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Why Do I Get Constipated or Not Lose Weight On Green Smoothies?

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Sep 12, 2018

Feature | Why Do I Get Constipated or Not Lose Weight On Green Smoothies?

Green smoothies are popular as a healthy way to lose weight. But, there are cases where some can’t seem to experience the weight loss and health benefits they’re expecting right away. Find out why you may not be losing weight from your green smoothies, and why you may even be getting some constipation or other reactions at first, despite all that fiber!

Green Smoothie Weight Loss | What You Need to Know

In this article:

  1. Possible Initial Cleansing Reactions from Green Smoothies
  2. What the Fiber in Green Smoothies Does for Your Body
  3. The Period of Cleansing Reactions
  4. Food Sensitivity
  5. What to Do When You Are Not Losing Weight With Green Smoothies


Dear GreenSmoothieGirl, I’m drinking green smoothies, and you said they were low calorie and high in nutrition! Why have I gained two pounds in the last two weeks?

Answer: Most people quickly lose weight on green smoothies, and most people’s digestion improves in my research (discussed in depth in The Green Smoothies Diet).

Logic bears that out, since drinking so much volume of only 200-400 calories in a quart bumps out other foods that are invariably higher in calories. And, green smoothies are so high in fiber that digestion should improve.

Keeping all other things constant, simple physics demand you are increasing your metabolism in many ways — you are burning fat, and you will lose weight.

Note that the sentence began, “keeping all other things constant.”

(I don’t want to insult anyone’s intelligence, so forgive me for this. Hopefully, it goes without saying that if you’re increasing your consumption of junk food because you feel your new green smoothie habit justifies it, that could be why you’re not losing weight. That’s all on that topic.)

Possible Initial Cleansing Reactions from Green Smoothies

Possible Negative Initial Reactions from Green Smoothies | Why Do I Get Constipated or Not Lose Weight On Green Smoothies?

But, as 175 people in my initial study radically changed their nutrition with the green smoothie habit, these were fairly common reactions within the 18% who experienced negative initial reactions: bloating, becoming constipated, and not losing weight.

Why does this happen? First of all, anytime you change anything, there are always a number of consequences (some more noticeable than others).

Hundreds of things are changing in your body. You are receiving nutrition you have needed from the beginning. But, as you begin supplying it, you may notice fits and starts, hiccups and burps, and discomfort.

What the Fiber in Green Smoothies Does in Your Body

All the new fiber from green smoothies is supposed to act as a broom, sweeping the intestines and colon. However, what happens when, in addition to lots of that, the colon begins loosening and releasing hardened materials that have perhaps been there a long time?

The colon can get backed up. There are over 30 feet of intestines and colon, and often when you’ve been eating the Standard American Diet, peristaltic action has slowed and become very sluggish.

You can perk it up over time by clearing it out and feeding it with high-fiber food at every meal and snack.

Your kidneys can get backed up. (Do this for a couple of decades, and you’ll need a kidney transplant.)

Your liver can get backed up. (Ever seen anyone whose eyeballs are yellow?) The lymph system can get backed up. (Your neck has big, bulging, painful nodes.)

The tonsils get backed up. (Doctors say, take them out! They are, in fact, yet another organ of elimination, little understood.)

The heart and arteries can get backed up (this is what ambulances were built for). The skin gets backed up (four letters: Z-I-T-S).

Need I say more? We could go on for paragraphs.

The parts of your body that aren’t holding things together, building/repairing, and locomoting you? They’re detoxing you.

I’m grossly oversimplifying. But, your colon is the most obvious, simple organ of elimination, and the toxic fuel you choose is 90% of why every single one of these organs gets weak and sluggish. Then, when the miracle happens that you change fuels, they get backed up for a while.

The Period of Cleansing Reactions

The Period of Cleansing Reactions | Why Do I Get Constipated or Not Lose Weight On Green Smoothies?

This can happen within days of starting a green smoothie cleanse, or at any point down the line. You didn’t get in the shape you’re in, in two weeks, and it’s going to take you longer than two weeks to truly “clean house.”

