Intermittent Fasting Headache: Causes, Remedies And Tips

A fantastic method to shed pounds and feel more energized without feeling like you're on a restricted diet is to practice intermittent fasting. The eating pattern alternates between periods of eating and fasting, and it has been demonstrated to have significant advantages for the body and mind.

Headache that lasts for 16 hours or longer after not eating is called a fasting headache. When you skip meals, practice intermittent fasting, or fast for religious purposes, like during Ramadan, you might get a headache.

Usually mild to moderate in nature, a headache during fasting doesn't throb or pulse. Headaches caused by fasting can be diffuse, affecting the entire head, or they can focus around the forehead. Dehydration and low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, are associated with headaches during fasting. They may also be connected to withdrawal from caffeine. Usually, the headache subsides after eating. 

Periodic fasting First Day. It is now past the twelve-hour mark. At this point, you should normally be feeding yourself, but you're attempting to prolong the fast by a few more hours. Suddenly, you have a headache and have to choose whether to break the fast or keep going.

Intermittent Fasting Headache


While headaches are uncommon during intermittent fasting, many people do experience some headache discomfort during the first few days of the program as their bodies adjust to a new eating schedule—especially if they are already prone to headaches.

How Do Headaches Result from Fasting?

Headaches that happen during or after a fasting period are known as fasting headaches. These headaches caused by fasting are dull and throbbing, without any pulse. There are a number of factors that contribute to the occurrence of fasting headaches, though the exact cause is still unknown.

Intermittent Fasting And Headaches

A common eating pattern that alternates between periods of fasting and eating is called intermittent fasting. Even though it has been linked to a number of health advantages, including weight loss and better metabolic health, some people may get headaches when fasting. Several things can lead to headaches brought on by sporadic fasting.

First of all, hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, can result from intermittent fasting. Those who are sensitive to this may experience headaches. Furthermore, missing meals or going without food for long periods of time can throw off regular meal schedules and increase the risk of headaches from altered hormone and blood sugar levels.

Headaches during intermittent fasting may also be caused by dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, or altered sleep patterns. It's crucial to remember that headaches can vary in intensity and frequency among individuals and that not everyone gets them while fasting. Headaches related to intermittent fasting can be lessened or avoided by drinking plenty of water, easing into fasting, eating balanced meals during eating windows, and being aware of caffeine intake.

Symptoms of a Fasting Headache

Usually, a fasting headache occurs after eight hours or more without food. The good news is that the headache will go away in 72 hours once you resume eating.

Usually, the headache pain ranges from mild to moderate. It doesn't throb and is situated at the forehead. Thus, a headache during fasting resembles a tension headache rather than a migraine. Nevertheless, those who experience migraine headaches may experience one during a fast.

The likelihood of experiencing a headache during fasting increases with the length of time you skip meals. The finding that those who typically get headaches are more likely than those who don't to get a headache while fasting is supported by research as well.

Potential reasons for headaches during fasting

If your intention is to burn fat through intermittent fasting, your body must remain fasted for a sufficient amount of time in order for insulin and blood sugar levels to fall and the hormone glucagon, which burns fat, to be released.

When your body signals that it is hungry, it expects to be fed because it has been fed every few hours for years. The body will alert you if you choose to delay eating, and for some women, that will mean experiencing a transient headache.

An intermittent fasting headache may result from dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, or low blood sugar.

1. Low Blood Sugar

When you fast, your blood sugar levels drastically decrease. According to some research, some people may experience a fasting headache due to subtle variations in blood sugar levels that impact their brain's pain receptors.

However, other studies demonstrate that low blood sugar does not result in headaches during fasting because healthy individuals have enough blood sugar stored for a full day. Additionally, people with normal blood sugar levels can still experience fasting headaches, which are non-pulsating in nature as opposed to low blood sugar-induced headaches that pulse.

2. Dehydration

A lot of people rely on their diets to keep them properly hydrated. Less food is consumed when adopting an intermittent fasting lifestyle, and dehydration may result if they don't drink enough water during the fast and feasting periods. An intermittent fasting can result in headaches due to dehydration.

3. Caffeine Withdrawal

Caffeine does not have to be avoided during the fast; however, if one is following a clean fast, only specific foods may be consumed. Only black coffee is permitted during a fast, and many people survive on sugar-filled coffee beverages. Some people choose not to drink coffee at all during the fasting window because they can't (or won't) give up the extra cream and sugar.

