Are Headaches Normal During Dieting, And How Can One Prevent It?

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Marlon Emmanuel Mcleod

April 30, 2023

Whether you’re just starting a diet or are well into one, you may wonder if headaches are normal. Most people will experience some form of headache during their dieting journey, and it’s such a common occurrence that it’s often considered normal.

While the cause of headaches during dieting isn’t fully understood, there are ways to reduce their frequency and severity. In this blog post, we’ll explore the causes of headaches during dieting, as well as some tips for preventing them.

What Are The Causes Of Headaches During Dieting:


Dehydration is one of the most typical causes of headaches during dieting. It occurs when the body is not taking in enough fluids and electrolytes relative to what it needs. Without adequate hydration, the body’s ability to eliminate waste slows down. This can lead to headaches, fatigue, and sometimes even more serious conditions. Three main types of dehydration can affect you during dieting.

  • Hypotonic: This type of dehydration is caused by the loss of electrolytes or minerals, such as sodium and potassium. This can happen with strenuous exercise, heat damage, or excessive sweating during dieting. This is the most severe type of dehydration and can lead to dizziness, confusion, headaches, and vomiting.
  • Hypertonic: This type of dehydration is caused by an imbalance in the body’s fluid levels when there is too much salt or sugar in relation to the amount of water (fluid) in the body. Symptoms of hypertonic dehydration include high blood pressure, fatigue, headaches, and thirst.
  • Isotonic: This type of dehydration is the most common during dieting. Both electrolytes and fluid loss can cause it because of excessive sweating. Symptoms include fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps, and nausea.

No matter what type of dehydration you may be experiencing during dieting, it is essential to take the necessary steps to prevent it from getting worse. In some cases, dehydration during dieting does not only cause headaches, but it can also contribute to other serious conditions that can be devastating for you. According to health experts, people who do not keep themself hydrated during dieting or any other physical exercise are more prone to heat-related illnesses.

Heat Damage:

Heat damage is another common cause of headaches during dieting. Heat damage occurs when the heat produced by our bodies due to calorie restriction affects the vascular system and causes inflammation. This heat can also affect our hormones, causing them to become out of balance and leading to headaches. Some of the severe types of heat damage include:

  • Heat Stroke: Heat stroke occurs when heat is produced faster than it can be dissipated, causing the body’s temperature to rise beyond the normal range. Symptoms of heat stroke include dizziness, confusion, and difficulty breathing.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion is a condition caused by heat that causes fatigue and weakness. It is heat-related but does not rise to the level of heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include clammy skin, heavy sweating, and rapid heartbeat.
  • Heat Cramps: Heat cramps are muscle contractions or spasms caused by heat. These occur when the body cannot cool itself and begins to heat up faster than its normal rate, causing muscle tension. Symptoms of heat cramps include pain, swelling, and tightness in the affected area.

In some cases, heat damage can cause headaches that can last for days. It is necessary to consult with your doctor if you experience heat-related headaches, as they can be a sign of more serious heat-related conditions. If left untreated, heat damage can worsen and lead to a heart attack. It is important to take precautions when dieting, as heat damage can seriously affect your health.

Low Blood Sugar:


Low blood sugar, which is also known as Hypoglycemia, is another main cause of headaches during dieting. It is caused when the body uses up glucose in the blood quicker than it can be replenished. When this happens, the body cannot create enough energy for its normal functioning, and headaches result as a consequence. The most typical cause of low blood sugar is dieting or fasting. People trying to lose weight often reduce their calorie intake drastically, leading to blood sugar levels dropping too low. This type of headache when people feel while dieting is also known as a hunger headache.

  • Hunger Headaches: Hunger headaches are characterized by throbbing pain on both sides of the head. They are usually caused when people don’t eat enough, resulting in low blood sugar levels and dehydration. This type of headache is also common among those who suffer from anorexia or bulimia since they often restrict their calorie intake significantly.

