It is very common for people to get discouraged when their weight loss is going slowly. There’s a big reason we write about how to lose weight fast, and discuss reasons why you’re not losing weight. Weight loss is hard, and we can all use some motivation from time to time.
This is why we’ve put together these pictures comparing fat to muscle. Once you’ve seen these pictures, you’ll realize how important the difference between weight and fat really is. You can make a much bigger difference losing 1 lb of fat than losing 3 lb that may come from muscle, and you’ll look better in the former case too.
The next time you’re doubting yourself, look at these pictures to remind yourself of the hard work you’re doing – no matter what the scale says.
- What Does 1 Pound of Body Fat Look Like?
- What Does 5 Pounds of Body Fat Look Like?
- 5 Things Your Personal Trainer Wishes You Knew
- 5 Big Benefits of Even a Small Weight Loss
- Weight gain due to constipation. Gain?
- How Constipation Can Make You Fat
- Constipation Weight GainWhat Is The Connection?
- Like what you have found?Please Spread the Word!
- How Much Does Poop Weigh in Your Body?
- Chronic Constipation: What Your Gut Is Trying to Tell You
- Wait…how much does poop weigh?
- Ah, so what affects my ability to poop?
- So how do I find my “normal”?
What Does 1 Pound of Body Fat Look Like?
These pictures will show you how losing 1 lb of body fat is much more progress than you think.
1 Pound of Body Fat in Hands
1 Pound of Body Fat Compared to Coffee Mug
1 Pound of Body Fat Compared to Can of Tomatoes
1 Pound of Body Fat vs. 1 Pound of Muscle
What Does 5 Pounds of Body Fat Look Like?
Now lets take a look at some comparison pictures of 5 lb of body fat.
In a statement that will surprise zero people: Losing weight is tough. And sometimes starting is the hardest, no matter if you’re looking to lose only five to 10 pounds, or if you’re embarking on the first five pounds in a 50-pound journey.
We’ve got happy news for all you would-be losers: Shedding just five percent of your body weight does a lot. It’s enough to decrease total body fat, visceral fat (the dangerous kind that hugs your organs), and liver fat. Plus, that small tip of the scale can also lower your blood pressure and improve your insulin sensitivity, reports a new study in the journal Cell Metabolism. All together this can also mean a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, study authors say.
“Our results show that you get a large ‘bang for your buck’ with a five percent weight loss. But an additional 10 to 15 percent weight loss continues to cause even more improvements in measures like blood lipids and blood pressure,” says study co-author Samuel Klein, MD, director at the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine.
So for those times you might be frustrated (maybe you’re down four pounds instead of the 40 pounds you were hoping for), remember this: Meaningful change takes time. Be sure to keep your non-scale victories in sight, and consider all the ways your small improvements have already done your body good. Here, five more reasons to be proud of every pound lost.
5 Things Your Personal Trainer Wishes You Knew
Sept. 15, 201703:33
5 Big Benefits of Even a Small Weight Loss
1. Strengthening Your Ticker
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High blood cholesterol levels cause the fat-like substance to stick to the insides of your arteries, increasing heart attack risk. Luckily, a modest weight drop can get you out of the danger zone. Overweight and obese women who lost weight over two years decreased their total cholesterol scores, “regardless of the amount of weight lost,” according to a 2013 study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. Drop as little as 10 percent of your body weight and you might also benefit from lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, insulin and triglycerides (another type of fat in your blood that ups heart disease risk).
Drop as little as 10 percent of your body weight and you might also benefit from lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, insulin and triglycerides.
2. Living Better
You don’t have to reach your goal weight to be happy. In fact, in a 2009 study on 900 weight loss patients, those who shed five to 10 percent of their body weight scored higher on measures of physical function and self-esteem. The researchers point out that just knowing that losing a bit is helping in these areas can keep you motivated to lose more, even when times get tough. There’s other evidence suggesting you’ll also benefit from more energy and vitality. Translation: You just feel great.
