Stomach growling occurs when the stomach is empty. Because intermittent fasting includes fasting for many hours every day, it can cause stomach growling. But some tricks help you prevent this noise.
Intermittent fasting is a form of eating that has been followed historically and is becoming ever more popular in recent years. While weight loss is one of the main reasons why people carry out intermittent fasting, other potential benefits include detoxification, increased physical performance and improved energy regulation.
Nevertheless, some symptoms or side effects may also be experienced by those trying out intermittent fasting. One such symptom is stomach growling.
Stomach growls are set off as food, liquid, and gas go through the stomach and small intestine. The medical term to refer to this grumbling sound that comes from your insides is "borborygmi". Usually that noise is excessive gas moving back and forth in the intestines.
Having your stomach growl or rumble is a normal part of the digestive process. Since there is nothing in the stomach to muffle these sounds they can be heard by the person experiencing them and on occasions also by surrounding individuals. Among the causes for stomach grumbles are hunger, incomplete digestion, or indigestion (1).
While the real reason for why you experience stomach growling is not fully understood, it often does when you haven't eaten in a long time, for example during intermittent fasting. It can also signal low blood sugar and an inability of your intestines to absorb sufficient nutrients from your blood.
Putting food into your system often stops the noise, since the food takes up space and your digestive muscles become more focused on breaking down and absorbing the food than on moving air around (2).
Once you become familiar with your body’s response to intermittent fasting, you will be able to differentiate between real hunger and the occasional “hunger pangs” which make themselves present in the form of stomach growls (3).
While these stomach noises are mostly harmless, they can be inconvenient and even embarrassing at times. Not to worry, because there are various ways in which you can manage your stomach growls.
There are various steps that you can take to manage your stomach growls when intermittent fasting.
One of the simplest and perhaps more efficient ways in which to do this is to drink water. This can be either plain water or water mixed with some apple cider vinegar.
Another strategy is to mix your water with some psyllium husks. This is a type of fibre which will cause your stomach to expand and feel full, thus reducing hunger symptoms including the stomach growls.
While psyllium husks do provide some calories, these might be negligible depending on the rest of your fasting plan. As always, it is best to test this option out and adjust your fasting practice accordingly.
Depending on what your intermittent fasting practice looks like, you may also try drinking some sparkling water or even some black coffee. This will cause your muscles to relax and stop them from growling.
Some people who practice intermittent fasting incorporate bulletproof coffee to avoid hunger pangs and their manifestation; bulletproof coffee is simply a mix of black coffee with a source of fat, usually in the form of oil or butter.
If we remember that the stomach growls also happen because air is moving around in the intestines, a strategy to reduce them is to limit the air that gets in there in the first place. One thing you can do is to slow down while eating.
Chewing and swallowing each mouthful completely before opening your mouth for another bite may help reduce the amount of air that enters your system. You can also try drinking with a straw, which can limit the amount of air you gulp down.
Finally, you can always sit and ride it out. While your stomach growling may be something you would prefer to avoid, nothing is really going to happen if you hear them for a bit. You might be perfectly fine simply with occupying yourself and waiting for them to pass.
Although stomach growling is usually associated with hunger and an absence of food in the stomach, it can occur at any time, even without hunger.
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