While constipation does not affect everyone on a high-protein diet, it is certainly one of the more typical side effects of increased protein intake. While dealing with recurring constipation can be troublesome, you need not suffer indefinitely. There are various measures you can take to mitigate the effects of constipation, increasing your satisfaction with the diet.
High-protein diets usually also involve a higher fat intake, which is where the problem begins. In order to keep overall caloric levels reasonable, when protein and fat are increased, there must be a corresponding decrease in other foods, which is usually done by reducing your overall consumption of carbohydrates—and fiber.
Fiber comes in two forms—soluble and insoluble—but both forms are mainly derived through the consumption of carbohydrates. The average daily intake of fiber is a woeful 11 grams, especially when compared to the official recommendations—30 to 38g for men and 21 to 25g for women. Fiber eases and speeds the passage of stools through your digestive tract, eliminating the rigors of constipation.
Although fairly benign, chronic constipation does carry some risks. Constipation results in high levels of intestinal strain when defecating, which can cause damage to your intestinal walls, leading to diverticulitis. The second danger of chronic constipation is the possibility of developing hemorrhoids. Finally, there is a link between higher fat intake, low fiber intake, and the development of colon cancer.
To keep constipation at bay, increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Even if you are on a low-carb plan, fiber can be readily increased by eating additional roughage. The best foods for this are green vegetables like broccoli, kale, green lettuce, spinach and cucumber. These foods are packed with fiber yet contain few calories or carbs. Several servings per day can help cure constipation while keeping you in compliance with your weight-loss plan.
Although high-protein diets have received a lot of attention lately due to their purported effectiveness at stimulating fat loss, remember that even the most-praised diet is not without some negatives. Constipation is a problem that affects many people, yet is rarely discussed. But by taking the initiative to increase your fiber intake—with or without increasing your carb intake—you are taking the first step toward avoiding some fairly serious health hazards.