Intermittent fasting is a fast-growing trend to help people control calories and improve health. But, does it make you poop? I’ve done some research and here’s what I found.
According to ReachMD, many people have reported experiencing constipation during intermittent fasting, and this is most likely due to dehydration and poor dietary fiber intake. Others have reported diarrhea, however, experts advise that this is most likely due to other chronic conditions or medications.
Keep reading to find out more about how you can prevent constipation and diarrhea as a result of intermittent fasting, as well as some additional side effects and how to best cope!
Tips To Prevent Constipation During Intermittent Fasting
According to Dr. Quainoo, constipation as a result of intermittent fasting can easily be overcome simply by eating the right fiber-rich foods and drinking plenty of fluids. This will help to stimulate the bowels and get you to the bathroom! Here are some helpful tips:
Increase your fiber intake
In order to keep things moving it is important that you are consuming enough fiber in your diet. Experts recommend that you should be consuming 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. This will help bulk up your stools so they pass through your colon faster. Some excellent high fiber foods include:
- Sweet Potato
- Chia Seeds (sprinkle them on some bran cereal)
- Whole-wheat breads and pastas
These are only a few examples of some of the best high-fiber foods, there are plenty more you can easily add to your diet to combat your constipation woes!
Drink plenty of water
The recommended daily intake of water should be three to five liters per day. Water, in addition to fiber, will surely get your stools moving along as they will make them softer and easier to pass.
Coffee is known to cause the urge to have a bowel movement, and some have reported as little as 4 minutes until heading to the bathroom! Coffee is said to stimulate the receptors in the colon and cause them to contract, which in turn pushes the stools along.
Just be mindful not to overdo it, as too much coffee can leave you feeling anxious, jittery and may even affect your sleeping.
According to Healthline, physical activity can stimulate bowel motility as it improves your digestive processes and increases muscle contractions in your colon. Additionally, this increase in motitlity decreases rhe amount of water that is absorbed from the stool, meaning the stool is less dry and hard and easier to pass through.
Aerobic exercise (running, cycling, swimming) is said to be the most effective, as it increases blood flow to all organs in the body, and this includes your gastrointestinal tract.
Causes Of Diarrhea During Fasting
While diarrhea is not as common as constipation during intermittent fasting, it may occur due to an over secretion of water and salt in the gastrointestinal tract. This may due to drinking liquids that are high in caffeine, such as energy drinks, tea, or coffee.
Typically, fasting does not cause diarrhea alone, but it is rather because you have suddenly broken your fast and this comes as a shock to your bowels. That’s because your bowel’s ability to function normally is lowered when it’s not in use.
Other common causes of diarrhea include:
- Poor diet
- Lactose intolerance
- Food or medication allergy
- Crohn’s disease
- Mineral deficiency
Additional Side Effects Of Intermittent Fasting (& How To Combat Them)
If you are planning on starting intermittent fasting, or if you already have in the past, then some of the side effects below may sound familiar! Keep reading to learn more about them and how you can overcome them:
While this one may seem obvious, it’s certainly the most common side effect you’ll experience! When you’re used to eating three solid meals a day, your body expects food at that time. The hormone called ghrelin is responsible for hunger and peaks at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
When you fast, this hormone is still released at the time you would usually eat, meaning it will take some serious willpower to skip the food. The first week is usually the hardest, but after that your body soon begins to adapt and you won’t even feel hungry when you reach your eating window!
Dr. Luiza Petre, a nutrition and weight-loss specialist and board-certified cardiologist, recommends drinking plenty of water in the first couple of weeks to full up your stomach and keep you alert. Drink at least 12-ounces as soon as you wake up, and if you still feel hungry, drink some more! You’ll be surprised at how full you feel.
Black coffee and tea is another great way to keep busy and curb hunger. Getting sufficient sleep and avoiding strenuous workouts is a good idea, especially for the first couple of weeks, as this will increase hunger. Make sure (when you do eat) that you eat enough the day before of carbs, protein, and healthy fats to prevent hunger.
Intermittent fasting will certainly drive your cravings for the forbidden through the roof! In fact, during your fast, you’ll probably have food on your mind the whole time. The worst part is you may be craving sugary foods and refined carbs as your body is craving a hit of gluocse.
While this is a tough one to overcome, the best thing to do is to try not to think about it, keep busy, and when you do finally eat make sure you indulge just a little to satisfy those cravings!
As your body adapts to your new pattern of eating, it is not uncommon to experience dull headaches. The best way to combat this is to drink tons of water, as headaches may be a sign you have not drank enough fluids.
According to Healthline, headaches may also be an indicator of low blood sugar and stress hormones released by your brain while fasting. Over time, your body will get used to this new schedule, but try and remain as free of stress as you can!
4. Decreased Energy
Since your body is not receiving a constant source of fuel, you may feel a little sluggish at the beginning of your fast. Try and keep your day as relaxed as you can, and avoid vigorous exercise or movement. Getting a little extra sleep may also help!
The term “hangry” is a real thing! It can be expected to feel a little cranky when your blood sugar levels drop, you’re having cravings and your energy is low. While this one may be difficult to overcome, mind over matter is a great approach!
6. Heartburn, Bloating, and Constipation
We already know constipation to be an issue when fasting, and we know what foods to eat to combat this. But heartburn is another side effect that is slightly less common.This could range from mild discomfort to burping all day, to full-on pain.
Drinking plenty of water and avoiding greasy, spicy foods will certainly help with this problem. As far as bloat and constipation are concerned, drinking plenty of water will help you feel less bloated, more energized, and repress headaches.
7. Feeling Cold
According to PubMed, cold fingers and toes while fasting is also pretty common, and this is for a good reason! When you fast, blood flow increases to your fat stores. This is known as adipose tissue blood flow, and this helps to move fat to your muscles, where it can be burned as fuel.
When your blood sugar decreases, this can also make you more sensitive to the cold. Combat this by drinking warm fluids, taking warm showers, and wearing extra layers! Also, make sure you are indoors and in a warm environment during your period of intermittent fasting.