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Why Healthy Eating Causes Changes in Bowel Habits, Gas, and Bloating

Ever since you started that new diet or began cutting back on unhealthy foods you’ve also noticed a few changes to your… bathroom habits. Poop and gas feel like words that only belong in a toddler conversation. But it’s healthy (and normal!) to experience some not-so-comfortable-to-talk-about changes in your body when you transition to a healthy, balanced diet.

We surveyed members of the 310 community to ask what digestive changes they’ve experienced. From bowel movements to extra gas, they let us know what’s happening in their body as they started eating healthier foods like complex carbs, fiber, healthy fats, and high-quality protein.

And we’re here to break down those not-often-talked-about changes that you might be experiencing too. (And why many of these changes are perfectly normal!)

Let’s dive in…

Bowel Movements

The biggest digestive change you might notice while making the switch to healthier eating is regular bowel movements (aka more frequency with number two!). 

When we asked our 310 community how their poop or pooping schedule changed since starting a healthier diet, this is what they said: 

  • “I’m able to go every day.”
  • “[I’m pooping] more often at least 3 times a day.”
  • “I'm on a more regular schedule.”
  • “In the past I found myself pooping once or twice a week. Now I’m more regular."
  • “I no longer have IBS issues and am pretty regular now.”
  • “I used to struggle with constipation now I don’t.”
  • “Constipation is a thing of the past now.”

Like many members of our 310 community, it’s normal to find yourself in the bathroom with more frequency after starting a healthier diet. But why is that? And how often should you be pooping?

healthy pooping

Increase in Fiber

A healthier diet features more fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. (1) Fiber, specifically insoluble fiber, plays a big role in helping move food through your body’s digestive system. (2) A diet high in fiber helps promote more regularity in your bowel movements. 

But if your diet is low in fiber (and high in greasy, fatty, or high-sugar foods) you’re more likely to experience blockage and slower digestion. This could result in uncomfortable health problems like constipation or irritable bowel syndrome. (3

But when you make the switch to a healthier diet (and more fiber as a result) things start to speed up a bit, hence the change in your bathroom schedule. 

But what’s normal? Let’s dive into that…

How Often Should You Poop?

There’s no one right answer to this question because healthy bowel movements depend on the person. But on average, you should be going number two anywhere from three times a day to three times a week. And, most importantly, it shouldn’t be difficult or painful for you to go to the bathroom. (4

If you’re going less than three times a week and finding it difficult to poop, you might be experiencing constipation. (4) Try adding more high-fiber foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains to your diet. Make sure you’re also staying hydrated because fiber needs water to make your stools soft and easier to pass. 

But if you’re experiencing diarrhea, you might be overloading your system with too much fiber. This can happen if you drastically increase the amount of fiber you’re eating all at once. Try reducing your fiber intake to start. Then slowly incorporate high-fiber foods back into your diet so your digestive system has time to adjust and get back to normal. (5)

If you’re regularly experiencing either constipation or diarrhea, make sure to talk to your doctor to find the right solution for you.

Bloating

Bloating also popped up in a lot of comments from the 310 community when asked about changes to bathroom habits: 

  • “[I’m pooping] more and I feel less bloated.”
  • “More regular not as bloated.”
  • “I used to have tons of bloating.”

Most people experience fewer instances of bloating after making the switch to a healthier diet. However, it’s also normal to notice some bloating even with a healthy diet. And that’s because bloating is not always a cause of concern

Woman experiencing bloating and clutching her stomach

What Causes Bloating

Bloating is a result of extra gas in the body that gets trapped in your gastrointestinal tract. It’s usually caused by: (6,7

  • Swallowing excess air (from carbonated beverages or chewing gum)
  • Consuming harder-to-digest foods (like high-fat)
  • Eating foods you’re sensitive to (such as gluten, wheat, or dairy)
  • Loading up on too much food all at once
  • Experiencing high bacteria growth in your gut (by not eating enough gut-supporting foods like probiotics)

Foods that take longer to digest are often high-fat and greasy foods that tend to sit in your stomach and make you feel heavy—like fast food for example. (7) When you eat healthier you’ll start feeling less bloated because the foods you’re eating are working with instead of against your body. 

