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Regular bowel movements and my lack thereof?
February 9, 2013 5:22 AM   Subscribe

Why am I not pooping or am I overreacting?

So I've lost 15lbs (so far, yay!). I'm eating super clean and loving it. I'm now 175.4lbs, 24yo woman, 5'5" eating 1300-1500 calories a day. I went from regular bowel movements once or twice a day when I was eating processed foods and other junk, to have a bowel movement once or twice a week. I generally have these movements (and it's one HUGE poop but it comes out really easy that I don't realize its big until I look down to flush) the morning after I've had a little bit of dirty eating.

So is it normal to only poop once a week?
If not then how do I get myself to poop more frequently?

More details, if needed:
Food consumption is mostly: wild AL salmon, organic chicken, fruits & veggies (no potatoes, eaten whole or in smoothies), chia, nuts, greek yogurt, kefir, whole eggs
LOADS of water - around 68 oz a day
Workouts: Cardio 4x a week, weight training 3x a week
Days I don't poop I am a bit gassy
posted by xicana63 to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also.. very sorry on the subject but hey ya gotta ask what ya gotta ask!
posted by xicana63 at 5:25 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I say ask away; pooping is important!

For me once a week would be extremely infrequent and cause for... not worry, but careful attention to the matter.

I wonder if your body is adjusting to your new (wonderful) diet. Grease tends to keep things loose, and the lack of processed junk may be the culprit. When you say fruits and veggies, are they high fiber ones? And most importantly, how long has this been going on?

Congrats on your weight loss!
posted by Specklet at 5:32 AM on February 9, 2013


What I don't see in your diet is anything definitely fiber-dense - not all vegetables and fruits have a lot of fiber, and the best sources of fiber IME are certain grains, beans and tubers. Can you look into that, figure out if you are getting enough fiber and and either take some psyillium or start eating a different mix of veggies? Greens, for example, don't have much fiber and you have to eat a lot of berries to get enough fiber to be meaningful. I believe you should be getting ~20-25G total given your caloric intake, with ~5-7 being soluble.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of both insoluble and soluble fiber.
posted by Frowner at 5:45 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean really, dairy meat and eggs have almost no fiber, nuts have a tiny bit, you probably aren't eating that much chia - that means you have to be eating, like, a ton of vegetables to get a meaningful amount.

See, this is why I am a teensy bit skeptical of the "no tubers, grains or beans because carbs" thing - if you had say 1/2 c of red lentils in there every day, I bet things would be quite different.
posted by Frowner at 5:47 AM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had this problem when I switched from a junk diet to eating whole foods and avoiding grains and potatoes. Psyillium did the trick.
posted by zoomorphic at 5:54 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do you like lentils? If I eat those regularly I am very, very regular...they're also very filling.
posted by fromageball at 6:03 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find that when I eat a calorie restricted diet, my poops are far less frequent. I think the body hangs onto the food longer and extracts more energy out of it.

If everything comes out fine and you aren't in discomfort, I wouldn't worry too much. But psyllium is always nice to add to the diet, it has a nice moderating/buffering effect.
posted by gjc at 6:06 AM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm on pretty much the same diet as you, and nothing changed in my pooping. However, I drink coffee daily -- when I don't drink coffee, things don't work like they should.

There are other ways to do this besides fiber. Calm, a natural magnesium supplement, is really good for this.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:26 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I take magnesium supplements, because I eat low carb. Fats don't usually make you poop, because in low-carb, you're burning the fat as fuel.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:51 AM on February 9, 2013


Psyllium and lentils have been mentioned a few times, which I agree are good poop-inducers. You could also try senna leaf but it shouldn't become a habit and you might want to spend the day at home, if you know what I mean. A bowl of oatmeal a day is a good habit too.
posted by faraasha at 7:02 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Add some lentils, barley, or steel cut oatmeal in your diet daily. If you eat all 3 in a day, I guarantee you will poop very, very regularly. Also, I recently learned blood oranges (in season now) have like 7 grams of fiber per medium sized fruit. Throw in a cup of coffee in the morning, and you will be on your way to becoming a bowel movement superhero.
posted by raztaj at 7:05 AM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is great variability in the number of bowel movements normal people can have in a day/week.

You can definitely try some of the solutions above (especially if you're looking at your diet and find you ought to be getting more fiber), but you don't need to do these things just to achieve some arbitrary number of bowel movements per day. Consider how you feel - do you feel bloated, constipated? Do you have abdominal discomfort? If not, it sounds like there's nothing broken, so I don't think you need to expend much energy trying to fix it....
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:19 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nthing psyllium. You can find unflavoured psyllium husk in the bins at bulk (hur-hur-hur) food stores for very cheap; no need to buy the absurdly overpriced cans of Metamucil.

Every morning put a heaping spoonful in a drinking glass, add cool water, stir it up, let it sit for a few minutes, then stir it again and glug it down. Chase with another glass-ful, or some other beverage. It really doesn't taste like anything and once you get past the kind of gloopiness of it, it's no more annoying a habit than brushing your teeth.

It trends BM consistency towards the median by being hydrophobic -- it absorbs water, but not too aggressively; keeps your stool from being neither too hard nor too soft.

It makes you regular! And regular is good.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:02 AM on February 9, 2013


IANAD, but when my family's cat had diverticulosis (which eventually required surgery to fix) the symptoms were similar. If this is a regular thing, it's something you should at least consider talking to a doctor about.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:20 AM on February 9, 2013


Would you like a gummie?

