Ask LH: Do I Need To Poop Every Day?

Ask LH: Do I Need To Poop Every Day?

Dear Lifehacker, According to Metamucil and other high-fibre products, I’m supposed to squeeze out a Number 2 once per day to remain “regular”. Personally, I don’t go that often and I don’t seem to be suffering for it. So here’s my question: Is remaining “regular” actually important to my health, or is it just a ploy to sell supplements I don’t need? Thanks, Ain’t Got Time For This Sh*t


That’s a sticky question! (Sorry.)

One bowel movement per day is generally considered normal for healthy humans. This has given rise to the belief that anything less is abnormal and may be a sign of constipation.

In reality, there is a great deal of variation in our pooping habits and taking fewer potty breaks doesn’t necessarily indicate poor health. As long as your poo looks healthy and is passed comfortably, there’s no need to rush out and buy a laxative after 24 hours of inactivity. It’s all about what’s normal and regular for you.

According to Examine’s medical editor Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, it’s unrealistic to expect a predictable schedule, no matter what your diet’s like:

“The frequency of defecation is not something that should be put to a schedule, since it is a bit unreliable and dependent on food intake. Consistency of the stool, perhaps assessed by the bristol stool chart, is more reliable of an indicator of health than the frequency; while altering frequency does affect the body, it shouldn’t be a major concern unless you get constipated or cannot function due to frequently watery defecations.”

If you are concerned for any reason, it’s probably worth having a chat to your GP about it. In the meantime, try drinking plenty of water, eating foods high in fibre and being active throughout the day; all of which should help to free up your backlog. (Sorry again.)



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  • The key here is the term ‘regular’. It shouldn’t be taken to mean once a day but more like consistent. If you normally go once every two days and suddenly you’re going twice a day with no explination then that should be checked out. Ditto if you normally go twice a day and now you’re going only once every two or three days.

  • Our lecturer always used to say that it’s more important to have ‘fluffy floaters’ rather than ‘stinky sinkers’. Otherwise it’s as people have already stated, when it deviates from your norm is when you start to worry. Otherwise the warning signs for bad pooping are pretty much just pain, blood, recurrent mouth ulcers with no obvious cause, and obviously constipation/diarrhoea.

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