If switching to a diet of avo, bacon and cheese has you running to the loo every five minutes, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Keto diarrhoea is a real thing.
The reason, says Barbie Boules, R.D.N., founder of Nyoutrition, is that some people don’t digest fat and their bodies don’t use it as well as they should, and, well, the keto diet is 70 to 80 percent fat.
That extra fat that the body doesn’t use comes out in your stools, making them, uh, more fluid than usual. (To be clear: Boules doesn’t advocate or encourage the keto diet because of that high-fat content. “We have no idea what effect a diet that high in fats has on long-term health,” she says.)
But, isn’t diarrhoea a symptom of keto flu?
Not necessarily. While, yes, diarrhoea is a symptom of the keto flu, you’ll also have other symptoms like headaches, difficulty focusing, nausea, and trouble sleeping.
But, while the keto flu typically resolves in two weeks—after your body gets used to being in ketosis (a.k.a. the state of burning fat for fuel instead of carbs)—keto diarrhoea doesn’t necessarily have a stopping point. Especially if your body has trouble processing fat.
“Any time you radically change what you’re eating, your GI system may react. This can happen when starting probiotics, or a high-fibre diet as well,” Boules says.
Don’t be surprised if the high-fat diet also makes your poop float. While it could be harmless, floaters might point at malabsorption and/or too much gas. If it lasts for more than two weeks, then you should see your doctor (or consider revising your dietary plan).
How can one stop keto diarrhoea?
If you’re committed to giving keto a go and you initially experience diarrhoea, “aim to stay hydrated and increase fibre,” says Boules, as that can help your body adjust to ketosis, bulk up your poop, and help reduce bathroom trips.
You can increase your fibre intake by adding more veggies to your plate, like leafy greens and broccoli. If that’s not your jam, you can add a fibre supplement to your diet.
Keep in mind, though, that taking some conventional anti-diarrhoeal medicines is basically a bandaid — it can put a pause on your bowels, but it won’t fix the root problem (i.e., the diet choices leading to diarrhoea in the first place).
If your diarrhoea persists after the keto flu period, however, it might be time to start looking at your food choices—like adding more healthy fats (like avocado and olive oil) instead of (still keto) but less healthy ones (like various cheeses and bacon).
But you might also have to accept that keto just isn’t your thing: “If diarrhoea continues, this food philosophy probably isn’t the best fit for you,” Boules says.
And, really, the most successful diet is one that you’ll feel comfortable sticking to—which likely won’t make you nervous of being more than a kilometre away from a bathroom.
If you struggle with diarrhoea and other digestive issues, consider Releaf Uzara, which is a herbal supplement that may assist with the relief of the symptoms of diarrhoea. It acts by reducing bowel mobility and may help ease stomach cramps associated with gastric disorders due to its antispasmodic effect.