Low carb constipation is one of the most common side effects that you could encounter when starting out on a low-carb diet or keto diet. If you are feeling constipated during the first few days that you have started the diet, rest assured that you are not alone in this and there are plenty of things that you can do to fix this problem.
Take note that there are many causes for constipation, from IBS, pelvic floor problems, neurological disorders and underactive thyroid to medications. But if you’ve just started on a different diet, then it’s safe to assume that your constipation may have something to do with that.
Constipation and Low Carb Diet
Constipation means different things to different people. It can mean difficulty in emptying your bowel because your stool is dry and harder than usual. Or it could mean that you aren’t “going” every day. Doctor’s often diagnose constipation if you have less than three bowel movements in a week. Ideally you should have at least one bowel movement every day if not two. Don’t let anyone tell you once a week is normal for you!
If you have become constipated as a result of dietary change you may be eating less fiber. Many people have mistaken ideas about what a low carb diet is. Some dieters don’t realize that when you go on a low carb diet, you should eat as many non-starchy vegetables as you can, since veggies are loaded with fiber. Although fiber is considered a carbohydrate, fiber is not often counted as part of the carbs eaten in most low-carb diets as it is not digested and does not increase blood sugar levels.
How To Fix Low Carb Constipation
Now let’s take a look at some ways on how you can ease constipation in a low-carb diet.
• Eat as many non-starchy vegetables as you can – green leafy vegetables are among those foods you’re allowed to eat in a low-carb diet and as mentioned, these foods are high in fiber so they can help ease out your constipation. Aside from being low in carb, these vegetables are rich in nutrients. Certain fruits, such as berries, are also helpful for your constipation and are ideal for a low-carb diet.
• Drink plenty of filtered water – drinking lots of water is one way to prevent constipation. If you are not well hydrated, your body has the tendency to suck water out of your colon, which is why you are having a hard time emptying your bowel.
• Include nuts and seeds in your diet – nuts and seeds have plenty of fiber in them and can help with preventing constipation. They also contain lots of nutrients, which is good for your health. Chia and flax seeds are some of the best choices since they have a good amount of soluble fiber. You can simply sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of whole flaxseeds over your food or grind them up in a small coffee grinder and add them to a smoothie, soup or salad. You can take more if necessary but it’s best to start with a small amount and increase the amount gradually. You could try this Flaxseed Cleanse or try this Chai Chia Pudding.
Related reading: Best Nuts to Eat On A Keto Diet
• Consider taking fiber supplements – although it’s always a good idea to get your fiber from food, you can also get a little help from supplements. Among the most common fiber supplements are psyllium husks or psyllium husk powder. You have to be sure to drink plenty of fluids when you use psyllium husks as it swells to create a jelly-like mass. Because of this, it adds bulk to your diet, helping reduce the symptoms and risks of constipation. Some labels show that psyllium contains carbohydrates but you don’t have to worry about this as it is not digested. Some prescribed or over the counter psyllium supplements contain sugar so they are not suitable for a low carb diet.
• Cut back on dairy – some people ended up getting constipated by eating a lot of dairy food. When on a low-carb diet, you could end up eating a lot of cheeses and other dairy foods. If this is the case for you, then cut back on the cheese and other dairy foods and see if that cures your constipation.
• Magnesium Citrate – Many people lack the essential mineral magnesium which can help with constipation. Milk of Magnesia and Epsom Salts, which is magnesium sulfate, are two common forms of magnesium used for constipation but I suggest you might benefit from taking magnesium citrate as a supplement. It functions by drawing water into the gut from the rest of the body and helps to relax the gut muscles.
It’s normal for a dietary change to cause constipation so there’s really nothing to be alarmed about. The steps above should help to fix your low carb constipation, but if they don’t, and you still continue to suffer from constipation after more than two weeks of trying the suggestions above, it is best to consult your doctor, naturopath or a nutritionist.