3. Improving Your Mood
According to a preliminary study from the University of Pennsylvania, when obese adults shed five percent of their body weight, they reported better sleep and improved moods within six months. The more sunshine-y ‘tude might not come from the weight loss itself (other studies indicate that the restriction of dieting can be a drag on your psyche), but the fact that they logged 21.6 more minutes of sleep per night versus just 1.2 minutes in a control group. Adequate sleep keeps frustration and irritability at bay, and better sleep also helps regulate your appetite, possibly helping you lose more weight. We call that a win-win.
4. Warding Off Inflammation
Inflammation is a big buzzword these days, and for good reason. While acute, short-term inflammation is a good thing (it’s your body’s way of responding to things like injuries), having low-grade chronic inflammation (the kind that sticks around long-term) can increase your risk for disease, like heart disease, stroke and metabolic syndrome. It’s not a lost battle, though. One study published in Nutrition Research put obese people (most were in their 20s and none had diabetes) on a diet and exercise program for 12 weeks. On average, they lost six pounds, but that was enough to decrease inflammation and enhance immune function, likely because it drives down the release of proinflammatory proteins stored in fat, the study authors concluded.
5. Keeping Joints Squeaky Clean
You might not think much about it now, but trust us, you want healthy joints as you age. (You do want to feel comfortable walking up the stairs for decades to come, right?) Excess weight can put more wear and tear on knee cartilage, leading to a painful condition called osteoarthritis. If you’re overweight, research shows that losing 11 pounds can decrease your likelihood of OA by more than 50 percent. Here’s to signing up for 5Ks well into your older years.
This story originally appeared on Life by Daily Burn.
WANT TO EAT BETTER? TRY THESE SIMPLE SWAPS:
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Weight gain due to constipation. Gain?
It is well known that constipation is a common problem. It means either going to the toilet less often than usual to empty the bowels,or passing hard or painful stools. To answer your question, it must be first established what the term weight gain implies. Weight gain is an increase in body weight.It can involve an increase in → Muscle mass → Fat deposits → Excess fluids such as water or other factors. A person generally gains weight by increasing food consumption, becoming physically inactive, or both. Basically When energy intake exceeds energy expenditure the body stores the excess energy as fat. However, the physiology of weight gain is complex involving numerous hormones, body systems and environmental factors. Hence the term weight gain involves a very broad spectrum of causation. At present research has shown that constipation can cause weight gain.and there are several theories regarding the same. Constipation can be a sign of an imbalance in gut flora and topping up levels of friendly bacteria has a positive effect on the breakdown of food and absorption of nutrients.Gut flora is basically the bacteria which populate one’s digestive system and may play a key role in weight management. There is evidence that weight gain and the composition of a person’s gut bacteria are tied. These bacteria are said to reduce the feelings of bloating and heaviness in the digestive system and can give a lighter feeling and reduce the appearance of stomach bloating.This is altered in constipation and is said to be one of the reasons of a feeling of weight gain. Another obvious reason of weight gain in this condition is that in this condition, the individual may not be able to completely clear the faeces from the rectum. So,in chronic constipation, there is more chance of accumulation of faeces in the rectum and bowels.Technically, it can increase your body weight.For example,if 200 g of stools accumulate each day, one will gain one kg of weight in 5 days. That is a sudden weight gain.However, the increase in body weight is temporary, not permanent.To be clear,this theory suggests that one may have some short term weight gain due to severe constipation. However, it doesn’t mean that the person is getting fatter.it is not a fat accumulation,just a faecal weight.These two theories provide a direct link as to how constipation could cause weight gain. There are other conditions which are associated with weight gain and have constipation as a symptom and hence could be misunderstood.One of which is an underactive thyroid. The thyroid gland secretes a hormone called thyroxine. This thyroid hormone controls many metabolic activities of the body.Low levels of thyroid hormone,slow down metabolic rate.This could lead to gain in weight. Constipation is a cardinal symptom of underactive thyroid.The second could be eating lots of junk food. These unhealthy foods have lots of calories which are usually loaded with fat or refined sugar. Eating these fast foods will make one put on weight. In addition, these foods don’t normally have enough fibre which can lead to constipation.Not enough physical activity and lack of exercise makes a person fat. In addition,it makes the bowels lazy. Slow bowel movements make the stools hard and difficult to pass. Hence to answer your question more specifically we can say constipation can cause weight gain to a small extent. Most of the time, it is an association rather than a causation.
