Intermittent fasting is a pattern that involves eating for certain periods throughout the day and fasting for others. Some people experience constipation while intermittent fasting.
It is possible that dietary changes related to intermittent fasting — for example,
Read on to learn more about the relationship between intermittent fasting and constipation.
Researchers have not systematically studied the link between intermittent fasting and constipation. However, research on intermittent fasting has found that some people experience constipation.
Constipation can occur when a person changes their diet or fluid intake or when the health of their gut changes. Fasting may, therefore, indirectly cause constipation in one of several ways:
- Consuming fewer carbohydrates
might causeconstipation. This is especially true if a person reduces their intake of complex carbohydrates that are rich in fiber.
- Eating fewer fruits and vegetables. Both are
sources of fiberthat can reduce constipation.
- Not drinking enough water and fluids. Often, people may forget to drink it when fasting.
Dietary fiber is
Additionally, people get much of their daily
- taking certain medications
- drinking too much alcohol
- overusing laxatives
Anecdotally, some people who intermittently fast report that their constipation goes away after an initial introduction period of a few days to a few weeks.
Some people may continue getting enough fluid and fiber when fasting and may not experience constipation.
Doctors usually define constipation as fewer than
Some symptoms a person might notice include:
- feeling like they need to have a bowel movement but are unable to
- having very hard stool
- pain when attempting to pass stool
- stomach pain or gas
- smaller bowel movements, or hard stool that look like dry pebbles
A person who eats less while intermittent fasting might also have fewer bowel movements, but this alone does not necessarily mean they are constipated.
A person should use the same strategies for intermittent fasting-related constipation that they would use for any other type of constipation.
- drinking plenty of water
- avoiding low fiber foods, such as fast food, chips, and processed foods
- eating many high fiber foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- exercising more often, as this can help to promote greater movement in the digestive tract
- using the bathroom on a regular schedule
If constipation persists, ask a doctor about the next steps. Sometimes laxatives can help relieve short-term constipation.
Chronic laxative use, however, may make a person dependent on laxatives for bowel movement.
Some tips for people to reduce the risk of constipation while intermittent fasting
- trying never to delay a bowel movement
- filling a large bottle with water and carrying it throughout the day
- avoiding fasting for prolonged periods
- pre-preparing high fiber snacks in advance and keep them in the fridge for daily use
- remaining or becoming physically active while fasting – people who feel too tired to exercise when fasting may need to try a different strategy
Constipation can be painful and unpleasant, but it is not usually dangerous. Some strategies to prevent constipation are very effective, and people considering intermittent fasting should also consider approaches for lowering their risk of constipation.
If constipation persists for several weeks or continues after a person stops fasting, they should see a healthcare professional. Sometimes health problems, such as anatomical issues, muscle weakness, nerve damage, or digestive health problems cause constipation, but these are typically treatable.