming Keto Constipation: Key Takeaways
Keto is a low carb, high fat diet that promotes weight loss and brings a myriad of other health benefits. It’s important to be aware that keto may cause temporary constipation and find ways to manage it while your body adjusts to these new dietary changes.
Introduce the keto diet gradually by prioritizing unprocessed high fiber foods, increasing your water intake, staying active, and supplementing your diet with fiber powder – all of these strategies can effectively prevent and alleviate constipation.
You can also try probiotics to support a healthy gut microbiome and maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
Safe Constipation Remedies During Pregnancy: What to Know
Discover the causes, symptoms, and what are safe solutions for constipation during pregnancy. Get comprehensive guidance here.
Best Foods to Eat with IBS: Your Comprehensive Guide
Discover the best foods to eat with IBS. This comprehensive guide explores scientifically-backed dietary choices that help promote better digestive health.
Natural Stool Softeners for Constipation Relief
Discover the best natural stool softeners to relieve constipation and improve digestive health. Learn about effective methods to soften stool naturally.