If you’ve been following a ketogenic diet then you’re already familiar with this eating plan’s possible benefits including losing weight, lowering blood pressure and better blood sugar control. There are also some potential keto diet side effects to be aware of and once you know them, you can also easily make an effort to avoid them! One of these undesirable side effects is keto diet constipation.
In general, constipation is a huge problem for many people today. It’s estimated that in the U.S. alone, chronic constipation results in 2.5 million doctor visits each year and medication costs that reach in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Experiencing constipation is not enjoyable by any means and can include other unwanted symptoms from headaches to bloating to an irritable disposition. If you’ve been experiencing constipation on keto, it’s time to fix this problem with truly effective natural remedies or prevent it in the first place.
Does the Keto Diet Cause Constipation?
Constipation can be defined as having difficulty emptying the bowels and is usually associated with hardened feces. When you’re constipated, food waste (stool) moves slower through the digestive tract.
The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet. Can a low carb diet cause constipation? It’s possible as part of the so-called keto flu, especially in the transitional period when you make the change from your previous dietary habits to your new keto lifestyle. This is why it’s so important to follow a keto diet in the healthiest manner possible.
Many people are used to getting their fiber from processed “high fiber” cereals before they go keto. Then they switch to a keto diet and don’t realize there are still many healthy sources that are very low in carbs yet have plenty of constipation-preventing fiber.
However, it’s helpful to know that keto constipation and diarrhea can both occur. It all depends on how your body reacts to your new diet. You may not experience either digestive symptom or you might experience diarrhea rather than constipation. So does keto diet make you poop? For some people, it may increase bowel movements, but that’s not always the case.
According to John Riopelle, DO, a gastroenterologist for Kaiser Permanente, “Any time you make a big change to your diet, there’s the chance it will affect your gastrointestinal health. What’s more, everyone’s colon is unique, which is why some people may be stricken with constipation, others with diarrhea, and still, some may not notice a change at all.”
Are you wondering, how do I avoid constipation on keto diet? I’m about to tell you some of the top ways to prevent this side effect (which also includes keto constipation weight gain) so you can really enjoy and experience the benefits of your new keto lifestyle!
7 Remedies for Keto Diet Constipation
How do you get constipation relief on keto? Curing keto constipation really isn’t hard if you know the right keto diet foods, beverages and supplements to include in your diet. Here are some of the best home remedies to start using today if you’re following a keto diet and constipation has become an issue:
Are you drinking enough water? It’s so basic, but it’s so important. If you’re dehydrated, constipation is likely going to be an issue whether you’re following a keto diet, or any other diet for that matter. Drink your water warm or at room temperature because this helps to stimulate digestion better than very cold water. Drinking hot water with lemon on an empty stomach first thing in the morning can be particularly helpful.
To increase your hydration and encourage stool passage, you can also drink herbal tea, caffeinated teas including black and green, organic coffee in moderation and bone broth. It’s especially important to increase your water intake when you’re increasing your fiber intake because if you only add fiber and don’t add more water to your diet, you can actually make constipation worse. You need hydrating liquids to move that fiber along!
2. More Magnesium
If you’re experiencing keto constipation magnesium may be just what you need to get things moving again. Magnesium is key to muscle relaxation. If you have a magnesium deficiency, then you are more likely to experience muscle tension, which can encourage constipation.
Since ketosis can increase the flushing out of electrolytes, including magnesium, from your system, it’s very important that avoid becoming deficient in magnesium. As a supplement, magnesium citrate (magnesium with citric acid) is the form of magnesium best known for its laxative properties. You can also add more magnesium-rich foods that are keto friendly to your diet on a daily basis.
3. Go Alkaline
Another way to fight off any constipation, nausea or fatigue that develops as you transition to this new low-carb lifestyle, you may want to consider adopting the Keto-Alkaline® diet.
According to Anna Cabeca, MD,
Typically, traditional keto diets neglect alkaline foods, which become critical for optimizing pH and therefore maintaining an optimal keto diet. The missing link for a successful keto diet is to first get alkaline — in other words, eating enough of the right nutrient-dense foods to stay in ketosis but also stay in an alkaline state.
One of the key aspects of this version of the keto diet is that you make sure to eat plenty of nutrient and fiber-rich green leafy veggies and good clean water, which can not only help you to become more alkaline, but can also help you to avoid constipation.
4. Sodium + Potassium
As just mentioned, electrolytes like potassium, sodium and magnesium can be decreased faster when you go into ketosis. Not only can an electrolyte imbalance contribute to constipation as well as diarrhea, but it can also cause headaches, cramping and general weakness. In addition to adding more magnesium to your keto diet, if you’re experiencing constipation, you can also up your potassium and sodium intake.
A great keto-friendly source of potassium is the delicious and highly nutritious avocado. To make sure your sodium levels are adequate, use a high quality pink Himalayan sea salt to season your food. People often think of sodium or salt as being dehydrating, but sodium in the right amounts is key to the colon retaining water in healthy a way that encourages optimal stool formation and elimination.
5. Wisely Chosen Fiber
Move over bran flakes, it’s time to get your fiber from low-carb, nutrient-dense items that are keto-friendly like leafy green vegetables. To help prevent keto constipation, make sure to include high-fiber foods in your diet, especially vegetables.
Even though the bulk of your calorie intake will be from fats, vegetables should still be included in just about every meal you have while on the keto diet. High-fiber options that are keto-approved include:
- All non-starchy vegetables, especially leafy greens, peppers, cruciferous veggies like broccoli or cauliflower, mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, artichokes, etc.
- Avocado, which is a great source of fat, potassium and fiber.
- Coconut flakes/coconut flour, another high-fat source of fiber.
- Nuts (in small-to-moderate amounts) including almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios and brazil nuts
- Seeds (in small-to-moderate amounts) that supply important nutrients include sesame, sunflower, chia, flax and pumpkin seeds.
If you’re struggling with keto constipation probiotics should not be forgotten! You should include acceptable amounts of certain fermented foods in your diet on a regular basis. Probiotic-rich fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi are great keto-approved choices that are loaded with beneficial probiotics that can help to prevent and alleviate constipation.
According to the Harvard Health Blog, taking probiotic supplements for constipation is also a great idea, much more effective than conventional over-the-counter remedies, don’t seem to have any unwanted side effects, and are generally considered safe.
There are a lot of dietary tweaks you can make to your keto diet to discourage the occurrence of constipation, but don’t forget the key thing you can do physically to ward off this unpleasant symptom — exercise! Lack of physical activity can definitely contribute to constipation.
By exercising regularly, you’re not only speeding up the movement of your body; you’re also speeding up the movement of your bowels. Aerobic exercise in particular encourages the natural squeezing of intestine muscles, which is necessary for the passage of stool.
- Making a major change to your diet can result in temporary digestive issues such as constipation.
- If you decide to go keto and constipation becomes an issue then there are many easy adjustments you can make to your diet to get rid of this unwanted side effect.
- Not everyone experiences constipation while following a keto diet; some people actually have diarrhea while others don’t deal with either symptom.
- You can improve and prevent keto bloating and constipation by:
- Staying hydrated with lots of warm/room temperature water. You can also drink herbal tea, caffeinated teas including black and green, organic coffee in moderation and bone broth.
- Making sure you have enough electrolytes (magnesium, potassium and sodium) in your diet.
- Opt for an alkalized version of the ketogenic diet and consuming lots of keto-friendly fiber such as leafy green veggies.
- Eating probiotic-rich foods like kefir and kimchi and also taking a probiotic supplement.
- Exercising regularly, especially aerobic exercise.