With its many known benefits, intermittent fasting is gaining popularity around the world.
However, nothing is perfect, and this eating pattern comes with its share of side effects like some digestive issues.
So can intermittent fasting cause constipation and other gastrointestinal discomforts?
Yes, constipation can be common when doing any form of intermittent fasting but thankfully, it is only temporary and will last the first few weeks.
When you start intermittent fasting, your body needs a couple of days to adjust to this new routine.
Since this is a new diet for your body and your body isn’t used to being without nutrients, this can cause changes in your stool.
Being without nutrients may make your stool dry, hard, and misshaped.
When fasting, the best foods you eat are always high in fiber, and since your body isn’t used to it, it will take time to adjust, and too much fiber can also make your stool hard.
This intensifies when you don’t drink enough water.
Drinking enough water is extremely important because when you begin intermittent fasting, you lose sodium and water in your urine and this may cause dehydration if you don’t drink enough fluids.
How Do I Stop Constipation While Intermittent Fasting?
Some different ways to prevent constipation include consuming enough fiber in your diet, increasing your water intake, and adding moderate forms of exercise to your routine.
Insoluble fiber is also a better choice than soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber is derived from the outer layer of plants and helps pass stool quickly.
Leafy veggies, whole grains, and skin of most fruits are some examples of insoluble fruits, and these also have a laxative effect on the colon.
Some other examples are peas and beans, fruits such as peaches and plums, and seeds like sunflower and pumpkin.
Water hydrates the body and helps prevent and cure constipation.
If you cannot drink a lot of water, you can get some hydration from fruits such as cucumbers, watermelons, and tomatoes.
Another way to prevent constipation is by regularly exercising.
Physical activity is one of the most effective hacks for loosening your bowels and keeping your stool regular.
Almost any form of exercise, such as brisk walking, can help stool pass easily through your intestines.
Does Intermittent Fasting Affect Bowel Movement?
Yes, intermittent fasting affects bowel movements in different ways.
Many people experience constipation when they first start this diet.
These problems mostly occur during the initial phase of the diet.
The body needs time to adjust to the new food consumption schedule as this diet is about restricting the intake of foods for certain periods.
Experts say that these poop problems are a part of the changes that the body experiences as it gets used to intermittent fasting.
Also if you don’t have enough fluids and high-fiber foods in your diet, your bowel movements will be negatively affected.
When you are not eating a sufficient amount of nutrients to keep your bowel movements proper, you might have some issues with your gut.
When on an intermittent fast, the question of what foods are right to eat can arise.
While no specific dietary rules are set in stone, choosing nutrient-dense, wholesome foods will help maintain energy levels and provide necessary nutrients.
Eating high-fiber fruits and vegetables like apples, oranges, and carrots.
You can also include lean proteins like skinless chicken breasts, healthy fats such as omega 3s found in salmon and walnuts, and whole grains like brown rice and quinoa.
Legumes like beans will increase your fiber intake, and yogurt will fortify your gut bacteria with beneficial probiotics.
What Are The Side Effects Of Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is known to be a healthy lifestyle choice but it also can come with a few unpleasant side effects like hunger and cravings, fatigue, sleep issues, digestive problems, nausea, constipation, and headaches.
Most of these effects go away after your body adjusts to your new eating pattern.
However, it’s important to note that there are certain individuals who should not do intermittent fasting.
This includes young children or teenagers, pregnant women, people with existing eating disorders, those on certain medications or supplements, and individuals with health conditions such as diabetes.
Underweight or malnourished people should also avoid this dieting method because they may not have enough nutrient reserves to sustain them throughout the day.
Consulting a doctor before beginning an intermittent fasting regime can help determine if this strategy is safe and beneficial for an individual’s body type and lifestyle.
Why Does Fasting Make You Constipated?
Fasting makes you constipated because you limit the food you eat, and you eat less than before.
In addition, not drinking enough water or not having a high-fiber diet increases your chances of constipation.
When you intermittent fast, you only have a small window in which you can eat, and if you don’t fill those windows with plenty of fluids and snacks or food that contains high fiber, constipation can be a problem.
But if you diet keeping in mind how to prevent this, constipation will not be a problem.
How Do I Get Enough Fiber While Intermittent Fasting?
When fasting, you should try and consume high-fiber foods during your eating window, such as nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables, and different foods, including meat.
This will also keep you full for a longer period of time because your body digests these foods more slowly.
Eating protein with meals is also a good strategy.
If you cannot eat high-fiber foods, you can take fiber supplements.
Even though the best way to consume fiber is through food, if you feel you aren’t getting enough, some fiber supplements have the research to back them up.
The drawbacks of these supplements are that they may cause stomach discomfort and bloat, so you should introduce the supplements gradually and make sure to drink plenty of water.
Also, these supplements are not to be taken with certain medications, so be sure to talk to a healthcare professional before starting them.
Another way to increase your fiber intake is by eating fruits like pears, apples, and berries as snacks during your open window because they are high-fiber fruits.
Also to increase your fiber intake, you should choose whole grains instead of refined grains.
Since refined grains have been stripped of their vitamin-containing germ and fiber-rich bran, they last longer and take away the nutritious parts, leaving only fast-absorbing carbs for you.
Oatmeal, brown rice, barley, and wheat berries are just some examples of whole-grain items you can include in your diet.
I’m Chris Watson & the Founder of EatForLonger.com. I’m a food and wellbeing enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuffs and simple food-based concepts, such as fasting and clean eating.
I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes to what you eat and when you eat while optimizing your healthspan and all-around well-being.
Read more About Me here.