Can’t Poop on Keto? Here’s How to Get Regular Again
Can’t poop on keto? Don’t worry, it happens to more people than you think. It may not be the most pleasant topic but when you’re constipated, finding relief is all you can think about.
The good news is that you won’t be backed up forever. We’ve put together all the facts about keto and constipation so you can get back to feeling like your old self.
Signs of Constipation on Keto
Before we get into our tips to fight constipation on keto, let’s first start by understanding the true signs and symptoms of the condition. Essentially, constipation is the lack of bowel movements. If the body is unable to or is struggling to pass stools, blame it on constipation. Discomfort can last for a day or be chronic, lasting for several weeks.
If you are having less than three bowel movements in a week, and this is less than normal for you, you may be experiencing constipation and should address it quickly. If you’ve recently decided to go keto, this could be the reason behind your infrequent bathroom trips.
There are several signs and symptoms of constipation. You may or may not experience all of the following but experiencing at least one could mean your bowels are in distress.
- Straining to have a bowel movement
- Stools that are lumpy, hard, or pebble-like
- Infrequent bowel movements (three or less a week)
- Feeling as if there’s blockage preventing bowel movements in the rectum
- Having a bowel movement but feeling as if you weren’t able to fully evacuate the bowels
- Needing assistant in emptying the rectum by either pressing on the abdomen, using a finger to manually remove stool from the rectum, or using over the counter medication to stimulate the bowels
If you’re experiencing extreme distress, discomfort, or pain, seek medical attention. But if your constipation is mild, there are ways to treat it and prevent it from happening again.
Why You Can’t Poop on Keto
There are actually several reasons as to why you may become constipated on keto. You may be able to quickly decipher the cause behind your bathroom troubles or you may never know the exact reason you can’t go. But take a look at the most common reasons keto causes constipation so you can hopefully get one step closer to relief.
Each macronutrient plays a role in digestion. Fat helps ease food through the digestive system while carbohydrates help carry the bulk of food traveling through the body. Protein is used to stimulate stomach acid and enzyme production to help break down food. Without a healthy amount of all three, the system can quickly back up. Some people will be affected more than others but people who rely on a diet without bananas, sweet potatoes, onions, and other starches, such as a ketogenic diet, can suffer when it comes to bowel movements.
Throws off gut bacteria numbers
There are all types of healthy gut bacteria in our bodies. In fact, there are trillions of bacteria hanging out in there. The ketogenic diet has proven to be helpful in improving gut bacteria diversity in those with diseases like epilepsy and autism. But in otherwise healthy individuals, the keto diet can actually diminish gut bacteria diversity and counts. This can slow down the digestive system and lead to constipation.
Less colorful diet
The keto diet is quite bland in color and this matters when it comes to digestion. If your keto diet mainly consists of eggs, bacon, butter, shakes, and your bulletproof coffee, constipation may not be far behind. You’ll need to do what you can to add more colorful and hydrating foods to your diet. You want rich greens, bright reds, and vibrant oranges and yellows. But this isn’t always easy on keto. You should also take a look at the quality of the food you’re eating. Are you eating organic or does your budget force you to buy foods from less than ideal sources? Your body will know the difference and react accordingly.
Intermittent fasting is sometimes a part of someone’s keto diet routine or a way to speed up entrance into ketosis. Going for hours without food and then consuming a small feast can definitely help speed up weight loss and help you get the most out of ketosis. But this eating routine can cause gut issues, like low stomach acid and slow motility. While some may be able to handle large meals followed by prolonged fasting, it could be a recipe for disaster for others. See how your body responds to fasting and make an educated decision on whether it’s for you or not.
There are two organs that are essentially responsible for creating waste. The liver and gallbladder don’t often get a lot of attention, but they need to be kept in tip top shape if you want to keep your body working as it should. If you have a sluggish or congested liver or gallbladder, you may quickly experience constipation. You’ll need to get to the bottom of the cause behind your affected organs if you want to continue keto. Possible explanations include long term medication use, toxin exposure, low stomach acid, alcohol abuse, or lack of fiber. Treat the cause and you can expect improvement. But in some cases, the liver or gallbladder will never positively respond to a keto diet.
It’s no secret that most of us live under constant pressure and stress. When the body is stressed, the gut is affected. It essentially “clenches” and constipation can quickly result. Now maybe your body was able to keep up with your stress levels before keto but starting a new diet can be stressful on its own. You may be a bit cranky and tired as you transition, which is normal, but this can make you more likely to be stressed out over small things. Try to remain calm, take time out each day to relax, and do your best to protect your gut from the stress of the outside world.
