The 7 Best Carbs to Help You Poop, According to a Dietitian
Do you have a hard time going to the bathroom? You're not alone. Constipation is common in all ages and populations in the U.S. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 16 in 100 adults have symptoms of constipation.
Constipation is defined as:
- Fewer than three bowel movements a week
- Hard, dry or lumpy stools
- Stools that are difficult or painful to pass
- Feeling that not all stool has passed
What you eat and drink can certainly play a role. It's important to make sure you're eating enough high-fiber foods. Depending on your age and gender, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends getting between 25 to 34 grams of fiber per day. Be sure to accompany your increased fiber intake with plenty of water and other liquids (preferably with no added sugar and zero to low calories).
Since fiber comes from carb-based foods, below are the seven best carbs with plenty of fiber that, when incorporated into your diet regularly, can help keep you regular.
Pearled barley is a whole grain that has been polished (or pearled), removing some or all of the outer bran layer and hull. Most of the barley you'll find at your local market is pearled, which also speeds up the cooking time to about 15 to 30 minutes. One cup of cooked pearled barley provides 193 calories, 1 gram of total fat, 4 grams of protein, 44 grams of carbs and 6 grams of fiber, per the USDA. Enjoy it in this Quick Beef & Barley Soup, Barley-Squash Gratin, or Roasted Beet & Barley Salad.
All fruits contain fiber, yet some have more than others—and raspberries are at the top of the list. According to the USDA, 1 cup of fresh raspberries provides 64 calories, 1.5 grams of protein, 15 grams of carbs, 8 grams of fiber and no fat. Raspberries also provide other nutrients, such as vitamin C, potassium, folate and choline. These nutrients are involved in functions like muscle control, water balance and cellular division. Try raspberries for breakfast in this Cocoa-Chia Pudding with Raspberries, blend them into this Mango-Raspberry Smoothie or fold them into the batter of these Lemon-Raspberry Muffins.
Starchy vegetables like winter squash also provide fiber to help you poop. Acorn squash is a small winter squash with orange flesh; its exterior is typically green but can also be white or orange. One cup of cubed and baked acorn squash provides 115 calories, 0 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, 30 grams of carbs and 9 grams of fiber, per the USDA. Bake it in this Acorn Squash Casserole, cook it stovetop as Steamed Acorn Squash, or get creative with this Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash.
Potatoes are another starchy vegetable that provides many health benefits to your body. One small potato (about 5 ounces) provides 131 calories, 30 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fiber, which is about 10% of the recommended daily amount. Although russet is a variety you may be familiar with, give some other common types, including red, white, yellow, blue/purple, fingerling and petite, a try. Keep the skin on for the most fiber from your potato. Cook up Yukon Gold potatoes in this Ground Beef & Potatoes Skillet or russet potatoes in this Twice-Baked Potatoes Casserole.
All types of beans have a unique blend of carbs and protein and give you a healthy dose of fiber, but navy beans top the list of the highest in fiber. According to the USDA, 1 cup of boiled navy beans provides 255 calories, 1 gram of total fat, 15 grams of protein, 47 grams of carbs and 19 grams of fiber. Navy beans are white, adding a nice color balance to recipes like our Baked Beans with Ground Beef.
Prunes, or dried plums, are well known for their laxative effect. One serving of prunes (around 5 pieces) provides 114 calories, 0.2 grams of total fat, 1 gram of protein, 24 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber, per the USDA. The combination of both soluble and insoluble fiber helps maintain good digestive health. In addition to fiber, prunes are rich in sorbitol, a sugar alcohol naturally found in the fruit. According to a 2021 review published in Food & Function, sorbitol impacts intestinal function, helping relieve constipation. Prunes can be used in sweet and savory dishes such as a homemade trail mix, Braised Brisket with Carrots & Prunes or Ragout of Pork & Prunes.
Bulgur is a wheat product produced when wheat kernels are cleaned, boiled, dried and ground. Because bulgur has been pre-cooked and dried, that cuts down the cooking time compared to other wheat varieties. One cup of cooked bulgur provides 151 calories, 0.4 grams of total fat, 6 grams of protein, 34 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fiber, per the USDA. Enjoy it in recipes like Bulgur & Lentils, Beef & Bulgur Sloppy Joes, or Seared Tuna with Bulgur & Chickpea Salad.
The Bottom Line
Many carb-based foods can help you meet your daily fiber goals, including the seven mentioned above. Aim to gradually increase your intake of these fiber-filled foods while also increasing the fluids you drink (like water). Hopefully, doing so will help you poop more regularly and alleviate constipation.