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Keto Constipation the Side Effect They Should be Warning You About

Updated on July 6, 2019
Ladymermaid profile image

Mother of 2 daughters and grandmother of 6 I strive daily to achieve an optimum level of health and happiness. It is all about balance

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It is a Side Effect They Should be Mentioning

Keto is the popular new diet that has a lot of people discussing its benefits and with its rapid weight loss and potentially favourable health effects it is encouraging many to jump on board. Whether participating for health reasons or to lose weight there is one side effect to this diet that really does merit more discussion than it currently receives. The shortage of fibre and large increase in fat can cause constipation and this negative side effect can be much more than just a mild discomfort.

I like so many others was excited by the prospect of a quick drop in weight so I did my Keto research and decided that it was a diet plan I could participate in. In my research the main concerns I found revolved around the high fat and restrictive low carb amounts that this diet plan calls for. For the couple months that I would be on the plan I didn't think this would be too much of an issue.

No where in my research did I run into a warning flag for constipation but I was about to experience the full brunt force of this side effect for myself. Before my fourth week was complete I was sitting in the emergency room wondering if I would ever be able to go again.

Most of Us Will Restrict Our Food Intake at Some Point

Have You Heard of the Keto Diet?

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Beginning the Keto Diet Plan

Keto is a low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet and it is the latest diet rave. Not only does this plan claim to help you achieve a rapid weight loss but it also claims that it may be beneficial for those with diabetes, epilepsy, migraine headaches, inflammatory illness, and some forms of cancer. These are the potential reasons that have so many dieters leaping into the Keto lifestyle.

As stated previously the basic concept is to consume a diet high in fat with a moderate amount of protein and a low amount of carbs. This is calculated in percentages with 5% being the extreme for carbs and 7% to 10% being the average suggested amount. Fat intake should be at about 60% to 80% of your diet and protein around 20%.

This means that your overall carb intake will be between 20 and 50 grams per day. I had no idea how much that was until I started this diet. Wow but those carbs can add up quickly. For example 2 slices of bread white or brown will have about 24 to 25 carbs and one soda has about the same. Consuming either of these will pretty much use up your total days allowance of carbs.


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Choose a Plan That Matches Your Personal Profile

The average woman requires about 2000 calories per day to maintain her weight and will have to reduce to about 1500 calories to lose 1 pound of weight per week. Meanwhile the average man will require about 2500 calories to maintain his weight and about 2000 to lose 1 pound of weight per week.

I did my research, chose the plan I felt was best for my needs and selected a fitness tracker to use. I am disabled so generally consume less calories than the average person because of my low physical activity. For this reason I settled on a low 1200 calorie 10 - 70 - 20 plan much like the Doctor Nowzaradan uses. For this the percentages of my daily food intake would be 10% carbs, 70% fat, and 20% protein. I entered these into my fitness tracker and from that point onward as I entered the foods I consumed each day the program faithfully calculated the totals for me.

Although my allotted carb percentage was set at 10% I have found that my actual intake generally winds up at about 7% each day.

Why is Constipation an Issue With Keto?

Bowel issues can run either way when you Keto. Constipation can definitely be an issue but a persistent case of diarrhea can also haunt those on this diet. There are a number of factors that combine to encourage bowel issues.

  1. The gut is having difficulty adapting to the high fat low carb food intake.
  2. A lack of fibre in the diet.
  3. Being too stationary. Walking / exercise can help to keep your system moving.
  4. Dehydration: You require an increased water intake on this diet so not consuming sufficient water daily can indeed bind you up.

When we reduce our carb intake we unfortunately also often reduce our fibre at the same time. While on Keto we should be attempting to acquire our fibre from vegetables instead but this can be a delicate balance to achieve. Many vegetables can be high in carbs and so eaten at a minimum. This is where it becomes important to do a your research and also to increase water intake to help compensate for the lesser fibre. For some like myself a fibre - laxative supplement may be necessary.

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Low Carb Vegetables for Fibre

When reducing fibre from grains it quickly becomes quite important to subsidize this loss by consuming fibre from other sources. Many vegetables have a high carb count so generally root vegetables are taboo on the keto plan. There are however other ways to get your daily. There are quite a few acceptable vegetables that you can still consume to up your fibre.

  1. Long English Cucumber: The skin is a good source of fibre.
  2. Broccoli
  3. Cauliflower
  4. Flax Seed
  5. Chia seed
  6. Cabbage
  7. Avocado
  8. Asparagus
  9. Brussel Sprouts
  10. Dark Leafy Vegetable: Spinach Kale Lettuce
  11. Celery

Nuts are also an excellent food to add fibre into your diet and many are Keto friendly. Pecans and brazil nuts are very low carb options while a few Macadamia nuts, walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts are also acceptable choices.

I Wound Up in the Emergency Ward

At about two weeks into my Keto diet I was thrilled to have lost 10 pounds but it was also around this time that my system simply decided to stop pushing food through me. The first couple days I wasn't too concerned but by the third day of being constipated I was starting to worry a little so I went out the next day and picked up some laxatives.

Taking the laxative merited me a tiny plop in the bowl the following morning which was not nearly the result I expected. That evening I redid the laxative treatment hoping that would work but nope, I was still plugged.

The next day I trotted off to the local drugstore to purchase a suppository. It was what we had been given as kids so I figure it would be sure to work. Again I was greeted the next day with a tiny plop in the bowl which by now I knew was just not going to be enough to help. I repeated the suppository treatment for 3 more days but by now I was getting worried I was going to pop something internally so knew it was time to see my local doctor for a solution.

The earliest I could get an appointment was a week later so I made the embarrassing decision to head down to the emergency ward in hopes that they could get my stubborn body moving. Even the enema they administered there did not work, what little came out was laughable. So I was sent home with a gallon laxative solution to drink over the next 2 days. I was told that this is what people preparing for a colonoscopy would drink. I'm happy to report that the solution did work.

With my body regulated again I started back on the diet a week later. It is now a little over a week back on Keto and I have lost a further 5 pounds. I have decided that I will continue the diet but with a fibre supplement and weekly breaks about every two to three weeks included in my plan. This way I can help to insure that I keep my system moving while my weight loss is occurring.

Many Dieters Find Their Weight Bounces Up and Down

Do You Yo Yo Diet?

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Do Your Research and Diet Responsibly

I love the Keto diet but definitely feel it is a weight loss plan that requires a lot of research and planning to participate in. Protein is very important when dieting but so are so very many other elements of our diet. Stay active, do your research, and diet responsibly.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Lorelei Cohen

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    • Ladymermaid profile imageAUTHOR

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 weeks ago from Canada

      Flourish not drinking sufficient water nor getting enough exercise was part of what caused this problem. On the Keto diet you are required to drink a lot of water and as I have a disability I am less active than other people. Both the emergency doctor and my own though have agreed that the Keto diet can be okay for me so I am definitely moving forward just with a little more care than previously. I will also be taking fibre-lax while on it.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 weeks ago from USA

      Maybe drastically increase water intake? The results are concerning.

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