Published on April 6, 2023

Can Constipation Make You Gain Weight?

In our modern lives, digestive issues are becoming more apparent due to our stressful environments and poor diets. The most common digestive complication that’s experienced is constipation. This lack of proper bowel functioning can cause discomfort and frustration for any person who experiences it. 

There are many misconceptions about constipation and its effects on the body, including the belief that it can lead to weight gain. In this article, we will explore the ins and outs of constipation weight gain to determine whether or not these beliefs are true.

What is Constipation?

The truth is, constipation can affect anyone at any stage in life, and for many different reasons. This digestive issue occurs when the movement of stools through the colon is slow and difficult to pass. It can be physically uncomfortable as most people experience bloating, gas, and abdominal pain alongside their constipation issues. 

Constipation can be caused by a variety of factors, the most common including:

  • Low Fiber Diet. Not consuming enough dietary fiber daily can lead to constipation. Fiber adds bulk to stools, making it easier to pass through the digestive system. 
  • Dehydration. The human body is mostly water and needs water for most major functions. Staying hydrated is vital for removing waste from the body. Not drinking enough water can lead to hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass. 
  • Lack of Exercise. A sedentary lifestyle slows down digestion, which can contribute heavily to constipation. 
  • Medication and Medical Conditions. Certain medications can be attributed to uncomfortable stools, such as painkillers, antidepressants, and antacids. Also, there are several medical conditions that can cause constipation. Issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), hypothyroidism, and diabetes can contribute to waste management complications. Even certain neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis can affect the nerves that control bowel movements. 
  • Pregnancy. Constipation is a common occurrence in pregnant women due to the hormonal changes that occur, causing digestion to slow.  
  • Age. Aging naturally slows a lot of bodily functions and bowel movements are no different when it comes to the effects of aging. 
  • Stress. High levels of stress can put a lot of damage to the body, this includes negatively affecting the digestive system, resulting in constipation. 

When to See a Doctor

If you’re experiencing chronic constipation, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider to determine underlying causes and receive proper treatment. Chronic constipation is defined as having less than three bowel movements per week for several weeks. 

What Causes Weight Gain?

Weight gain happens when you consume more calories than you’re able to burn through daily functions and physical activity. Excess calories get stored in the body as fat, which can lead to increased weight gain over time.

Common Reasons for Weight Gain

Weight gain can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, diet, lifestyle, and medical conditions. Let’s explore the most common causes of weight gain:

  • Genetics. Some people are predisposed to gain weight due to their genetic makeup. Certain genes can affect metabolism, appetite, and the way the body stores and uses fat.
  • Diet. Eating a diet that is high in calories, fat, sugar, and processed foods can lead to weight gain. Consuming more calories than the body needs can cause the excess to be stored as fat, leading to weight gain over time.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle. A lack of physical activity can slow down metabolism and lead to weight gain. When the body is not burning enough calories, the excess is stored as fat.
  • Medical Conditions. Struggling with chronic illness can cause other complications with weight gain. Conditions such as hypothyroidism and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) are common conditions that can contribute to weight gain. 
  • Medications. Common medications such as antidepressants and anti-psychotics can also contribute to an increase in fat in the body. These medications more often have weight gain as a side effect. 
  • Sleep Deprivation. Sleep is important for the regulation of our hormones. When we experience a lack of sleep, the hormones that regulate our metabolism can lead to weight gain. 
  • Stress. High levels of stress can trigger the body to produce extra stress hormones, called cortisol. This specific hormone can increase your appetite and increase the amount of fat the body stores. 
  • Aging. As people age, their metabolism naturally slows down. When the metabolism weens, the body is more likely to gain weight if calorie intake is not adjusted accordingly.
  • Hormonal changes. Hormonal changes can affect weight gain. Common hormonal shifts in women, such as pregnancy and menopause can contribute to weight gain. Also, monthly menstruation cycles can also contribute to this issue.
  • Alcohol consumption. Alcohol is typically high in calories and often signals the body to retain fat. Heavy drinking can also increase appetite, which is also a factor in weight gain. 

The Facts About Constipation and Weight Gain

Common myths suggest that constipation causes you to retain food in your digestive system for longer periods, leading to weight gain. However, several studies have debunked this theory. So, what’s the reason behind this myth?

One possible explanation is the misconceptions people may have about constipation, such as confusing it with bloating which can make you feel heavier. Bloating occurs when excess gas accumulates in the intestines, leading to discomfort and swelling of the abdomen. However, bloating is a temporary condition that does not cause permanent weight gain.

Another reason behind the myth is that some constipation medications, such as laxatives. These medications can lead to water loss from the body, which can cause temporary weight loss. However, this weight loss is not due to the loss of body fat and can be easily regained once the body is rehydrated.

Several studies have explored the relationship between constipation and weight gain, and the results suggest there is no significant association between the two. 

  • A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology in 2007 examined the association between constipation and BMI in a population of adults. The study found that there was no significant difference in BMI between constipated and non-constipated individuals.
  • Another study published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2011 examined the relationship between constipation and weight gain in a large population of women. The study found that constipation was not associated with changes in body weight or BMI (body mass index) over a period of six years. 
  • Similarly, a study published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in 2016 found no significant difference in body weight, BMI, or waist circumference between constipated and non-constipated individuals.

Constipation and Weight Gain: What You Need to Know

Weight gain can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, diet, lifestyle, and medical conditions. While constipation can be uncomfortable and may cause temporary bloating, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that it causes weight gain. 

If you are experiencing chronic constipation, it is important to seek medical advice and make dietary and lifestyle changes to manage the condition. Eating a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly can help alleviate constipation symptoms and promote digestive health. 

Breaking the myths around constipation and weight gain can help you better support your health goals. Though constipation doesn’t cause weight gain over a long period of time, there are, however, plenty of methods to combat both constipation and weight gain in a healthy manner. 

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