When you change up your diet, it naturally takes your body some time to adjust. Starting a keto diet is no exception.
The ketogenic diet offers a wide array of benefits, while also enabling you to guiltlessly enjoy foods like cheese and nut butter. However, you may notice that you feel bloated at the beginning of your keto journey.
What causes keto bloating? And what can be done to combat it? Keep reading to find out.
What is the Keto Diet?
The keto diet is a high fat diet, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. By restricting your daily carb intake to around 20 to 50 grams, your body enters a state of ketosis1. Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body burns fat for fuel, rather than carbs.
To transition to a keto lifestyle, you’ll have to increase your protein and fat intake to counteract the carb restriction. Your diet will include foods such as meats, eggs, cheese, avocados, coconut oil, nut butter, and low-carb veggies.
Why Go Keto?
The keto diet has amassed a great deal of attention due to its certain benefits. Some potential benefits include:
- Weight loss
- Increased metabolism
- Reduced appetite
- Elevated energy
- Increased mental focus
While these benefits aren’t guaranteed, many keto dieters claim to experience them. Before going keto, make sure to consult with your doctor or registered dietitian, since the ketogenic diet is not for everyone and could be very restrictive.
Does Keto Cause Bloating?
Have you noticed a swollen belly? Why do I feel bloated on Keto? The keto diet also comes with some pesky drawbacks, many of which clear up after your body adjusts to ketosis. Bloating is one of these issues.
What is Bloating?
Why am I always bloated? To answer that, let’s dive into what bloating actually is. It is the sense that your stomach or gut has expanded and feels full and tight, due to a build-up of bad gasses or constipation. Bloating can be uncomfortable, or even painful, depending on how severe it is.
As a result, your abdomen may look swollen and distended, and your pants might feel tight. Bloating can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you turned to a keto lifestyle to lose weight.
Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome feeling bloated on the cyclical keto diet.
How Do You Debloat on a Keto Diet?
Here are a few reasons that you may be experiencing bloating on a keto diet and how to address them:
#1 Cheating on Keto With Carbs
Keto bloat usually occurs during the initial stage of your keto diet, known as the infamous “keto flu.”2 The keto flu kicks in a few days into cutting carbs and can last around two weeks, until your body fully adjusts to ketosis. Some keto flu symptoms are:
- Decreased concentration
- Muscle soreness
- Poor sleep
- Sugar cravings
When you cheat on keto by eating too many carbs, you’ll get kicked out of ketosis. In turn, you may have to go through the keto flu all over again. This can mean Keto bloat, as well as a host of other uncomfortable symptoms.
Even one cheat day can have this effect. In turn, many keto dieters advise against cheating with additional carbs while on the Keto diet.
#2 You Have a Gut Flora Imbalance
To enjoy optimal digestion, you need to cultivate a healthy gut flora. These good gut bacteria ensure that you can digest food properly. Many of these bacteria develop in your gut naturally, but if you switch up your diet, they can get thrown out of balance.
After going keto, it takes time for your gut’s ecosystem to adjust to new foods. This is especially true if you’ve increased your sugar alcohol and MCT consumption. Changes in dietary fiber intake can also impact your gut flora. As a result, your gut may become overblown with bad bacteria, a known trigger for bloating.
To help your gut flora adjust to keto and thrive, consider taking probiotics. They can support your gut by giving it a healthy amount of good bacteria. You can use probiotics drinkables, probiotic capsules or consume them in the following foods:
- Natural yogurt
#3 Consuming Too Much MCT Oil
Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil is a popular addition to a keto diet. Some common MCT sources include:
- Pure MCT oil
- MCT powder
- Grass-fed cow butter
- Palm kernel oil
- Coconut oil
MCTs help your body enter nutritional ketosis faster. They’re also known to mitigate the intensity of the keto flu. However, going overboard on MCTs can cause bloating, as well as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and cramps.
To make sure you get your MCT consumption just right, introduce it into your diet slowly and talk with your doctor or registered dietitian. Avoid consuming more than the daily recommended dosage. Also, see if your body responds better to MCT powder. Many keto dieters find that it causes less bloating than its liquid counterparts.
#4 Consuming Too Many Sugar Alcohols
If you have a sweet tooth on keto, you’ll find yourself in a tough spot. Even healthy sweets, like fruit, contain too many carbs to enjoy freely on a keto diet. As a result, many keto dieters turn to sugar alcohols to satisfy their sweet tooth.
