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THE SCOOP ON 💩: How to prevent or treat constipation on a low carb diet

Dragonfly Transformation & Wellness

May 2021


While only some people suffer this side effect when switching to a low carb diet it’s still uncomfortable. For most, the problem resolves itself as your body adjusts.

Here are six tips for how to manage constipation on low-carb:

1. Keep hydrated

Since dehydration is a potential reason for constipation, it makes sense that adequate hydration can help prevent or treat constipation.

However, many experts believe that avoiding dehydration is an essential step for preventing constipation. How do you know if you are well hydrated? If you are urinating at least four times per day and your urine is clear, not yellow, then you are likely well hydrated.

Also remember, not all fluids are the same. Greater amounts of caffeinated fluids, like coffee and tea, may lead to sodium loss and dehydration.

2. Get adequate salt

Just like with hydration, this hasn’t been studied in clinical trials, but the idea is that increasing salt intake can help with fluid retention and preventing dehydration.

What is “adequate salt?” This may vary for each individual, but a good starting point is between four and six grams of sodium per day (that’s about 2.5 teaspoons per day).

3. Eat more fiber

While technically on Optavia we get the recommended amount of fiber daily, everyone is different.

How much fiber is enough? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams for men from food sources. However, these are best estimates for a population, and may not apply to those on a low-carb diet or those suffering from constipation. You can use this as a starting point and adjust as needed.

If you still feel you need more fiber, supplementing with insoluble fiber like psyllium husk can also help.

4. Take magnesium supplements

Magnesium is a well-known laxative, and is also a frequently recommended supplement. At doses of around 200 to 400 mg, magnesium is usually well tolerated. However, higher doses may lead to loose stools or overt diarrhea. For someone suffering from constipation, this may be a welcomed effect.

Consider starting with 600mg and increasing to 1,000 mg daily if needed (do not exceed 2,000 mg).

5. Add MCT oil

Another solution is adding medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. MCT oil can help stimulate gut motility and bowel movements.

Consider starting with one tablespoon (0.5 ounce) and slowly increase if needed. Just be aware that one tablespoon has 115 calories. These calories can add up quickly if you take multiple tablespoons per day.

6. Be physically active

Some research suggests that regular physical activity may improve constipation.

Given the many other benefits of physical activity, it is an easy one to recommend!

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