“Anyone else’s bowel movements feel more, erm, liberal over the weekend?”

We need to talk about how our bowel habits change over the course of a week. 

Good gut health means infrequent bloating and being free from digestive discomfort, but it also means having regular and satisfying bowel habits. Yes, it means pooing well – something we often nod to when we talk about ‘being regular’ but are too squeamish to be explicit about.

Except, that’s not happening for some of us. My friend Sophie* is always up for a poo chat, and the other day messaged to ask why her poo habits change on different days of the week. Her concern was that her self-titled ‘poo routine’ isn’t as good during the week as it is on the weekend. 

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After laughing at her midday candour, I began to think more seriously about her question. Is pooing differently on different days of the week a cause for concern? Is it normal? And is there anything we can do to feel more satisfied and comfortable?

What is a normal poo routine?

“‘Normal’ bowel movements can be from as little as three times per week to three times a day,” says Alex Glover, a nutritionist from Holland & Barret.

While big changes in bowel habits or digestion should always be checked with your doctor, it’s natural to expect some variation. “Alcohol, exercise, sleep and changes in our diet will all affect our bowel movements, so it’s worth noting if you have made significant changes to any of these that your bowel habits will likely be affected,” explains Glover. “Most of us will settle on a more regular rhythm the majority of the time and we will know when something doesn’t feel right to us.” 

It might be easier to go to the toilet at home than the office

If, like Sophie, you’re not worried about something unusual but are just annoyed at the discomfort that comes when you sometimes skip a day’s poo, here are four things that might be causing your day-of-the-week poo problems.

Four reasons your poo habits change


In a poll of 2,000 people by The Gut Stuff, 18% said their most pressing back-to-office concern was going to the loo at work. And it’s true that the thought of your CEO walking in after you and smelling anything that lingered is pretty off-putting.

But holding it in – even if it’s just for an hour until everyone else pops out for lunch – can have ramifications. As it sits in your body, the lower intestine absorbs water from the stool which makes it hard and more difficult to pass, which can result in constipation. 

Even if you’re not bothered about the boss, hybrid working can cause changes to our routines that might make you less sensitive to what your body is saying. Take the days you’re at home: maybe you wake up slowly, walk around the house, have a coffee or tea and go to the bathroom. When you have to jump out of bed and commute to the office, you’re probably not giving your body much time to relax and release a stool. It might be that your body is too much in go-go-go mode to actually go. 

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That leads us to the impact of stressful working days on your poo routine. For those who work a normal office job, it is expected that we feel more under pressure during the week when we are dealing with the demands of the job. And that can impact your toilet habits change, says Glover.

“Stress or anxiety can often cause digestive issues, like constipation or diarrhoea, due to the close relationship between brain and gut. When something stressful happens, potentially as a result of work, our bodies produce the hormone cortisol,” he explains.

“Cortisol has a role in diverting energy to the ‘fight or flight’ response, funnelling energy into the muscles and away from the digestive system. Food can be left in the intestines rather than digested and this can cause inflammation in the gut, which alters the intestinal environment and disrupts the microbiome, leaving some individuals feeling and looking bloated and disrupting the natural journey of food through the body.” 

Diet and alcohol can change how fast food moves through the digestive tract

It’s best to find time to eat when you can actually slow down and relax. If that’s not possible during your working week, you might find some evening yoga poses or a gentle walk helps ease some food through the intestine when you’re too stressed to digest.


According to Glover, there are three common ways your eating habits change from week to weekend that might impact your digestion.

– Meal timing, like having later breakfasts or later evening meals. This could be because of disruption to your circadian rhythm, which changes when your body wants to go to the toilet

– Meal size, for example, your portions may be larger when you eat out on weekends and it can encourage your bowels to open

– Meal composition, such as eating different foods you wouldn’t cook at home, or drinking alcohol with meals that either ease or irritate the gut

If you know that your eating habits change from weekend to week, it’s useful to be aware of how that might change your bowel habits. Typically, we may eat less fibre – a crucial nutrient for regular pooing – on the weekend. That might catch up with you at the beginning of the week, meaning you feel backed up for a few days. 

It doesn’t mean you should stop eating delicious dinners out on a Saturday night, but being conscious of foods that help you go might improve your daily comfort. It might be worth ordering an extra side of broccoli with your fries or adding baked beans to your full English to keep things moving.

Undereating could also be at play. If you are restricting certain food groups or amounts during the week ahead of a blowout weekend, you simply might not be hitting your fibre intake well enough. Professor Jim Mann, author of a 2019 landmark study into the health benefits of fibre, previously told The Guardian that his research showed “it was very difficult to have high levels of fibre on a low-carbohydrate diet”, which can stop you from being regular. Ensuring you are hitting all necessary food groups every day is crucial to better gut health. 

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If you drink, you probably knew this was coming. Glover points out that regular alcohol intake can change the microbiome of your gut, “stripping away the positive bacteria and growing the bad bacteria”.

That has long-term implications on inflammation and health. But as for your weekend stools? In a 2016 study, it was found that a drink of alcohol increases the motility of the gut – that means things move through at a faster rate. So yes, weekend alcohol poos really are a thing. But with an increased need to go and not enough solids, alcohol diarrhoea can be a real problem, too.

It goes without saying that no one should be relying on a weekend glass of wine to go to the toilet. Instead, try to use things like regular exercise and fibre to support your daily gut motility.

Here’s to daily pooing, we guess. 

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