Sugar alcohols are found in keto-friendly snacks, protein bars, and candies. You can spot sugar alcohols in the nutritional information by the following names:
Though these sugar alcohols are carb-free and keto-friendly, they can contribute to bloating. If you consume them in excess, they’ve been shown to elevate inflammation and cause digestive issues.3 To see if sugar alcohols are behind your keto bloating, reduce them in your diet and see if things improve.
#5 Experiencing Food Intolerances
When you shift to a keto diet, you trade in carb-heavy foods for proteins and healthy fat. In turn, you may be eating a lot of brand new foods for the first time. During this trial and error phase, you may encounter digestive issues or allergic reactions, including inflammation, swelling, itching, and bloating. A symptom could indicate a potential food intolerance.
Some keto food selections that you could be intolerant to include:
- Artificial sweeteners
To determine which foods are at fault, start by eliminating all the potential triggers. Next, slowly reintroduce them back into your diet, one by one. Once you pinpoint the one that causes your digestive upset, eliminate it from your diet and document any noticeable differences. If you’d rather get a quick answer about your food intolerances, you can also get tested by an allergist.
FODMAP foods are another subset of foods that many people have food sensitivities. FODMAP stands for “fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.”
Here are a few examples of high FODMAP foods:
- Coconut water
While many people’s gut biome can process these foods, others experience excessive fermentation, leading to bloating and stomach pain. See if avoiding these high FODMAP foods mitigates your bloating issues.
#6 Drinking an Inadequate Amount of Water
Once you go keto, you shed a lot of water weight as your body burns off all of its glycogen stores. In turn, you may need to pee more frequently. You may also notice a drop in water weight on the scale.
One downside of losing this water weight is becoming dehydrated. Dehydration dries out your whole body, including your GI tract. In turn, you may experience more keto constipation and bloating.
To avoid getting dehydrated on a keto diet, make sure you drink enough water. In turn, you’ll keep your cells hydrated and healthy, including those cells in your digestive tract.
#7 Eating an Improper Amount of Fiber
Dietary fiber is crucial to your digestion. It keeps things moving along in your digestive tract.
As you adopt a keto diet, your fiber intake may change dramatically. Whether you reduce your fiber or increase it, your body can experience bloating as a result.
- Reduction in fiber – In many instances, you may eat less fiber on a keto diet, since you can no longer eat fiber-rich potatoes, bread, rice, pasta, and cereals.
With less fiber, food generally moves slower through the GI tract. In turn, it will go through excessive fermentation, which can cause the body to produce excessive gas. This build-up in gas causes keto bloating.
- Increase in fiber – In other cases, you might increase your fiber intake on keto due to consuming more low-carb, high-fiber veggies, such as:
- Brussels sprouts
Eating too much fiber can ironically also cause bloating too, especially if your body is not used to it. If you think you’ve increased your fiber intake too much, talk with your doctor about cutting back slightly to see if the bloating will improve. By regularly practicing mindful eating and healthy eating, you will be able to better identify what high-fiber foods cause you to feel bloated and uncomfortable.
Debloat On The Keto Diet Today
If you’re committed to the keto diet, you don’t have to live with bloating. In addition to potential solutions such as; drinking more water, optimizing your dietary fiber intake, eliminating food allergens, and addressing excess MCT and sugar alcohol consumption, look into taking probiotics.
After discussing it with your doctor, you may find that probiotic consumption reduces your bloating and improves your overall digestion significantly.
Bio-K+ offers a wide range of tasty probiotic drinkables and easy-to-take capsules. Our patented probiotic strains have proven efficacy in clinical settings, so you can trust that you're getting a high-quality probiotic.
- “What Is Your Individual Carb Limit on Keto Diet?” KETO-MOJO, 12 June 2020, https://keto-mojo.com/article/what-is-your-carb-limit-on-a-keto-diet/
- Campos, Marcelo. “What Is Keto Flu?” Harvard Health Blog, 18 Oct. 2018, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-is-keto-flu-2018101815052
- Leech, Joe M. “Sugar Alcohols: Good or Bad?” Healthline, 18 May 1986, www.healthline.com/nutrition/sugar-alcohols-good-or-bad