So, “cleansing reactions” (also known as Herxheimer reactions) can happen two months or six months or even six years later. They can even happen—on a much milder scale—when your engine is very clean because you’ve completely transitioned to a high-raw diet and eat 5% or less processed food and animal proteins.

Personal example. I drank 4 oz of wheatgrass juice (very potent and medicinal, and 4 oz is a lot, like a pound of wheatgrass) every day for two months.

I noticed my skin breaking out during the second week of that period, a very common detox reaction.

A couple of weeks later, one day, I had 4 oz. in the morning and then 4 oz. again at night, and I got a brain fog and a slight headache. (I never get headaches!)

That’s my neurological system trying to process a lot of elimination when it gets some power fuel to work with.

Everyone needs to detox. You breathe polluted air, you experience stress—both of which have physical byproducts in the body—and nobody’s diet is “perfect.” My brain fog was mild and lasted about an hour. (The skin breakout lasted a few days.)

The longer you’ve been eating the S.A.D., and the worse your diet, and the weaker your inherited constitution, the more likely you are to have rough detoxing.

Food Sensitivity

If a Herxheimer cleansing reaction lasts longer than 2 weeks, generally, you may have a food sensitivity. These issues are now epidemic because of so many ways we degenerate the gut. I think the top of the list is probably genetically modified grains and spraying Roundup on crops, even on already harvested wheat, causing so many people to have gluten intolerances.

Mark my words: this epidemic is going to continue to explode until most people have major gut issues. Many people who think they’re fine now will be diagnosed later.

The way out is to stop attacking our own pancreas, thyroid, digestive tract, kidneys, liver, heart, and blood pathways with chemicals and fake foods.

The way out is to return to eating what people ate since the dawn of time, before these diseases began, just three generations ago.

But far too much animal protein and too little plant fiber have surely contributed to much of the irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, leaky gut, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Epstein Barr syndrome, and other fatigue and degenerative gut issues affecting so many of us.

You know little kids with Crohn’s? Me, too. We’re passing down our degenerated DNA to our babies.

What to Do When You Are Not Losing Weight Even with Green Smoothies

What to Do When You Are Not Losing Weight Even with Green Smoothies for Constipation | Why Do I Get Constipated or Not Lose Weight On Green Smoothies?

But, I’ve gone sideways. What do you do if you’re not losing weight, if you’re constipated, even though you’re drinking green smoothies?

The answers? Rest. Drink a lot more water. Add some fresh ginger to your smoothies.

Before you get out of bed in the morning, deeply massage your transverse colon (preferably with a tennis ball, but your hands will work), starting lower right in your pelvis, straight up to the level of your navel, across to a couple inches inside the left hip bone, and down.

And, grin and bear it. Knowing your body is doing good, necessary work, you are burning fat, despite what the scale says temporarily, and the discomfort or plateau in weight loss is temporary.

If you’re still not losing weight, get a full blood panel workup at a hormone clinic specializing in bioidentical hormones (rather than synthetic).

Even if your doctor told you that your TSH was in the “normal” range, you may need a broader spectrum blood test. Get both the tests for thyroid antibodies. If you’re a woman over 40, ask your practitioner about balancing progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone. Test your vitamin D levels, too.

You can even start with the most natural way, taking a couple of kelp tablets a day (nourishing the thyroid with trace iodine). The bioidenticals are cheaper and work better anyway, and they cover T1, T2, T3, and T4 broader spectrum hormones from a natural (desiccated animal glandular) source.

That’s a better alternative to a synthetic drug with its inevitable side effects. If your thyroid isn’t working, with its complex interplay of hormones, you can’t metabolize food effectively and lose weight. In fact, I’ve written a whole post on using particular ingredients in green smoothies to support your thyroid and even quiet Hashimoto’s symptoms.


First and foremost, stay on the course, and remember, this, too, shall pass. It is an immutable law that when you replace high-calorie foods with low-calorie, high-nutrition foods (green smoothies!), weight loss will follow if you are overweight.

Check out my video on permanently lowering your weight setpoint – it’s video number 2 in this masterclass series of 6 videos that you can access for free right now. Learn why your body protects fat, especially if you’re a woman and especially around the middle. And learn what to do about it!

