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Constipation And Keto Diet

Keto Diet And Constipation

A ketogenic diet requires a big shift in macronutrient intake, and hence it may cause problems if you're not eating in a balanced way. While the keto diet may help you burn fat, there can also be side effects. One such side effect is constipation. This means that you have three or fewer bowel movements per week. Being constipated may also make your stools hard and lumpy and difficult to pass.Are you enjoying the keto diet, but struggling with constipation ? This article will help. 

What is a keto diet?

A ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It is a protein-based diet that powers the body to consume fats instead of starches to produce energy. When your body is devoid of sufficient carbs to burn for energy, it starts burning fat, which results in ketone formation and is used to draw power for all the activities; this process is known as Ketosis.

Keto Diet

Metabolic Pathways:

The body, in general, follows two metabolic pathways, namely, glycolysis and Ketosis. In the absence of sufficient carbohydrates, the body resorts to Ketosis in which it starts burning the fats stored in the body to gain energy.

Glycolysis:

  • The body breaks down carbs into glucose, which can then enter your bloodstream. If glucose in your bloodstream and energy is relatively high, then your body will convert glucose into glycogen. 
  • Glycogen is stored in your muscles and liver for later use.
  • When carbs are scarce and glucose levels in the blood are low, your body will start converting glycogen back to glucose for energy. 

Ketosis:

  • However, what happens if your body's glycogen stores start dropping down? Once you've depleted your glycogen stores, your body has to turn to ketone bodies for energy. 
  • Our bodies are always producing small amounts of ketones. However, in a state of Ketosis, your body will boost the production of ketones from fat. This fat either comes from your food or already stored body fat. 
  • Contrary to glucose, ketones that aren't used as a fuel source are not stored and are waste products. The kidneys filter them out of the blood, which is then excreted out from the body.

What causes constipation while on Ketosis?

Symptoms of Constipation:

Constipation develops when the stool becomes hard and difficult to pass. Reasons include a blockage and a low fibre diet. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, people who have constipation often experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • fewer than three bowel movements per week
  • hard, dry, or lumpy stools
  • pain or difficulty passing stools
  • partially passing stool, which is called incomplete evacuation

Adjustment to fewer carbs and more fat

  • Our bodies are designed to digest three macronutrients: carbs, fats, and protein. While eating too many carbs typically isn't recommended, if you're trying to lose weight, cutting back on your carb intake too quickly can put your GI tract into a stressed state.
  • When you switch to a keto diet, your body has to adjust from digesting a heavy load of carbs to digesting a lot of fat. It can take a while for your gut to get used to breaking down more fat than it's been used to.

Low Healthy Gut Bacteria/Lack of Prebiotic Fibre

You may not be getting enough prebiotics and probiotics in your diet. Prebiotics are the soluble fibre that we don't digest. Prebiotics feed our probiotics (beneficial gut bacteria) and help keep our microbiome healthy. 

  • Prebiotics often come from starchy vegetables like potatoes and rice, which are avoided on a ketogenic diet. But some vegetables are high in prebiotics, such as garlic, leeks, artichokes, dandelion greens, tomatoes, asparagus, and berries. 
  • Probiotics can be obtained through fermented foods like kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage), sauerkraut, and fermented pickles. The combination of both prebiotics and probiotics has been shown to help with constipation. If you're not a fan of fermented foods, you can take a prebiotic and probiotic supplement.

Eating low-fibre instead of high-fibre carbs

While only about 5 percent of the food you eat on the keto diet is made up of carbs, the key is to make sure you're eating the right kind. Aim for healthy, nutritious, high-fibre carbs like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Fiber

Many people also shy away from plant-based foods while on the keto diet, either because the veggie's carb count is too high, or because they're turning to animal protein to help hit the high daily requirements of protein and fat. But veggies tend to be high sources of fibre, so quickly stripping those from your diet can lead to keto constipation.If you only eat low-fibre carbs, like white bread, white rice, or sugary goods, you likely won't be getting the fibre you need to move food through your GI tract.

Dehydration

Sometimes constipation is caused simply by not drinking enough water throughout the day. In fact, dehydration is one of the most common causes. Even mild dehydration can cause constipation. So, this means hydrating even when you aren't thirsty. Water helps to hydrate the colon and keeps the stools soft to pass through more easily. Also, add a pinch of Himalayan salt to your water, which is an essential electrolyte, and helps get the water to your cells more efficiently, keeping your cells more fully hydrated as well. 

Toilet Paper

What can you eat while on Ketosis? 

Whole foods, such as eggs, lean meat, oily fish, low-carb veggies, and low-carb naturally grown sustainable products, like low-carb flours (almond, chickpea, etc.). When on a ketogenic dietary regimen, you cannot eat any processed or refined foods items.A keto diet is quite impressive compared to other diets with regards to demonstrated weight reduction benefits. It has also appeared to decrease cancerous tumours’ danger, treat cognitive impairments like Dementia, Depression, Alzheimer's disease, and control diabetes and insulin levels. 

How to Cure Keto Constipation on a Ketogenic dietary regimen?

All of this is good to know if you're trying to avoid keto constipation, but what if you're already suffering? People who experience persistent constipation or have just started a keto diet may wish to consider the following treatments to manage their symptoms:

  • staying hydrated
  • exercising regularly
  • walking after meals
  • eating high fibre, low carbohydrate foods, such as cauliflower, cabbage, and berries

If your constipation isn't better after three weeks, be sure to make an appointment to talk with your doctor. They can work with you to find the best treatment.While over-the-counter stimulants may help, make sure you talk to your doctor before taking any fibre supplements or laxatives. Some of these products are high in carbs, which can derail your efforts on the keto diet.If constipation is an issue on your keto diet, you may want to try the following:

  • Eat more low starchy fibrous vegetables each day.
  • Eat small amounts of fermented foods with your meals.
  • Consider taking quality supplements insider a magnesium supplement, such as magnesium citrate, which can help to move the bowels.
  • Try including chia seeds or flax seeds.
  • Drink coffee or tea, which can stimulate bowels.
  • Try removing nuts from the diet, as these can be binding for some people.
  • Be sure to chew your food thoroughly and eat in a relaxed state.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Move your body throughout the day. 

Bottom Line

A keto diet has several potential health benefits, but it does come with risks, including constipation. But as your GI tract adjusts to this way of eating, you may find that it becomes less of an issue.You can also reduce your risk of constipation by eating more whole, high-fibre foods to help keep your bowels moving.

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