why intermittent Fasting Cause Constipation | Other Bowel Problems | How Can You Treat Constipation | When Should You Consult A Doctor
Intermittent fasting has seen increasing popularity in today’s time due to the various benefits of the diet, such as a decrease in inflammation, bloating, aging effects, weight loss, and improving indigestion. Additionally, unlike other fad diets, the benefits of intermittent fasting are backed by science.
However, intermittent fasting requires a sudden change in your dietary habits. This can end up making you feel worse before you start experiencing its benefits. It’s quite common to experience intermittent fasting side effects in the first few days of the diet as your body takes a few weeks to adapt to the new diet regimen.
Intermittent Fasting and Constipation
One of the common side effects you can expect from intermittent fasting is constipation. Yes, you heard that right. Intermittent fasting can affect your bowel movements in different ways. Some people experience constipation, while others may face diarrhea.
Your stool consistency is directly related to what you eat or what you don’t. So it is normal to experience a change in your bowel movements during intermittent fasting.
When you know the problems you might face in the early phase of intermittent fasting, you can try some effective methods to combat these side effects. Read on to learn why intermittent fasting causes constipation and how to treat it.
To know more about common side effects of Intermittent fasting, read Intermittent Fasting Side Effects And How To Cure Them.
Why Does Intermittent Fasting Cause Constipation?
According to experts, poop problems are a part of your body adjusting to intermittent fasting. Since the diet restricts food intake to a certain period of time, your body has to acclimate to a new food consumption schedule.
It’s common for people who are new to the diet to experience bowel problems. The good news is that these side effects are temporary and disappear as your body processes the changes in your food intake.
The main culprits behind constipation during intermittent fasting is dehydration and poor fiber intake. Let’s take a closer look at how these factors affect your bowel movement during fasting.
Poor Fibre Intake
Due to a sudden restriction in your eating window, you may not consume enough nutrients for a smooth bowel movement.
Dietary fiber plays a significant role in the proper functioning of your digestive system. It adds bulk to your stool and softens it, ensuring that you can pass stool without strain. So, a decrease in dietary fiber can definitely reduce your visits to the bathroom.
However, if you are not experiencing any discomfort, then fewer bowel movements at the start of the fast is not necessarily a reason for immediate concern.
Reduced water intake
When you don’t have enough fluid in your body, the large intestine absorbs water from your food waste. This makes your stool hard, making it more difficult to pass.
Following a more extreme kind of intermittent fasting such as the OMAD diet increases the likelihood of not getting in enough water. Basically, the longer your fasting period is, the less water you consume. Food also serves as an additional source of water content, so restricting your food intake directly affects your body’s water level.
Other Bowel Problems Caused by Intermittent Fasting
Apart from constipation, intermittent fasting has other effects on poop too. Many people experience diarrhea during the first few weeks of fasting.
Also, it is believed that fasting alone doesn’t usually cause diarrhea. Factors like intolerance towards a certain food or medication play a big role in causing loose stool.
If you are experiencing diarrhea, then think about anything new that you might have added to your diet recently. Awareness of your intolerance towards that food product can help you to manage this condition.
If your condition doesn’t improve, consult a doctor to get evaluated for an underlying medical condition. Certain disorders such as thyroid disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or celiac diseases can also result in the watery stool.
How Can You Treat Constipation Due To Intermittent Fasting?
Making simple modifications to your diet can help you relieve the symptoms of intermittent fasting constipation and reap the diet’s benefits without a problem. Here are some tips that will help you maintain a regular bowel movement during a fasting diet.
1. Increase Your Fibre Intake
According to experts, individuals with an active lifestyle should consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber every day. Including enough fiber in your diet will ensure that your food passes through the digestive system smoothly.
It will add bulk to your stool allowing it to pass without a strain. Foods like Brussel sprouts, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, bran, and sweet potatoes are excellent sources of dietary fiber.
Make sure that you consume a good amount of high-fiber foods during your eating window period. You can also consume fiber-rich soups or drink low-fat milk in your eating period.
2. Drink Enough Water
A daily water intake of three to four liters along with dietary fiber will help you have strain-free motions. If the idea of drinking plain water doesn’t inspire you, try adding a few lemon slices, mint leaves, or cucumber slices to your drink.
Drinking water will not only help you with constipation but will also aid you in suppressing your hunger pangs. It will also boost better blood flow, muscle, and joint support during your intermittent fasting regime.
3. Coffee to the Rescue:
Drinking coffee induces the urge to pass stool within three to four minutes. Coffee stimulates the receptors of the colon to contract, causing a bowel movement.
To stay true to your fasting window compliance, drink a cup of black coffee without sugar. You can consume it outside your eating window since plain coffee is a calorie-free beverage.
4. Get in Some Exercise
A sedentary lifestyle is one of the contributing factors to constipation. Physical activity increases bowel motility that decreases the amount of time stool is present in your digestive tract. This, in turn, reduces the amount of water absorbed from the food waste. The resulting stool is less hard and dry hence making it easier to pass.
Any kind of aerobic exercise stimulates blood flow to your organs, including your digestive tract, making it an effective way to promote bowel movement.
5. Avoid Refined Food
Refined flour-based food is hard on your digestive system. Foods like noodles, cookies, white pasta, bread, and sugar lack fiber and increase hunger pangs. Avoid hogging on refined and processed food items during your eating period especially when you have constipation.
If you need help in intermittent fasting meal plans visit the 21-Day Intermittent Fasting Meal Plan. Here you will get a customized meal plan to meet your fasting goals with detailed recipes and a weekly shopping list.
When Should You Consult A Doctor?
The effects of intermittent fasting on bowel movements are usually transitory. As your body adapts to your new diet regime, these side effects tend to go away.
Health professionals suggest if you are not experiencing any pain, discomfort, bloating, or strain while passing motion, you don’t need to worry about fewer bowel movements at the start of your fasting.
Constipation generally means that you have less than three bowel movements in a week. It’s possible that you can be constipated even if you are passing a motion. Stools that are hard and dry are also classified as constipation.
It would be prudent to consult a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve within two weeks of starting your intermittent fasting. But, if you are experiencing blood, pain, or swelling during your bowel movements, immediately consult a doctor for further advice.
Intermittent fasting is a great way to boost your health. Due to its effectiveness, it has also rapidly become the new favorite diet regime for people who want to lose weight.
Intermittent fasting is a considerably safe diet if you follow the diet protocol and eat the right diet during your eating window period. However, any sudden change in your eating pattern can throw your bowel movements off track. Constipation due to intermittent fasting is a common side effect that usually disappears once your body adapts to it.
Including simple modifications in your diet can treat your fasting constipation and make your intermittent fasting journey easier.