Have you tried green smoothies for weight loss? What was your experience? Share in the comments section!

Up Next: A Review of John Robbins’ Epic Work, The Food Revolution

Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on May 30, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

Posted in: Green Smoothies, Reader Letters

34 thoughts on “Why Do I Get Constipated or Not Lose Weight On Green Smoothies?”

Leave a Comment
  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this article!

    I have just re-started green smoothies and my face is breaking out horribly. It’s something I have had trouble with before, though I am in my 30s, but it has gotten worse since restarting my smoothies.

    Now I know why!

    Thanks for the reassurance. 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’m asking this question to help a friend of mine. I was so excited about green smoothies that I got her into them, but now she’s thinking that maybe her body is “different” and they’re not good for her. She drinks smoothie in the morning (just 16 oz or so) and the rest of the day feels so bloated that she’s not hungry. And she probably only puts about a quarter pound (or less, just starting out) of greens in her blender. She’s at the point now where she feels like this most of the time no matter what she eats. She had a colonoscopy done about a year ago, only to be told she’s fine. Does anyone know how long it could take for her body to not be “backed up”? Do you think she just needs to do a cleanse? If so, which one? I’ve heard of some that are shorter term and affordable. Thanks for the help, I don’t want her to give up on green smoothies!!!

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Britni, it’s common to have that detox reaction. She needs some pretty significant education; give her my starter book, The Green Smoothies Diet? She may have a more significant problem of some food sensitivities, which will just get worse until she starts addressing the nutrition her body needs. Unfortunately, people don’t always do it just because we want them to!

      1. Terry Blue says:

        If it’s food sensitivities, and it likely is, then it will get worse until she figures out what they are and remove them from the diet or find another way of prepping it that won’t cause constipation/symptoms. Simply addressing nutrition will not overcome this. There are food intolerances to just about every food imaginable, including nutritious foods like cruciferous vegetables.
        Some people can’t eat raw veggies and that includes those in smoothies.

        Oatmeal is a very severe food intolerance for me, even when it’s steel cut oats and cooked with prunes, doesn’t matter what I cook it with or how long I cooked it, it always constipated me. And I tried different kinds of oats. Turns out I have selective grain sensitivities and nothing, AND I MEAN NOTHING, NOT EVEN CLEAN EATING, NOT EVEN COLONICS (and I’ve been to 3 hydrotherapy clinics), works for as long as I’m eating simmered grains. I only began to see relief when I stopped eating oatmeal, millet, etc.

        Finally, everybody’s body is different and there are bodies that just won’t respond well to smoothies even if they did everything right.

        To work out which foods are causing symptoms, I recommend food to symptom tracker apps. The best apps to date I found for this are MySymptoms and Symple-Symptoms. I’m using MySymptoms myself.

        1. Terry Blue says:

          No correlation with gluten and MY symptoms as WW bread doesn’t constipate me, just simmered grains and beans.

        2. Robyn says:

          true that food sensitivities are an issue for many. not true that addressing diet, over a significant period of time, can’t turn food sensitivities (to good foods) around. in fact, for many, those food sensitivities are constantly shifting. and, rebuilding gut is key to the body NOT attacking itself once it is healed. being reactive to good foods (like simmered non-gluten grains) is indicative of needing some gut healing….we always suggest learning cultured foods, like in our 12 steps to whole foods course, step 8, trying several of those habits from around the world. everything changed when i rebuilt the healthy flora in my gut. avoiding antibiotics, avoid gmo and processed foods and allergens, while getting lots of good nutrition and especially eating homemade cultured foods, really does work. the body is not meant to be highly reactive to whole foods and this, as well as many diseases and symptoms, the body DOES know how to heal from. we aren’t teaching that “smoothies” are what heals us…..we’re teaching a far broader message than that. GREEN smoothies are just one way to get a lot of greens, superfoods, even a cultured-foods base, in the diet, pretty easily.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Some people cannot lose weight because of thyroid problems. It doesn’t matter what you even if you eat a raw diet. I struggle. With hoshimotos disease Which causes my thyroid to fluctuate from exteme high to lows. If you can’t lose the weight and are.eating as you should. You might get want to get your thyroid levels checked.