How Constipation Can Make You Fat
Did you know that sluggish bowel movements can get in the way of losing weight? Yes you heard right. Not going to the loo regularly for a number two may mean that the love handles, belly fat and wobbly bits cling on for dear life and become part of the family. Let me connect the no-poop and weight gain dots for you.
In a simplified nutshell, constipation causes TOXICITY and INFLAMMATION. Toxicity and inflammation affects our ability to lose weight in various ways. The following gives you a better understanding of how.
Bare in mind this list is not exhaustive….
Recycled Garbage Makes Us Toxic
When the bowels are not evacuated regularly, waste material, hormones and toxins are reabsorbed by the body. This recycled garbage leads to toxic build-up in the bowel.
Bowel pockets otherwise known as “diverticula” of the colon may develop when too much pressure, “straining” is used to push poop out. There is often reduced muscle contraction in the walls of these pockets and it is also a place where food and contents collect to ferment and putrefy (rot). Rotting of food in the bowel encourages the growth of dangerous pathogens such as parasites, bacteria and fungus. Some strains of bacteria also produce their own toxins, one of them being the harmful lipopolysaccharides (LPS). This bacteria overgrowth and overall toxicity leads to inflammation in the gut.
Inflammation & Leaky Gut
Toxins and inflammation in the intestines weaken the intestinal wall and cause a “leaky gut”. As the name states the intestinal lining becomes “leaky” allowing undigested food, proteins, toxins, LPS, cholesterol and fats to pass through into the bloodstream and lymph. The immune system then cranks up inflammation in response. This toxicity and systemic inflammation goes on to affect the health of other organs, especially those that are weak and has been implicated as an early driver of obesity and insulin resistance.
Gut Bacteria Imbalance
Toxicity and inflammation in the bowel causes dysbiosis. Dysbiosis generally means that there is an unhealthy balance in the gut bacteria. Our gut bacteria have an important role in food metabolism, appetite, hormone regulation, energy use, integrity of the gut lining, mood health, inflammation and insulin resistance.
Blood Sugar Imbalance
Insulin is a hormone that regulates our blood sugar levels. One of its roles is to take the sugar (glucose) that we consume and use it for energy. Systemic inflammation blocks insulin receptors which means your body becomes resistant to insulin and as a result has a difficult time converting calories into energy. Instead we accumulate fat. Common signs and symptoms of insulin resistance (IS) are belly fat and weight gain. In addition to this, “belly fat” is biologically active tissue that produces its own hormones and inflammation. So essentially the belly fat creates inflammation and the inflammation creates more fat in a vicious cycle.
Systemic Inflammation (of the hypothalamus) can cause leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full. When we become resistant to leptin it is hard to satisfy hunger, you feel hungry more often and therefore tend to overconsume and put on weight.
The thyroid is very sensitive to toxins. The immune response and inflammation that occurs when toxins and protein molecules pass through a “leaky gut” and into the bloodstream plays a role in the development of autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s is the most common form of hypothyroidism. When constipated we do not clear hormones well, including estrogen. Instead the estrogen levels in the body rise. Elevated estrogen in the body raises thyroid-binding globulin (TBG) levels and decreases the amount of thyroid hormones available to the body. In order to have a healthy thyroid you must have a healthy gut. Common signs and symptoms of underactive thyroid and Hashimoto’s are weight gain, slowed metabolism and constipation.
Poor Energy For Exercise & Digestion
Toxicity leads to poor delivery of oxygen throughout the body. Without oxygen, our energy levels are depleted. An exhausted body does not digest or remove toxins well. Also how appealing will exercise or making better food choices be when you struggle to get through the day?
After reading this would you agree that moving the bowels regularly and keeping them clean is the first action step to long term weight loss? I most certainly do. So whether you have tried multiple diets and still struggle to shed the unwanted insulation, or if you are about to embark on a weight loss program ask yourself if the bowels need a bit of TLC. Guaranteed if unhappy bowels are not attended to, your results will be unsatisfying or simply non-existent.
