Intermittent fasting is a popular way to lose weight and possibly improve health. You might notice changes in your body, feel more energetic and see an improvement in your overall well-being. Stick with it long enough and you could reap more profound rewards like longevity, better insulin sensitivity, and reduced inflammation.
But when starting out you may experience some discomfort. Hunger pangs can be unsettling, and the urge to eat can be overwhelming. You may also feel tired, a bit irritable, and even experience headaches.
Bloating is yet another side effect that some people face when they start intermittent fasting. Feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and even distended can truly dampen your spirits and make you second-guess your decision to fast.
Don’t worry, intermittent fasting bloating is actually common and there are ways to manage it. Here’s what you need to know about intermittent fasting bloating, why it happens, and what you can do about it.
Why Am I So Bloated While Intermittent Fasting?
You may be feeling gassy during intermittent fasting because you ate the wrong thing or you ate the right thing in the wrong way. Let’s break that down.
Eating the “wrong” thing: Please note; that we’re using the word “wrong” loosely here. These foods aren’t inherently wrong, but they may not be the best choice at certain times.
Some foods are naturally gas-producing, and if you have a sensitivity to them, it can cause bloating during your fasting period. Foods like beans, broccoli, cabbage, onions, and dairy products are common culprits of gas and bloating.
If what you ate during your window are foods you’re allergic/sensitive to, you could experience bloating or discomfort. You could have an underlying sensitivity to certain foods, and when you eat them during your eating window, it can cause bloating.
Eating the right thing the wrong way: Another common reason for bloating is not eating mindfully. It’s easy to become overly hungry and rush into breaking your fast with a big meal, or eat too quickly during your eating window. This can cause you to swallow more air, leading to bloating and discomfort.
In addition, not chewing your food thoroughly and eating too fast can also lead to bloating. When you don’t break down your food properly it can take longer for your body to digest it, leading to gas buildup and bloating.
Drinking through a straw, rather than sipping from a cup, can also cause you to swallow more air and might contribute to bloating.
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How Do You Debloat Your Stomach Fast?
You can debloat your stomach the natural way or seek medical advice if the following tips don’t work:
Take a Walk
Say you were just too hungry and gobbled down your food too quickly at the start of your eating window. Taking a walk immediately afterward can help move things along in your digestive system and alleviate bloating (7).
The walk doesn’t have to be the intense, sweat-inducing type. A leisurely stroll around the neighborhood will do.
The idea is to get your body moving, which can stimulate digestion and help relieve bloating.
Try Gentle Yoga Stretches
If, for some reason, you can’t take a walk, try stretching or doing some light exercises at home.
Specific yoga poses are believed to help with digestion and alleviate bloating (2).
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This pose is great for stretching your abdominal muscles, and releasing tension and gas buildup in the digestive system.
To do it:
- Sit on your heels with your knees wide apart.
- Fold forward, bringing your chest to rest between your thighs and resting your forehead on the floor.
- Extend your hands in front of you or alongside your body.
- Take deep breaths and hold for 1-2 minutes.
- Slowly come back to a seated position and sit up tall.
Wind-Relieving Pose (Pawanmuktasana)
This pose is excellent for releasing gas and bloating in the abdomen.
To do it:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Bring your knees towards your chest and interlace your fingers to hold onto them.
- Gently rock side to side, massaging the abdominal area.
- Hold for 1-2 minutes.
- Release and extend your legs back out.
- Repeat as needed.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This pose helps to stretch the abdominal muscles, improve digestion, and relieve bloating.
To do it:
- Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and knees under hips.
- Lift your hips up towards the ceiling, straightening out your arms and legs.
- Push your hands into the ground and press your heels towards the floor.
- Hold for 1-2 minutes, taking deep breaths.
- Slowly release and come back to the starting position.
Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana/Bitilasana)
This pose is great for improving digestion and relieving gas.
To do it:
- Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and knees under hips.
