Why Do Some People Poop More (or Less) Than Once a Day?

It’s not only because of their diet.

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Poop fact: The average person poops about once a day, but the “normal” range spans from three times a day to once every three days. Hypothetically speaking, that means you could create nine poops in the time another person makes just one (mind blown). But how come? Well, how often you poop is influenced by several factors, which we’ve listed below.

Genetics
Above all else, your poop schedule is genetically programmed. In fact, researchers recently analyzed the genetic makeup of participants who kept daily records of their bowel movements, and pinpointed the actual genes associated with increased and decreased stool frequency. That’s right: You probably poop however often your parents pooped. Thanks for the numb legs, dad!

Diet
A diet high in fiber and fluids can lead to more frequent pooping. That’s because fiber (in the form of whole grains, vegetables and fruits) adds bulk to your stool, while fluids make it softer and easier to pass. For optimal pooping, the American Heart Association recommends consuming 25 grams of fiber per day (for reference, a cup of almonds contains about 11 grams and an apple contains about four). Good luck!

Exercise
Slobbing around on the couch all day can lead to slower motility in the gut, which means less pooping. On the flip side, consistent exercise accelerates peristalsis, the internal intestinal movement that propels waste through your digestive tract, which means—you guessed it—more pooping (which explains why my gym bathroom is always full).

Age
The older you are, the less you poop. This happens for a few reasons, including naturally slowed digestion, reduced mobility and, generally speaking, increased medication usage (some of which may impede digestion). All of which explains how grandpa is able to not leave his recliner for days at a time.

Illness
Some chronic illnesses, like inflammatory bowel disease, can cause more frequent bowel movements, followed by constipation. Certain viruses (like the stomach flu) also target the digestive tract, causing inflammation of the stomach and intestines. In response, your body goes into poop-it-all-out mode in an attempt to rid itself of the virus.

In the end, unless it’s really extreme, how often you poop shouldn’t be cause for alarm. What really matters is that you’re consistent within your own routine: Sudden periods of more or less frequent pooping are usually indicative of a diet or lifestyle change, which is why you might be less consistent over the weekends, when you’re drinking all the booze and eating all the food. But if you experience a sudden change in frequency without any reasonable explanation, maybe check in with your doctor. After all, your poop is a window into your health (and if it’s actually transparent, you really need to see your doctor).