This post is By Diana Weil, Matcha.com's Integrative Nutritionist and Food Relationship Specialist.
Have you ever experienced the feeling of drinking a cup of coffee and within about 20 minutes needing to *ahem* use the restroom? We all know that coffee makes you poop. You can even buy mugs and t-shirts with this exact statement! You may be wondering if matcha has the same effect.
So, does matcha make you poop?
Let’s dive into this oh-so-taboo topic and explore what gets you going in the morning and what the differences might be between matcha poops and coffee poops. Believe me, those are two different experiences. In the following article you'll find out why matcha makes you poop, how the green tea powder can help with constipation, and why it's healthier for your bowel and digestive health than coffee.
That sudden urge to poop your pants and what you can do about it
While talking about poop can be uncomfortable, it’s an incredibly important part of the digestion process – the main way our body gets rid of waste.
We all know we need to poop; how often that may be varies from person to person. Sometimes we feel the sensation soon after eating. However, we tend to know what’s regular for us and that’s what matters. When it comes to staying regular, people often turn to caffeine (mainly coffee) for help. Although this is quite common, it may not be the healthiest or safest thing to do.
Testing out the theory behind caffeine giving you the sudden urge to poop
Caffeine (which is found in coffee and, to a lesser degree, matcha) is typically thought to account for your visit to the bathroom. One study set out to test this theory and found some surprising results.
Twelve volunteers were given either coffee, decaf coffee, water or a 1,000-calorie meal and then the pressure inside their colons was measured. Pressure is created in the colon when the digestive system contracts and pushes food towards the anus. Not unsurprisingly, fully caffeinated coffee stimulated colon activity just as much as the 1,000-calorie meal.
The interesting part is that fully caffeinated coffee only had about a 23% stronger effect on colon activity than decaf. For reference, a cup of coffee has about 95 mg of caffeine, matcha has about 35 mg of caffeine per gram of matcha and decaf coffee has just 2 mg of caffeine.
Since matcha has more caffeine than decaf, you would expect that it would cause that same urgent need to poop. But this isn’t necessarily the case.
Coffee's strong laxative effect may be hiding the reason your not pooping regularly
While caffeine might not be the only cause of coffee’s laxative effect, coffee drinkers often say that they need their morning cup in order to stay regular. In fact, some people may even drink coffee for that sole purpose. One of the problems with this is that you could be missing the reason behind why you are not pooping regularly.
Because coffee has such a strong laxative effect, it can override your body’s natural cues and processes. If you are relying solely on coffee to poop, you may not be aware that you are suffering from dehydration or problems from a poor diet.
Matcha helps encourage healthy bowel movements by helping keep you hydrated
While matcha does contain caffeine, it doesn’t create the same dependency that coffee does. Matcha can actually support your body’s digestive process in being regular.
Caffeine certainly does help to get things moving, but as that study demonstrated, there must be other things going on that helps us to poop. One is that matcha helps to keep us properly hydrated. It’s estimated that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Yikes! Being dehydrated is a major cause of constipation and can lead to hard, dry, stools. Drinking matcha can be an excellent way to stay properly hydrated and can make stools softer, allowing them to pass more easily though your digestive system.
The gastrocolic reflex
When we eat a meal or drink fluids, the lining of our stomach is stretched. This in turn activates the colon in preparation for removing waste from the body. This is called the gastrocolic reflex; the resulting movement pushes food along our digestive tract in order to make room for the consumption of more food. This normal physiological process may be one reason why matcha helps you along in the bathroom. This process can be increased if you’ve added anything to your matcha like milk or sugar.
Matcha contains fiber, which promotes healthy bowel movements
As mentioned above, coffee can actually hide bigger issues that may be present, such as lack of fiber in your diet. It’s recommended that men eat about 35 grams of fiber each day and women about 25 grams. Unfortunately, the standard American diet is sorely lacking in fiber. Matcha has 385 mg of fiber per 1 gram of powder. To put this into perspective, coffee contains 0 grams of fiber. The extra fiber in matcha can help increase the size of your stools and make them easier to pass.
Stress and anxiety can also wreak havoc on your bowels by causing both diarrhea and constipation. But matcha can help soothe some of that, allowing your digestive tract to function properly. Matcha contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is known to have relaxing effects.
The bottom line: Matcha can help keep your poop regular & healthy
While the exact cause of what helps to get us going after a cup of matcha might be elusive, it is clear that matcha helps your digestive system do what it needs to do. The effects are also not as strong as coffee so there’s no need to worry about creating a dependency.
*If you have any concerns about your gastrointestinal health, please consult a doctor.
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Aschoff J. (1994). The timing of defecation within the sleep-wake cycle of humans during temporal isolation. Journal of biological rhythms, 9(1), 43–50. https://doi.org/10.1177/074873049400900104
Malone JC, Thavamani A. Physiology, Gastrocolic Reflex. [Updated 2022 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549888/
Brown, S. R., Cann, P. A., & Read, N. W. (1990). Effect of coffee on distal colon function. Gut, 31(4), 450–453. https://doi.org/10.1136/gut.31.4.450
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