Welcome to The Fast Diet › The official Fast forums › Body › Benefits and side effects › Constipation.
This topic contains 49 replies, has 36 voices, and was last updated by Couscous 2 years, 6 months ago.
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3 Jan 14
Sorry if this is TMI, but I wanted to ask if anybody else is a lot less “regular” since they started doing the 5:2?
I find that fasting really plays havoc with this? Maybe the lower volume of food slows peristalsis? But I have been eating good, fibrous food. Much healthier than I used to! Occasionally, when I’ve had to do my fast days consecutively because of other plans for the week, I find that it’s been especially bad and things haven’t returned to normal afterwards. On these occasions I’ve used glycerin suppositories, which I come across a lot as I’m a nurse.
Anyway, has anybody else had this problem and found a less invasive solution?
Yes………and it got better over time. It is also the reason why i never weigh myself the day after a fast day. My body has always taken a couple of days to get back to normal.I also drink lots of water, which helps.It took about 6 months for my body to adapt.
4 Jan 14
I forgot to mention that exercise made a massive difference, really got things moving!
Hi mrchris, a tangerine after my fasting day’s evening meal does the trick for me, in the summer a small bowl of strawberries. Don’t know exactly why these 2 fruits work for me and others don’t and it may not be the same for you, but it may be worth a try. Good luck!
Thanks for your replies. I will try those fruit tips!
5 Jan 14
Quite a few people have reported this happening – and I found it a bit of a problem the first two weeks but since then things have settled. Probably due to my making sure that I drink LOTS on my fasting days and also on my non fast days.
I also found it a bit weird as I was eating more good fiberous foods since starting the 5:2 and I wouldn’t have thought my fluid intake was lacking.
8 Jan 14
I’ve been on the “extreme” version of the Fast Diet since December 13, 2013. That is I fast on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with no eating/as little as possible eating on those days (maybe 1 piece of fruit if hunger is driving me crazy), and YES, last Sunday I had painful cramps in my bowels.
But simple walking for a longer distance (such as 10 km yesterday) relieved this.
I have done longer-period fasts – up to 14 days with zero eating in the past. The reason why, at the time, they said you should NEVER start and stop fasting intermittently is because this would wreck havoc in your bowels. They even recommended dreadful 19th century procedures such as drinking epsom salts dissolved in warm water to “clean the works” if you didn’t have your own clister at home.
Drinking epsom salts is awful. If you are able to supress you gag-reflex long enough to drink an entire glass without vomitting, the salts will move everything in your bowels out of your body in minutes.
However, in the meantime, doctors have said this radical menthod of “purging” isn’t at all healthy – especially because epson salts kills most of the productive bacteria in your stomach and bowels.
Hence traditional fasting had this big ritual of “breaking your fast” with “light food” over several days. It often sounded like the sort of thing they feed to people who’d been in a coma for months.
This isn’t helpful… but what to do now that I’m on intermediate fasting? I start out on feed days by eating fruit and porridge (instant oatmeal) with dried fruit to put more fibre in my system. I think eating salad as the last meal of the day would help, too. And I’m putting off the heavy refined starchy foods for Sunday, because I have an extra feed day on the weekends.
9 Jan 14
Try looking to insoluble fibre, is things that the body can’t digest. Eg whole wheat, whole grains, wheat bran, corn bran, seeds, nuts, barley, couscous, brown rice, bulgur, zucchini, celery, broccoli, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, dark leafy vegetables, raisins, grapes, fruit, and root vegetable skins (source WebMD.com)
On feeding days try ading oat bran to your day in the morning and eve, has the added bonus of helping reduce cholesterol too, although its a soluble fibre I found in the past it helps as it expands and gives the muscles of GI tract something to work with.
Herbally we have capsicum this can have a stimulating effect on your bowels to help get things moving, senna, aloe vera in small doses, (source: constipationexperts.co.UK), dandelion and so many more!!
