Here’s why you might poop more when you’re losing weight — and why the opposite might happen.
What you put in your mouth majorly affects what comes out the other end. So, it should be no surprise that shifting your diet for weight loss can modify your pooping habits.
Here, Niket Sonpal, MD, a New York-based internist and gastroenterologist, discusses four big bowel changes you might see during your weight-loss journey.
What Does a Healthy Bowel Movement Look Like?
First things first, “everyone’s bowel movements are different, but a healthy one almost looks like the shape of the colon, is soft and does not cause pain upon exit,” Dr. Sonpal says. For reference, check out the Bristol Stool Chart.
1. Your Bowel Movements Are More Frequent
Visiting the porcelain throne more often? That’s likely due to healthy dietary changes on your weight-loss plan. If you’re noshing on more fruits and veggies, your poops will probably be more plentiful.
“Eating more plant-based foods will increase the amount of soluble fiber in the stool,” which will become fluffy, softer and easier to pass, Dr. Sonpal says. That’s because fiber “causes more distention of the rectum, making you go to the bathroom more frequently,” he explains.
More regular poops may also occur if you’re working out more.
“Exercise makes everything in your abdomen compress,” Dr. Sonpal says. In other words, “your abdominal muscles are literally promoting you to poop.”
Is trying to poop as strenuous as your daily cardio session?
If you’re trying to build muscle or stay satiated at meals, you might be introducing more lean proteins into your daily menu. But eating too much of this mighty macro may bind your bum.
Dense proteins — which take longer to digest — can lead to less frequent bathroom trips and constipation, Dr. Sonpal says. The result: Your stools may become hard, chunky and feel uncomfortable on the way out.
Cutting carbs from your diet — often a go-to weight-loss strategy — can cause constipation too. That’s because when you slash too many carbs, you also eliminate a lot of essential fiber sources, such as whole grains, fruits and legumes, which keep your poop schedule on track and running smoothly.
To combat these constipating effects, be sure to balance your diet by drinking plenty of water and filling your plate with fibrous foods, Dr. Sonpal says.
If you’re following a carb-restricted diet like keto, you can still reach your daily fiber quota by sticking to non-starchy vegetables (like leafy greens, carrots and squash) and low-carb fruits like avocado and raspberries.
Women (up to age 50) should get about 25 grams of fiber per day while men should shoot for 38 grams, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Alternatively, low-carb eating plans can also produce runny poops. Take the keto diet for example. Since sugar is a major no-no on this diet program, many keto devotees may consume foods containing low-carb artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. These sugary alternatives, which are difficult to digest, can have a laxative effect leading to liquidy poops, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
What’s more, keto requires you to eat a lot of fat. But consuming too many fatty foods can disrupt digestion and result in the runs as well. This can be a double digestive whammy if you’re chomping on more cheese and you have a lactose intolerance (about 65 percent of us do, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine).
4. Your Poop Color May Change
Does the shade of your stool seem different lately? That’s because your poop’s pigment is impacted by what ‘s on your plate, according to the Cleveland Clinic. So, if you’re eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies, expect your feces to reflect that.
For example, dark, leafy greens can generate bright green poop while beets and cherries may turn your stool reddish. Meanwhile, blueberries can taint your toilet waste a deep blue (or even black) and carrots can cause orange-hued poop.
But if the color changes persist, or you can’t connect them to anything you ate, it might be cause for concern, per the Cleveland Clinic. Red or black poop may indicate blood in the stool, while gray stool could signal an issue in the pancreas or bile ducts.
In these cases, contact a medical professional who can help you identify any serious problems.