Every time when I start dieting, immediately I notice few changes in the body. One of them is my bowel movements.
Do you poop less when losing weight?
As a whole, you do poop less when losing weight. Hypocaloric, low-fiber, or very-low-carbohydrate diet affects the stool weight, frequency of defecation, transit time, and absorption efficiency. As a result, less food is being processed and it slows down gastrointestinal motility.
Brace yourself. In this article I will cover:
- Do you poop less when you diet?
- Pooping less when cutting
- What is soluble fiber?
- What are soluble fiber foods?
- Why do I poop less on a diet?
- How often should you poop?
Do You Poop Less When You Diet?
You do poop less when you diet. Energy restriction is accompanied by changes in eating habits, lowering calorie intake, lowering fiber intake, and increasing stress-related hormones, which all can result in decreased gut motility and less frequent bowel movements.
Apart from that, several factors can affect your poop frequency like sedentary lifestyle, immobility, low water intake, changes in daily routine, traveling, stress and pregnancy. Let’s break some of these down.
- Sedentary lifestyle
A sedentary lifestyle can really affect your poop and the more you stay on the couch and not moving, the more problems it can cause. The more you move around, the more your gut starts to move. Muscle contraction positively impacts circulation and lymphatic drainage.
This influences GI motility and makes you poop more frequently. In fact, exercise is been a widely accepted form of therapy for people with constipation (source).
There are several constipation-causing medications including NSAIDs, diuretics, antacids, antidepressants, and even high iron and high calcium supplements (source).
- Economic factors
Surprisingly, socioeconomic status has a massive impact on poop frequency and gut health. People who are living on a low-income budget are more likely to suffer from constipation than their high-income counterparts (source).
And that makes a lot of sense. Because when you live on the shoestring budget, your stress levels and anxiety is omnipresent. This is the effect will also affect not just your poop frequency, but mood and energy levels.
- Lower calorie intake
With fewer calories coming in, your body will have less job to do in your gut. Depending on how much you reduce your food intake, it is no uncommon to see people who diet experience less frequent poop.
The easy way to balance this out is making sure you’re including plenty of fruits and veggies in your diet. They have a lot of water content and fiber. Water and fiber are essential to forming a poop.
Pooping Less When Cutting
The most common reason why people poop less when cutting is because of a lack of fiber in the diet. Oftentimes, too much emphasis on high-protein diets, without an adequate amount of fiber can cause constipation or less frequent bowel movements.
Dietary fiber help to bind water and bulk to the feces, increasing its weight and colonic transit time.
Multiple studies show that a low-fiber diet can reduce the size of the poop (often threefold), reduce the defecation frequency, and decreased colon transit time (source).
If that’s the case, then you have nothing to worry about because adding more fiber-rich foods or even supplementing with fiber can really make a difference.
TIP: When choosing foods high in fiber make sure to look at soluble fiber, not insoluble.
Insoluble fiber seems to worsen the symptoms, where soluble fiber improves the symptoms.
What Is Soluble Fiber?
Dietary fiber is been divided into soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, based on its solubility degree, fermentability, source, and physiological effects. The main difference between soluble and insoluble fiber is the ability to be fully dispersed when mixed with water.
There is much more than that to differentiates one from another. But for us now, the most important part is that soluble fiber helps with bowel movements more than insoluble (source).
So now once you know what is a good fiber for poop, let’s find the sources of food that contain soluble fiber.
What Are The Soluble Fiber Foods?
Soluble fiber foods help to regulate digestion, increase micronutrient absorption, balance blood glucose, and help with many gastrointestinal problems. Here is the list of most common soluble fibers together with foods that contain them:
- Beta-glucans (oats, barley, mushrooms, seaweed, algae)
- Inulin (banana, asparagus, chicory, burdock, garlic, leeks)
- Wheat dextrin (potatoes, beans, corn, wheat, rice)
Why Do I Poop Less on a Diet?