Constipation Weight GainWhat Is The Connection?
Constipation weight gain. It had come, that dreaded moment to weigh in.
I tip toed onto the scale, hoping that maybe if I stepped on as lightly as possible the dial would be kinder to me.
Upon stepping aboard, my technique proved unsuccessful. I stepped off with a shriek of frustration. “Stupid scale must be broke”, I muttered.
As I was leaving the room I caught sight of the looming presence of the toilet and frowned. It had reminded me of something else that hadn’t been working quite right lately. My colon.
Can constipation make us fat?
The battle of the bulge. Many of us have been fighting this seemingly endless war for some time. I have waged many wars to lose weight and be the healthiest me I can be. However, a not so amusing thing kept happening as I did so.
I kept getting constipated! Upon throwing my system into a new and healthier eating regimen, I didn’t keep enough fiber in my diet.
For instance, there was one point I ate a full diet of lean proteins such as eggs and chicken breast. Though I did lose weight; these foods made me constipated and bloated.
The scale went down but my gut seemed to magically grow out as my stool became shriveled, dry and difficult to eliminate. Ten pounds down, yet I felt fatter than ever.
What about constipation weight gain?
Maybe you have watched the commercials dealing with the colon where they talk about people losing up to 20 pounds from cleaning out a backed up colon.
Perhaps you even heard the rumor about John Wayne’s colon weighing a astronomic 40 pounds upon his death because of backed up waist. This was only a myth.
I’m happy to say that, except for rare situations, constipation weight gain is a myth as well. It is very unusual to gain more than five pounds of weight from backed up waste due to constipation.
Why? The tremendous pain, fatigue, fever, cramps and general state of unbearable misery caused by even a pound or two of backed up feces is enough to propel anyone into desperate action to rid it. It would take literally years of living in the horrid state of advanced constipation before one’s colon could achieve 40 pounds of backed up feces.
Actually, most colons would tear open from the sheer strain of such grand amounts of stool, likely resulting in death.
Constipation usually causes weight loss
When it comes to extreme constipation, most people find that they lose their appetites, and lose weight in the process.
As toxins build up in the system over the stretch of several days to a week’s time, the gut has nowhere else to place the toxins and therefore is forced to re-distribute them back into the body.
As toxins are absorbed back into the blood and deposited throughout the body, it can cause nausea.
How to stop and prevent constipation
Even though it is much more common to experience weight loss when constipated as opposed to constipation weight gain, having a bloated, extended gut can still feel pretty miserable.
So how can we prevent this bloated, fat feeling from ever striking? So glad you asked!
- First and foremost, I include a daily dose of magnesium in my diet.
My magnesium rich mineral supplement works hard to pull water into my colon. This helps to keep stool from drying out.
Stool that is moist is soft and slick, which helps it to move more easily through the colon.
- Next, I eat a diet rich in fiber, around 25 to 40 grams worth a day.
It is easy to add fiber simply by indulging in some whole wheat bread or pasta along with raw fruits and vegetables.
- I try to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, to keep from becoming dehydrated. Dehydration is a major cause of constipation.
How much water should a person drink? It depends on your weight. Simply divide your weight. This figure is how many ounces of water one should take a day.
For example, if a person weighs 200 pounds, they would need 100 ounces of water per day.
- I keep my body moving. Even a little physical activity can help keep the colon moving, and physical activity that firms up those abdominal muscles is even better.
- Lastly, I try to keep stress at bay. Stress can be a large contributor to many physical problems, including that of constipation.
Alternate causes of constipation weight gain
Though constipation in itself is not a solid reason for ongoing weight gain, there are a few conditions worth mentioning, for which both constipation and weight gain occur together.
- Hypothyroidism – this is a condition of a dysfunctional thyroid (located in the neck) which controls weight gain and loss. Those suffering with this condition will experience symptoms such as constipation, depression and fatigue.
- Pregnancy – not to state the obvious but pregnancy not only causes weight gain, many pregnant women struggle with constipation as extra weight pushes down on the rectum.