Super dose of magnesium citrate will help (talking in the g not mg range) but that’s a purgative! So will prolly cause griping pains too (source: BNF 2012)
Lots of fresh orange juice will have a similar effect but this again can cause griping pains.
Unless you’re suffering with bloating or discomfort I’d let your body deal with it and add insoluble fibre to your diet each day.
Hope you feel better soon
Don’t forget its a major change to what your bowels normally expect so some changes to toilet habits are to be expected. Hot water bottle on tummy and light exercise may also help too.
Your body is experiencing a lot of changes and it takes time to adapt and repair existing damage.
If you have no other underlying health issues then rotate diet and see what happens. Any blood or mucous in stool book to see your GP
Hi all, constipation is something I personally have not suffered from, possibly because I do try to incorporate fibre in my diet, (porridge and fruit on my fast day breakfast). Yesterday, a non fast day I was at work and bought a Spicy Chicken and Bean salad from Morissons Supermarket deli counter. I have to say I had the trots pretty badly but had an excellent clear out. So as badwolf suggests look at raising your fibre intake but also try not to be to extreme with this way of life.
I’m only about to do my second day fast tomorrow but usually have a lot of problems with constipation but I am counteracting by having a cleansing juice on my NF days. I put in 1 apple, a stick of celery, half a cucumber and a lot of Kale into the blender with water to get it moving (pun not intended) and this makes about 750ml. I have it instead of breakfast and it’s only about 58 calories per 250mL glass. It will last about 3 days. It tastes ok, you get used to it though. I has made me very regular
Thanks Smarte, will try that as have similar problems from time to time. Hope your fasting goes well.
19 Jan 14
Try adding a couple of teaspoons of Benefibre 3 x a day to your drinks – it’ll help and you can’t taste it
5 Feb 14
I’ve only just started the 5/2 Fast Diet – it’ll be my 5th fast day tomorrow. On 2 of the days following the fasts, I have gone all day without doing a no.2, which is most unusual for me, although things return to normal on non-fast days. I am encouraged that other people here say that this will normalise in time. Nonetheless, I think I’ll substitute a small portion of kidney beans and tomato for my meat in tomorrow evening’s fast dinner, (as well as the usual vegetables) and I’ll see if that helps. I guess there’s not a lot for one’s bowels to pass anyway, following a fast but a very long transit time isn’t a very good thing, is it?
10 Mar 14
Hi mrchris. I started 5:2 about a month ago and got so constipated that I stopped the diet! I have almost never had that problem. The one time I did, years ago, I went to the doctor and thought something was seriously wrong with me. Turns out I was pregnant! I eat a lot of fibrous foods and drink a lot of water. I was sad about having to stop 5/2 because I really liked it and had high hopes. I felt better in every other way. But the constipation scared me. The answers I was reading in forums worried me – I didn’t want to be messing with laxatives, etc.. I wish Dr. Mosley would address this. The book does’t warn about it. I would love to know how you are doing since January? Thanks
11 Mar 14
It’s a pity you had to give up the Fast Diet because of constipation – yes, I do agree that if a lot of people are suffering from constipation because of fasting, then Dr. Mosely should address that problem.
As for me, luckily, the failure to pass a motion on the day that followed a fast has not repeated itself – it happened on just 2 occasions at the beginning. Perhaps, given a bit of time, one’s body begins to adjust itself. How long did you stay on the diet?
My reason for fasting is not to lose weight but to try to maintain good health as I get older, (I’m 67). My weight is now generally in the region of 9 stone (I’m 5’5”), so I don’t want to go any lighter than that. That’s why I switched to the 6:1 diet and I’m doing absolutely fine. No constipation. Perhaps the 5/2 diet was a bit too much for your system – maybe try the 6:1 for a bit?
