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What Is the Connection between the Atkins Diet and Constipation?

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  • Written By: Marlene de Wilde
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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Many dieters have reported a link between the Atkins diet and constipation, particularly when on the induction phase of the diet. This phase lasts about two weeks and is characterized by very low carbohydrate intake. Any change in eating habits can lead to problems such as constipation, but as the body gets used to the changes and more foods are permitted after the induction phase, the problem of constipation is not so prevalent. There are strategies to follow while on the Atkins diet and constipation should resolve itself after a few days or weeks.

Constipation is a common side effect of many low-carbohydrate diets. One of the criticisms of the Atkins diet is that, in the induction phase, dieters consume less than 7% of the minimum daily fiber intake. The focus on high levels of protein may also exacerbate the link between the Atkins diet and constipation as a high intake of meat and cheese can lead to bowel irregularity.

The body must have fiber to enable it to get rid of waste. Fruits, vegetables and whole wheat products such as bread and cereals are the usual sources of fiber in an average healthy diet. The recommended 21 grams of fiber a day can be quite difficult to consume on a low carbohydrate diet like the Atkins diet and constipation is quite often the result. In some cases, the problem can become severe enough to necessitate medical help.

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In order to avoid constipation while on the diet, it is necessary to drink eight glasses of water as lack of water is the main cause of constipation. If this does not have any effect, then consuming supplementary fiber such as flax seed or wheat bran may help. Salads and vegetables, especially green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and broccoli, are perfectly acceptable on the diet in unlimited quantities so ensuring these are part of most meals will increase the fiber intake. Increasing physical exercise should also help in treating constipation while on the Atkins diet. A fiber supplement is recommended especially during Atkins Diet phase 1, or the induction phase, to offset the effect of eating more low-fiber proteins.

Other Atkins diet side effects include fatigue, dizziness, headaches and weakness and these are mainly due to the drastic reduction in carbohydrates in the early phase of the diet. The Atkins diet has changed over time and relaxed its approach somewhat in order to address the concerns and reports of side effects. Before starting this diet or any other, it is recommended that a doctor be consulted especially if there are existing health concerns.

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