- PMS – actual symptoms such as constipation and weight gain actually begin five to eleven days before the menstrual cycle begins. These symptoms often end as the cycle officially begins.
- Hashimoto’s disease – this disease is characterized by an under-active thyroid and includes symptoms of physical weakness and weight gain as well as constipation.
A note in closing
Most of us want to avoid both constipation AND weight gain. I hope this article has been helpful. Blessings, and as always, thank you for reading!
Return from Constipation Weight Gain to Constipation Complications)
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How Much Does Poop Weigh in Your Body?
In the book The Truth About Poop, author Susan E. Goodman states that people produce one ounce of poop for each 12 pounds of their body weight. This means the more you weigh, the heavier your poop will be.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the average man in the U.S. weighs 195.7 pounds, and the average woman weighs 168.5 pounds. This means a man of average weight produces about 1 pound of poop and a woman of average weight produces about 14 ounces of poop per day, contained in your large intestine. The large intestine forms an upside down U over the coiled small intestine. It begins at the lower right-hand side of the body and ends on the lower left-hand side. The large intestine is about 5-6 feet long. It has three parts: the cecum, the colon, and the rectum. The cecum is a pouch at the beginning of the large intestine. This area allows food to pass from the small intestine to the large intestine. The colon is where fluids and salts are absorbed and extends from the cecum to the rectum. The last part of the large intestine is the rectum, which is where feces (waste material) is stored before leaving the body through the anus.
The main job of the large intestine is to remove water and salts (electrolytes) from the undigested material and to form solid waste that can be excreted. Bacteria in the large intestine help to break down the undigested materials. The remaining contents of the large intestine are moved toward the rectum, where feces are stored until they leave the body through the anus as a bowel movement.
The weight of your poop comes from the content of water, fiber, and bacteria present in the stool. Water makes up about 75% of feces and stool weight increases when more fiber is consumed, because fiber holds a lot of water.
Chronic Constipation: What Your Gut Is Trying to Tell You
Perhaps you’ve made changes to your diet and lifestyle and still aren’t getting any relief. At this point, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor to see if your gut symptoms are a result of something else going on in your body.
While having chronic constipation doesn’t necessarily mean you also have one of these conditions, it may be a good idea to have some additional diagnostic tests just to check.
This is especially true if you’re having other symptoms like fatigue, hair loss, abdominal cramping, weight changes, or vision problems.
Chronic constipation could be a sign of the following conditions:
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
When your thyroid, a small gland near at the front of your neck, fails to produce enough hormones, it can have a drastic impact on your metabolism. A sluggish metabolism results in a slowdown of the entire digestive process, which leads to constipation.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism usually develop slowly over time. Aside from constipation, if you have an underactive thyroid, you may also experience:
- increased sensitivity to cold
- dry skin
- weight gain
- irregular menstrual periods if you’re a woman
- thinning hair
- brittle fingernails
- impaired memory
- a puffy face
A blood test known as a thyroid function test can help assess the function of your thyroid. If you’re found to have hypothyroidism, your doctor will likely have to run more tests. Hypothyroidism can be caused by other conditions, including:
- an autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto’s disease
- radiation therapy
- congenital diseases
- pituitary disorders
- iodine deficiency
- certain medications, such as lithium
- thyroid surgery
Hypothyroidism can be successfully treated with a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine (Levothroid, Unithroid).
Like hypothyroidism, diabetes is also a hormonal problem. In diabetes, your body stops producing enough of the hormone insulin so your body can no longer break down sugar in your blood.
The high blood sugar levels seen in type 1 and 2 diabetes can lead to diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage. According to the Mayo Clinic, damage to the nerves controlling the digestive tract can lead to constipation.
It’s imperative for diabetes to be diagnosed as early as possible. Diabetes symptoms will get worse if not treated. Along with constipation, look out for other symptoms including:
- being thirsty all the time
- frequent urination, particularly at night
- weight loss
- blurred vision
Irritable bowel syndrome
Constipation can be a result of a bowel disease known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The exact cause of IBS is not well understood, but it’s thought to be a result of problems with the way your brain and gut interact with each other.
