How to Manage Constipation on the Atkins Diet

Female and male sign on toilet door, close-up
Peter Dazeley/Getty Images


Dieters are often surprised at some of the side effects of popular diets. Many, for example, experience constipation during Atkins Induction Phase. This question is frequently asked:

I've heard you get constipated easily during the Atkins Diet, especially during the Induction Phase. Will I experience irregularity if I follow the low carb eating plan?

Constipation on the Atkins Diet

It is true that a number of people do experience constipation during the beginning of the Atkins Diet. It generally happens during the most strict part of the program, known as induction. But other dieters don't experience any kind of digestive disruption. It's different from individual to individual, so I wouldn't necessarily plan to be uncomfortable.

Why Constipation on Atkins Induction?

Induction is the most common time for Atkins dieters to experience bowel irregularities. Induction is the strictest and most difficult phase of the entire Atkins program. So you're likely to experience other discomforts as well, making constipation that much more troublesome.

So why does constipation occur? Without your normal intake of fruits, vegetables, and grains you will probably experience a decrease in your dietary fiber intake. Dietary fiber provides many benefits including regular bowel movements. So when you cut back on fiber, you could easily experience a short-term period of constipation.

What to Do About Atkins Constipation

If you've read about induction, you realize it will significantly change your dietary habits and of course, a major change in your diet can lead to a major change in bathroom habits. But there are things you can do to lessen the impact. In fact, some may lead you to run to the bathroom more.

The first and most important thing to do is to drink plenty of water. How much water is enough? Don't use thirst as your guide. You can even surpass that old eight glasses a day recommendation if you possibly can. Carry a water bottle with you and drink regularly. Set an alarm and sip every 30 minutes or so if that helps.

The result will be that you run to the restroom more often. Check the color of your urine to see if you are properly hydrated. A dark yellow color indicates that you can still hydrate to prevent constipation. A color that is closer to clear indicates that you are probably drinking enough.

You may also find taking a fiber supplement, such as Metamucil, can help to relieve constipation. And what about laxatives? Don't automatically assume that taking a laxative is the best solution. Laxatives can sometimes be too harsh on the system. Some people even have adverse reactions to them, such as vomiting.

Dr. Atkins shares some additional ways to alleviate this problem if you do experience it. Check the rules section of his book on the chapter on induction to get a more complete guide to dealing with this uncomfortable situation.

Lastly, If you do not have a bowel movement after about five days you may want to check with your doctor. If you experience serious abdominal discomfort along with this change in bowel habits lasting for several days, please contact your doctor immediately.

Was this page helpful?