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If you’ve stepped on the scale before and after a big poop to see how much weight you just unloaded, you’re not the only one.
Technically speaking, your total body weight will change when you poop. But will you “lose weight” (aka body fat) by pooping more, or more often? Nope.
You might feel lighter and more comfortable after going. Especially if you’re constipated or bloated.
About 16 percent of adults have symptoms of constipation — aka fewer than three bowel movements a week, hard or dry stools, stools that are painful to pass, or bowels that feel less-than-empty afterward.
Read on for the straight poop about poop and weight.
It’s practically impossible to estimate how much stool is in a person’s body at a particular moment. It depends on how much they’ve eaten, how hydrated they are, how often they go to the bathroom, etc.
How much poop weighs can vary for many reasons, but scientists have done the calculations and apparently the average healthy adult poops 128 grams a day (about a quarter pound). The average person has 1.2 bowel movements in a 24-hour period.
These stats vary wildly from person to person. In the scientific review mentioned above, individual poop weights ranged from 5 to 1,505 grams per day.
Fiber intake seemed to have the biggest impact on fecal mass (more fiber, more poop). Body weight, gender, and calorie intake also seem to impact fecal mass.
Digestion begins with chewing. Next, food moves down the esophagus into the stomach, where stomach acids and digestive enzymes break it down further.
From there it moves into the small intestine, where more digestive juice is added. Along the way, starches, carbohydrates, and proteins break down.
The pancreas adds pancreatic juice to the mix, and the liver adds bile for fat digestion. As food moves through the small intestine, the body absorbs water and nutrients.
Like the small intestine, the large intestine moves its contents through the system with rhythmic muscle contractions called peristalsis. The large intestine contains all that good bacteria that helps finish digesting your food.
Throughout this trek, more water and nutrients are absorbed from the mixture until solid stool is left in the lower section of the bowel, ready to be pooped out.
The whole process is orchestrated by hormones and nerves in the digestive system. It’s almost elegant, right? But if the choreography is stalled or out of rhythm (like with constipation and bloating), you may not be feeling the elegance.
Some people are more likely to be constipated, including:
- women who are pregnant or have just given birth
- older adults
- peeps lacking dietary fiber
- having functional gastrointestinal disorders
It should take food 3 to 5 days to make its way completely through your body.
Typical poop is 75 percent water and 25 percent solid. The solid matter is about 30 percent dead bacteria, 30 percent indigestible food matter, 10 to 20 percent cholesterol and fat, 10 to 20 percent inorganic material, and 2 to 3 percent protein.
Does this diet make my tummy look full?
The composition of your diet can definitely impact how much and how often you go. (More fiber, more poop, remember?) Diets that recommend a higher volume of fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains will increase fecal output because of all that healthy fiber.
On the other hand, diets that prioritize high protein foods over high fiber foods will likely slow down your pipes and lead to constipation.
As with any restrictive diet, short-term weight loss is possible, but it’s probably not related to how much you poop.
If you just ate a giant meal, it might temporarily feel like you swallowed a beach ball. If you have that feeling a lot, consider whether bloating (usually caused by gas in the digestive system) is your problem.
Review the signs of constipation above. Constipation and bloating often go hand in hand. Other causes of bloating include irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis, and gynecological problems.
When you identify the cause and get some relief from bloating, your pants will feel looser and you’ll be more comfortable in your body. Hallelujah!
Surely you must have lost weight? Probably not. It’s just another one of those biological things that makes being a radiant being in a meat suit feel different from day to day.
Consistency is a key factor for poop health. If your poo is solid (but not too hard) and you go every few days (up to a few times a day), you’re probably doing fine.
However, if it’s hard to go and you feel constantly bloated, it may be time to ask your doctor what’s up.
Follow these tips to stay regular:
- Drink more water. Aim for 8 cups a day and more if it’s hot out or you exercise a lot.
- Eat more fiber. Including solute fiber (like from beans, oats, and apples) and insoluble fiber (like from broccoli, tomatoes, and whole grains).
- Exercise. 150 minutes each week, at moderate intensity.
- Seek treatment. for underlying health conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid disease, and lactose intolerance.
And ditch the laxatives! Overuse of laxatives to lose weight is a dangerous purging behavior in people with eating disorders.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, laxative abuse causes loss of water, electrolytes, and minerals, but not calories or body fat. And it can lead to renal inflammation, cardiac arrest, seizures, tachycardia, and muscle breakdown.
Being part of a body image-obsessed culture can make you do weird things. Like contemplate the weight of your poop and how it impacts your total body weight.
You might as well weigh the hair that clogs your shower drain. While poop weight and hair shedding won’t tell you much about changes in the shape and size of your body, they can be indicators of general health and wellbeing.
So, go ahead and think about how healthy your poop is. Add water, fiber, and exercise to get your bowels moving right.