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How To Avoid The 5 Most Common Side Effects Of Intermittent Fasting

– In today’s video, I’m gonna be taking you through the five most common side effects people get when they start intermittent fasting. You’re gonna learn why they happen and how you can manage them if you do get them but make sure you stick around to the end of the video because I’m gonna explain how you can pretty much avoid getting any of them in the first place.

(upbeat music) Hey Carb Dodgers, my name is Dr. Dan Maggs, I’m so glad you’ve landed on my channel which is all about achieving lasting weight loss through the low carb, real food nutrition and of course, intermittent fasting which is the topic of today’s video. So let’s get started. Side effect number one is hunger.

Now, this might seem like an obvious one but it’s not quite as straightforward as people often think so is worthy of discussion. Now, many people don’t even ever start fasting because they’re worried about being hungry, they think that if they skip a meal, they’re just gonna get more and more hungry until that next meal comes which sounds unpleasant really but it’s not true.

It’s important that we understand what drives our hunger. Pretty much everything in our body is controlled by nerves, hormones or some combination of the two. Hunger is no different and the process of digestion starts before you even put anything in your mouth and this is why your stomach rumbles when you see or smell food or even when you hear the sound of food being prepared.

The signals travel from your eyes, your ears, or your nose down to your stomach where you produce stomach acid and the hormones that prepare your body for digestion. This is called the cephalic phase of digestion. But the cephalic phase response isn’t only triggered by seeing, smelling or hearing food being prepared, there is an element of it that is a learned response.

If you’ve always eaten breakfast at 7:30 every morning, your body is going to start producing that cephalic phase response just before 7:30 whether the meal comes or not. The body learns to expect the meals it is used to having at the time it is used to having them and if you suddenly decide to miss that meal, the response doesn’t just completely go away, you’re still going to feel hungry when that time comes but don’t worry, that hunger is only gonna last about 20 to 30 minutes.

Why? Because the levels of hormones that surged up earlier eventually go away and you don’t feel hungry anymore. Now you may get waves of hunger coming and going over the next few hours before you eat again but the hunger doesn’t just keep getting worse until that next meal and the good news is that those learned responses can be unlearned but you are gonna have to ride through a few of those waves of hunger until your body unlearns this response.

Here are a few tips to help you with your hunger when you’re just starting out. Firstly, take it slowly. You don’t have to jump straight in with a long fast. Start by doing something simple like just missing breakfast. If missing breakfast sounds like too much then just start to think about shifting that breakfast ever so slightly later in the day.

Why not have it during your morning break at work? Another idea would be to just have your evening meal a little bit earlier than you normally would and that extends your fast at the other end of the day. Secondly, don’t be around food, go easy on yourself. You don’t wanna be triggering that cephalic phase response by surrounding yourself with amazing smelling food and don’t underestimate the power of this, the brain is very, very powerful.

In fact, I can probably make you hungry in just a few seconds, just watch this. (upbeat music) Did that make you start to feel hungry? Let me know in the comments down below, just type hungry or not hungry. And thirdly, avoid boredom. Boredom is your enemy, it can lead you to obsess about and focus only on food.

Do something that distracts you that you don’t associate normally with eating, maybe go out for a walk, or do some exercise. One really good way to avoid boredom is to subscribe to my YouTube channel. Like I mentioned earlier, hunger comes in waves and those waves last about 20 to 30 minutes, that’s two or three YouTube videos.

Number two is fatigue, brain fog, lightheadedness, and feeling hungry. I’ve grouped these together as really they have the same root cause. It’s one of two things usually, number one is low blood glucose levels or hypoglycemia and number two is not really being adapted to burning fat for fuel. Let’s look at low blood glucose levels first.

It might seem logical that you should have low blood glucose levels when you’re fasting but hypoglycemia shouldn’t really happen. Your body still needs glucose to function properly and when you fast or cut out carbohydrates, your blood glucose levels don’t just drop to zero, there always needs to be some glucose going around in the body.

