If you’ve ever stood up from the toilet and thought to yourself, Wow, I feel ten pounds lighter, you’re onto something (although your calculations are way off).
Having regular bowel movements is a sign of good gastrointestinal health, not to mention it feels incredible. But does pooping actually help you lose bodyweight? If you step on a scale before and after taking a dump, you might notice a slight drop. Don’t get your hopes up for any actual fat loss or a beach body, though.
The relationship between your poo and your weight is complicated, so we’re here to set the record straight.
Do You Lose Weight When You Poop?
The short answer is yes. Everyone loses weight when they poop because fecal matter leaves the body. That said, you don’t shed any body fat when you go number two, which is what most people mean when they say “lose weight.” Plus, whatever weight you drop will find its way back on—or in, rather—in a matter of hours.
The amount of weight loss after a bowel movement varies significantly from person to person. Let’s explore the variables at play when it comes to shedding pounds on the potty.
3 Factors That Determine How Much Weight You Lose When You Poop
Some people have reported dropping as many as two pounds after pooping, while others don’t notice any change. Here’s why those discrepancies exist.
1. The Weight of Your Poop
The heavier your poop is, the lighter you’ll be after it exits your anus. According to the University of Cambridge, the average human poop typically weighs between ¼ and 1 pound. Your poop’s weight depends on a few things, such as:
- Body size (bigger people make bigger poop)
- Your diet (high-fiber foods like veggies and whole grains bulk up your feces, making it heavier)
- Water intake (proper hydration also bulks up your poop)
In case you were curious, here’s a breakdown of what makes up your fecal matter:
- Dead bacteria (30%)
- Undigested food (30%)
- Cholesterol and fat (10-20%)
- Inorganic material (10-20%)
- Protein (2-3%)
Fun fact: the world’s biggest poop clocked in at nearly eight inches long and two inches wide.
2. How Often You Poop
Most people poop every day (or more). The longer poop sits in your digestive tract, the drier and heavier it gets. Still, people who experience constipation may notice more dramatic weight loss if they’ve been holding in poop for a few days.
3. How Long You Poop
Weight loss while pooping also depends on how fully you evacuate your bowels. If you spend a long time on the toilet and push every last bit out, you’re going to be lighter than if you rush yourself and only squeeze out a few pellets.
Why Does Diarrhea Cause Weight Loss?
Diarrhea can be caused by an illness, food poisoning, or malabsorption. If you get a case of the runs, you might notice more dramatic weight loss than your normal poops. This is mostly water weight you’re losing, caused by your body draining its fluids.
Does Pooping Burn Calories?
Since pooping requires some muscle tension, it burns a trace amount of calories (estimates range from 30-60 calories per bowel movement). However, that’s nowhere near the number of calories you’ll burn walking (100-200 per 30 minutes), much less hitting the gym.
So if your poop only weighs a pound and straining on the toilet doesn’t count as cardio, why do you feel lighter after pooping?
Why Does Pooping Make You Feel Lighter?
If you feel slimmer after rising from the throne, that has more to do with the de-bloating than losing actual body mass.
As your digestive system turns food into feces, your colon expands, and you may feel crampy and gassy. When you poop, the tension in your gut subsides. This feeling of relaxation and relief is often confused with feeling lighter or slimmer. It’s just a matter of semantics at that point.
You Can’t Poop Your Way to Six Pack Abs
Pooping is essential for overall wellness and has many health benefits. Still, weight loss isn’t anywhere near the top of the list.
If you’re trying to burn belly fat or looking for methods for weight management, stick to the tried-and-true tips:
- Practice healthy eating and portion control
- Do some kind of physical activity every day
- Keep the booze to a minimum
- Curb the carbs and processed foods