Can't Poop on Keto? 8 Simple Tips to Fix Constipation Today

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

cant poop

Millions of people are walking proof of the health benefits that come with a strict ketogenic diet. From increased energy levels to rapid weight loss and better mental strength, there is a lot to be gained through some simple to follow steps.

But unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and lollipops, as there are some side effects that you can encounter. The one you’ve probably heard of, and maybe experienced, is the "Keto Flu."

However, another side effect that many people encounter is Keto constipation. While there are many underlying causes to constipation, a poorly planned keto diet can result in nutrient insufficiencies.

Beyond the obvious inability to have a regular bowel movement, constipation can also cause abdominal pain, bloating and even hemorrhoids. The guide on this page will help you to identify the symptoms and potential causes, as well as solutions that will provide for a better-balanced keto diet.

Is Keto Dangerous For Digestive Health?

The keto diet is not dangerous for digestive health unless you badly plan and execute your food intake.

But this is the case with any diet where mistakes can be made that result in certain nutrient deficiencies.

Many people believe sticking to strict keto guidelines can cause all sorts of digestive issues, including diarrhea and severe cramping. 

However, these claims are often made by people who have never tried it or those that have made a lot of fundamental mistakes in their diet plans.

digestive system

So, What are the Common Causes of Digestive Issues?

man pointing digestive system

We’ll provide a little more info on fiber and constipation in the next section, but one of the main problems people encounter is when they don’t get the right balance of healthy fats in their food.

Problems with gut lining and digestive microbiome (the good bacteria in your stomach) often result when people don’t get the right balance and amount of healthy fats.

For keto, these include cold-pressed vegetable and seed oils, and, very importantly, omega 3 fatty acids. 

When you don’t significantly increase your intake of these, then it can quickly happen that bacterial diversity decreases which can cause a lot of different stomach upsets and pains.

For more information on preventing such stomach upsets, skip down to the "How To Avoid" section below.

What Causes Constipation On The Keto Diet?

One of the main causes of constipation on the keto diet is a sudden lack of dietary fiber. But this is not the only cause, with several other common problems that could be influencing your ability to keep up regular movements.

The good news is that once you understand the most common causes, you can take actions immediately to resolve the issue in a matter of days.

Not Enough Fiber

green leafy vegetable

One of the most common problems you may be facing is that cutting out all carbs has resulted in a severe lack of fiber. Most fiber we take in is tied to high carb foods like vegetables, fruit and whole grains. [1]

Fiber itself is not actually absorbed by the digestive system. What happens is that both soluble and insoluble fiber help to keep your food moving through your bowels.

Soluble fiber, as the name suggests, dissolves in water into a gel-like substance that acts as a lubricant. Insoluble fiber stays intact and mixes with the food to add more bulk and speeds up the processing.

The solution is to increase your fiber intake from low carb sources, which we’ll get to in the next section.

Too Low Volume Of Food

This is another common problem for many different diets. You’ve researched all the foods you shouldn’t eat, and you remove them from your daily routine.

When this results in a lot of your normal food intake being gone, then you have to replace some of that volume. [2]

When the volume of food in your bowels drastically changes, then things start to slow down.

There simply isn’t enough bulky substance for muscles to create the pressure needed. As a result, things can come almost to a standstill resulting in the bloated feeling and cramps that are common with constipation.

To solve for this, your best bet is to add more substance through low carb foods; it can be as simple as just eating more of what you’re already putting on your plate.

Bacterial Imbalance

Your gut flora is vital to the processing of food, and when there is an imbalance and/or lack of certain bacteria, then a lot of complex nutrients can end up moving along undigested.

The further along they pass, the more of a problem it becomes, and the end result is basically a blockage of insufficiently digested food.

One way to solve this is by taking in more healthy fats like cold-pressed vegetable and seed oil, as well as the all-important omega 3 fatty acids. 

These are vital to a balanced flora and are simple to add to your lunch and dinner. [3]

Dehydration

Many high carb food sources like vegetables and fruit also contain a lot of water.

By making drastic changes to the types of food you eat and still taking in the same amount of water as before, you can end up slightly dehydrated. [4] Ideally, you should be keeping a water bottle with you at all times, to make it  easier to spread out all your daily water intake. 

A general guide is to aim for 2 liters (about half a gallon) of water per day. 

Obviously, this will have to increase on exercise days, but if you have been feeling constipated then try to add one or two pints of water throughout the day or simply take some electrolytes.

Let’s now take a closer look at how you can prevent constipation altogether.

How to Avoid Constipation on the Keto Diet:

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!”

abdominal pain

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.

  • 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! In severe situations it can also be a good idea to take fiber supplements, just make sure you don’t rely on supplements alone. Natural intake is generally the better option.
  • 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. [5]
  • 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.
  • 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

silhouette jumping

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 and shares it on Ketogenic Supplement Reviews. You can find me on: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.