I must add, however, that as well as being on the 6:1 régime, I am also carrying out two experiments with my digestive system – temporarily no lactose in milk and no wheat, because my problem has traditionally been not constipation but stools that are too soft. I agree with Badwolf33 that finding the right balance between soluble and insoluble fibre is probably the answer to sorting out unruly bowels. May not work for you, but maybe try to figure out what proportion of insoluble and soluble starches are in your diet and make adjustments.
As for me, I have replaced wheat bread with flatbreads that I make myself from oats and buckwheat. I have these twice daily, with oats/crushed popped corn/nuts and a few raisins for breakfast. In addition, of course, frequent portions of beans/lentils, fruits and veg. Result: Perfect stools every morning! Soon, I’ll gradually start reintroducing ordinary milk and wheat to judge the difference – then I’ll decide what suits me best as a permanent diet. Re. the 6:1 régime – my blood pressure is now usually in the region of 120/70 or below, so being this light seems to suit me. I’ll continue permanently with the one day a week fasting. I fasted yesterday and got through the day without any real pangs of hunger.
I too was doing a little experimentation cutting down on gluten when I started 5/2. Maybe too much change at once? I think your idea of starting with 6/1 sounds like a good one. Your flatbreads sound like something I would really like!
I did the diet for 2 weeks. But it wasn’t just missing a day of a “movement”, it lasted for 5 days and took a week to get back to normal after I stopped. I felt awful. I have 30 lbs. to lose and I really think this is the way to go so I will try again. Thanks for the good luck wishes! Continued luck to you as well!
3 Jun 14
I had this problem too. A tin of baked beans on wholemeal toast and extra fruit on following “5” days fixed it.
21 Jun 14
I’m having this problem too! I’ve been on the diet for just over two months. Initially constipation set in and then after 2-3 weeks rectified itself. But now I find I’m suffering again. I’ve always been a bit sluggish in that department but have always had rolled oats for breakfast which helped keep me regular. however, I now don’t have the oats at least 2 days a week and it’s having an effect. It’s not painful but doesn’t feel nice. I am going away soon and a change in my environment was always a signal for my bowels to stop working previously, so am quite anxious as to how I am going to cope. And the anxiety doesn’t help – sets up a catch 22 situation. I’m loathe to take medication or whatever because to me that defeats the point of the fasting but boy, it’s not nice!!
23 Jun 14
Carolannfud, would you consider trying psyllium fiber? It’s not really a medication even though you can get it in capsule form, it’s just insoluble fiber. It would not work exactly the same as rolled oats, as they also have soluble fiber, but it might be worth a try.
15 Jul 14
Hello, I have been doing the 5.2 for 2 months now and have the problem of ‘not going’ for the fast day and the next day. As I have always been very regular this is annoying and not very comfortable. I usually eat an orange a day and one and a half slices of whole-wheat bread but cut this out on a fast day to save calories. Maybe I need a rethink! I think its a very good way of dieting and have definitely changed shape and lost weight. My other problem is falling asleep (or feeling like it!) in the middle of the day. Any suggestions?
9 Oct 14
Drink plenty of water, eating fiber diets like fruits and veggies, exercise and of course castor oil packs for Constipation. Adding a natural oil before you sleep relieves any stomach pain and helps to reduce any discomfort due to constipation.
24 Oct 15
I’m having this problem at the moment. I have IBS-C and I have noticed it has got much worse. I’ve tried everything – oatmeal, loads of veg, prunes, psyllium husk, probiotics, increasing my exercise level, you name it, but nothing seems to be working.
25 Oct 15
I too have the same problem. I’ve been on the 5:2 for 10 months now. Like Gargleblaster I’ve tried all the same high fibre foods. Recently I had a really bad dose of the flu. I was sick for six weeks and did not fast during that time. The constipation problems disappeared. I started fasting again two weeks ago and am back to square one with the bowels. I’ve decided I either carry on with the diet and resort to laxatives or give up the diet. To date my decision is to put up with the constipation and continue with the benefits of weight loss. It is a real issue though and it would be good if Michael were to read this and address it.
