What To Do When You Can't Poop on Keto Diet?

cant poop

With the ketogenic diet, a person starves their body of carbohydrates and forces it to burn fat for energy instead. As a result, people can lose weight and get in shape at the same time. If they are scrupulous in adhering to the diet, their body will achieve a more or less permanent state of ketosis where the burning of fats becomes the norm, rather than the emergency fallback position nature intended. It's a proven way to lose weight and keep it off, but it's not without its side effects.

Perhaps the best known of these is what's called the "Keto Flu." It's not the flu but rather a collection of symptoms that mimic the flu including a runny nose, nausea, fatigue, and headaches. A lesser known but perhaps more vexing side effect of the diet is constipation, and in this article, we're going to look at the issue of not pooping on the keto diet.

Are You Constipated on Keto? Here’s What to Do...

The keto/poop connection is not talked about all that much because, well, who wants to make their bowel movements the topic of conversation when meeting up with friends?

“Hi, how are you?”

"I haven't had a bowel movement in a week."

“Great!”

All kidding aside though becoming severely constipated is no joke so we need to take a look at the issue of not pooping on keto and what you can do about this particular side-effect

abdominal pain
abdominal pain

The keto/poop connection is not talked about all that much because, well, who wants to make their bowel movements the topic of conversation when meeting up with friends?

“Hi, how are you?”

"I haven't had a bowel movement in a week."

“Great!”

All kidding aside though becoming seriously constipated is no joke so we need to take a look at the issue of not pooping on keto and what you can do about this particular side-effect

  • Increase Fiber Consumption - The keto diet eliminates a lot of high fiber foods because many of them are also carbohydrate-rich. This includes many of our favorite fruits and vegetables. Sometimes, however, those on a diet actually eliminate high fiber foods they don't need to because they believe them to be high carb vegetables when they are actually low carb fruits. This includes tomatoes, avocado, cucumbers, and olives. "But those are veggies," you say. Actually, they're not. If it contains a seed, it's a fruit. Lettuce, spinach, and kale are also great low carb sources of fiber. It sounds like some really delicious salads are in order!
drinking water
  • Drink More Water - It doesn’t matter if you are on the keto diet or not. If you’re not drinking enough water constipation is going to be an issue sooner or later. In the past, water was considered somewhat incompatible with the lifestyle. Or at the very least water intake was somewhat restricted. That’s no longer the case, however so if you want to insure keto and poop are not mutually exclusive, drink more water. 
  • Consume More MCT Oil - MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil has a natural laxative effect you won’t find in other types of oil. MCT oils are essentially medium chain triglycerides harvested from coconut oil and as such are much more potent. Many people on the diet (especially those not pooping on keto) are making the switch from coconut oil to MCTs. It’s important not to dive in with both feet when it comes to MCTs however, as too much too quickly could cause stomach cramps and other issues.
drinking water
  • Drink More Water - It doesn’t matter if you are on the keto diet or not. If you’re not drinking enough water constipation is going to be an issue sooner or later. In the past, water was considered somewhat incompatible with the lifestyle. Or at the very least water intake was somewhat restricted. That’s no longer the case, however so if you want to insure keto and poop are not mutually exclusive, drink more water. 
  • Consume More MCT Oil - MCT (medium chain triglycerides) oil has a natural laxative effect you won’t find in other types of oil. MCT oils are essentially medium chain triglycerides harvested from coconut oil and as such are much more potent. Many people on the diet (especially those not pooping on keto) are making the switch from coconut oil to MCTs. It’s important not to dive in with both feet when it comes to MCTs however, as too much too quickly could cause stomach cramps and other issues.
  • Add Salt to your Water - Salt water can counteract constipation so if you find yourself visited by the keto/poop gremlin, drop a dash of salt into a glass of water twice a day and drink it an hour or so before eating when your stomach is empty. If you suffer from high blood pressure you'll want to take a pass on this remedy, however, as the added salt intake can exacerbate your condition.
  • Eat More Fruits - Above we touched on the subject of high fiber fruits mistakenly thought to be vegetables that people stop eating when they go keto, including tomatoes and avocados. But you should also make a point of eating well-known fruits as well, particularly strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Eating plenty of fruit has long been recognized as a way to stave off constipation. In fact, it works so well that you have to make sure you don't overdo things and cause diarrhea. So, if you have the keto poop blues head to the fruit stand.
  • Drink Honey in Warm Water - Just as adding a pinch of salt to a glass of water can help you if you’re constipated on keto so too can dissolving a teaspoon of honey in a glass of warm water and drinking it. If drinking salt water is problematic for you this could be a viable alternative that will help solve the problem of keto constipation and return you to normal.
  • Take Supplements - If for some reason you are unable to find the high fiber foods noted above, try taking fiber supplements. There are plenty of them on the market and most will do a fine job of restoring order to your colon and getting things moving. There’s no reason to simply accept being constipated. Keep your options open. If tomatoes and salt water don’t work try fiber supplements. You can check out our recommended product by clicking this link or the image on the right.
  • Over the Counter Meds - If you are not pooping on keto and have tried most of the above remedies to straighten things out, but nothing has worked head to the pharmacy and pick up some good old-fashioned milk of magnesia. Milk of magnesia is nothing more than magnesium hydroxide suspended in a fluid that makes it more palatable. It's been in use for two centuries and has proven its reliability time and again.
NOW Psyllium Husk 500 mg,500 Capsules
NOW Psyllium Husk 500 mg,500 Capsules
  • Take Supplements - If for some reason you are unable to find the high fiber foods noted above, try taking fiber supplements. There are plenty of them on the market and most will do a fine job of restoring order to your colon and getting things moving. There’s no reason to simply accept being constipated. Keep your options open. If tomatoes and salt water don’t work try fiber supplements. You can check out our recommended product by clicking this link or the image on the right.
  • Over the Counter Meds - If you are not pooping on keto and have tried most of the above remedies to straighten things out but nothing has worked head to the pharmacy and pick up some good old-fashioned milk of magnesia. Milk of magnesia is nothing more than magnesium hydroxide suspended in a fluid that makes it more palatable. It's been in use for two centuries and has proven its reliability time and again.

Final Conclusion

If you experience constipation as a result of being on the low-carb diet, don't despair. There are a number of steps you can take to resolve the keto poop issue, including all of the above. If you work your way through this entire list however and are still constipated it's then time to see your doctor and discuss the issue with him or her, since there may be something else going on.

Keep in mind too that if you revert to OTC solutions you don't want those to become standard operating procedure. They'll do in a pinch but it's important to find long-term, natural solutions within the confines of the diet itself. 

About the Author

Ryan is a personal trainer, athlete, health enthusiast, and entrepreneur. He is researching and expanding his knowledge about the ketogenic diet. He spends most of his time writing content about his new learnings of the ketogenic diet.