Throughout our lives, our weight fluctuates. For those wanting to lose weight, seeing that number on the scales up from the week before can be disheartening, but it’s important to remember that that number measures more than just muscle and fat. So, what else could be contributing to our weight?
Our weight oscillates month by month, day by day, and even hour by hour, and changes in fat are rarely the cause. In fact, our weight is also a measure of our bones, organs, bodily fluids, and waste. So, if you’re constipated, your weight is likely to go up until your body releases everything that’s causing you to be ‘backed up’.
Does constipation cause weight gain?
In short, yes and no. Constipation and weight gain are linked, as factors contributing to constipation, bloating and fullness can cause weight gain, but constipation itself is only likely to cause an increase in weight in the short term (a matter of a few hundred grams per day) until your constipation eases.
Culprits causing constipation, such as a lack of hydration, poor diet, and lack of exercise can contribute to your weight. These can cause your metabolism to slow, meaning you could gain weight quicker.
How can we prevent constipation?
Make sure to drink plenty of water each day. Water increases the softness of stool, so the less hydrated you are, the harder your stools can be, resulting in constipation. If you’re not a fan of water, try adding some fruit, and if keeping tabs on how much you’re drinking is a problem, try pre-measured bottles. It’s also recommended to stay clear of soft drinks.
Increasing your fiber intake is a natural way to ease constipation, gas, and bloating. Fibre works by cleansing the colon and moving waste through your digestive system. A lack of fiber can slow your digestion down, leaving you ‘backed up’ for longer. Aim to get around 30 grams of fiber into your body per day.
Here are some foods that increase fiber:
- wholewheat cereal (such as Weetabix)
- wholegrain cereal (such as Shredded wheat)
- porridge oats
- wholemeal and granary bread
- wholewheat pasta
- bulgar grains
- pulses, such as beans and lentils
- fresh fruit and vegetables
- unsalted nuts and seeds
Muscle tone, particularly those in the diaphragm and abdomen, is crucial in the process of going to the toilet. Spending long periods of time sitting can slow digestion and cause constipation, so in order to ease bloating, try to keep things moving. As guidance, adults should aim to do around 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, such as walking or cycling.
When does constipation become a concern?
If you’re noticing that you are frequently constipated, bloated or full, there could be an underlying issue that might be contributing to weight gain. If you have tried to self-remedy your constipation with limited success, it’s important to speak to your doctor or another medical professional to determine if it’s being caused by something else.
Some possible causes of chronic constipation are:
Underactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
An underactive thyroid fails to produce enough hormones which impacts metabolism and slows down digestion. This can be diagnosed with a thyroid function test and treated with a thyroid hormone.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS can also be a reason for chronic constipation, with symptoms including bloating, flatulence and abdominal pain, and cramps. IBS affects the large intestine and is typically triggered by certain foods, such as dairy and wheat, and can also be a result of stress.
Also a hormonal issue, diabetes stops the breakdown of sugar due to not producing enough insulin. High blood sugar seen in Type 1 and 2 diabetes can lead to damage to the nerves that control digestion, leading to constipation. Other symptoms of diabetes include feeling thirsty all the time, frequent urination, and fatigue.
Our weight is just a number and has no reflection on us as individuals. Our bodies are amazing, and we want to create a society that appreciates our bodies for what they do for us, not how they look. It’s important to look after yourself and your body image, but if your constipation is causing pain and discomfort, reach out to a professional on Nutritionist Resource.
Read more about constipation and weight gain.