First came the keto flu—a pretty unpleasant (but ultimately temporary) side effect of the keto diet.
Then, news about other keto side effects tarted popping up: keto breath, keto rash, keto crotch…you get the picture. Basically, the keto diet can be great for weight loss, but it hosts a whole bunch of other not-so-great symptoms.
Another one of those unfortunate issues? Keto constipation (you know, keto diarrhea’s cousin). And seriously, if you find yourself backed up on the keto diet, you’re not alone—here’s why (and what you can do to get things running smoothly again).
Seriously, why can’t I go to the bathroom anymore on the keto diet?
Keto-induced constipation is painful and inconvenient—and part of the deal for many dieters.
“Anytime you radically change your diet, as you probably would with keto, your gut is going to react,” says Barbie Boules, RD, of Longevity Nutrition. “Because keto is so different from the way people normally eat, it can cause gas, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea.” Perfect.
Though Boules admits that the diet’s high fat percentages make diarrhea more common if you’re following keto to the letter, the higher amounts of protein in the diet can cause constipation instead. Add in the fact that most keto diets are pretty low in fiber, and it makes things even more likely to slow waaaaay down in your intestines, says Boules.
So, is this just a problem on the keto diet?
Nope. It applies to pretty much all low-carb diets, says Boules. Basically, anytime you’re eating more protein (or, in the keto diet’s case, moderate protein, lots of fat, and way fewer carbs), you need to find other high-fiber sources to balance things out, she explains.
That’s where the problem comes into play: Most foods that are high in fiber, like fruits, whole grains, and legumes, are also high in carbs. That means Atkins and Whole30 dieters may find themselves in the same backed-up boat, too.
Okay, then. How can I get regular again?
Here’s the thing: A ketogenic diet might work for some people (i.e. you lose weight without any issues that make you want to run for the bread-filled hills), but it’s just not going to work for everyone.
If your tummy distress is only moderate (like, if you’re not crippled by it) and you’re really committed to sticking with keto for the time being, you’ve do have some options for getting things moving again.
“Eat all the veggies you can—or at least as many as are allowed on the diet, like leafy greens, asparagus, and mushrooms—for roughage,” recommends Boules. “Staying really well hydrated and getting enough exercise also helps, and you can try adding a psyllium husk supplement of one or two tablespoons into a glass of water every day.”
Ideally, as you adjust to the higher percentages of protein and fat on keto, your stomach will settle down and get back to normal. If it doesn’t, consider switching to a diet that’s gentler on your tummy, because honestly, when your bowel movements (or lack thereof) start affecting your daily life, even the promise of weight loss isn’t worth it.
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