Bad mood and body odor while fasting – Is it worth it?
I have been fasting multiple times in the past. It is hard at the beginning but without an exception the benefits outweighed the difficulties each time I chose to not eat for a certain amount of time.
People have different opinions on fasting; May it be for weight loss, to change eating habits, to step back from everything to find yourself, to cure diseases: Some love it, some even advise against fasting. In Islam and Christianity people fast during Ramadam, respectively Lent [before Easter], to get closer to God. No matter what’s the reason for you to start fasting, I am sure you are going to benefit from it if you do it right and take care of yourself.
Disclaimer: Please do not fast on your own when you are doing it for the first time, when you are pregnant, when you are ill or have had an eating disorder in the past. This blog entry cannot replace consulting a doctor or other specialist in advance to make sure, you are not harming yourself.
The first days during fasting
The first five days of fasting are difficult. Different fasting diaries you can find all over the internet read, that no one simply starts and is immediately experiencing the good consequences. Because of this I never aim to fast for only three, four or five days, but for at least seven days in order to benefit as much as possible from the positive consequences of fasting. I have experienced the following physical consequences during the first difficult days of fasting:
- increased fatigue
- decreased productivity
- mood swings
- bad mood
- the weirdest food cravings
The positive consequences of Fasting
After you made it through the first difficult days, you are going to experience amazing things:
- Increased Productivity
- Focused senses and mind
- Mentally and physically losing burdens
- Decreased need for sleep
In fact I know nothing in life that makes me feel as good as on those “good days”. I also read multiple times, that people lose food intolerances, allergies and experience recovering in skin diseases through fasting.
Fasting saves you time
Everytime I fasted I actively enjoyed not having to think about when and what to eat, washing the dishes and going grocery shopping. It saved me up to 2 hours a day which I could use to relax or do additional work. It feels good, not to have to think about food for a while.
Bad Mood while Fasting
I think that in almost all of the fasting diaries I’ve ever read or watched, somewhere the fasting person mentions bad mood while fasting or “only” mood swings. I experienced this during every fast in the past ten years, too.
Troubled mood at night
During the last fast I could not sleep well and was verry stirred up for these couple of hours before bed time. My body was tired but my mind was awake as f***. That’s the worst combination, because it means you can’t really be productive, like being studying, but aren’t able to rest either, which drags down all of your plans, which in return stresses you even more: This destructive physical and mental status is just a waste of time and energy.
Food alters and moderates negative emotions
I think that food covers and moderates bad feelings naturally because of a primal instinct: What even is there that dangers you, when you don’t even have to worry about food and drinks? Also studies show, that ingredients like sugar, salt and fat can alter your emotions; They make you feel good even though you did nothing to deserve that good feeling. When people lived in the stone age, then they did something important: They spent hunting the whole day to have something to eat, BUT they did almost nothing else than hunting, mating and sleeping. Their feeling of “reward” was justified.
What does this do to your behaviour and personality NOWADAYS when you get a “rewarded” feeling just for eating something [unhealthy with much meat, sugar and fat]? And further: When getting used to this unjustified feeling of reward: What are you doing to get that rewarded feeling naturally in the sense of work, education and social activities when you can get it by only going to the store and buy a few chocolate bars or a cheeseburger?
I am aware of the fact that a “wrong” choice of food can have a huge and also bad impact on your life, life decisions and personality.
Studies show: Sugar, fat and salt alter emotions
The medicine student Ms Cand. med. Silke Rosenbusch [her blog is in German Language] even compares sugar, fat and salt to drugs. Some people are more prone to these kind of alterations than others just as it is with other drugs like nicotine (e. g. in cigarettes), caffeine (e. g. in coffee) or even illegal drugs. The National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine has published an article of Mr Minati Singh about food and psychology which summarizes this fascinating knowledge as follows:
Food is a potent natural reward and food intake is a complex process. Reward and gratification associated with food consumption leads to dopamine (DA) production, which in turn activates reward and pleasure centers in the brain. An individual will repeatedly eat a particular food to experience this positive feeling of gratification.
Sugar, fat and salt can calm you, give you a feeling of reward or tend to neutralize negative feelings like anxiety or sorrows.
Bad mood while fasting has to happen
Since I knew this and understood it before, on the second day of my last water fast I decided at 2 AM to end that suffering (lol) of feeling too emotional by having soup. Two cans of soup that were 800 milliliters and 300 calories in total. Not many calories or ingredients, but it did the job. I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth again and ended up calming down. Not fully, but it I was really able to notice a large difference:
The emotions which were left were not good, too, but I was able to deal with them just as I am usual able to. 20 minutes later, at approximately 3 AM, I even was able to fall asleep.
More difficulties during fasting: “Bad” body odor
To be able to control your intensified body odor while fasting is an important component in fasting successfully: You want to feel good during your fast and not have to worry about your smell around other people. Read where the change in body odor comes from and how to deal with it easily:
“Bad” body odor while fasting is normal.
Realise that. Everyone experiences it. Some fasting diaries tell that the “bad” body odor while fasting comes from “toxins” flushed out of the body. I personally don’t believe that, nor could I find a reliable source for it; What toxins should there be IN your body and why should they come out just because you quit eating for a few days?
“Toxins” flushing out your body while fasting?
I think it’s a misconseption, because fasting is always a mental cleanse or “detox” and a medical layman might tend to try to falsely conclude their naturally disburdening fasting experience metaphorically and / or esoterically as a physical detox.
The changing and intensified body odor is simply the result of ketosis.
What is Ketosis?
On dietdoctor.com it says:
Five ways to control body odor while fasting
1. Wear natural materials
Prefer clothes consisting of natural materials like cotton or linen over synthetic fibres like polyester and nylon. Natural materials are breathable and absorb odor-forming sweat better.
2. Increase the quantity of personal hygiene
You want to intensify your personal hygiene by increasing the quantity of doing it. For example: I personally shower in the mornings and evenings and brush my teeth at least four times a day when I am fasting. That is twice as much as when I am not fasting.
3. Drink plenty of water
I drink up to six liters of water per day when I am fasting. More water makes your sweat “thinner” and less odor-forming. If I additionally change my t-shirt or pullover once a day I feel very safe.
4. Use parfumed care products
If you are able to wear parfumed care products try to use parfumed deodorant instead of an odorless one. You can use parfumed body lotion too and wear your favourite parfume overall. You won’t be able to avoid an intensified body odor while being on ketosis, so parfume might cover slightly unpleasant odor. For me personally it helps to feel “safe” which decreases odor-forming sweat additionally in return.
5. Try to avoid stressing situations
It is easier said than done, but you want to try to avoid situations that stress you and cause odor-forming sweat. Maybe you can take a few days off of work or plan to fast in a semester break instead during the lectures.
I hope this article could help you or at least let you know, that the “bad consequences” is something everyone suffers from.
How was your last fasting experience like? Are you fasting at the moment? Are the results worth the struggle? In my opinion: Definately yes. Please tell me your opinion in the comments.