Keto diarrhea and digestive distress are very common side effects experienced by many keto dieters when following the keto diet plan. However, you need not suffer in silence. There are many things that you can do to help eliminate the challenging symptoms that accompany diarrhea caused by the dietary changes necessary to follow the keto diet.
Topics Covered in this Article:
- Keto’s Rise To Fame
- A Healthy Gut Is Paramount On Keto
- Excessive Fat Can Cause Keto Diarrhea
- What Do I Do If I Get Keto Diarrhea?
- Nutritional Support To Stop Keto Diarrhea
- Dietary Choices May Be Causing Keto Diarrhea
- Other Considerations To Overcome Keto Diarrhea
- Keto Diet Success – Listen to Your Body!
Keto’s Rise To Fame
Everyone seems to be adopting a keto lifestyle nowadays. Since its rise to fame, it has helped scores of people worldwide achieve many health benefits including:
- Generating weight loss
- Improving mental clarity
- Suppressing appetite
- Increasing energy & metabolism
- Enhancing physical performance
- Balancing blood sugar
- Improving cholesterol
- Boosting mood & well-being
The many positive health benefits of this high-fat, medium-protein, low-carb diet can be life changing if done properly. The unique dietary plan breaks down the food groups as follows: 75% fat – 20% protein – 5% carbs, and has been shown to help turn your body into a fat burning machine (as opposed to a glucose burning one) by inducing a state of ketosis. Ketosis is a normal metabolic process within the body that occurs when there isn’t sufficient glucose for the body to burn for energy, so instead, it burns stored fats. This process creates a build-up of acids called ketones which are generated in the liver and is responsible for the body’s fat burning capabilities. The body naturally produces ketones (endogenous) but some people encourage the body into ketosis much faster by adding a daily keto supplement to their diet for speedier and more effective results.
Whilst for some, going into (and maintaining) ketosis doesn’t present with any real issues, for others it can be a total GI disaster!
Keto diarrhea seems to be a common theme for many keto dieters.
GI disturbances including sickness and nausea, irregular or too regular bowel movements are very commonly experienced by many people following a high-fat, low-carb diet. This can wreak havoc on your daily life and, of course, affect the results that you experience on the diet.
A Healthy Gut Is Paramount On Keto
Many experts would agree that any dietary changes, let alone the hugely significant ones related to the keto diet, can sometimes present negative side effects. In short, the GI system can take a nasty knock when you change your eating habits.
More so with the keto diet than most other diets as specific fruits, vegetables and legumes are reduced, or very restricted, which can significantly affect our intestinal health. These food types provide our gut with short chain fatty acids that our microbiomes feed off. Reducing or restricting these foods can affect the balance.
In the past few years, a number of clinical studies have shown that the potential harm to your digestive system and GI tract, when following the keto diet, is indeed something to be aware of. Evidence has shown that the keto diet could negatively affect the concentration and make up of the bacteria in your gut.
The digestive tract is made up of many microorganisms, also referred to as microbiomes, that play a pivotal role in your health – these include cognitive health, immunity, digestion, and the prevention of many diseases.
One study that followed several hundred people over a six-month period who were on a high-fat diet, found several unfavorable changes in the digestive system including increased inflammation and a reduction in the helpful fatty acids.
A similar study noted that the keto diet displayed damaged gut microbiome composition, compared with a control group.
Keeping the good bacteria cultures in your stomach happy means the negative effects of keto will be limited.
Benefits of a Healthy Gut
When adjusting to the new types of food and meals that typically define the keto diet, many people have been known to experience a range of negative symptoms such as tiredness, nausea and diarrhea which are often referred to as ‘keto flu’. As the microbiomes in the gut work to adopt the new style of eating, the body often needs added support to help overcome the transition.
Usually, people suffer from such symptoms for the first 2-4 weeks, however, many others continue to be affected by GI disturbances throughout the diet. Nutritional health supplements can help smooth the process of helping the gut microbiomes adjust to the new dietary meal plan as well as help maintain balance and regularity for continued ketosis maintenance.
Excessive Fat Can Cause Keto Diarrhea
The main reason for keto diarrhea is the high fat intake which usually increases considerably for most people. For many years we have been sold the idea that low fat is best and to steer clear of fat. Low fat options abound in the supermarket, so when fat forms 70-80% of your daily food intake then of course there may be fallout with such a change.
The breaking down of fat in the body is hard work and can be incredibly challenging for those who are not used to consuming the higher amounts of fat that are part of following a keto diet. Diarrhea is the body’s way of expelling the ‘extra’ fat that the body isn’t using. Too much fat in the body is difficult to absorb and breakdown, creating an accumulation in the intestinal tract and colon. The body is stimulated to create more ‘water’ in order to help flush out the excess fat in the form of watery diarrhea.