  4. Anonymous says:


    I just watched your video of all the rejections you got for the green smoothie at the SLC airport. You need to package it differently. I wouldn’t take a drink of something that someone else had drank out of and had their straw in the bottle. But I would take a drink if something were poured from a bottle into a little cup (and the person giving it to me poured some in a separate cup and drank first 🙂 We live in a suspicious world. I like green smoothies and drink them all the time. But I have to say I also would have rejected your offer at the airport even though I know what green smoothies are all about. Just saying…..

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      K-Jo…..I know. 😉 We were just having fun.

  5. I have been doing green smoothies for 8 months now. Total diet change, but, of course, I do eat other solids of healthy foods.

    But, I am totally discouraged, and confused, I went in excited to have a cholestrol check on the new diet, and to my amazement, my total cholesterol is HIGHER than it has ever been.

    What is your thinking on this? Is there a specific combination of fruits/veggies that I should be doing, rather than just random combinations?

    Thanks for your input.


  6. Anonymous says:

    I’ve gotten bloated by drinking a smoothie too fast. I have to slow down and then it’s not a problem.

    I add a little bit of Udo oil, essential omega 3/6/& 9. No constipation & I’m getting “essential oils”.

    1. Terry Blue says:

      Omega 9 and not an essential oil and omega 6 is plentiful in the food supply. The only useful oil supplement is fish oil.

  7. Anonymous says:

    hi Robyn:

    My question to you is that I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Won’t green smoothies aggravate my condition because of all the raw greens? Any info you can give me would be great.



    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Yvonne, I can’t advise people about specific medical conditions. I was hypothyroid and greens did very well for me. Many compounds in greens are NURTURING to the thyroid. You will have to consult with your practitioner; hopefully you have one who understands the complex interplay of systems in the body, rather than an M.D. specialist who operates exclusively in drug approaches that don’t heal anything.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robyn,

    I have been on green smoothies and 70% raw food, vegetarian diet for over 2 years now. I am on gluten, casein and eggs free diet as well due to sensitivities. I feel very good overall and many health issues I have had are gone or improved tremendously. There is one thing however that I have difficulty managing and that is my blood iron. My Ferrum was at 16 in April and dropped down to 6 this month. My GP prescribed me FaraMax 150 that is not supposed to cause constipation and I take it every other day. Constipation and hemorrhoids, the problem I had since childhood, is a reoccurring issue and I am wondering if and how this might be impacting my iron absorption. I am often constipated even if I don’t take iron supplements; I have 1 bowel movement per day. Thank you in advance for taking the time to respond.


    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Alexandra, I’m always a fan of getting iron from foods rather than pills that aren’t very bioavailable and can in fact be harmful. Prunes, greens, whole grains, etc. are rich sources of iron; however, you should also convert to a whole-foods diet in general to improve, over time, your mineral absorption overall. You can get it all but if your body isn’t using it, it does you little good.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robyn,

    Thank you for your reply; I have been on whole foods for over 2 years. As a matter of fact I mostly use recipes from your 12 Steps Book when I am preparing a cooked meal. I had gastroscopy done and I don’t have Celiac disease nor allergy to gluten, but I don’t eat gluten or wheat because I have heartburn afterwards.


  10. Anonymous says:

    It’s probably a lot more likely that green smoothies make you constipated due to their abundance in spinach.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Their abundance in spinach and therefor their abundance in iron

  12. Anonymous says:

    When increasing your fiber consumption, you have to also remember to increase your water intake, or else constipation will definitely be an issue. This is especially the case if fiber is increased heavily in a short amount of time. Good luck!

  13. Anonymous says:

    I am curious why I could add to my smoothie that will help me with not being constipated. I am really enjoying the green smoothie but have completely lost my urge to go to the bathroom at all. Thanks for any help!

