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Keto Gas: Causes and Remedies

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 07/18/2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of nutrition, the ketogenic diet has emerged as a revolutionary approach to better health. People are embracing it not just to lose weight but to achieve better blood sugar control, improved brain function, and overall well-being.


However, your body has to adapt to a high-fat diet, which can lead to temporary discomforts, including gas and bloating.


Let's explore the common causes of keto gas and discover effective remedies to help alleviate digestive issues associated with starting a low-carb diet.  


Women with digestive issues

What is keto?


Keto, short for the ketogenic diet, is a way of eating that initiates a metabolic state called ketosis. During ketosis, the body burns fat to generate energy instead of relying on carbohydrates and sugars.


When the body breaks down fat as a primary fuel source, large amounts of ketones are released. These organic acids act as a highly efficient energy source for the brain and body. In fact, ketones provide more energy per molecule than glucose, which helps reduce metabolic waste products and enhances energy-making efficiency. 


To achieve and maintain ketosis, it’s crucial to avoid sugars, limit carbohydrates, and obtain the majority of calories from healthy fat. 


Most keto dieters typically consume 65 to 70 percent of their daily calories from fats, 20 to 25 percent from protein, and 5 to 10 percent from carbohydrates. 


As the body adapts to the metabolic changes induced by ketosis, some people may experience temporary side effects, also referred to as keto flu, including fatigue, headache, brain fog, and irritability. In addition, it’s not uncommon to develop transient digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, or gas. 


Fortunately, many of these effects can be mitigated and even avoided entirely by implementing the right strategy.


Watch this video to learn more about the possible causes of bloating and gas on the keto diet.

Why do I Have Bloating and Gas on Keto Diet?

What causes keto gas?


Symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, and abdominal discomfort may occur in the early stages of following a low-carb, high-fat diet such as keto. 


Here are three primary causes of gas while following a keto diet.


1. Sensitivity to increased fiber intake 

A nutritious low-carb diet such as Healthy Keto® advocates the consumption of 7 to 10 cups of vegetables per day to promote optimal nutrient levels and support overall health. 


However, a sudden increase in dietary fiber intake may lead to gastrointestinal issues, especially for those who aren't used to eating vegetables or have a sensitive digestive system. 


In addition, some individuals are highly sensitive to fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) and may experience significant digestive discomfort even when consuming only small amounts of these compounds. 


Onions, garlic, mushrooms, and certain dairy products are considered high FODMAP foods and a common culprit of intestinal symptoms, including gas, bloating, and abdominal pain. 

 

To help mitigate the issue, focus on introducing vegetables gradually and be mindful of portion sizes. Take note of how you feel after eating different vegetables and tweak your menu plan accordingly.

 

If you notice that you consistently experience digestive issues after eating certain vegetables, replace them with more easily digestible leafy greens, cucumbers, and zucchini, or try fermented options, such as sauerkraut.


Additionally, cooking vegetables helps break down some of the tough fibers, making them easier to digest.


Sugar alternative in a jar

2. Sugar alcohols 

Especially during the early stages of adapting to a keto lifestyle, many keto dieters rely on sugar alternatives to curb carb cravings and satisfy a sweet tooth on a low-carb diet. 


While certain sugar alcohols such as erythritol and xylitol are keto-friendly, consuming them in excess can cause digestive upset. 


A study published in the Journal of Food and Drug Analysis highlights how consumption of various sugar alcohols can lead to several uncomfortable symptoms, including bloating, abdominal pain, flatulence, nausea, and laxative effects.


To help prevent digestive issues, aim to consume sugar alcohol in moderation or opt for monk fruit extract and stevia, which are generally well-tolerated keto-friendly sweeteners.  

 
high-fat keto meal

3. Sluggish digestion 

Stomach acid and bile fluid are essential for breaking down food in the digestive tract and help maintain a balanced gut microflora, which is crucial for digestive health. 