- Inhale, arch your back, and lift your head towards the ceiling (Cow Pose).
- Exhale, round your spine, and bring your head towards your chest (Cat Pose).
- Repeat for 1-2 minutes.
- Slowly come back to the starting position.
You can also try other gentle stretches and exercises that focus on the abdominal area, such as seated twists or bicycle crunches.
Sip on Peppermint Tea
Sipping on peppermint tea might help soothe your stomach and reduce bloating (5).
The menthol oil contained in peppermint leaves relaxes the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract. This effect can help alleviate discomfort from bloating, especially when it’s caused by spasms or contractions in the digestive tract.
The relaxing properties of peppermint tea can also aid in speeding up digestion, reducing the length of time gas sits in the digestive system, which can further lessen bloating (5).
If you don’t have peppermint tea on hand or simply don’t enjoy the flavor, there are some other natural alternatives that may also help alleviate bloating.
Ginger tea is a potent digestive aid that has been used for centuries to relieve bloating. It may work by relaxing the intestinal tract and reducing inflammation, which can help your body to more effectively expel gas (1).
Chamomile tea is another option. Known for its calming effects, chamomile tea is a relaxant and has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce bloating (11). Fennel tea might be a little less known, but its effectiveness is nothing short of impressive. It may alleviate indigestion and soothe the digestive system, reducing gas and bloating (11).
If natural remedies don’t work, you may need to seek medical advice. A doctor or pharmacist can recommend over-the-counter medication that can help alleviate bloating. These include simethicone, which helps break up gas bubbles in the digestive tract, and activated charcoal, which can bind to excess gas and reduce symptoms of bloating.
In some cases, prescription medications may be necessary to treat underlying conditions that may be causing bloating, such as inflammatory bowel disease or lactose intolerance. Your doctor can determine the best course of treatment for your specific needs.
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How to Prevent Intermittent Fasting Bloating
Avoiding the discomfort of bloating during intermittent fasting can be done with some simple lifestyle changes:
Avoid Gas-Producing Foods
Certain foods are known to produce more gas in the digestive system, which can contribute to bloating. These include beans, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower), dairy products, and carbonated drinks. If you are sensitive to them, limiting or avoiding these foods during your eating window may help reduce bloating (6).
Include Fiber-Rich Foods In Moderation
Fiber-rich foods are a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to bloating.
They’re essential for proper digestion and keeping your digestive system regular (6). However, consuming large amounts of fiber at once can lead to bloating and discomfort. Some types of fiber can even cause gas, adding to the problem.
To minimize bloating while still getting the necessary fiber in your diet, include these foods in moderation and spread them out throughout your eating window. If you are working on increasing your fiber intake, do it gradually to allow your digestive system to adjust.
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking enough water can help prevent constipation and keep things moving smoothly in your digestive system (3). Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day.
Regular physical activity can also help keep your digestive system functioning properly. Exercise helps stimulate digestion and promotes regular bowel movements, which can prevent bloating. It also helps to alleviate stress, which can contribute to digestive issues (8).
Start with a Fasting Schedule That Works for You
If you’re getting to mealtime famished and ready to devour everything in sight, it’s possible that you’ll eat too quickly and take in too much air. This can lead to bloating and discomfort.
Start with a fasting schedule that suits your lifestyle and eating habits. If necessary, work your way up to longer fasts gradually to allow your body time to adjust.
Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating simply means paying attention to your food and enjoying it without distractions. When you’re focused on eating, you tend to eat slower and chew your food more slowly and thoroughly, which can aid in digestion and prevent bloating.
Avoid Chewing Gum
Chewing gum can lead to swallowing excess air, which can contribute to bloating (4) If you have a habit of chewing gum during your fasting period, try switching to a sugar-free breath mint or avoiding it altogether. Issues like bad breath during a fast can be solved by improving dental hygiene rather than relying on gum.