How to Treat Keto Constipation
There are several things you can do to find relief when you’re constipated on keto. Not all of the following remedies may work for you. But the last thing you want to do is try several at one time. Try the one that you feel will work the best for you and then give it time before moving on to something else (if necessary).
Increase water intake
Constipation is directly related to dehydration. If you’ve been unable to have a bowel movement for several days, simply increasing your water intake might not work at this point. But if you’re just starting to notice the beginning symptoms and signs, stop drinking carbonated beverages, juices, alcohol, and anything other than water. It’s also important to avoid caffeine as it can lead to dehydration.
A magnesium supplement, like magnesium citrate, is a fast and simple remedy to try if you can’t poop on keto. It relaxes the bowels and helps pull water into the intestines, making it easier to have a bowel movement. A magnesium supplement can work in as little as 20 minutes so make sure you have a facility nearby before you take it.
Coconut oil is most likely already a part of your diet if you’re following keto. It can be used to cook with or as a great ingredient in homemade keto fat bombs. But it can also help with constipation. Because of its abundant amount of MCFA’s, or medium-chain fatty acids, it’s a great natural laxative that can quickly help alleviate constipation. Try eating half a tablespoon in the morning and another half tablespoon at lunch and dinner until you experience relief.
Coffee can help stimulate the digestive tract and provide fast constipation relief. While caffeine is typically suggested to be avoided if you’re constipated, coffee is an exception. If you want a keto-approved constipation remedy, try bulletproof coffee. Just make sure you’re using a high-quality coffee for best results. Hot, black coffee may work faster but bulletproof coffee made with coconut oil can serve as an effective constipation reliever as well.
How to Prevent Keto Constipation
The problem with constipation on a keto diet is that it can occur at any time. While it’s more likely to happen when you’re just starting out on keto, it can happen after you’ve been following the diet for quite some time. If you find your body is more susceptible to constipation on keto, there are a few things you can do to lessen the chances of uncomfortable blockage.
Watch your water intake
The jury is still out on how much water you should drink a day. The 8×8 rule is most common (8 glasses of 8 ounces of water a day) but some experts now say you need more than 100 ounces of water a day while others say everyone is unique in their water needs. Spend a couple of days tracking your water intake. If it’s nowhere near either of these numbers, you’re putting yourself at risk for keto-caused constipation.
It’s always best to get your nutrients from food but if you can’t, whether it’s because you don’t like many foods that contain the needed nutrient or you can’t eat it on keto, supplements can be a great way to get what you need without straying from your diet. Adding a fiber supplement to your daily routine can help with those who can’t poop on keto. If you’re struggling to regulate your ketosis, you can also try KETO1. A magnesium supplement can also help prevent constipation.
Work out more
If you spend most of your day in a sitting position or not moving around much, you’re more likely to become constipated than those who are more active. You should already be working out periodically on keto but if you’re not, this is the time to start. Exercise can help decrease the time it takes for food to move through the large intestine. This prevents dehydration and constipation. Also, aerobic exercise speeds up your heart rate and breathing, which helps to naturally stimulate the contraction of intestinal muscles.
When to See a Doctor
While we know it’s uncomfortable, constipation can actually be dangerous as well. If it’s been more than a couple of weeks since you’ve had a bowel movement, there’s a good chance you have what’s called an impacted bowel.
This is a medical condition that deems immediate medical attention. You may be experiencing severe bloating and cramps along with back pain. When you have an impacted bowel, hard, dry stool is stuck inside the rectum, preventing anything from exiting. This means the body is holding onto toxins and poisons usually eliminated with a bowel movement. Pollution builds up inside the body and this can lead to serious consequences
Seek medical attention immediately if you’re feeling weak, vomiting bright yellow or green bile, your abdomen is incredibly swollen, or you’re having severe rectal pain.
You can wait until morning business hours (if within 24 hours) to be seen if you’re experiencing abdominal pain with a fever, haven’t had a bowel movement in several days, or are experiencing leaking stool.
You can schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience if you have questions or concerns about repetitive constipation, have minor bleeding from the rectum, or are unable to have a bowel movement without the assistance of a laxative or enema.
In most cases, constipation is temporarily and easily remedied at home. But if you suspect your problem is more serious, seeking medical attention sooner than later is always advised.
Constipation – it’s uncomfortable to experience and even more uncomfortable to talk about. But it’s easy to prevent if you understand how the digestive system works and how keto changes it.
If you can’t poop on keto, don’t worry. It’s a normal occurrence and can easily be remedied if you tackle the issue right away. Do your best to prevent it from happening again by drinking enough water, making sure you’re getting enough fiber, and remaining active. Constipation doesn’t have to keep the benefits of keto away.