We frequently receive emails from people just starting out on a low carb plan who complain of constipation. While one of the side-effects of eating a low carb high fat (LCHF) diet is frequently constipation this needn’t be the case. Before you reach for a chemical laxative or prunes (not low carb), follow our easy tips below to loosen things up a bit.
Drink plenty of water
This is the most overlooked laxative. A low carb diet, especially a high protein one, can be dehydrating. Initial glucogen losses on a LCHF eating plan are accompanied by large losses of water from your body tissues. Its important to replace that water to keep your gut moving and to keep stools soft.
Get plenty of walking and stay active – don’t sit all day. Activity stimulates gut motility.
Take a magnesium supplement
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is lacking in most people’s diets in the modern world whether they’re on a low or high carb eating plan. It’s involved in almost every process in your body from muscle relaxation and proper muscle movement to hormone processing. Clinically it is used to treat muscle cramps, restless leg syndrome, high blood pressure, and chronic stress. One positive side benefit of supplementing daily with magnesium is easier bowel movements. Magnesium comes in many forms and all have slightly different benefits. Magnesium citrate is the formulation best absorbed by the body while magnesium glycinate is the best form for achieving relaxation. If you’re looking for a simple laxative, magnesium oxide will do the trick. Be sure to take your magnesium between meals and especially avoid taking it with meals containing vegetables as phytates in veggies will cause poor absorption of Magnesium.
Have a cup of coffee
Caffeine in coffee is renowned for stimulating gut motility in many people – especially those who drink coffee infrequently. Bullet Proof coffee, a drink popular among those following a keto low carb plan, which contains both caffeine and coconut oil has an especially strong laxative effect for many.
Add psyllium husks to your diet
Psyllium seed husks are an indigestible source of soluble fiber. They are hygroscopic which means they will expand in your gut and hold water and thus improve and regulate gut transit. They are a popular way to relieve constipation and other bowel ailments such as IBS. Just 2 tablespoons a day should help. Be sure to drink plenty of water if you do add this fiber to your daily meals!
Eat more cruciferous and green vegetables
Many people have a hard time eating enough vegetables on a LCHF eating plan. Try and gradually increase the amount of veggies on your dinner plate. Include veggies such as cauliflower – try it roasted in coconut oil (coconut oil has laxative properties), cabbage and brussels sprouts and green veggies such as spinach, arugula and kale. All of these will bulk up and stimulate the digestive tract.
Eat more Avocados
These do the trick for many people and they’re the perfect LCHF food.
Add more expeller pressed and/or extra virgin coconut oil to your diet
If you’re serious about reaping the benefits of a LCHF diet you MUST include coconut oil in your diet as it has many super nutritional and weight loss benefits. Many people are confused about coconut oil. Remember that it comes in two kinds: extra virgin which smells and tastes of coconut and the more versatile, expeller pressed which is a neutral every day cooking fat/oil. Cook your food in coconut oil, add it to your coffee, bake with it. Coconut oil has a lubricating effect on your digestive tract.
Try a splash of raw apple cider vinegar
Some people swear by adding a tablespoon or two of this vinegar to a cup of hot water and drinking it each morning to start their day. You can also use it in your salad dressings. Be sure to choose “raw” apple cider vinegar.
Eat nuts every day
Almonds an dalmond flour, walnuts, pecans and macadamias are all high in fiber and therefore can all help alleviate constipation. Add some delicious almond flour scones and breads to your breakfast.
Bake with coconut flour
Coconut flour is low calorie and low carb yet very high in fiber. It’s a great flour to use in low carb baking where a small amount will quickly absorb a large amount of water. Try our pumpkin bread in our LCHF Nation Cookbook Vol 1 for a tasty way to add this natural fiber to your LCHF eating plan.
Spice it up!
Cook with spices: Cayenne pepper, ginger and turmeric all stimulate the digestive tract and will help get things moving.