Is it Normal to Become Bloated During Intermittent Fasting?

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It’s a fact that bloating does occur for some women during intermittent fasting (IF). The most common causes of bloating when fasting are how and what you eat, lack of fluids (water), or the extended intervals between meals. For women approaching or over the age of 50, hormones, lifestyles, and body changes also play a critical role in intermittent fasting and bloating. If you’re experiencing bloating, consider making a few changes to the diet plan to prevent and diminish the bloating it can cause.

According to the Mayo Clinic, whether you’re dieting or not, most individuals do experience periodic bloating without any harm. In most situations, the body resolves the condition naturally. But, when bloating begins to interfere with daily body functions or physical activities, you need to talk with your doctor.

Remember, the purpose of IF is fitness, weight loss, and improved digestion for healthier well-being. If you’re considering IF as a weight loss program or you’ve already started the process, take the time to review your choice of foods and eating patterns to avoid bloating.

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained popularity as a dietary approach that involves alternating periods of eating and fasting. There are several different methods of intermittent fasting, each with its own unique schedule and guidelines. Here are some of the most common types of intermittent fasting:

  • 16/8 Method: Also known as the Leangains protocol, the 16/8 method involves fasting for 16 hours and restricting eating to an 8-hour window each day. For example, one might fast from 8:00 PM until 12:00 PM the following day, then consume all meals within the remaining 8-hour window.
  • 5:2 Diet: The 5:2 diet involves eating normally for five days of the week and restricting calorie intake to around 500-600 calories on the remaining two non-consecutive days. These fasting days can be spaced out throughout the week as desired.
  • Alternate-Day Fasting: Alternate-day fasting involves alternating between fasting days, where calorie intake is severely restricted or eliminated altogether, and non-fasting days, where food can be consumed ad libitum. There are different variations of this method, including modified alternate-day fasting, which allows for a small amount of food on fasting days.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: In the Eat-Stop-Eat method, individuals fast for a full 24 hours once or twice a week. For example, one might fast from dinner one day until dinner the following day, consuming no calories during the fasting period.
  • Warrior Diet: The Warrior Diet involves fasting for 20 hours each day and consuming all food within a 4-hour eating window in the evening. During the fasting period, small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables, as well as protein-rich foods like hard-boiled eggs, may be consumed.
  • OMAD (One Meal a Day): OMAD involves fasting for 23 hours each day and consuming all daily calories within a single one-hour eating window. This method typically results in a prolonged fasting period, followed by a large meal to meet daily nutritional needs.

These are just a few examples of the various types of intermittent fasting protocols. It’s essential to choose a method that aligns with your lifestyle, preferences, and health goals, and to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any fasting regimen, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or dietary restrictions.

What Causes Bloating During Intermittent Fasting?

WebMD Health reports that one in ten individuals experience some level of regular bloating. Further information on the latest health and diet trends indicates staying hydrated is an essential intermittent fasting and bloating prevention criterion. Insufficient water and the body’s digestive process automatically slow down, causing a backup effect — bloating.

Two food groups that offer health benefits for losing weight are high protein and whole grains (high fiber). While dieting, these two food groups do help to satisfy your hunger quickly. But for your body to digest these foods, it needs a higher level of water intake. If your body becomes dehydrated, it naturally responds with bloating and constipation.

Tips and habits to remember while fasting:

  • Drink water even if you’re not thirsty.
  • Quench your thirst and curb dehydration.

Another common food group associated with dieting contains sugar and starch. Although your body needs these two nutrients to stay healthy, the sugar and starch compounds found in certain fruits or vegetables can cause bloating.

While we’re talking about sugar, you need to understand that sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners are difficult for the body to digest. The problem with these ingredients is that they cause the body’s digestive system to produce more gas in the stomach and occasional bloating.

Is Bloating Normal or a Cause for Concern?

Yes, to both questions. Healthwise, temporary or infrequent bloating is normal. The condition can be mild to severely uncomfortable. For most women, bloating does pass once the food is processed and excreted from the body. One suggestion is to keep a journal to track your intermittent fasting and bloating experiences. The information will help to redefine your diet plan or eating schedule if needed.

Situations that are commonly linked to bloating:

  • Foods that are difficult to digest or gassy.
  • Overeating in a single meal causes havoc in the digestive system.
  • Eating food too fast causes the food to sit in the stomach longer, activating gastric acid.

When bloating interferes with normal body functions and lasts longer than 24 hours, you should be concerned. If you frequently experience bloating that’s accompanied by pain, stop fasting and see the doctor.

intermittent fasting and bloating

Possible signs for concern:

  • Frequent pain in the digestive tract. It could be a damaged or injured gastrointestinal muscle.
  • Food allergies are linked to underlying conditions and affect the digestion of food. Signs are pain, fever, swelling, or bloating.
  • Mixing multivitamins, over-the-counter supplements, and medication can cause bloating.

Solutions to the Problem and Ways to Avoid Bloating

Since every woman is unique, there is no single solution to remedy intermittent fasting and bloating. Small adjustments to what you’re eating and the frequency of fasting may help curb bloating effects. Behavioral changes can also help manage and control bloating. For example, after completing a full cycle of fasting, slowly introduce food back into your system. Keep a healthy balance between solid and liquid digestible foods to prevent bloating.

Believe it or not, breathing can cause gas in the abdomen, followed by bloating. When we swallow air in large or consistent quantities, we contribute to the body’s internal production of gas. Luckily, your body is designed to relieve minor bloating through burbs or belching.

Some behavior solutions to help manage and prevent bloating:

  • Stop drinking liquids through a straw.
  • Reduce or eliminate gum chewing and chew a mint instead.
  • Take small sips when drinking, no gulping allowed.

You can also try taking something to ease the bloating. Here are the 10 Top Supplements for Bloating.

Read Next:

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Intermittent Fasting Mistakes Beginners Make — And How to Avoid Them!

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