A diagnosis of IBS can be made by assessing your symptoms. Aside from constipation, other symptoms of IBS include:
- abdominal pain and cramping
- excessive flatulence
- occasional urgent diarrhea
- passing mucus
When you’re anxious or stressed out, your body goes into “flight or fight” mode. Your sympathetic nervous system becomes active, which means your digestion gets put on hold.
Anxiety that doesn’t go away, sometimes called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), can take a toll on your digestive process.
Other symptoms of GAD include:
- excessive worry
- difficulty concentrating
Anxiety can be treated with medications and psychological counseling or therapy.
Depression can cause constipation for a variety of reasons. People who are depressed might stay in bed all day and have decreased physical activity.
They might also change their diet, eat a lot of foods high in sugar or fat, or not eat much at all. Such lifestyle and diet changes can likely lead to constipation.
Medications and psychological counseling are very effective for people with depression. Symptoms of depression include:
- feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or despair
- suicidal thoughts
- angry outbursts
- loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- trouble concentrating
- reduced appetite
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, consider talking to a therapist. Once your psychological problems are addressed, your gut will respond.
In some cases, constipation symptoms can be a sign of a more serious problem. For example, problems with your brain or nervous system can affect the nerves that cause muscles in your intestines to contract and move stool.
Alternatively, something blocking your bowel, like a tumor, can also lead to constipation. In most of these conditions, constipation is usually not the only symptom. Other conditions that could cause constipation include:
- hypercalcemia, or too much calcium in your bloodstream
- multiple sclerosis, a condition that affects your nervous system
- Parkinson’s disease, a condition where part of your brain becomes progressively damaged
- bowel obstruction
- bowel cancer
- spinal cord injury
Anyone who has ever hit the bathroom at Target or Barnes & Noble to emerge a new person has probably wondered (beyond “What is it about this place?”) whether pooping actually affects weight loss.
It’s a fair question. A nice, productive poop (I think you know what I’m talking about without me having to describe) can make you feel lighter and leaner and more comfortable in your jeans. Being “stuck” (a.k.a. constipated) makes you feel…the opposite. But is that lighter feeling after pooping real?
Turns out, it can be—but only a bit, says Mitzi Dulan, RD, author of The Pinterest Diet. “It’s actually fairly simple,” she says. “Depending on your size and how regular you are, your poop can vary from one to four pounds. It’s likely to be on the higher end if you haven’t pooped for a few days.”
Wait…how much does poop weigh?
If you’re thinking, “Four pounds, seriously?!” I get it…that’s not exactly a small amount if you’re struggling to lose weight. But you have to remember that your poo is made up of some pretty heavy stuff: Specifically, it’s about 75 percent water, per UMass Memorial Healthcare, with the rest being composed of bacteria, mucous, dead blood cells, and duh, food remains.
That said, you have to think big picture here. Even four pounds isn’t a significant amount of weight at the end of the day, since the number on the scale will consistently swing up and down as your bowel movements do. In other words, when you’re backed up, your weight will increase a bit, and after you relieve yourself, it’ll drop.
Either way, pooping won’t affect your weight in any huge way—even if it does feel like you just dropped 10 pounds. That amazing feeling is more about de-bloating than actual loss of body mass. Sorry!
Oh, tell me more about weight loss versus de-bloating.
Bloating is that awful, uncomfortable, full feeling that strikes when your digestive system has trapped air or gas inside it, and it can be downright painful, not to mention make you look puffy AF. Even though your stomach might appear bigger when you’re bloated, bloating doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve gained actual weight (in terms of body mass).
“Pooping can reduce bloating and help you fit more comfortably in your clothes so you feel smaller overall,” says Dulan. “It’s not like after you poop you should be saying, ‘This is my new weight!’”
“Pooping can reduce bloating and help you fit more comfortably in your clothes so you feel smaller…”
If you’re trying to track weight loss, Dulan suggests weighing yourself at similar times in the morning, sans clothes, to avoid letting your poops (or lack thereof) trick the scale. “If you have to go to the bathroom, go ahead because it will lower the scale a little bit,” she says. “But if you don’t need to poop, don’t sit on the toilet trying to go so you weigh less. It won’t be a substantial difference.”
