Why Keto Can Make You Constipated or Give You Diarrhea?

The ketogenic (or "keto") diet remains among the most popular eating plans in the United States. This is mainly because preliminary clinical data suggest it might aid weight loss and general health improvement.

The ketogenic diet entails drastically reducing carbohydrate intake while maintaining a moderate protein intake. Ketosis is a metabolic state that may be achieved by this diet.

When you enter a state of ketosis, your body uses stored fat for fuel instead of glucose (often obtained from carbohydrates).

Fat loss may be one benefit of the keto diet, but risks are involved. Your gastrointestinal (GI) system may respond negatively to the lack of carbohydrates, causing various undesirable symptoms.

Constipation is one such negative impact. This implies that you only defecate three times a week at the most. Also, if you're constipated, you can have trouble passing your feces since they're so complex and lumpy.

When You Should Be Concerned About Your Constipation If You're Trying the Ketogenic Diet

It is not unusual for people new to the keto diet to have changes in their bowel habits due to the drastic shift in nutrition that the keto diet entails. Despite this, during this transition period, you will need to give your digestive system some time to adjust to the new routine. As long as you don't notice any warning signals, such as blood in your stool, it should be safe for you to continue doing what you're doing.

In addition, be on the watch for stomach pain that is severe or continues for an extended period, as well as diarrhea that happens more than six times a day or that wakes you up throughout the night, as recommended by Riopelle. If you have been experiencing symptoms for more than two or three weeks, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to ensure that everything is in good health.

Constipation is a common complaint among those on the ketogenic diet, but why does it happen?

Why does your digestive system negatively react to the ketogenic diet if it is intended to be healthy for you?


The following are some of the most common causes of constipation when on the ketogenic diet −

Modification of Diet: Fewer Carbs, More Fat

Carbohydrates, lipids, and protein are the three macronutrients our digestive systems evolved to process. All three contribute to health in various ways. On the other hand, if you're on the ketogenic diet, your carbohydrate consumption is minimal.

Constipation and other digestive problems are possible side effects of switching to a low-carb diet since carbs like fruits and whole grains are among the diet's most prevalent sources of fiber.

In addition, the highly high-fat content of the diet might be challenging to adjust to for specific individuals, leading to gastrointestinal distress.

Low intake of fiber

A standard daily carb intake for someone on the ketogenic diet is between 20 and 50 g. That's much less than the Dietary Guidelines' suggested range of carbohydrate intake (225–325 g) for a 2,000-calorie diet.

Since fruits, whole grains, and starchy vegetables are often avoided or severely limited on the ketogenic diet, it might be challenging to get adequate fiber.

A person on the ketogenic diet may develop digestive troubles like constipation if they aren't getting enough fiber from keto-friendly meals like no starchy veggies.

Because of insufficient intake of low-carb, high-fiber diets

Carbohydrates make up just approximately 5–10% of your daily caloric intake on the ketogenic diet, but you must consume the correct kinds.

Keto-friendly foods that are both healthy and rich in fiber include −

  • low-carbohydrate veggies

  • nuts

  • such as flax or chia seeds

  • strawberries and blueberries are in short supply

As long as the total carbohydrate consumption is below 50 g, or whatever quantity is required to sustain ketosis, a person following a keto diet may enjoy tiny amounts of lower-carb fruits like raspberries.

Reasons for and Solutions to Constipation

Anal fissures, hemorrhoids, and stomach discomfort are some of the issues that may arise from chronic constipation. That's why you shouldn't let it fester without intervention.

Your constipation may only last a few days to a week if you're just starting the ketogenic diet. Your constipation may improve when your body gets used to processing fewer carbohydrates and more fats.

If you're having trouble passing stool, consider one of these at-home solutions −

  • Have a lot more water.

  • To increase your daily fiber intake, eat more vegetables, nuts, seeds, berries, and other fiber-rich foods.

  • After each meal, go out for a quick stroll.

  • For regular bowel movements, use a technique called "bowel training."

After three weeks, if your constipation has not improved, you should see a doctor. You may get help figuring out what will work best for you.

While over-the-counter stimulants could assist, you should see your doctor before using laxatives or fiber supplements. Some of these items include a lot of carbohydrates and can ruin your keto diet.

Solutions for Keto Diet Constipation

Constipation is a common problem for those who follow the ketogenic diet, but it may be avoided with a slow and steady transition.

For instance, you may start with a daily carb consumption on the upper end, approximately 50 g, and then gently lower your carb intake as your digestive system adapts.

Reaching ketosis via this method may take more time. But if you have fewer adverse effects, you could be more motivated to continue the diet.

Another approach to avoid constipation with the keto diet is to ensure the fats and proteins you consume come from whole foods. Stress on the digestive tract might increase when you consume many processed foods and fast food.

Generally speaking, the nutritional value of processed meals is relatively low. Also, they're often poor in fiber, which you need to maintain your gut in excellent operating condition.

  • Eat plenty of high-fiber, keto-friendly meals daily, such as −

  • Leafy greens, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and asparagus are all non-starchy veggies.

  • nutmeg, sage, and a variety of seed varieties

  • avocados

  • seeds like chia and flax

  • dried, sweetened coconut

  • In conclusion, it's crucial to replenish your water supply regularly.

Updated on: 23-Feb-2023


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