Why Do I Have Gas When Losing Weight?

Flatulence, the medical term for passing gas from the intestines, is a normal, healthy occurrence. Occasionally, flatulence becomes excessive, and interferes with daily activities. While not physically harmful, it can lead to decreased productivity or inconvenience if you have to make numerous trips to the bathroom to pass gas. You may fear embarrassment if you pass gas in public. Being on a weight loss diet sometimes leads to an increase in flatulence.

A bowl of chickpeas. (Image: Photopips/iStock/Getty Images)

Weight Loss Basics

Many overweight or obese Americans attempt to lose weight each year. While diet programs vary, most involve eating less fat and fewer calories, while increasing healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits. The consumption of beans, fat-free dairy products and whole grains may also increase.


The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse explains that most gas develops as a result of eating carbohydrates or swallowing air. The lack of a sufficient quantity of certain digestive enzymes in the small intestine causes food to pass into the large intestine undigested. Bacteria break down the food that passes into the large intestine, producing gas that eventually exits via the anus.

High Fiber Foods

High-fiber foods often cause flatulence. If you have increased your fiber consumption and notice an increase in gas, proceed more slowly at increasing your daily fiber, suggests Johns Hopkins Medicine. Many other healthy carbohydrate foods contain sugars that cause gas. While the list of foods that increase flatulence vary from person to person, common culprits include beans, peas, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, artichokes, broccoli, onions, oat bran, wheat, prunes, peaches, pears and apples.

Food Intolerance

A food intolerance can lead to flatulence. If you have increased your intake of dairy products and have noticed an increase in flatulence, you may have some degree of lactose intolerance. A physician can diagnose and treat this condition, which often strikes the elderly and those of Asian, Native American or African descent. Milk, ice cream, cheese and foods that contain milk products can cause flatulence in susceptible individuals.


Other habits developed during a diet can cause increased flatulence. Carbonated beverages such as diet soda, smoking, or an increased intake of sorbitol -- a sweetener found in gum, candy, cookies and other foods -- are all potential causes of gas. Some people notice that they pass gas during exercise, but this is because increased movements actually help them to clear gas from their systems sooner, rather than cause it.


To prevent excessive gas, modify your diet if needed, chew and swallow your food more slowly and relax during mealtimes. The New York Times also suggests you not chew gum.

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