(Not as effective as psyllium I bet, but well tastes a lot better I bet)
posted by Bodrik at 8:49 AM on February 9, 2013


How quickly did you lose the weight? How long has the weekly poop been going on? How do you actually feel?

If the answers to these are all good (ie not too quickly, not too long, and OK) I wouldn't worry too much or change your diet until you see how things go.

Due warning: I am not a doctor, a nutritionist, or even particularly sensible.
posted by Segundus at 8:57 AM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Vitamin C supplements will solve this easily if nothing else is going on physically.

You should be taking them every day, anyway.

Try 2,000 units per day for a few days and see how that goes. It won't hurt you at all, and likely it will get you moving.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 9:46 AM on February 9, 2013


I have lost ~65 pounds over the past year and a half and also went from a regular one poop per day to one every five to seven days. Some observations...

I definitely poop more if I have a few bad food days in a row (like around the holidays or on vacation). Poop frequency definitely seems to be tied to volume of food eaten for me.

It's definitely hard to fit fiber into a very low calorie diet, but I try to eat a fiber-y cereal for breakfast at least every other day. This doesn't make me poop particularly more frequently, but it keeps my poop from being too hard.

I always had some pre-period slow down in my poop frequency, but it really gets ridiculous when you're only going once a week and then you add two extra days on top of that. Usually when I start to freak out because I can't remember when I last pooped, I also figure out that it's that time of the month (and, of course, this also happens every five or six poops because they are so far apart!).

Some of the supplements above would have me unable to leave the bathroom, because they are sugar free and the xylitol or other sweeteners are frighteningly powerful laxatives for some people. So if you decide to take a supplement, be careful. Also, remember that if you have more fiber you also need more water.

You should talk to your doctor. "Regular" is defined as anything between three times a day to once every three days, so you're outside that. However, from my internet research, the main dangers seem to be hurting your butt with hard poop (which you're not doing), problems from over-use of laxatives (which you're hopefully also not doing), and intestinal blockages (which you should monitor your body for signs of). So less frequent poop isn't automatically bad, it may just be your new normal.
posted by anaelith at 9:51 AM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I was investigating "regular" poop frequency recently--the consensus seemed to be that "regular" was anything not causing physical discomfort and/or problems. So while most people fall into the 3x/day to 3x/week camp, once a week is fine as long as you're not having other symptoms.
posted by epj at 10:37 AM on February 9, 2013


Hi again! I looooove me some beans so I can't believe I forgot to mention it! I eat pinto beans and black beans a lot. Practically everyday. (Fav breakfast food!) Oatmeal for breakfast (not instant) comes around too. I also eat a lot of broccoli and thought that it was one for the veggies with the most fiber. I did forget to mention I am taking fish oil supplements if that means anything so it's looking like psyillium or a magnesium supplement may be the trick.

Thanks for all your congratulations! I appreciate it! As a few have asked, I've lost these 15 lbs in a month.
posted by xicana63 at 11:06 AM on February 9, 2013


You could also add a couple of prunes per day.
posted by annsunny at 11:27 AM on February 9, 2013


15 lbs in a month is awesome, good job.

My experience is that without bread, pasta, sugar and other junky filler foods, poop becomes a challenge. The lower sugar I go (even if I eat lots of vegetables) the more difficult it gets.

So, just a data point to say "yes that happens"; a high five for the weight loss; and good luck with the psyllium and vitamin C.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:50 PM on February 9, 2013


Congratulations on your successes so far!

You might want to try cutting back the dairy (greek yogurt, kefir) for a week and see if that helps. Coconut milk yogurt is more commonly found today, even at Trader Joes now.

Psyllium and magnesium are both great suggestions as well. Calm is good, but if you want a cleansing effect, Mag O7 (brand name) is awesome. It's a little expensive but worth it. It worked very well for me, and cured a relative's longtime constipation quite quickly! I would just take one pill per evening. Some people need more, but better to err on the conservative side with magnesium.

I do think you should shoot for having at least one bm per day. I am not a doctor but I know I feel soooooo much better on a once per day schedule!
posted by icanbreathe at 3:31 PM on February 9, 2013


I would wait and see what happens. Your body is making some adjustments right now, so keep feeding it things you know it likes to eat (healthy foods)!

This frequency doesn't seem off unless you are feeling uncomfortable. If you add in very high fiber foods and nothing changes (in frequency or type, whatever), then I would start to wonder.
posted by ramenopres at 3:54 PM on February 9, 2013


Beans, beans, the magical food!
The more you eat, the more you poop!

I know lots of other people have already suggested beans, but I just had to get that out there.
posted by deborah at 4:57 PM on February 9, 2013


Your guts are simply processing a much lower volume of material than they're accustomed to, and are getting lazy about it. There are things you can eat to help your GI tract stay in good shape that won't change your present nutrient balance, which seems to be working well for you in other respects.

Psyllium husk will bulk up your intestinal contents and give your guts something to work with. If you haven't used it before you might be alarmed at the shape and consistency of the resulting turds; if so, experiment with a balance between the gel-forming psyllium and the straight physical bulk of wheat bran.

You might also care to experiment with using a small amount of a paraffin-based laxative, which will recreate the physically lubricanting effect of the grease you used to eat without altering your present dietary fat content. Unlike irritant (e.g. senna, phenolphthalein) or salts-based (e.g. magnesium oxide) laxatives, there are no negative side effects to ongoing use of small amounts of paraffin.
posted by flabdablet at 6:03 PM on February 9, 2013


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