Caffeine withdrawal headaches are similar to fasting headaches in that they manifest as tension in the head and are said to happen approximately eighteen hours after the last caffeine intake, according to some research. Reduced caffeine-induced headaches, however, can happen even when you're not fasting.

4. Poor sleep

During your fasting regimen, are you getting enough sleep? If not, then your headache might be caused by this. Your brain is more awake during a fast than it is on a typical day. In fact, you may feel more focused and productive. The release of a neurotransmitter known as "Orexin-A" is the cause of this. Your brain will become so depleted from unhealthy sleep that it will begin to hurt.

Furthermore, a lack of sleep can contribute to negative moods. A University of Pennsylvania study found that anxiety, tension, and irritability could result from even a small amount of sleep deprivation. Headaches can also be caused by stress.

Sleep disturbances usually go away in the first week of an intermittent fasting regimen, according to research.

How to Stop Intermittent Fasting Headaches

There are a few things you can do to stop and prevent intermittent fasting headaches, even though their exact cause is still up for debate. Blood sugar fluctuations are common, and they typically go away when you eat.

Make sure you don't miss meals during your window of opportunity to try and prevent these drops in blood sugar. During meals, consume more calories from healthy fats to reduce the amount of sugar your body uses as fuel. Hydration is essential for both your general health and the prevention of headaches, regardless of when you eat or fast.

Fatigue, headaches, dry skin, and increased thirst are all symptoms of dehydration. Your water needs can vary depending on your activity level and climate. You are free to consume as much water as you like while on an intermittent fast. Try adding a slice of lemon or some fresh mint to enhance the flavor if you find the taste becoming monotonous.

Caffeine withdrawal may be helpful if you plan to fast for extended periods of time and consume only water for religious or health-related purposes. You might experience headaches and caffeine withdrawal if you quit abruptly. Reduce your caffeine intake gradually and experiment with herbal teas as substitutes.

Green tea is a great place to start if you're not ready to give up coffee entirely. It has 40 mg of caffeine, whereas coffee has between 100 and 200 mg.

Useful Intermittent Fasting Tips

Providing your body with a break from food is the primary objective of intermittent fasting. Your body can concentrate on purging during this time instead of continuously breaking down food. Another highly advantageous practice for the gut is intermittent fasting, which can enhance both the diversity and balance of gut flora.

1. Maintain Hydration

Throughout the day, both when fasting and when you're not, sip lots of water. Headaches and fatigue can arise from even moderate dehydration. Eight 8-ounce glasses of water is the recommended daily intake, but the exact amount varies greatly depending on the individual.

2. Avoid Starting the Day with a Big Meal

Depending on the kind of fast you're following, you might be fasting for longer periods of time or inalternating days. Although it can be tempting to break the fast with a large meal, doing so may leave you feeling sluggish, bloated, and exhausted.

3. Take Foods High in Nutrients

Eat nutrient-dense foods that are high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients after your fasting period. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels, losing weight, and improving general health are all greatly aided by a balanced diet.

4. Take a nap and unwind

Choose gentler exercises like yoga and walking instead of intense ones on days when you fast. You can benefit from light exercise, but you should always pay attention to your body.

It can be challenging to refrain from eating on fasting days, particularly if you're bored or starting to feel hungry. Meditation and other similar practices can help you feel calmer while also serving as a distraction.

5. Don't Get Fixated on Food

Try not to become overly fixated on food on the days you are fasting. Make a ton of plans for diversions to keep your mind occupied and prevent thoughts of food. To keep yourself on task, watch a movie or read through your work emails.

While the precise mechanisms underlying intermittent fasting headaches remain unknown, a combination of dehydration, low blood sugar, and caffeine withdrawal are thought to be involved.

To avoid those bothersome headaches, pay attention to your body, stay hydrated, and eat nutrient-rich foods during your eating window.

The bottom line

Headaches during intermittent fasting are not cause for concern! These mild to moderate pains typically go away in a week or so as your body begins to adjust to the new eating habits.

You can easily avoid headaches during a fast by providing your body with all the necessary calories. At first, experiment with a flexible fasting schedule, paying attention to how your body reacts to the changes in your diet.

But if the headache doesn't go away, there probably is a medical issue that needs to be treated right away. Speak with your medical professionals about the symptoms.

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