Pooping is simple: When you do it, you’re getting rid of food that was in your body. Is that why we feel lighter after doing our business? Are we actually losing weight? It turns out, yes.

How much does poop weigh?

The weight of your poop varies. It depends on several factors:

  • body size
  • eating habits
  • how much water you drink
  • bowel movement regularity

The average poop weighs around 1/4 pound to 1 pound. Larger people who eat and drink more or people who have less regular bowel movements have heavier poops. It takes an average of 33 hours for food to be processed into poop and pass out of your body.

If we only lose a little bit of weight when we poop, why do we feel so much slimmer finally pooping after being constipated or after a large meal? It’s because pooping reduces gas and bloating. This generally helps you feel more comfortable.

Poop is made mostly of water, but also contains:

  • dead and living bacteria
  • protein
  • undigested food (fiber)
  • waste material
  • salt
  • fat

The longer poop stays in the intestines, the drier and heavier it will become. While most people poop once a day, it’s considered normal to poop as frequently as three times a day or as little as once every three days.

Having very frequent, loose watery stools is considered diarrhea. Diarrhea is usually caused by bacterial infections or stress and lasts several days. It can become dangerous when it lasts for weeks or more because it encourages water loss in the body.

People with diarrhea can lose a lot of weight if they’ve been sick for a while, but they’re losing mostly water weight.

Is pooping an effective weight loss strategy?

We do lose a bit of weight when we poop, but it’s not an effective way to lose the weight that really affects our health: body fat.

Experts say fat that accumulates around the waist is the most dangerous type of body fat. This fat is called visceral fat. It’s doesn’t lie beneath the skin like most fat on the body, called subcutaneous fat.

Instead, visceral fat is stored deep inside the abdominal cavity around the internal organs. Visceral fat is associated with many serious health problems, from metabolic problems to increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s also associated with breast cancer and gallbladder disease in women.

To lose body fat, you need to focus on burning more calories than you consume. You can do this through diet and exercise — not your bowel habits.

If you’re overweight or obese and need to shed pounds, start by adding exercise to your daily routine. Try to exercise moderately for 30 minutes a day. This could include walking, swimming, biking, jogging or lifting weights.

Getting enough exercise is also an important factor in keeping your bowel habits regular. You might see that you poop more often when you start an exercise routine.

The bottom line

While you might feel lighter after pooping, you’re not actually losing much weight. What’s more, when you lose weight while pooping, you’re not losing the weight that really matters. To lose disease-causing body fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume. You can do this by exercising more and eating less.

Replacing the processed foods in your diet with high-fiber foods can help you achieve your weight loss goals and reduce your risks of obesity-related disease.