Drinking lots of water might make a difference ( fingers crossed it does) and if you can manage squatting as an exercise, you might find it helps too. Even squats where you hold onto something so you don’t lose your balance. Other stomach and buttocks squeezes and kegel exercises could help, and would be good for you too. Swimming helps some people too.. I haven’t noticed constipation with 5:2 (although I suffer from it a lot) but I am just making so much less poo because I am eating less.
Good luck, I hate how poisoned you feel with constipation.
PS There are two exercises described here that aren’t too hard and might help. http://www.livestrong.com/article/303961-exercise-for-immediate-constipation-relief/
My ongoing problem is about slow motility so even though I was eating a high fibre diet, it was awful. I find water and exercises helped.
Hello Dogsabie and others,
I don’t know if I can make a useful contribution to this discussion or not. I started fasting nearly 2 years ago and had a bit of constipation right at the beginning. Since then, it’s often been the opposite that causes concern – bowels too loose. Everyone’s body is different but maybe if I tell you what I eat, (and hence what often causes me to be loose), there might be some hints there for those of you struggling to solve the opposite problem!
I normally fast 2/5, unless very busy. I’m at my ideal weight and continue to do the Fast Diet for health benefits.
No breakfast. No lunch. Evening meal – loads of assorted veg. ‘al dente’cooked in microwave. Onion and tomato softened together in a little oil in a pan. Turkey breast cooked with the onion and tomato. 0 fat 0 sugar plain yoghurt. 1 piece of fruit. Drink: frequent herbal teas all day long.
Breakfast: Black coffee. Oat flakes, small handful raisins, liberal sprinkling of whole mixed nuts, half a crushed Weetabix, milk to just moisten. No sugar.
Lunch, (main meal) Meat or oily fish or offal or eggs accompanied by either potatoes or rice or couscous or lentils or beans or pasta. Assorted vegetables “al dente”, sprinkled with parmesan. 0 fat plain yogurt, often flavoured with a cooked peach or blackberries or a cooked plum, (I have these in the freezer). Piece of fresh fruit. Small piece of 99% cocoa chocolate with a herbal tea.
Evening summer: large mixed salad, with leaves, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beetroot, chick peas etc, vinaigrette. Winter: Homemade mixed vegetable soup, usually containing beans or split peas with chilli. Homemade flat bread made from oatmeal and a mixture of flours. 0 fat plain yoghurt. Piece of fruit.
Snacks nuts, small piece of hard cheese, banana.
Bedtime drink cocoa with 100% milk and no sugar.
Herbal tea all day.
No added sugar. Very little animal fat, (although olive oil and sunflower oil are used quite liberally). No added salt.
It would be interesting to see how this compares with the daily diet of someone suffering from constipation – we might be able to draw some useful conclusions.
Have you tried eating lentils and or beans? I am trying to eat more whole and unprocessed food and have found that red lentils(cook them as per the instructions) are rather brilliant. I have added them to Bolognaise and curry sauce without anyone noticing. They have filled us up, so we have eaten less between meals and certainly helped the bowels.
26 Oct 15
Go veggie. I’m doing ADF and some days I could squirt through the eye of a needle while other days it feels like I’m passing walnuts. Either way, I only go every other day as I only eat every other day.
27 Oct 15
Hello bettybody annette52 and others. Thanks for the advice and detailed description of your FD & NFD meals. I’m going to give your suggestions a try. I do drink lots of fluids plus take Psyllum husks. BB that meal with lots of veg at dinner time sounds like a good idea.
18 May 16
I have been on the 5:2 diet for about two years and have recently switched from two non consecutive days fasting to two consecutive days. This caused me to have bad constipation problems.
I tried doubling my water intake from about 5 to about 10 glasses per day but that didn’t have the desired effect. Then I tried increasing the magnesium supplement I usually take to the limit and this worked. I take Jigsaw magnesium tablets. Cranked it up to 8 per day and started having unusually loose bowel movements. I’ve since dropped back to 6 per day and everything has become normal. Hope this helps.