When we’re not consuming glucose or things that can turn into glucose, our liver can make glucose from other things such as fat and protein. Your body should turn to alternative energy stores to provide that glucose as well as increase fat burning and increased ketone production. So why can we get hypoglycemia when we’re fasting? Remember what I said about hormonal responses being conditioned? If your pancreas is used to spitting out a load of insulin every morning to cover the amount of glucose from that bowl of cereal that you have every morning, then the day you decide to not have that bowl of cereal in the morning, your pancreas is still gonna spit out some or be it less insulin into your body and that could cause you to become hypoglycemic.

It shouldn’t happen because your body should kick in and produce glucose from other sources but it does happen. Hopefully, this will underline the importance of people who are taking medication that actually lowers blood glucose, things like insulin, why they should do fasting under medical supervision because it can result in pretty severe hypoglycemia and that can be life-threatening.

The same is true for blood pressure. Fasting can lower your blood pressure and often does and that can cause lightheadedness. So people who are taking blood pressure medications may need a dose adjustment before they start fasting. The other reason you may experience this side effect is because you’re not yet fat adapted.

At this early stage in your fasting career, you may be unable to mobilize your own fat stores to compensate for that lack of food. The fatigue, brain fog, and lightheadedness might just be that your body isn’t used to mobilizing energy from its fat stores yet, you’re not yet metabolically flexible enough to switch between burning carbohydrates for energy to burning fat and ketones for energy but don’t worry, that comes with time.

So what do you do if you’re getting these side effects? Well, firstly, you could just break your fast early, just remember there are no prizes here. If you’re really struggling with this symptom, then just break your fast early. Remember, you can just pick things up a day or two later, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

And secondly, maybe avoid intense exercise. Very often, I see people who are very motivated about changing up their lifestyle and they not only start intermittent fasting, they start pretty intensive exercise at the same time, often when they’re not used to doing intensive exercise. And whilst I’m a big fan of training when fasting, it might not be the best thing to do early on in your fasting career, particularly if you’re just starting out doing this kind of exercise.

Take things slowly and change one habit at a time. Number three is a change in bowel habits. Now changes in your bowel habit happen when you change up your diet any which way. I’m sure many of you will have experienced this when you’ve traveled abroad or even to just a different part of the same country.

And now these changes can go either way, constipation or diarrhea. When you start fasting, you’re likely changing several things that are gonna have an impact on your gut bacteria and everybody’s gut bacteria responds in its own different way to those changes. How can you go about minimizing these symptoms? Well, usually it just comes down to fluid and fiber and this is for both constipation and diarrhea, it helps with both to keep hydrated, and it helps to keep lots of fiber in your diet as well.

And if you’re still struggling, then your pharmacist can probably advise you on some medications to take in order to help whilst you ease into this transition. You may need to watch your coffee intake when you’re intermittent fasting. If you’re suffering from diarrhea, it might be that you’re consuming too much coffee.

People often drink a lot of coffee when they’re fasting because they think it’s an appetite suppressant. Now I haven’t actually found any hard scientific evidence that that is the case but nevertheless, a lot of people do so if you are suffering from diarrhea, just be mindful of your coffee intake.

By the way, I made a video all about fasting and coffee called does coffee break a fast and you can check that out by clicking the link up here. Number four is heartburn or GORD or GERD or acid reflux, whatever you may call it, there are loads of different names for it. Remember that cephalic phase response that I talked about earlier? Well, it’s that again, it’s producing stomach acid despite there not really being anything in your stomach.

For some people, that can be enough to trigger heartburn and coffee again, a lot of people find drinking coffee, particularly black coffee on an empty stomach can induce heartburn so again, you may need to be careful with your caffeine intake. And of course, you can always see your pharmacist who may be able to advise about some over-the-counter remedies for heartburn.

Number five is feeling cold. Now, this appears to be one of those side effects that you either get or you don’t. I never really experienced getting cold during a fast before but loads of people report this symptom to me. And what people are often worried about is that it’s their metabolism shutting down and that they’re going to some sort of starvation mode and what we know is that this absolutely isn’t true.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite, your metabolism often speeds up when you’re fasting. Now there seem to be loads of theories out there about why this happens, the only thing I can find in terms of fairly hard scientific evidence is a study done a couple of years ago involving mice and this study links hypothermia in mice to a chemical in the brain called orexin.

Now orexin is probably something I’m gonna speak quite a lot more about on this channel in the future because it is a chemical that is linked with fat metabolism but all you need to know for now is that there is quite a lot of difference between people in the amount of orexin in their brains and that might be why some people get cold when fasting and other people don’t.

