Weight Loss and Unwanted Side Effects (gas and constipation) UGH!

We know all about the benefits of losing weight!

Things that often happen when we lose weight:
  • Look better
  • Feel better
  • More energy
  • Blood pressure goes down
  • Cholesterol levels go down
  • Type 2 diabetes improves or reversed

Losing weight is wonderful but changing how you eat might be socially irresponsible! Nobody wants to talk about the smelly little secret that often accompanies changing what you eat to lose weight.


Gas is embarrassing! It’s hard to hide and tends to attack at the most inappropriate times. If you’ve ever experienced gas while trying to lose weight by eating more healthfully you know how devastating a gas attack can be!

So totally unfair! I take better care of my body and this is my reward?

So totally unfair! I take better care of my body and this is my reward?

Switching from a diet of mostly processed foods to a diet based on whole foods upsets the digestive tract causing gas. This usually gets better with time after your body gets used to eating a diet rich in high-fiber foods and vegetables.

If gas persists you can try to eliminate the foods that give you the most trouble. Beans, Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 6.44.47 AMbroccoli, cauliflower and onions are common causes. Try cutting one out of your diet to see if it helps. Basically, through a process of elimination you can discover what foods are causing most of your gassy issues. By avoiding those foods or reducing how much you eat may help relieve the problem.

There are also over-the-counter products, such as Beano, to help alleviate gas.

The other digestion upset that sometimes accompanies a weight loss attempt is unexpected – constipation! It doesn’t seem to make sense that eating more fiber and vegetables will cause constipation. We’d expect the opposite.


Constipation means hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass. It’s painful! There are several reasons why diet or dieting can lead to constipation including:

  • A change in what and/or how we eat
  • Skipping meals or an erratic eating schedule
  • Drinking too little water
  • Increasing fiber intake too drastically

It’s common when starting a weight loss attempt to change everything about how and when we eat and that can be a formula for constipation. Once your body gets used to the new way you’re eating, you’ll get relief from constipation.

...and I thought that eating more fiber and vegetables would have a different "outcome!"

…and I thought that eating more fiber and vegetables would have a different “outcome!”

Tips to manage constipation

Eat Slower

Eating slower is more than just a way to recognize satiety before you’ve eaten more than enough to be “full.” Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 5.24.34 AMSlowing down your eating might also reduce problems with gas. People who eat fast often swallow extra air which leads to more gas.

Scheduled Eating

Erratic eating patterns are a cause of gas and constipation. Skipping meals as a weight loss strategy is not a good idea. Try to eat at about the same time each day to help alleviate both gas and constipation

Eat the Right Diet

Your weight loss diet may not be balanced. It should consist of adequate fiber and healthy foods that provide needed vitamins and minerals.

Adequate Water

Water is an important element to keep the bowels functioning properly. Drinking fluids with your meals also increases the production of gas for many people.

Move to Keep Things Moving!

Exercise helps constipation by decreasing the time it takes food to move through the large intestine. Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 9.35.50 AMThat will limit the amount of water absorbed from the stool into the body.  Aerobic exercise accelerates breathing and heart rate. This helps to stimulate the natural contraction of intestinal muscles. Intestinal muscles that contract efficiently help move stools out quickly.

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.