Ok, let’s get it out in the open. We are going to be talking about your poop. A lot.
I’ve been putting off writing about this. I am not entirely comfortable talking about it. And diarrhea isn’t even a very common problem with the ketogenic diet.
But it does happen when you’re on your way to ketosis, and it can be quite concerning if you are the one going through it.
So, I got over it, and here I am, talking to you about diarrhea.
Shall we get started?
The Keto Flu and diarrhea
For those that experience diarrhea while on the keto diet, the diarrhea symptoms generally occur at the same time as they are going through the keto flu side effects (except for those lucky few who don’t experience the keto flu!).
However, diarrhea isn’t necessarily one of the keto flu symptoms.
The keto flu will disappear after about two weeks, as your body adjusts to the ketones and this new way of fueling your body.
But the diarrhea won’t go away unless you address the cause.
Possible errors when following the keto diet
If you have recently embarked on the keto diet, and have been experiencing stomach and intestinal upset, there may be one of three possible errors you are making with your diet.
Have a look to see if you are doing any of these keto diet mistakes. It may end up being a very simple fix, and your stomach will soon be back to normal.
Are you consuming sugar-free beverages, sugar-free candies, and/or sugar-free bars?
Sugar substitutes come in two forms – artificial sweeteners and sugar aclohols.
Many people are sensitive to sugar alcohols.
Sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, lactitol, and isomalt can lead to gastrointestinal distress, especially sorbitol. Cramping and bloating, in addition to diarrhea, are common when ingesting too much of these sugar alcohols.
Are you eating too much protein?
If you are not tracking very carefully, it is easy to end up eating too much protein.
High amounts of protein can lead to diarrhea.
If a lot of your protein is in the form of dairy (protein shakes), then it may be the case that you are lactose intolerant.
And if your increase in protein is combined with a reduction in fibrous veggies, then that could also be the cause.
Are you eating healthy sources of fat?
Considering the bulk of your calories come from fat, it is vital that you are choosing healthy versions to eat.
Our digestive systems have difficulty with vegetable and seed oils that are high in omega-6 fats. This can lead to digestive upsets and diarrhea.
We should rather stick to high quality mono-unsaturated and saturated fat sources. This includes olive oil, butter, cream, and high-fat cheeses.
Possible causes of diarrhea while on keto
The diarrhea may be just your gut reacting to the change in diet – especially if your body is used to heavily processed high carb foods. It is common for your GI system to react to a big change in diet.
If this is the case – then know that it is just temporary. Your body will adjust.
It is not always possible to know that your body just needs a bit of an adjustment period, so if you experiencing keto after transition to keto diet, I recommend you go through the possible errors we discussed above.
Are you consuming too many snacks and drinks that contain sugar alcohols, too much protein, or unhealthy fats?
If so, eliminate or drastically reduce your intake of these food items.
If you still experiencing symptoms, then move on to these possible causes, and steps to fix it.
Possible causes of diarrhea and how to prevent it
One cause could bile. Yes – bile!
Bile is used by your body to break down fats. It is made in the liver. If your fat intake increases, then your body starts to make more bile. This bile lubricates the colon, which can then lead to diarrhea.
Cut back on added fats. This includes butter, MCT oil, coconut oil, and creams. Rather focus on getting your fats from naturally fatty foods (such as avocado, meat, and nuts).
Once your body has had time to adjust, you can slowly start adding in the other fat sources,
Too much magnesium
An electrolyte imbalance is a big concern for those following a low-carb eating plan, and many people supplement vitamins and minerals – including magnesium.
Too much magnesium, however, can cause digestive problems.
If you have been taking magnesium supplements, stop taking them, and rather get your magnesium from your food. Bone broth is an excellent source of magnesium. Try to stick to 3000mg a day.
If you notice that your stool is particular color (for example, it is coming out green or yellow), it may be because your body is not able to digest certain foods. If you noticing any whole chunks, then this is a definite sign that there is something your body is not tolerating.
Start keeping track of when this happens. You should be able to pick up pretty quickly what it is that your body can’t handle. To make it easier to find the culprit, keep your meals very simple and just have one type of vegetable per meal.
How to deal with the symptoms of diarrhea
While you are trying to work out the cause of your diarrhea, you can follow these steps to improve the symptoms.
Increase your fiber intake.
You can do this by adding more leafy green and other low-carb vegetables to your meals. Dietary fiber is important for digestive health and regular bowel movements. It increases the stool bulk, which will then reduce the diarrhea symptoms.
Add probiotics you your meals
Probiotics help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Probiotics are linked to a number of health benefits, including digestive health.
When you gut has too many bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria, it can lead to digestive issues. The probiotics balance everything out.
You can take probiotics as a supplement in capsule form, or in powder form to sprinkle over your food.
Drink plenty of water
When you are on the keto diet, you should be drinking plenty of water anyway. And if you are suffering from diarrhea, you should be drinking of plenty of water. So this point is doubly important.
In fact – I am going to write it out again.
Drink plenty of water
Replenish your electrolytes
You will be losing electrolytes as well as fluid due to the diarrhea, so it is important to replenish both.
Just water won’t be good enough.
You can replace your electrolytes by drinking a homemade or good quality store-bought bone broth. (Just make sure to add it to your magnesium allowance for the day.)
What about medication
There are medications available, like Immodium, that are designed to help with the symptoms of diarrhea. But while it may provide short-term relief, it doesn’t help much if you don’t know the root cause.
What if the diarrhea doesn’t improve?
If you have followed all the suggestions laid out above, and you still have the symptoms after a week, OR the symptoms are severe, go see a doctor.
It may be the case that there are other causes for your diarrhea, that are not connected to the keto diet.