What Do I Do If I Get Keto Diarrhea?
If this is a question that you are asking yourself, and keto diarrhea is something that you are having a hard time with, don’t be alarmed, there are many things that you can do to help overcome this challenging issue and help you back to keto success. There are several issues that you need to address to eliminate keto diarrhea.
Firstly, on a positive note, keto diarrhea is not a common side effect of a well-formulated ketogenic diet and even when it occurs, usually only lasts several weeks (unless you are one of the unlucky ones).
There are many ways to empower your journey towards keto success and eliminate diarrhea and other keto flu symptoms.
Nutritional Support To Stop Keto Diarrhea
One of the easiest ways to support the body in overcoming keto diarrhea is by introducing a daily nutritional health supplement. With the new found fame of the keto diet, the market is saturated with supplements, bars, shakes, powders and pills that profess to enhance your keto success – each have their pros and cons. It is beyond confusing when it comes to choosing the product that will get you the results you are looking for. Our top product page will help you better understand what to look out for when choosing a top-quality supplement to make sure that it will do the job that you want it to.
Becoming fat adapted is no easy task. The increased fat and lowered carb intake will mean that your body will start to flush out excessive fat and toxins. A good quality supplement is formulated to help on many different levels and counteract the effects of keto flu to help rid you of diarrhea.
Restore Lost Electrolytes
Electrolytes are minerals found in the body that work to help cellular and organ function. They are essential for a number of bodily functions and are necessary for survival. Electrolyte imbalance may be a potential side effect of a keto diet especially when suffering from keto diarrhea. However, with proper supplementation this can be avoided.
To stay sufficiently hydrated, certain mineral levels need to remain balanced in the body including sodium. Insufficient levels of sodium can lead to tiredness and diarrhea.
When adopting a ketogenic diet, it advised to increase your sodium consumption as well as potassium and magnesium to prevent unpleasant symptoms like headache, muscle cramps and fatigue.
Dietary Choices May Be Causing Keto Diarrhea
It may well be that the issue is not what you aren’t eating that is causing the issues, but the things you are actually eating.
If you are asking yourself ‘why do I have diarrhea on keto?’, you will need to take a long hard look at the foods that you are consuming. The choices of food you are selecting is the most likely cause and something that can be changed quite easily.
Some of the leading causes of keto diarrhea are because of the food choices we make in an attempt to optimize ketosis. These can include the following:
- Sugar alcohols
- Excessive protein
- Incorrect source of dietary fats
- Not choosing gut friendly foods
Check the Artificial Sweeteners
In an aim to fulfill the sugar gap for that much missed ‘sugar rush’, many keto recipes call for an artificial sweetener instead of real sugar (sucrose). Keto sugar substitutes can include alternatives such as sorbitol, maltitol, mannitol, lactitol and xylitol to enable keto dieters to limit their carb intake but still satisfy their sugar cravings. These sugar substitutes (also called sugar alcohols) are not easily absorbed into the body (mainly the gut) and often are not digested by the time they reach the large intestine resulting in a number of often unpleasant side effects, often laxative in nature.
They have also been linked to increased gas, bloating, and nausea if consumed in excess or if your body does not absorb them easily.
It is suggested to reduce the amount (or stop altogether) consuming these types of artificial sweeteners which will help clear up keto diarrhea.
Is Your Protein Intake Too High?
To try feel satiated, it is common practice that people tend to increase their protein intake but unfortunately with detrimental consequences. When eating a diet low in carbs, high fat and medium protein, as with the keto diet, you need to watch out because an excess of protein can cause diarrhea. You should monitor your protein intake to ensure that you stay within the 10-20% of the recommended daily intake.
Check You are Consuming the Right Sources of Dietary Fat
It is important to understand that some oils can cause diarrhea so choosing the right ones and the correct amounts is essential for keto success. For example, while a little bit of omega-6 and omega-3 essential fats are required from our diet, more is not better as our digestive systems have a limited tolerance for vegetable and seed oils high in omega-6 fats. Research has shown a high fat diet utilizing soybean, corn, safflower, or sunflower oils may lead to nausea and diarrhea. A well-formulated keto diet consists of 70-80% fat consumption, so selecting the ‘correct’ type of fats is essential.