13 Oct 16
The most common cause of constipation on low carb is dehydration. This makes the body absorb more water from the colon and the contents thus get dryer and harder. Constipation can follow. The solution is to drink plenty of water and perhaps add some extra salt.
As your insulin level drops, you lose water and it takes salt with it, so it needs to be replaced. You might well also lose magnesium and I take a supplement. Low magnesium might result in leg cramps. I remind myself to drink more water by keeping a glass of water next to my desk where I work. It’s not much effort to keep having a sip. I also take a teaspoon of Califig – a very small dose – to just help things along.
14 Oct 16
To add to all the good suggestions: try to eat food high in potassium. Google high potassium food and try to get more on a regular basis. Fiber bulks bowels but potassium makes them contract, activates and strengthens bowel muscles, makes their contractions fluid and smooth. It actually makes them move effortlessly. Lack of potassium results in motionless bowels even with plenty of water and fiber. Hope this helps.
9 Dec 16
Constipation is a common problem which occurs when food is not digested properly and causes bloating in the stomach. Constipation can cause nausea, dizziness, backache,headaches and stomach aches.
To get rid of constipation one must eat lot of fibres, veggies and drink more water.
30 Jan 17
I just had a colonoscopy and they couldn’t get through because colon was full.
I have to go back in 6 months to repeat it. I love the 5-2 diet because I’ve lost 20 lbs. help!!!
4 Apr 17
Sebastian f and Alaric the Vis, you both read my mind. Did 5:2 successfully for 2 years, then constipation struck. Tried all the fibre and water in the world but made no difference. So had to give up 5:2 for 6-8 months and the weight slipped back on. Heard about magnesium tablets (magnesium citrate) and this works really well, don’t need massive doses, just my RDA. Here is an article about how it’s value is underestimated http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/magnesium-the-most-powerf_b_425499.html
I take 1-3 tablets at bedtime.
But I suspect salt is an issue too, especially as I exercise on fast days too. The anti- salt messages these days, I suspect can cloud the issue that if u have too little salt it can be impossible to rehydrate, as I understand it. On my fast days I’m sure I get nowhere near my recommended salt intake, and sweat while exercising. As I eat relatively healthily anyway the feed days do not replace salt quickly enough before next fast.
Not claiming to be an athlete, but…”Athletes have higher fluid and sodium requirements than sedentary individuals. For the general population, the recommendation is to limit sodium intake to 2.3 grams per day, which is equivalent to 5.8 grams of salt. The rationale for this guideline, is that excessive sodium intake causes high blood pressure in individuals who are ‘salt sensitive’. Because most people only require 1.5 grams of sodium per day, it makes sense from a public health perspective to recommend reduced intakes. Athletes, however, need significantly more sodium than their inactive counterparts; the exact amount varies greatly between individuals, depending on sweat volume and sweat sodium concentration” http://www.cyclingnews.com/features/exercise-and-effective-salt-replacement/
24 Apr 17
I have suffered from constipation for a long time. Do NOT drink a great deal of water and avoid fiber like the plague. Have some but not much because it bulks up the stool and makes it extremely hard to pass to say the least.Try a low fiber diet as people use before having bowel surgery. This works really well.Again try to not drink water too often and have minimal fiber: in essence, do the opposite of what we have heard for decades.
30 Apr 17
Hi, yes it became a very painful issue for me as well. I consulted my GP. He told me to use the powders I have been prescribed previously, they are a laxative powder. My issue is diverticulitis & the big health kick for me is to prevent major bowel surgery. If it persists it may pay to see your GP, everyone is different & they know you inside & out 🙂
23 May 18
I realize that this is an older topic, but this has increasingly become a problematic issue as my fasting has progressed. I have lost significant weight (14kgs) in 5 months and I am having real issues with constipation.