However, some healthy foods also take a while to digest. This can cause bloating even while you’re maintaining a healthy diet. High fiber and high protein foods, for example, can sometimes take a while to digest as they bind to water and pass through your digestive system. (8) And if you’re new to probiotics or fermented foods, these can also take some time for your body to digest and get used to. (8

Plus, normal activities like drinking water or eating a filling meal can cause bloating. So it’s important to keep in mind that a little bit of bloating is normal, especially as you’re making the transition to new, healthy eating habits. (8)

How to Reduce Bloating

But an uncomfortable amount of bloating is not normal. If you’re still experiencing bloating after switching to a healthier diet, here are a few ideas to help: 

  • Keep a food journal: Track what you’re eating throughout the day and indicate when you feel bloated. Use your journal to notice if any trends emerge. (7) You could be sensitive to certain foods, and cutting them from your diet could help ease your digestive discomfort. 
  • Exercise: As part of a healthy diet, you also want to incorporate movement or exercise into your routine. Not only does this keep your body healthy, but it helps push bloat-causing gas through your digestive tract. (9)
  • Drink more water: Swap your carbonated beverages for water instead. This eliminates any extra intake of air from bubbly drinks while adding extra hydration to aid in your body’s digestion. 
  • Eat probiotics: Probiotics are foods that contain live microorganisms that help support a healthier and more balanced gut. Our new 310 All-In-One Shake offers probiotics so it’s super easy to add more to your routine!
  • Talk to your doctor: If pain or discomfort persists, schedule time with your doctor. They can help decipher the cause of your bloating and work with you toward the right solution.

Woman writing in a food diary

Gas

Depending on what your diet was before, it’s normal to experience either a decrease or an increase in gas after starting a healthy diet. For a lot of people though, it’s the latter. 

Here are what members of the 310 community had to say when asked whether they struggle with gas and if it got better or worse after starting to eat more healthy foods:

  • “A bit gassy at first, now all good.”
  • “Yes, definitely more [gas] from fiber [and leafy] greens”
  • “My gas has gotten way better under control.”
  • “Did notice an increase in gas but not terrible.”
  • “[Gas] increased but not too bad.”
  • “I don't get gas very often now.”
  • “Not [gassy] before, but yes now.”
  • “I feel that I have more gas now since eating healthy.”

While embarrassing at times, passing gas is normal and healthy. In fact, the average person passes gas anywhere from 14 to 23 times a day. (9

Gas is the byproduct of digestion, meaning that as your healthy gut bacteria break down the food you eat, they produce gas. (9) Too much gas, as we know, causes bloating. So your ability to pass gas actually helps ease that discomfort.  

Foods That Cause Gas

Complex carbohydrates are part of a healthy diet. But because they’re more complex, that often makes them harder to digest. It takes a lot more bacteria to break them down, resulting in a larger production of gas. This is why it’s normal to experience more flatulence as you start eating more complex carbs

Some of these high gas-producing foods include: (1,5,9)

  • Asparagus 
  • Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Corn
  • Dairy
  • Lentils
  • Onions
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Potatoes 
  • Wheat

How to Prevent Gas

While gas is normal, too much gas can be uncomfortable. As you’re making the transition to a healthier diet, it’s normal to experience more gas than you’re used to. But for most people, that levels off over time as your body adjusts to your new eating habits. 

But if you’re still experiencing a lot of gas, a food diary can come in handy by identifying which foods are more likely to give you gas. Start by limiting these foods (and the ones we mentioned above!) in your diet to see if that helps. If it doesn’t, you can always speak with your doctor for guidance on medication that can help keep your gas under control. 

Remember: Some Changes Are Completely Normal!

Although they’re sometimes uncomfortable to talk about remember that some changes like extra gas and bowel movements are normal as your body adjusts to your new eating habits. For most people, the changes level off or become less noticeable as you continue to embark on your healthy eating journey.

But make sure to talk with your doctor before starting any new healthy eating plan or diet. And if you’re experiencing any kind of pain or discomfort, talk to a medical professional. They can help you navigate the changes, guide you on the path to better health, and identify what’s normal vs. not normal.

And make sure to check out our brand-new 310 All-In-One Shakes for help making the transition to a healthier (and happier) lifestyle!

Sources:

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/suffering-some-digestive-troubles-time-to-gut-check-your-diet/2019/08/30/5c28ab42-c857-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html
  2. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/fiber/
  3.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6315720/
  4. https://www.goodrx.com/well-being/gut-health/how-often-should-you-poop-constipation
  5. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/a19992555/healthy-eating-side-effects/
  6. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/foods-avoid-bloating
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322200#ten-ways-to-avoid-bloating-after-eating
  8. https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7921422/why-bloating-can-be-normal-healthy-according-to-a-dietitian/
  9. https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/secrets-gas-control
Written by:

Megan Elizabeth Clark

310 Nutrition Content Writer 

Megan Elizabeth Clark is a freelance copywriter and content marketing specialist in the health, wellness, and fitness industry. As a NASM certified personal trainer and RYT-200 certified yoga instructor Megan is passionate about using her fitness background and writing skills to provide authentic, actionable, and accurate information to the world [...]

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