Can spending some quality time on the porcelain throne throw your weight around in either direction? As it turns out, it can—but only a bit, says Mitzi Dulan, R.D., 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."
So while you might see the number on the scale swing up a bit when you’re backed up and then decrease after you relieve yourself, pooping won’t affect your weight in any huge way.
If you poop after a few days of constipation, you might think you’ve lost a ton. “Pooping can reduce bloating and help you feel more comfortable in your jeans so you feel smaller overall,” says Dulan.
But that amazing feeling is more about de-bloating than actual loss of body mass. “It’s not like after you poop you should be saying, ‘This is my new weight!’” says Dulan. She suggests weighing yourself at similar times in the morning, sans clothes.
“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."
While the direct connection between pooping and weight loss is minimal, 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 be more regular, and it can also help you lose weight,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, M.P.H., R.D., a nutritionist at B Nutritious.
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.
When it comes to your weight, fiber fills you up like few nutrients can. “Fiber is found in three things: fruits, vegetables, and whole grain," 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 [from your diet]."
Zeitlin recommends women aim for 25 to 30 grams a 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.
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