I am doing all the right things – eating fruit and veg, taking flaxseed in the morning, drinking liquids, and… things are really not proceeding well. I end up going to the restroom every few days as opposed to every day and I often have a feeling of bloating/unpleasantness.
Any advice? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
I would try adding some salt to my diet. Works for many!
PS — Feeling cold is common. I just put on socks or an extra shirt.
I’ve always been prone to constipation. When I was young I though it was normal to only go once or twice a week. Sometimes later I managed to be a little more regular but it normally involve external actions, drinking coffee, eating prunes or hard run for example. Lately I’ve add more success by eating a lot more low calorie density, high fiber foods but there seems to be a large time lag. At first I just had too much gas being produced. Then that has died down and now things are moving more regularly. It is like the fiber I eat today will be helping me a few months down the road. This could be related to gut bacteria and perhaps in my case it took a while for some better steady state of bacteria populations to occur.
Have just started reading a few posts after being away for a while and as usual find them interesting and pertinent. Formally, all things being equal constipation is a problem for many including some family members of mine. A common theme among them is lack of fluids and a lack of fibre intake. As I write I am looking at a recipe for Mexican Bean Soup for dinner in the BBC good foods Vegetarian summer food magazine. Amongst the serving info it comes in with 14g of fibre per serving. A good non fast day meal. I eat fruit but try to limit them to the types Michael Mosley recommends. I find eating pears that are just going soft is a very effective way of kick starting bowel movements. Am also eating a lot more Lentil and legume based meals, lots of info on the You Tube food channels.
One other piece of advice I give is to keep a food diary for a couple of weeks. Carry a small note book at all times and be truthful in what you put in. It really helps.
Good Luck in the “Down there” department.
I have had to change to just skipping lunch 3 days a week. Just about avoids constipation. Magnesium tablets really help. Still looking for better answer.
Ps alcohol does not help
27 May 18
@simcoeluv and others thanks so much for your feedback.
Things appear to be getting better – it seems that being slight less healthy with my eating habits is helping – a bit heavier on the carbs and the occasional bits of cheese and the like are helping.
28 May 18
To treat constipation, Ayurveda suggests drinking lots and lots of water, increasing the consumption of herbal tea and organic oils like ghee and olive oil in your diet.
30 May 18
At age 69, I have had constipation issues increase over the years. Lately I have concocted a solution.
At lunch on Slow Days, I prepare Green Milk: 8 Oz milk + 1 cup loosely-packed spinach + 1/2 -1 oz date + 1 oz apple. This gets whizzed up in the Vita-Mix blender. Delicious and it does the job of keeping the trains running on time.
You may need to drink it for 2-3 days before it works, but then continue daily.
This really works.
8 Oct 18
I have now been on the 5:2 regime for 10 weeks.
The weight reduction has been very good, but like others I have concern over constipation.
On fast days I try to stick to fruit diet such as to avoid having to calorie count.
Can anyone suggest a natural diet addition or supplement to help move things through?
Just thought I would add my thoughts to this thread. I have been on 5:2 for over a year and I also had some digestive problems at different times, ranging from constipation to severe diarrhea (especially after eating).
The few times this has happened I have also been worried and thought maybe I should give up this way of eating. Instead I drank lots of water and just tried to eat foods that were “light”, mainly vegetables and protein, not too much fruit. I found that it passed within a day or two. I think our bodies just sometimes need time to adjust to what is happening.
I would suggest to people to just keep going with it and hopefully it will all sort itself out pretty quickly 🙂
Hi all, have just dipped into this thread after several weeks away. Regarding the constipation problem I have to mention that my wife has issues with this after eating a handful of walnuts. The issue is that she cannot stay away from the toilet due to loose bowel movement after eating walnuts. It may be personal to her but can I suggest the day before and the day after a Fast Day try eating the recommended amount of walnuts to see if there is a result. After all, what have you got to lose?
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