Ah, so what affects my ability to poop?
While the direct connection between pooping and weight loss is minimal (again, sorry!), there is one aspect of the link that you can use to your benefit: “Eating a diet that’s higher in fiber causes you to not only be more regular, but it can also help you lose weight,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD, a nutritionist at B Nutritious.
How so? Stocking up on enough fiber throughout your day helps push food through your system to avoid constipation before it starts. “It actually stimulates your GI tract to promote movement,” says Zeitlin. Beyond that, a high-fiber diet may help ward off certain cancers, especially that of the colon, and help regulate blood sugar and reduce cholesterol, studies show.
And when it comes to your weight, fiber fills you up like few nutrients can. “Fiber is found in three things: fruits, vegetables, and whole grains,” says Zeitlin. “If you’re incorporating fiber at every meal and snack, you’re making sure you’re eating one of these fabulous foods that promote weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. In addition, you’re probably removing other things that aren’t as great .”
Speaking of things that aren’t as great for your diet, here’s how J.Lo and A-Rod pulled off a no-sugar challenge:
That said, don’t overdo it on the F word: Zeitlin recommends women aim for 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day, because getting much more than that can not only constipate you but cause other GI distress symptoms, too.
According to Duke University, regularly consuming more than 70 grams of fiber may lead to bloating, gas, diarrhea, cramps, and a decrease in appetite. Eating too much fiber can also limit nutrient absorption and even cause intestinal blockages (that’s pretty serious stuff).
To get a healthy amount of fiber every day, try having a cup of a high-fiber food as part of your breakfast, like a cup of berries with Greek yogurt (it’s high in probiotics, which “promote healthy GI bacteria to help move things along,” says Zeitlin). You should also aim to eat two fistfuls of veggies at both lunch and dinner to keep your digestive system—and your weight—as regular as possible.
Oh, and don’t forget about all the other stuff you do all day that affects how often you poop (fiber is just one piece of the puzzle!). As WH previously reported, you might find yourself pooping less frequently if you:
- don’t drink enough water
- forget to manage your stress levels
- change your schedule or travel frequently (hi, vacation constipation)
- experience hormonal changes (thanks to PMS, pregnancy, or menopause)
- take certain OTC or prescription medications
- change up your diet or caloric intake
- don’t engage in regular physical activity
Of course, the reverse of all these factors is true, too; some medications can make you poop more often, as can your overall activity/hydration/caffeine levels. It’s all one big balancing act.
So how do I find my “normal”?
If you’re hoping for an exact number of bowel movements that’s considered “healthy” or “normal,” so sorry (gosh, I keep apologizing here). There is no one number, because the range of normal varies from person to person. Anywhere from three times a day to once every three days is generally considered healthy, so as long as you fall somewhere along that spectrum (and aren’t experiencing anything painful or out of the ordinary), you’re good.
Now, if you are experiencing something painful or out of the ordinary, you should contact your doctor. Depending on the issue, he or she may refer you to a gastroenterologist. According to Penn Medicine, having the following symptoms for any extended period of time (i.e. more than a few days) warrants a phone call or visit:
- consistently off-colored poop (like pale, red, or black stool) or color changes not related to new dietary habits
- sudden changes to the frequency of your bowel movements
- bloody stool
- severe abdominal pain while pooping
- poop that floats (which can be a sign of infection)
- poop that smells unusual or especially odorous
The bottom line? It’s important to know that a slowdown in your regular bathroom habits may make you feel like you’ve gained a bunch of weight, but that’s really not the case. A combination of bloating and discomfort—along with a couple extra pounds of poop—can make the situation seem more dire than it actually is.
When you do finally go, you’ll feel lighter than air…but you’ll still only weigh a leeeettle less than before. So if weight loss is your goal, you’ll need to think outside the bathroom—good thing WH is here for that!
Sarah Bradley Sarah Bradley is a freelancer writer from Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and three sons.
Other symptoms include nervousness or irritability, fatigue or muscle weakness, feeling too hot, problems sleeping, shaky hands, a rapid and irregular heartbeat, diarrhea, and mood swings, the NIDDK says.
