Sometimes the Carnivore Diet isn’t all rainbows and unicorns
The carnivore diet constipation is a pain in the a**. Literally.
It’s much rarer on the carnivore diet than diarrhea, but I still see it (well, not literally) all the time.
If your gut isn’t healthy, you are not healthy.
The gut is integral to your health. So if you’re having issues you’re definitely in the right place…because you need to solve them.
In this article, I will describe 6 of the most common causes of carnivore diet constipation. And spoiler alert, it has nothing to do with low fiber.
Pooping on the Carnivore Diet: What types of stools are best?
First off, it’s normal on the carnivore diet to poop less frequently. When I was eating a diet high in plant food, I pooped like a deer. Frequent trips to the bathroom with small stools.
But on the carnivore diet, this changes. Meat takes much longer to digest as you absorb more nutrients.
This is normal. And it’s a good thing.
Stools on the carnivore diet over time will be healthy. Pooping should be pleasant and fairly infrequent. It should come out quickly and almost effortlessly. You should want to sign out with joy & praise the carnivore gods every time you poop.
If that’s not the case for you, read on.
6 Common Causes of Carnivore Diet Constipation
#1 Gut Adaptation
There are a few adaptations you need to go through in your gut as you change diets. Similar to exercise, it hurts at first.
But with pain there is growth. And remember, comfort is the worst addiction.
If you’re here you’re not a wimp. At least I hope not. You better not let a little constipation stop you.
Why? Because gut issues are the first step to healing your gut. It’s a sign that your gut is adapting and changing.
If you quit now, you’d be letting your weak, addicted to comfort & carbs gut bacteria win. That’s what you’ve been doing your whole life. It’s time for a change.
Your gut needs to go through 3 major adaptations when you switch to the carnivore diet. Let me explain.
Gut bacteria changes
Your gut is populated by trillions of bacteria — more than all the human cells in your body. Terrifying right? (What is a human even if we have more bacteria cells than human cells in the body? Thats a question for another day…when the constipation stops…).
Some bacterie, like most westerners, are carb addicts. Others love fat. I’d like to think if I were a bacterium I’d be the latter.
When you change your diet from high carb to low carb, the makeup of your bacteria will shift dramatically.
According to this study:
“The availability of a huge variety and combination of nutrients promotes the selective enrichment of microorganisms, but both the quality and quantity of the macronutrients have an effect on the structure and function of the microbiome”
As you cut out carbohydrates, the carbohydrate loving bacteria will rebel. It’s like solitary confinement for them.
These changes in the gut microbiome can lead to constipation as dying bacteria cannot properly lubricate your gut wall.
But as your gut environment changes it will be populated by a new, healthier set of bacteria that will properly function. It just takes a bit of time.
As you increase meat consumption, the acidity of your stomach will need to increase to digest the protein.
Protein is made up of chains of amino acids. When you eat protein, your stomach secretes both pepsin and HCL, which together break the amino acid bonds (HCL breaks pepsinogen to pepsin).
After the stomach, the amino acids enter the small intestine. The pancreas secretes other enzymes to break them down further in the small intestine and aid absorption. All of this machinery is asleep and needs to be reawakened.
Without this machinery, you cannot properly digest protein and will often become constipated. Over time, your body will naturally adjust.
Bile is one of the most important parts of the digestion process. When you consume fats, your gut releases a hormone called CCK. This causes your gallbladder to contract and release bile that is stored there. Bile emulsifies the fats and allows for them to be absorbed from other enzymes.
Well your gallbladder is like a muscle. And similar to if you tried to bench press 300 lbs after never getting under a barbell in your life, it cannot handle the initial load and needs to get stronger.
And frankly, this just takes time and patience. Some people supplement with ox bile, but I prefer to let people work up the strength on their own, just like how I tell them not to use a smith machine.
Normally issues with bile production lead to diarrhea, but they can also potentially lead to constipation.
As they say, if you don’t use it, you lose it. If you haven’t had to power your body off of fat for years because you’re eating a high carb diet, then your body won’t know what to do with it.
However, this is the beauty of our metabolic machinery — it’s highly flexible (unlike my hamstrings), and can and will adjust to fat absorption. It just needs to be woken up.
