Recently, the term intermittent fasting has become a lifestyle trend. Various fitness enthusiasts recommend it along with a low-carb diet for weight loss.
It has proven to be a good and faster way to lose weight and tone your body. Comparatively, it is less harmful than starving yourself for long hours and only drinking a cup of black coffee or green tea in the name of weight loss. You must eat healthy in your fasting window and avoid being lazy.
But what is it about the cramps after fasting in your stomach? The moment you move, your stomach tends to hold on and starts to ache. It lowers down your productivity and weakens your body.
As you continue fasting, it only deteriorates. But now, you don’t have to be too worried about it. You will be relieved to know, stomach pain after fasting is quite common and normal.
Let me enlighten you on how you can manage it well:
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Root Cause of Stomach Pain after Fasting
The root cause of stomach pain during fasting is more production of gastric juices. Gastric juices are acidic in nature. This causes heartburn and initiates stomach discomforts. The feeling is often described as too dull to tolerate but strong enough to make you uneasy.
When you are fasting for quite a long interval of time, your stomach remains relatively empty. The gastric juice continues being secreted and increases the acidic pH of the stomach contents. This causes acidity.
For this reason, you might feel hunger punches in modes of pain in your stomach. These are light and repetitive. Not to worry, there will be no stomach pain after eating.
On the other hand, after you eat the stomach feels bloated. As you were on an empty stomach for a long time, your brain will tell you to eat more, and in turn, it will burden the stomach. Bloating can progress to gas formation in the stomach and initiate light pain in your epigastrium. It is possible to feel pain and tenderness with movements too. At times, the pain radiates to the chest and back.
Fasting and Stomach Pain
By now I’m assuming you have dug up the internet on various kinds of fasting options. Some fast to lose weight and some due to religious beliefs. No matter what the reason is, a huge population complains of stomach pain after fasting.
As my father describes it, it is irritating. It is dull yet very uncomforting. With movements, the pain intensifies and you feel more uncomfortable. Sometimes the pain spreads along the chest and makes it difficult to breathe.
Apart from religious fasting, voluntary fasting includes intermittent fasting, alternate-day fasting, twice a week method, time-restricted fasting, etc.
Of all these, intermittent fasting is the most popular and said to be the most effective one.
Upper abdominal pain when fasting on the other hand will make you want to eat more and more. While you try to lose weight, fasting can thus become your sole reason to gain weight.
Common Side Effects of Fasting
Generally, fasting is harmless. The beneficial side of it weighs a lot more than the side effects. But a few side effects encircle around any kind of fasting.
According to your body type, they may differ from person to person. Some gain weight, some discover gastrointestinal problems, and a few can grow weak. Some of the side effects of fastings are as follows:
Stomach pain after fasting can generate as cramps, punches, and dull pains. It is normal and not to be afraid of. Often due to acidity or bloating these pains can occur. The pain may spread from the epigastric to the nearby regions. Sometimes, it also radiates to the back and makes you feel the stomach ache after iftar, especially during Ramadan.
As you stop eating and drinking for a few hours, your body stops getting energy. Your brain can stop functioning. An initial symptom is a headache and irritation. In the advanced stage you can feel nauseated and episodes of disorientation along with dizziness. It is purely neurological and goes away as soon as you eat food.
Simply put, you’ll feel more tired if you are not eating properly. Your body lacks the energy required and the metabolism is slow. So you will feel lazy to work. The body may feel too worn out. Productivity reduces to a minimum.
Some avoid drinking water at the time of fasting. Water helps to regulate the metabolic activities of the body. The metabolic processes are slowed down with its deficiency. So, your body gets dehydrated and your core temperature rises. You feel more dried out and at times nauseous.
As you lack water in your body, your urine becomes more concentrated and acidic. During urination, a burning sensation along with lower abdominal pain can be observed.
Symptoms to stop fasting
Fasting diets are good but these should not be done for a long time.
Fasting for a long period initiates a metabolic process in our body called gluconeogenesis. In this process, the body breaks down the non-carbohydrate substrates like fat, proteins, and ketones to produce energy for the body. It is not a regular metabolic process and only active at the time of starvation and fasting.
The body needs glucose. The more you devoid your body of it, the more it starts to break down. The body releases glucagon and reduces insulin levels. For this, the stress levels and the glucose levels are messed up.
All in all, the normal metabolism is disturbed. Every person being on a fasting diet is recommended to take a break every once in a while. It will not only make the diet more effective but also help to bring back the metabolism of the body.
