In the keto regime, carbohydrates are replaced by fats and this causes major changes in the digestive system. It takes a long time for the body to adapt to the new diet. One of the problems that can occur is constipation in the keto regime.
Reduced fiber intake is largely responsible for constipation, but there are several other factors that influence. We will tell about them and about the possible solutions to the problem in the following lines.
What is constipation and symptoms of a problem
Before we trace the relationship between a low-carb diet and constipation, we need to explain what it is. We are sure that everyone has experienced the discomfort that irregular bowels can cause. Sometimes the problem can interfere with normal daily life.
The medical literature defines the presence of constipation as three or fewer bowel movements per week. More important than the numerical definition, however, is whether walking on need so rarely causes discomfort. Therefore, we must distinguish the normal reduction in stool frequency from pathological constipation.
Signs of pathological constipation include bloating, pain, excessive gas, bloody stools, and tension or discomfort during defecation.
The complete absence of these symptoms probably means a natural decrease in the frequency of bowel movements, not constipation. If bowel movements decrease but you have no other symptoms or changes, you do not suffer from constipation!
Constipation in the keto regime – why and when does it appear?
A ketogenic diet can lead to constipation. This is a relatively common side effect of the regimen and usually decreases over time as the body adapts to fewer carbohydrates in the diet. This is because the keto diet can affect the passage of food through the colon, which is important for regular bowel movements.
There are several reasons that can lead to constipation in the keto diet. The main ones include reduced intake of dietary fiber and, as mentioned, changes in the time it takes for food to pass through the colon.
Lack of dietary fiber can lead to constipation, as the fiber in the diet increases stool and retains water in it. The presence of fiber also maintains the natural mucus layer in the intestines and helps protect the lining. When their intake is reduced, the stools become hard and dry, which leads to constipation.
Reducing carbohydrates and replacing them with foods high in fat or protein can also lead to constipation. It is also important to remember that fiber is not found in all foods.
So, if you lack dietary fiber due to reduced carbohydrate intake, vegetables that grow above ground should be the basis of your keto diet.
Also keep in mind that getting used to the keto diet can be difficult. Setting up your body can take several weeks, so be patient. It is also recommended that you consult a doctor before starting the regimen if you have serious health problems, especially with the digestive system.
Possible solutions to the problem
Here are our tips on how to prevent or treat constipation with a keto regimen or other low-carb diet:
1. Good hydration
Since dehydration is a potential cause of constipation in general, it makes sense to say that drinking more water can help prevent or treat constipation in keto.
Many experts believe that avoiding dehydration is an essential step in preventing the problem, but how do you know if you are well hydrated? If you urinate at least four times a day and your urine is clear rather than yellow, then you are probably well hydrated.
Remember that not all drinks are the same. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and tea, can lead to sodium loss and dehydration.
2. Increase your fiber intake
Maintaining adequate fiber intake may be the most effective approach to prevent constipation caused by low carbohydrate content.
Aboveground vegetables, nuts and seeds are good sources of low carb fiber. But how much fiber is enough? 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams for men provided by food sources are recommended. You can use these quantities as a starting point and adjust if necessary.
To get 25 g of fiber, you can combine avocado, a cup of broccoli and 10 sprigs of asparagus. For 38 g you can add an additional half a cup of macadamia nuts and 2 tablespoons of chia seeds.
If you need more fiber, adding insoluble fiber such as psyllium husk flakes can also work well. The initial dose of psyllium is usually 5 g per day, increasing to 10 g if necessary.
3. Treatment of constipation in keto regimen with supplements
Magnesium comes first. It is a well-known laxative and often a recommended supplement for constipation. At doses of about 200 to 400 mg, magnesium is generally well tolerated. However, higher doses may lead to loose stools or diarrhea. It is important not to exceed 2000 mg per day!
Another solution is the addition of medium-chain triglycerides – MCT oil. MCT oil can help promote ketosis and can also stimulate bowel motility. Start with 1 to 2 tablespoons and slowly increase the dose if necessary. Just keep in mind that 1 tbsp contains 115 calories.
Carnitine is a nutrient that is important for energy production. Carnitine deficiency can impair cell function and can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as constipation. Studies show that taking carnitine supplements of 4.5-22.5 mg per kilogram of body weight per day can help relieve the symptoms of constipation.
Finally, let’s not forget the probiotic! These are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and keep them healthy. You can take probiotic supplements to balance intestinal bacteria and strengthen the immune system.
Daily workouts are a great way to boost your metabolism and lose weight. They also increase energy levels and will certainly help you quickly get rid of constipation with keto.
Given the many other benefits of physical activity, this is the easiest and most useful thing you can do!
5. Be careful how you eat
Your eating habits are also important for the prevention and treatment of keto constipation.
First of all, chew your food well. This increases the time to swallow and thus provides extra time for the release of hormones that aid digestion.
It is also important not to miss meals and that they are at more frequent intervals.
All this increases the chance of constipation.
And one last tip: Don’t overdo it with caffeine! If consumed in excessive amounts, it can act as a diuretic and cause dehydration, which over time can lead to constipation or worsen the already existing condition.
6. Medicine intake
If constipation does not improve with the help of the tips mentioned above, over-the-counter laxatives such as dulcolax may be an option. Be sure to follow the instructions in the package leaflet. If you do not have relief of symptoms, consult a doctor!
Constipation in the keto diet is a common problem, but it will disappear quickly if you follow a well-balanced diet with low-carbohydrate and high-fat foods, consume a good amount of fiber and drink enough water. As a last resort, you can resort to supplements and medications.