While stomach acid helps digest proteins, activates digestive enzymes, and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, bile emulsifies lipids, which enables the absorption of dietary fats.  


Insufficient concentrations of these digestive fluids can impair nutrient absorption and disrupt the balance of intestinal gut bacteria. This has been linked to various digestive issues such as bloating, indigestion, constipation, and an increased risk of intestinal infections. 


This may be particularly problematic when starting a keto diet. A sudden increase in fat and protein intake can trigger various digestive symptoms, especially in individuals with low stomach acid or inadequate bile production.


To address low stomach acid, consider incorporating a betaine hydrochloride (HCl) supplement into your routine. 


Taking betaine HCl before meals can help increase stomach acid levels. This promotes effective digestive processes, enhances fat and protein digestion, and reduces fermentation linked to gas formation and flatulence.  


In addition, purified bile salts can be beneficial for those experiencing insufficient bile production. Taking bile salts with meals can help improve fat digestion, reduce bloating, and support overall digestive health.


Those with digestive conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or individuals taking prescription medications should consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for their specific health needs.


Young women tracking eating habits

More tips for healthy digestion on keto


In addition to addressing the primary causes of keto gas, there are several other strategies you can implement to support overall digestive health and minimize discomfort. 


As Dr. Berg explains, "Once you hit ketosis, your body undergoes significant metabolic changes. It's essential to support your gut health by focusing on whole, nutrient-dense foods, staying hydrated, and addressing any underlying food sensitivities or nutrient deficiencies." 


Taking a high-quality digestive enzyme formula can help break down fats, proteins, and carbohydrates more efficiently, reducing the risk of incomplete digestion and associated gas production.


It’s also crucial to identify and eliminate potential food sensitivities, such as dairy, gluten, or FODMAPs, that may contribute to digestive discomfort. 


Increased cortisol levels due to chronic stress can disrupt digestive function and contribute to bloating and gas. Incorporate natural stress-relieving practices, such as deep breathing exercises or stretching, to support overall digestive health. 


By taking a holistic approach to digestive health, you can minimize uncomfortable symptoms and enjoy the benefits of a nutritious keto diet.


Women with gas in bed

Key takeaways


Keto gas is a frequent but temporary side effect of transitioning to a low-carb ketogenic diet. 


Common causes of keto gas include a sudden increase in fiber intake, sluggish digestion, and excessive consumption of sugar alcohols.


Gradually introducing fiber-rich vegetables, taking betaine HCl and bile salts, and identifying trigger foods are effective strategies to promote digestive processes and help alleviate keto gas.



FAQ


1. Why does keto make me gassy?

Temporary gas and bloating are common side effects of starting keto and other low-carb diets such as the Paleo diet. 


The most common causes of keto gas are increased fiber consumption, excess intake of sugar alcohol, insufficient bile production, and low stomach acid. 


2. Is gas a sign you’re in ketosis?

No, while gas can result from adjusting to a low-carb diet such as keto, it doesn't necessarily indicate that you are in ketosis. 


Gas and bloating are more commonly related to changes in diet composition, such as increased fat and protein intake and a sudden increase in fiber-rich vegetables. 


3. How long does keto gas last?

The duration of keto gas varies from person to person and depends on the underlying cause. In most cases, keto-related digestive discomfort subsided within a few weeks as the body adapts to a high-fat diet. 


Implementing targeted remedies and supporting overall intestinal health can help promote digestive processes and minimize the risk of keto bloating and gas.


4. Can keto mess up your gut?

Keto can lead to temporary changes in gut flora composition linked to mild digestive discomfort. 


However, a nutritious high-fat diet isn’t inherently harmful to gut health and, in most cases, enhances intestinal health and overall well-being. 


5. What vegetables cause gas on keto?

Certain keto-friendly vegetables, especially those high in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs), can cause gas and bloating in sensitive individuals. 


Common culprits include artichokes, asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, garlic, and onions. 



Sources


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9261844

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