  14. Ryan Healey says:

    I am searching the web for reasons I have gained at least 5-7 pounds since starting green smoothies. I started drinking two green smoothies a day about two MONTHS ago. Neither have much fruit in them. One has unsweetened almond milk (morning) and the other water. The bulk of both smoothies is kale, spinach, tomato (one small), carrots, cucumber, brussel sprouts, etc. I do add wheatgrass powder, and sometimes chia and flax seed. I eat a mid-morning mean of raw cashews and a banana (not a ton of cashews either), my lunch is light and often vegetable based. I do not keep sweets in my home so snacks are egg whites, etc. I workout twice a day most days now for 20-30 minutes. However, while I am eating the most nutritious diet of my LIFETIME and working out more than ever (I always worked out, but not like this) I feel bloated, some of my work clothes feel tight and the scale shows a 5-7 pound gain. Now, I have not gained more in the last 3 weeks but no matter what I do I can’t get the scale to head in reverse. I’m not heavy by any means, but I should see my body firming up and NOT gaining weight. Also, I am not speaking muscle. My belly feel bigger and I feel heavier so while maybe a pound of two is new muscle, something is not right.

    1. Carol says:

      This is a late reply I know but I might have an answer for you. Are you obese or really overweight? At first your body will be resistant to losing, when you cut back you mau notice the scale increase a few pounds. It’s your body trying to hold on to fat, it can be stubborn,even up to 3 months but you keep up and it will kick in. Trust me. Once you reach your ideal weight, losing a few pounds will be easier.

      1. Eileen says:

        Also a very late reply-don’t rely on the scale. If you are working out that much,you are no doubt putting on muscle. You may weigh the same, or even gain, but your clothes should be getting looser, as muscle takes up much less volume than fat.

    2. Carol says:

      It may fluctuate!

    3. Carol says:

      I didn’t read your whole post…sorry. cardio, at least hour a day, hard will up the fat melting. My opinion is if your trying to lose watch out eating nuts, alot of high calorie seeds. That’s just how I lost weight. Whenever I put nuts ..peanut butter or any…I gained! Best of luck!

  15. Jessie says:

    This may sound silly but when drinking green smoothie for weight loss, is it replacing a meal or on top of the meals? I drink about 1.5 litres of green smoothie (sipping throughout the day) with no added sugar and little fruits and homemade kombucha, I am putting on weight so quickly!

    1. Julie says:

      I use them as a meal replacement, never with a meal. I did lose weight with this as part of my diet.

  16. Patsy Luther says:

    My son has been doing a 90 day challenge working out and taking more of his protein shakes. He is eating healthier but not the green smoothies or vegetable protein. I believe he is still detoxing because his tonsils enlarged and he ended up in the emergency room. They gave him steroids and antibiotics. They wanted to admit him also. Now they say he needs his tonsils out. I would love to help him not have surgery and learn about how to get healthy and detox so this will not happen. Any suggestions? He is concerned that since this incident happened in the last 3 weeks and still is not completely over that they will again enlarge.

  17. cruzi5 says:

    Medically speaking, constipation usually is defined as fewer than three bowel movements per week. Severe constipation is defined as less than one bowel movement per week. There is no medical reason to have a bowel movement every day.

    I used to have constipation issues, but i started taking a supplement that keeps me regular. I have a bowel movement EVERY DAY since I started taking the Lady Soma Fiber Cleanse. I take them for about 2-3 weeks out of the month. I do not always need it every day, but it has totally regulated my system.

  18. Carol says:

    Hi, anybody relate with green smoothies causing acne? I almost always get a bump on my chin after a green smoothies, particularly spinach and half green apple, celery. Could these be affecting hormones…anyone know?

  19. Johnnie E Collins says:

    You aren’t “backed up”, you lack the necessary intestinal flora to digest the food properly. Take lots of probiotics, drink lots of water and back off on the greens for awhile. Have some raw seurkraut and Kombucha every day, you’ll get there.

  20. judy whalen says:

    Hi Robyn, You mentioned “tonsils getting backed up” I have a 55 year old sister and an 18 year old niece who are both pushing their Doctors to take out their tonsils. Have you done an article or video talking on what to do for tonsils? Maybe some type of cleanse? Thank you

  21. Holly Graham says:

    Re black salve. I lost your video. Is it by Dr. Christopher? No black salve on Amazon – just Black Drawing Ointment and Original Formula. Also they have 2 0z jars anywhere between $20 and $367. There is a Black Salve by Mr. Peter. Is that it?

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