As a general rule, pooping less on a diet is related to lower calorie intake and lower fiber intake. The fewer calories you eat, the less food will pass through the gastrointestinal tract. Dieting slows down digestion, reduces defecation and stool frequency.
Apart from already mentioned fiber intake, dieting comes together with elevated levels of cortisol. With more calorie restriction comes more stress.
If we gonna go step further.
Many people have already enormous amount of stress on their shoulder. Family problems, loans, debt, illness, relationships issues, etc. And the more you already have going on your plate, the calorie restriction can add significantly more pressure to the total load.
I call it “behind the scenes problem”.
Because you may have two people having the same weight, doing same diet and exercise program. But if one will experience a lot of stress (comparing to the other person) those two people will have a dramatically different response to the same diet and exercise. All because of “what else is going on in your life”.
So stress can really mess up with the health. Digestion is no different.
Constant worrying (maybe about current weight) and stress will cause changes in gut motility. The easiest way is to first identify the issue and ones you know what is causing the poop problem, work on the cause, not on symptoms.
How Often Should You Poop?
On average, normal poop frequency is between three per week and three per day. Factors that influence the frequency of stool are sex, education, income, number of daily medications, stress level, and daily fiber intake. On average, and whole-gut transit time is between 30 to 60 hours.
There used to be this saying that 3 meals per day equals 3 poops per day. Which can be true to some folks. But it’s not the set rule.
In fact, the reality is that poop frequency changes a lot, and there is no such thing as normal bowel patterns. In one study:
- 90% of people reported having between 3 and 21 bowel movements per week
- Most defecations happen in the early morning in men than in women.
- Hispanic ethnicity was associated with abnormal self-reported bowel movements.
But also other lifestyle habits affect how often you poop like:
- Shift work
- Body mass index
Do You Poop More When You Eat Healthy?
As a general rule, you do poop more when you eat healthy. Eating a healthy diet that is rich in complex starchy carbohydrates, rich in fiber, and have high water content increases gastrointestinal motility, stool weight, and frequency of bowel movements.
It’t not complicated.
All you need is to:
- Find what foods you like
- See which ones have a lot of fiber and water
- Eat more of those foods
To make sure you’re in a calorie deficit and still be able to enjoy your favorite foods, check out my article on how to stop counting calories, and still lose weight.
Do You Weigh Less After You Poop?
You do not weigh less after you poop. An average poop weighs around 50-150 grams. People who consume more fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes tend to have a heavier stool, where people who eat low fiber-rich foods tend to have a less heavy stool.
I used to think that after big “offloading” I will lose weight.
It was dumb.
Because in reality, poop only weighs so much. And even if that would be the case, the numbers won’t matter anyway. You gain this weight back with your next meal.
It’s a cycle. You eat and you poo the same weight back and forth.
Nothing to write home about.
It is much better to focus on the actual calorie deficit. And if getting lean is your goal, then it’s much better to count the fat loss, rather than weight loss from poop.
- Eating slowly to enhance peristaltic movement
- Eat high fiber foods
- Drink plenty of water
- Move about and do resistance training
Focusing on those actions not only will improve your weight loss results, but also you poop frequency.
Frequently asked questions
Do You Poop Less on OMAD?
In general, you do poop less on OMAD. Doing one meal a day creates a calorie deficit and reduces the total amount of food passing through the stomach and forms poop in the gut. This reduces gastrointestinal motility. With less frequent meals, the frequency of poop will lower too.
Do You Poop Less When You Workout?
As a whole, working out doesn’t make you poop less. In fact, regular physical activity can improve digestion, increase the regularity of bowel movements.
This is absolutely normal to be on a weight loss diet and experiencing less pooping. You can, however, by making sure you have enough fiber and water in your diet, improve bowel motility, and reduce the discomfort.
Regular physical activity together with a diet high in fruits and veggies is been proven to enhance gut peristalsis.