Probiotics, commonly found in fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, can help balance the bacteria in your gut and improve digestion (7). Consider incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your diet or taking a supplement to help reduce bloating.
During a fast, your stomach is empty and your body is using up stored energy. This can make your stomach appear flatter. However, when you break your fast and eat a meal, your stomach will naturally expand as it fills with food and fluids. This is completely normal and not a sign of bloating. Intermittent fasting might help reduce bloating for some people and make your stomach appear flatter, at first. With consistent practice, it may also help to reduce overall body fat, including in the abdominal area. You sleep at night, and your body doesn’t have any new food or fluids to process, which results in a flatter stomach in the morning. However, as you eat and drink throughout the day, your stomach will naturally expand and may appear more bloated by evening. Your body is constantly digesting and processing food, so it is normal for your stomach to fluctuate in size throughout the day. For most people, intermittent fasting bloating is temporary and should only last for a few days to a week as your body adjusts to the new eating schedule. However, if you continue to experience bloating after this initial adjustment period it may be a sign of an underlying digestive issue or food sensitivity. Consult with a doctor to determine the cause and find appropriate treatment options. There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that lemon water can specifically reduce bloating. However, drinking enough fluids in general can help prevent constipation and promote regular bowel movements, which can aid in reducing bloating.
Why Is My Stomach Getting Bigger After Fasting?
Does Intermittent Fasting Flatten Your Stomach?
Why Is My Stomach Flat In The Morning and Bloated At Night?
How Long Does Beginners Bloat Last?
Does Lemon Water Debloat?
During a fast, your stomach is empty and your body is using up stored energy. This can make your stomach appear flatter. However, when you break your fast and eat a meal, your stomach will naturally expand as it fills with food and fluids. This is completely normal and not a sign of bloating.
Intermittent fasting might help reduce bloating for some people and make your stomach appear flatter, at first. With consistent practice, it may also help to reduce overall body fat, including in the abdominal area.
You sleep at night, and your body doesn’t have any new food or fluids to process, which results in a flatter stomach in the morning. However, as you eat and drink throughout the day, your stomach will naturally expand and may appear more bloated by evening.
Your body is constantly digesting and processing food, so it is normal for your stomach to fluctuate in size throughout the day.
For most people, intermittent fasting bloating is temporary and should only last for a few days to a week as your body adjusts to the new eating schedule.
However, if you continue to experience bloating after this initial adjustment period it may be a sign of an underlying digestive issue or food sensitivity. Consult with a doctor to determine the cause and find appropriate treatment options.
There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that lemon water can specifically reduce bloating. However, drinking enough fluids in general can help prevent constipation and promote regular bowel movements, which can aid in reducing bloating.
The Bottom Line
Bloating is a common and often uncomfortable side effect of intermittent fasting. However, with the right techniques and lifestyle changes, it can be managed and reduced. If you continue to experience frequent or severe bloating, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment options.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A review of the gastroprotective effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) (2013,nih.gov)
- Adjuvant yoga therapy for symptom management of functional dyspepsia: A case series (2023,nih.gov)
- Evaluation of thermal water in patients with functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome accompanying constipation (2006,nih.gov)
- Gas (Flatus) (2021,umich.edu)
- Herbal remedies for dyspepsia: peppermint seems effective (2008,nih.gov)
- Mayo Clinic Q and A: Food to reduce bloating (2023,mayoclinic.org)
- Systematic review: probiotics in the management of lower gastrointestinal symptoms – an updated evidence‐based international consensus (2018,nih.gov)
- The effect of a short-term physical activity after meals on gastrointestinal symptoms in individuals with functional abdominal bloating: a randomized clinical trial (2021,nih.gov)
- The impact of physical exercise on the gastrointestinal tract (2009,nih.gov)
- Ultra-processed Foods, Weight Gain, and Co-morbidity Risk (2022,nih.gov)
- WHICH TEAS HELP REDUCE BLOATING? (2022,bruutea.co.uk)