Social media makes the keto diet look like fun. Scroll through the #keto tag on TikTok and you’ll find loads of keto recipes—sandwiches made with bell peppers instead of bread, cucumber dipped in stevia (which apparently tastes like watermelon, without the sugar), and keto “popcorn” made of cubed cheese—plus posts from folks that have had success following the high-fat, low-carb plan.
And sure, getting creative in the kitchen while working towards your health goals can be fun! But when certain keto side effects start popping up, that fun often comes to a screeching halt. You’ve heard about the keto flu and low-carb breath, but there’s another side-effect that people are less comfortable talking about: Keto diarrhea.
“It’s so bad that I can’t leave my house and I have stomach cramps constantly,” said one Redditor in a Keto Diarrhea thread.
“Last night in the middle of the night I had to run to the toilet,” wrote another redditor who was new to the keto diet. “This has continued all day today and it sucks to say the least.”
In the comments, there are other keto devotees telling the original posters to stick it out, and that it’s a normal part of starting keto for some people.
But, is keto diarrhea normal? What causes it? Is it forever? And, when should you take it as a sign to stop the diet or see your doctor? We have answers.
What is keto diarrhea?
Although keto diarrhea is a common side-effect, it’s not the same for everyone.
Often, keto diarrhea is actually steatorrhea, a specific type of diarrhea caused by too much fat in the stool, says Karie Cassell, R.D., a dietitian and the author of The Domino Diet. Steatorrhea is typically pale, foul-smelling and might be coated in a thick, greasy film.
It’s also possible that the keto diarrhea you’re experiencing is just regular diarrhea, characterized by loose, watery stools without excess fat content, Cassell says.
Some people experience keto diarrhea within the first few days of starting the diet, while others might start getting diarrhea weeks or months later, Cassell says.
What causes keto diarrhea?
High fat content
The main reason for keto diarrhea is the incredibly high fat content…