Now, of course, this study was only done in mice and it may not translate over to humans but if it is the cause of it, then drinking coffee can stimulate orexin production so you might be able to try that. Now I’m very aware that I’ve just told you that coffee consumption may cause diarrhea and heartburn so there might be a bit of balancing this with the other symptoms.

The other solution of course, is you could just wrap up warm … and talking of wrapping up, that is just about it for the main symptoms that people get when they start intermittent fasting but I did promise at the beginning I would take you through some of the steps you can take to reduce or even eliminate all of the above symptoms happening in the first place.

Start slowly. Now I’ve already kinda mentioned this one earlier on in the video so I’m not gonna spend a long time on this but I see people going about their lifestyle changes like a bull in a china shop, they start exercising, they start dieting, they start fasting, they stop drinking alcohol, just stop, stopping and starting stuff all at the same time.

Habits are built over time, pick one thing at a time and build on that, and that is how we achieve long-term lasting changes. Secondly, get nourished. If you’re coming from a diet that has been nutritionally poor, then you may well be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, particularly if you’ve been following a kinda standard high energy, low nutrient kind of standard diet.

If you start fasting before you are well-nourished, you’re gonna make it a lot, a lot harder on yourself. Eat real food. This is one of the core principles of this channel, focus on nutrient-dense, unprocessed food, things like fish, particularly salmon and sardines, eggs, the yolk is very, very nutrient-dense and the white of the egg is also full of protein, meat and not just the muscle of the meat, I’d really like you to consider things like liver and other organ meats.

A great place to start with this is making your own patty, it’s really, really easy and there is a great recipe for it on my website. And of course green leafy vegetables. There is a reason why kale is associated with healthy eating, it’s full of nutrients. Now I could go on with this list but you can just google nutrient-dense foods if you wanna find out more.

And if you want to take things a step further and really ease your transition into intermittent fasting, then eat a low-carb, real food diet. Why low carb? Because switching between a high-carb diet and fasting is really, really difficult. A low carb diet will basically put you in the same physiological state as fasting anyway, you’re gonna have low insulin levels, normal blood glucose levels, raised glucagon levels and if you’re low carb anyway, when you start fasting, then you’re going to already be used to burning fat as a primary source of fuel for your body, you’re not gonna get those insulin spikes like you did so you’re not gonna go hypoglycemic, your body is gonna be used to mobilizing its fat stores in order to provide you with energy and so you won’t feel that hungry.

When you’re well-nourished and burning fat and ketones as your primary source of fuel, you’ll often find that you wake up in the mornings just not feeling hungry and so that transition into intermittent fasting is completely seamless because you don’t wanna eat anyway, it’s almost accidental.

Well, I hope that has given you a bit of an insight into both why people get symptoms when they first start intermittent fasting, how you can go about managing those if you do get them and also how you can potentially completely avoid those symptoms in the first place. If I’ve missed anything, if you think there’s another symptom that I’ve missed, then please let me know in the comments down below.

The next step is to try OMAD

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4 thoughts on “How To Avoid The 5 Most Common Side Effects Of Intermittent Fasting”

  1. Pingback: How To Avoid The 5 Most Common Side Effects Of Intermittent Fasting – Rosalina Health

  2. Good post. IF in a way conflicts with the Paleo theory of ‘eat only when you get hungry’. But OTOH when you eat a high nutrient, high micronutrient diet like paleo or Mediterranean you don’t tend to crave food in the mornings like the SAD diet promotes. I drink coffee in the mornings with half&half so I’m unsure if that breaks my fast- haven’t checked out that video yet! But generally I eat ‘breakfast’ around 11:00 or later and dinner about 20:00 hours, so I’m fasting every day (except coffee) for twelve hours or more. I don’t ‘skip meals’ either, not really eating meals per se on a set time schedule. Unless my hunger is before 11:00 (or so) or after 20:00 (mas o menos) I eat something that would be recognized as food to a prehistoric hunter/gatherer. Thanks for the useful post.
    BTW, your capcha is malfunctioning, making me go back and input my (correct!) mathematical computations twice. Oops, now thrice.

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