2. Persistent depressive disorder
Just as this condition can cause weight gain due to overeating, it can also cause weight loss due to undereating. If you’re grappling with this and other symptoms of persistent depressive disorder or depression, that’s definitely worth noticing.
3. Peptic ulcer disease
Like the condition above, this is on both lists because it can influence your eating habits in a number of ways. Some people find that eating actually makes the pain of peptic ulcers worse, Dr. Lowden says, so they might try to eat as little as possible and lose weight as a result.
You might already know that type 1 and type 2 diabetes happen when your blood sugar (glucose) levels are persistently too high, and that diabetes is often associated with obesity.
But diabetes can also cause weight loss, according to the Mayo Clinic, along with issues like increased thirst, peeing often, fatigue, blurry vision, and more. The weight loss comes into play if diabetes makes you pee frequently to get rid of excess sugar in your blood, which can also make you pee out calories, the Mayo Clinic explains.
5. Celiac disease
When you have celiac disease, eating gluten (a protein that’s found in wheat, barley, and rye) triggers a pretty gnarly immune response in your small intestine, according to the Mayo Clinic. Over time, this harms your small intestine’s lining and prevents absorption of nutrients, which can lead to weight loss.
This intestinal damage can also cause diarrhea, fatigue, bloating, anemia, and more, the Mayo Clinic says.
This actually isn’t a condition, it’s a collection of symptoms. If someone has dementia, neurological changes compromise their ability to think, remember, and reason as well as they used to, the National Institute on Aging explains. So, if someone has a form of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, they’ll go through behavioral and personality changes, along with other potential issues like unintended weight loss.
“They may simply forget to eat,” Dr. LePort says. “It may not even register sometimes that they’re hungry, or they don’t know what to do to resolve the issue.” They may also experience reduced smell and taste, trouble swallowing, and distraction while eating, according to the Mayo Clinic—all of which can contribute to weight loss.
7. Inflammatory bowel disease
Oh, inflammatory bowel disease, what could anyone possibly have done to deserve you? Inflammatory bowel disease is a catch-all term for disorders that cause persistent inflammation in your GI system, the Mayo Clinic explains.
One of those disorders is Crohn’s disease. It causes hellish inflammation, typically in the last part of the small intestine and the colon, though it can affect any part of the GI tract, the Mayo Clinic explains. The inflammation frequently spreads deep into the layers of the bowel tissue. Then there’s ulcerative colitis, which is when you have inflammation and ulcers in the lining of your large intestine and rectum, the Mayo Clinic says.
Either type of inflammatory bowel disease can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, severe and bloody diarrhea, fatigue, mouth sores, and a reduced appetite. Unsurprisingly, if you’re dealing with these symptoms, you’re probably going to lose weight, Dr. LePort explains.
8. Addison’s disease
This lesser-known disorder happens when your adrenal glands don’t produce enough of the hormones cortisol and aldosterone, the Cleveland Clinic says. These hormones influence almost every organ and tissue in your body, according to the Mayo Clinic, and signs that something’s up with them include abdominal pain, abnormal periods, cravings for salty foods, dehydration, depression, diarrhea, loss of appetite, nausea, sensitivity to cold, vomiting, and unexplained weight loss.
The weight loss occurs due to a portion of your adrenal glands called your cortex, the Mayo Clinic explains. The cortex is the outer layer of these glands, and it produces a group of hormones called corticosteroids. Corticosteroids include glucocorticoids, which influence your body’s ability to convert fuel from the food you eat into energy. Without sufficient glucocorticoids, your body has trouble properly utilizing the nutrients you eat, which can lead to weight loss. (As can the nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.)
So, when do you see a doctor about unexpected weight gain or loss?
It’s normal for your weight to fluctuate a bit from day to day, or even from morning to night. But a fluctuation that keeps you in a general weight range is different from persistent weight gain or loss over time. If that’s what you’re noticing, it’s time to head to a doctor. That’s especially true if you’re dealing with significant weight changes along with any of the above additional symptoms indicating that something’s wrong.
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