Negative Side Effects of KETO: Constipation

With a rapid weight loss and more than a few potential health benefits the Keto diet is encouraging those looking to lose weight to move over for a closer look.

I like so many others was excited by the prospect of a quick drop in weight so I did my research and decided that Keto 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.

It turns out that the reduction in carbs also creates a shortage of fibre and this has the very real possibility of causing recurring constipation. It can be much more than just a mild discomfort. 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 and that is constipation. 

What is Keto? Keto is a low carb, high fat diet that is the latest diet rave. Not only does this plan claim to help you achieve a rapid weight loss but it also claims to aide those with suffer from diabetes, epilepsy, migraine headaches, inflammatory illness, and even some forms of cancer. This is the reason that so many dieters are 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 around 60% to 80% of your diet and protein around 20%. This means that your overall carb intake will be between 20 to 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. 

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

Bowel issues can run either way when you participate in the Keto diet plan. 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 can combine to encourage these 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. Dehydration: You require an increased water intake on this diet so not consuming sufficient water daily can indeed bind you up. 

4. Being too stationary. Occasionally those who diet neglect to balance exercise with their diet plan. Walking and other exercise routines can help to keep your system moving. 

When we reduce our carb intake we unfortunately also generally reduce our fibre intake at the same time so while on Keto we should be attempting to acquire our fibre largely from nuts and vegetables. This can be a delicate balance to achieve while still maintaining your fat, protein, and carb ratios. Many vegetables can be high in carbs so on this plan are eaten in limitation. This is where it becomes important to do your research on the nutrient content of the ones that you can consume. It is also very important to increase water intake to help compensate for the lesser fibre. For some like myself a fibre - laxative supplement may be necessary.

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 root vegetables have a high carb count so generally root vegetables are taboo on the keto plan, fortunately there are other ways to get your vegetable fibre. There are quite a few acceptable vegetables that you can still consume to up your roughage. 

Long English Cucumber: The skin is a good source of fibre.



Flax Seed 

Chia seed 




Brussel Sprouts 

Dark Leafy Vegetable: Spinach Kale Lettuce 


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. A little over a week back on Keto and I had lost a further 5 pounds. 

I have decided that I will continue the diet but with a fibre supplement take every 2nd or 3rd day. I am also utilizing a break of one or two diet cheat days every two to four weeks to allow my system time to regulate. Most are encouraged to use Keto as a lifestyle change but for me this is the best way to insure that I keep my system moving smoothly along with my weight loss. 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 responsible. 

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