It is better to stop fasting as soon as you feel the following:
- Blurring of vision
- Slurring of speech
- Severe stomach pain
Most of these symptoms occur at an extreme level of fasting. Negligence of any of it can come with serious repercussions.
Bending down out of my stomach aches after fasting? Thinking about what can lower these sudden attacks and not produce them ever again? Here are some points to keep in your mind:
- Take an antacid if your epigastric region starts to hurt. It will emulsify the acidity and reduce the pain within an hour.
- You can rely on pantoprazole group of medicines to reduce the excess acid production
- Drink more water to filter out the unwanted toxic substances
- Avoid overeating
- Do not drink alcohol or eat oily foods.
What to eat when you are breaking your fast
Now that we know how dangerous stomach pain after fasting can be, let us know what foods can stop from producing it. Below is a good diet chart for the eating window of an intermittent faster:
Start your day with a full glass of water or two. Now, a lot of you prefer detox water but if you already have stomach pain tendencies, it is advised to avoid it. This is because it will increase the acidity and only make the pain worse.
For meals, take protein-rich food like egg or a glass of soya or almond milk. Add some nuts. Quinoa, oats, and semolina are good options to fill your stomach.
Kick start your day with a sugar-free black coffee. It will boost your metabolism.
By the time the sun is on your head and you are getting hunger punches, feed yourself some fruits. Citrus and seasonable fruits are good options. You can also add nuts and dry fruits if you want.
As your eating window is narrow, a healthy meal will keep you energized for the next fasting window. At lunch, try to eat a lot of protein and fat. Include chicken, beef, and fish in your meal along with a proportionate amount of greens.
This is your ultimate challenge. Snacks are a very common time when we break our thumb rules of the diet. When you have a heavy and oily snack after fasting for a long period, you can have frequent stomach aches.
It is better to stick to nuts, a light cup of coffee, or non-oily foods.
Similar to lunch, a balanced dinner will keep your stomach clear and reduce the formation of gas. You won’t be feeling an uneasy pit in your stomach. You will be good to go for the next day.
The easiest solution is to do a proportion control. Count your calories and keep them to a bare minimum. Avoid oily food, trans fat, and high-sugar-containing foods.
Soft reminders if you are fasting for a long time. Try to abide by it:
- Never skip a meal
- Drink adequate amount of water
- Keep a good bowel habit
- Do not over or under eat
- Do not stress yourself more than possible
Stomach pain after fasting can be indicative of underlying health conditions. In most cases, the matter is not serious but if it keeps on happening, watch out for the following diseases:
Peptic ulcer disease
Any kind of ulcerations is indicative of inflammation in the organ’s wall. Commonly known as PUD, this disease has shown significant deterioration in people fasting.
They complain more of fainting, vomiting, and intense stomach pain after fasting.
In an empty stomach, celiac diseases cause abdominal pain, bloating, and gas. As they increase in fasting, people with a history of it are discouraged to do so.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD worsens if you are fasting. Like every other gastrointestinal disease, it also shows signs like nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. But the stomach pain becomes almost intolerable with the elevated acidic content.
Can fasting help you lose weight?
Definitely, it can!
Fasting will habituate your body to eating in an interval. With the correct diet and exercise routine, you can master it right. You will lose weight, feel lighter and a lot better. Remember to take breaks in between and not prolong your fasting interval for too long.
Why does my stomach hurt from fasting?
Continuous and repetitive stomach punches are indicative of underlying gastrointestinal issues. Often for prolonged fasting or starvation, these conditions tend to deteriorate.
When neglected, these can become serious and turn bad. You might know the seriousness of the situation at the last stage. It is better to take necessary actions as your symptoms tend to increase.
Can intermittent fasting cause stomach problems?
Not invariably, but to some, it does cause stomach problems. Acidity is a common complaint of many. Stomach pain after fasting is often associated with it.
It is better to have foods that will reduce acidity and ensure the satiety of your stomach. Foods like bread, rice, whole grains, and green leafy vegetables fall in these categories.
Why do you still poop while fasting?
Easily put, your metabolism does not stop. Your body continues to work and break down. The unwanted waste is eliminated through the fecal and urinary tract.
With all the discussion done above, I think it is pretty clear why you have stomach pain after fasting.
It is better not to ignore it when it gets repetitive. Remember not to stress yourself with fasting. Do it with the right interval and right time zones. A healthy life and a balanced diet can keep you going strong.
Till then, happy eating!