One way to get your gallbladder going is to increase beef liver consumption. Beef liver is high in choline which is essential for fat metabolism (by helping the gallbladder release bile) .
#2 Too Much Protein
One of the most common reasons carnivores get constipated is because they are eating too much protein.
After not eating meat for years, people go full Ron Swanson and start guzzling down 3 lbs a day. But your body has a physiological limit on how many amino acids you can absorb and digest — unfortunately for the bro science community who wants to drink whey protein shakes all day (and carnivores too who eat 3+ lbs of meat).
Especially if your stomach pH isn’t low enough to handle the increased protein influx, this will lead to major issues.
Most of the time, this causes diarrhea. However, it actually made me constipated when I first adapted (yes, statues do poop).
Increasing fat intake can help and is also a kick in the ass to your gallbladder to pump out more bile. It can also help to give your body more time to adapt to the protein intake by increasing it slowly.
There are two major aspects to hydration that affect people. Water intake & electrolyte intake.
When you adapt to a carnivore diet, one of the first things that happens is you shed a lot of water & electrolytes as insulin falls. Your body burns off your stored glycogen, reducing how much water weight your body stores.
This is a big reason for the so-called keto flu. This is also one of the main culprits for constipation.
The first step is to up your water intake. But with that being said, definitely don’t just funnel water all day like a beer bong.
Drinking too much water can also be an issue, especially if you’re not drinking water with electrolytes.
The electrolytes — Sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium — also have a huge impact on gut motility.
One of the most common electrolyte deficiencies is known to cause constipation — magnesium. Magnesium helps to relax muscles in the intestinal wall and to pull water into the colon.
But be careful with supplements. Sometimes they can get the poop party going too fast.
Low sodium can also cause constipation issues, largely because it depletes other electrolytes.
#4 Inflammatory Foods
Dairy & eggs are a common cause of carnivore diet constipation — especially if you were not eating these foods pre carnivore.
When you’re adapting, especially if you’re constipated, I suggest removing them.
Many people are allergic to eggs & dairy products. Additionally, too much calcium (from dairy) can deplete your magnesium even further.
#5 Nutrient Deficiencies
The two most relevant nutrients for gut health are vitamin d and vitamin a — both of which regulate bile acid synthesis and gut health. But over 90% of people are deficient in vitamin D and over 40% in Vitamin A.
As this study shows below, Vitamin D and Vitamin A both regulate bile acid synthesis and increase production.
Vitamin D is also implicated in IBS and other gut issues. A new study also suggests that vitamin D may benefit IBS .
“Vitamin D deficiency was detected in 49 of the 60 patients (82%) in the IBS group and 31 of the 100 patients (31%) in the control group ”
Zinc is an essential component of more than 200 enzymes that play a critical role in metabolic pathways. Zinc also plays a role in gut function. Zinc supplementation in malnourished Bangladeshi children resulted in rapid reverse.
Beef liver has the most bioavailable vitamin A out of any food in the world. But until now, it tasted like something from fear factor. If you’re interested in the first beef liver product that tastes good, check out my brand new beef liver crisps.
#6 Tap Water
Overtaxing your detoxification system can back up your gut and slow GI motility.
Chemicals and poisons are ubiquitous in modern environments. One of the most pernicious sources is tap water.
Tap water is loaded with hundreds of chemicals. Heavy metals, fluoride and pesticides like atrazine, just to name a few. Your body doesn’t recognize these chemicals and views them as a threat. This taxes the digestive system — especially your liver — and can disrupt your normal waste excretion process (i.e. sh*tting).
The carnivore diet was the most important change I’ve ever made to my health in my life. Do not let this carnivore diet constipation dissuade you.
It’s time to get rid of this pain in the butt.
Ketogenic Endurance – I hoped you enjoyed this post.
If you like what I am about, check out the below.
Carnivore Fit Expanded edition – my eBook and Paperback looking at why meat is good for you, why plants are bad, and how to exercise on zero carbs.
Low Content Books – Carnivore & Keto inspired Journals, Notebooks, Diaries, and Planners.