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5 Challenges Of Intermittent Fasting and How to Manage it

by | Nutrition

Jul 12, 2022

Intermittent fasting can help control sugar levels in the body. People have testified that they get more energy and improve their strength and focus. Once your body gets used to it, you begin to enjoy the benefits. It helps to lose weight, remove toxins, and improve mental health

Intermittent fasting is not without issues. Some people experience bloating, while others suffer tiredness. Here are the common challenges of intermittent fasting and how to manage it.

1. Cravings and Hunger

The first few days or weeks of intermittent fasting will be a battle. You will experience cravings that tempt you to snack and break your fast. 

This happens because your body is still getting used to fasting. So, it demands food just as usual, and you’re not giving it. These cravings will continue for the first few days or weeks but will gradually subside. Before it does, you will need to do some things to reduce the temptation to bite that burger.

Drink plenty of water. Filling your stomach with water will help reduce your cravings. A well-hydrated body is also more active so that you can move around. When you get active, you reduce the possibility of eating. 

You shouldn’t begin your intermittent fasting with 16 to 24 hours without food. It’s a recipe for failure. Unless you’re already used to it, start small. Start with 12 hours of fasting as a newbie. After a few days, you can increase the time when your body gets used to it.

Read: Side Effects of Skipping Breakfast

2. Tiredness

At the start of your intermittent fasting, you might experience tiredness. Some people testify they get so tired they can’t do anything. A study published in 2018 shows it might even lead to low productivity and sleepiness during the day.

This doesn’t mean you should stop. There are certain things you can do to reduce tiredness and get your strength back. Get your body moving. You can awaken your muscles by walking down the stairs for 10 minutes. Your heart also pumps more blood to your brain and keeps you alert.

The reason people experience tiredness is because of a shift in energy sources. Without intermittent fasting, your body’s main source of energy is glucose. Carbs are broken down and delivered to your cells as energy. 

But when fasting, your body runs out of glucose and begins to burn fat as energy. However, it takes time for your body to adjust. During this period, you begin to feel tired because you don’t have energy.

Apart from light exercise, drinking water can also help. If you can drink tea or coffee without sugar or sweeteners, do so. Be careful with coffee, though, because too much can have serious side effects. 

If you’re still feeling tired after all these, then that means you’re overdoing it. Reduce the time of your fasting, and you should notice changes.

Read: 10 Healthy Meals for Summertime Cookouts

3. Digestive Problems

One of the biggest challenges of intermittent fasting is digestive problems. Your gut will respond to the change in diet and feeding faster than anything else. 

Some people may suffer from a mild form of constipation or diarrhea. You might also experience problems with hard stool, which can be serious or mild. 

Drinking plenty of water can reduce digestive issues. Make sure you drink at least two glasses of water every 3 to 4 hours. Incorporate more food with fiber into your meals to promote digestion. 

Probiotics like yogurt can also help. Choose food with plenty of nutrients that will promote healthy gut microbes.


4. Inability To Sleep

Sleep disturbance is one of the main challenges of intermittent fasting. Some people find it difficult to go to sleep, which can lead to headaches. 

Intermittent fasting can also prevent you from staying asleep so you can have a restful night. Sleep disturbances during intermittent fasting can be devastating. Too much of this can interfere with your Circadian rhythms, which can cause mood changes.

The main culprit is fatigue. In the first few days of intermittent fasting, your body eliminates a large amount of sodium and water. Your body simply responds to these changes, and this leads to sleep disturbances and insomnia. 

Getting active during the day can help improve your sleep in this condition. But too much exercise may be counterproductive, so keep it to a minimum. Try to avoid sleeping in the afternoon. Daytime naps at this time should also be avoided at all costs. You need to reserve all your rest for bedtime at least until the symptoms subside.

Read: Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat

5. Malnutrition

It’s normal to experience malnutrition during intermittent fasting, especially when it is not done correctly. Not regularly eating for long hours will deprive your body of essential nutritional intake. 

Also, you lose nutrients when you pass out urine, and they’re not replaced quickly enough. You should not ignore malnutrition problems during intermittent fasting. Your body needs these nutrients to function properly. 

The nutrients also help your cells heal and reduce the effects of stress.

There are several ways to deal with malnutrition when you’re fasting. You can take food supplements to replenish what you’ve lost. But make sure you seek the advice of a qualified medical practitioner

Some people deal with it by increasing their fruit and vegetable intake. Be careful when adding fruits to your diet during intermittent fasting. Some fruits contain a large amount of sugar that can spike your blood sugar levels. Pick those fruits and vegetables with fewer carbs and more healthy fats.

Fish meals rich in fatty acids will also help your body get essential nutrients. Add legumes, nuts, and seeds to your food to boost nutritional intake. Avoid taking your fasting to extreme levels that will hurt your metabolism. 

Regular intake of vitamins and minerals is essential to maintaining a healthy intermittent fasting program.


Intermittent fasting done in moderation can improve your health. Before you start, understand the challenges of intermittent fasting and how to deal with it. 

Avoid overdoing it, so you don’t suffer serious consequences. Start small and then increase the frequency in a gradual process. If you continue to experience serious side effects like weight loss, stop. 

Some people do intermittent fasting continuously. You can plan to do it once in a while, like a few days a month. Pay attention to your body and do what works for you.


Intermittent fasting is healthy for your body. It can help you eliminate toxins and promote cell regeneration. But there are challenges people face in the process. That’s why you need to study your body and do what works for you.


By Sara Leandro

Sara Leandro is a certified health coach who helps others feel their best through individualized lifestyle changes that meet their unique needs and health goals.


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