It’s not about being fat phobic, it is about knowing which fats are the ones you should be choosing. Your body needs fat, but the right kind of it. Adding ‘good fat’ for satiety will allow you to eat less and reduce your caloric intake also. The majority of the daily fat intake needs to come from mono-unsaturated and saturated sources such as olive oil, safflower and sunflower (high oleic types), coconut oil, butter, cream, lard, and high-fat cheese.
When following the keto diet, these are some of the fats and oils that we recommend to optimize successful results:
Keto Diet Friendly Fats
Keto-Friendly Foods for Optimal Gut Health
There are many other foods that can be enjoyed to promote a healthy gut and boost ketosis to succeed on the keto diet. Many gut-friendly foods can be enjoyed as part of a healthy keto diet, including certain vegetables, oils and fruits.
Some foods that are super carb-friendly and also win the gold award for positive gut-boosting benefits include:
Avocados provide a rich source of fiber and heart healthy fats as well as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. These include vitamins B6, C, E, and K, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. Avocados are a great source of fiber offering a huge 10 grams of fiber per cup (150 grams).
WALNUTS & ALMONDS
Both high in unsaturated fatty acids (AKA the good fats), walnuts and almonds have been closely linked to providing positive effects on the intestinal tract and general digestive health by increasing ‘healthy’ bacteria while reducing bile acids and LDL (bad) cholesterol. For keto dieters, choose walnuts as they contain 1.9 grams of carbs (per 1oz serving) versus 2.9 grams of almonds.
GREEN LEAFY VEGGIES
If you are looking to increase antioxidants, beneficial nutrients and healthy fiber then green leafy veggies are the way to go. Fiber is essential to maintain bowel regularity and ensure a healthy gut. Green veggies such as cabbage, kale, spinach, collard, watercress and arugula are the top choices as they also contain large doses of vitamin C and K.
Several studies have shown that coconut oil has been linked to a reduction in inflammation of the gut as well as enhance the health of gut microbiomes. The fatty acids in coconut oil are known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) meaning that they travel faster and easier to the liver where they can be swiftly converted to ketones and used for energy. Coconut oil also has the ability to kill harmful pathogens, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. This could potentially help to prevent GI infections.
Dairy is a well-known culprit to cause GI upset, so it is important to be mindful of how much dairy you’re consuming. Oftentimes, eliminating cheese and cream from your daily diet can significantly help improve symptoms. Butter, however, may actually help your digestive health as it contains butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) which has been linked to reducing intestinal inflammation and symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.
Other Considerations To Overcome Keto Diarrhea
It is often a variety of factors that cause the challenging symptoms associated with keto flu and keto diarrhea. Others factors that you should think about when considering how to stop diarrhea on keto include:
While antidiarrheal medications may calm your bowels for a short period of time, they won’t ultimately resolve the issue at hand. They might even disrupt your gut microbiome and digestive system, causing further inflammation and GI issues.
Lean in easily
Dietitians often recommend easing into the keto diet when first starting out. Everyone has a different fat tolerance level, so you will need to monitor how the dietary changes affect you.
You may need to play around with different foods until you find something that works for you. Start slowly so that your body doesn’t react negatively and display negative symptoms.
Stay hydrated. In general, people following the keto diet need to consume more water (and electrolytes) to avoid dehydration. If you experience keto diarrhea, you run an even higher risk of becoming dehydrated. What’s more, less weight will be lost when your body is dehydrated, meaning that your body has to work harder to burn off fat.
Keto Diet Success – Listen To Your Body!
When done properly, the keto diet can be a life changing diet that provides significant benefits for those looking to lose weight and shape up, but also for those who simply want to feel better about themselves and feel more energized.
Of course, every person is different and there will be some cases that stopping the keto diet due to keto diarrhea is the right thing to do.
Chronic diarrhea can lead to a plethora of health complications, including nutritional deficiencies, electrolyte imbalance, GI problems, weight loss and muscle wastage.
If you have keto diarrhea, that doesn’t resolve with time as your body adjusts to the diet, you should try making these adjustments and if you still run into GI issues, then you should listen to your body and stop. It is simply not worth the risk for both the short, and long-term health issues that can occur from keto diarrhea, and it may be time to call it quits on the keto diet. That being said, the untold benefits of a top quality nutritional health supplement to combat keto diarrhea cannot be underestimated.
As a general rule of thumb, talking to your doctor when adopting any new eating habits is always a wise thing to do. Medical professionals are trained to spot any undiagnosed health issues, food intolerances, or allergies that may have gone undetected and can work with you to create a healthy dietary plan that works for you and your GI tract!
Keto diarrhea is not something that you should ignore. Acknowledging the issues and being proactive will ensure you are able to overcome it smoothly and succeed on the keto diet.