Another cause of Hypoglycemia is the use of diabetic medication designed to reduce the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Along with headaches, people with low blood sugar may experience other symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, anxiety, or irritability. For example, when someone is dieting and eating less food, their body will use up the available glucose quickly when it needs energy. In simple words, if your body doesn’t have enough sugar or energy, it will cause you a hunger headache or other severe types of headaches like migraine.

Muscle Tension:

Muscle tension is one of the primary causes of headaches during dieting. This type of headache occurs when the muscles in your neck, head, and shoulders become tense from stress or physical activity. As you go through a dieting program, you may put more pressure on yourself to achieve desired results which can cause muscle tension in your upper body.


The most common symptom of muscle tension headaches is a dull and steady pain that usually starts in your neck and moves up the sides or back of your head. It may also affect the front of your forehead, as well as around your eyes.

Additionally, you may experience tightness in your jaw and shoulders. People who suffer from this type of headache usually describe it as “pressure” or “tightness” and may also experience pain in their temples.

What Types Of Headaches Occur During Dieting:

The most common type of headache that occurs during dieting is a hunger headache because of the caloric deficit. But there are also two other common types of headaches that can occur while dieting:

Tension Headaches:

Tension headaches are the most ordinary type of headache, often occurring when people are dieting. Various factors, such as stress, lack of sleep, dehydration, or muscle tension in the head and neck, can cause them. Tension headaches usually feel like a tight band around the forehead or temples and can last for hours or even days.

Some people experience them as a dull, constant pain in the back of their head or neck. When a person is dieting and restricting their calories, they’re more prone to tension headaches. This is because the body is not getting enough energy from food, so it begins to produce hormones that cause muscle tension in an attempt to conserve energy.

The decreased food intake can also lead to dehydration, which can exacerbate the headache symptoms. For example, a person who is feeling tension headaches during a diet may experience heat damage, which is an intense heat feeling in the area of the head that is hurting.



Migraines are the most severe type of headache. They usually cause throbbing pain on one side of the head but can also affect both sides. Often accompanied by other manifestations such as nausea and vomiting, light sensitivity, and blurred vision. These are generally considered to be related to dehydration and heat damage from reduced calorie intake during dieting; however, there may be other triggers that can bring on migraines.

For some people, dieting can put them at a higher risk of getting migraines. Cutting calories and certain foods that contain certain ingredients, such as MSG or artificial sweeteners, can trigger the body to respond in an unbalanced way. Additionally, rapid weight loss can put extra strain on your system, leading to dehydration, and triggering a migraine. It’s important to note that while dieting is often associated with migraines, it is not always the cause.

Other factors, such as stress, hormonal changes, and medication, can also trigger migraines. As such, it’s important to know all your triggers when managing your migraine symptoms. If you’re suffering from migraines, it’s important to talk to your doctor so they can determine if dieting is a potential cause of your headaches or something else.

Tips To Prevent Headaches During Dieting:

Below are some tips that one can follow to prevent headaches during dieting.

Do Not Skip Breakfast:


One major factor that leads to headaches during dieting is skipping breakfast. Going straight into the day without fueling your body can lead to a drop in blood sugar levels and cause dizziness, confusion, fatigue, and headaches. When we sleep at night, our bodies are fasting for 8-9 hours, so it’s important to replenish your energy supply with a nutritious breakfast.

Eating a balanced breakfast comprising carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein can help restore your energy levels and ensure that your body is well-fueled throughout the day. Try incorporating healthy whole grains or complex carbohydrates into your breakfast to energize and satiate your body. It can be challenging to adhere to healthy eating habits if you’re busy during the morning rush, but with a few simple tips, you can start the day off right:

  • Plan ahead: Take some time on Sunday evening or Monday morning to plan your breakfast for the week. This can help you stock up on healthy ingredients and avoid last-minute takeaways or sugary snacks.
  • Make breakfast part of your morning routine: Set the alarm 10 minutes earlier to give yourself some extra time to make and enjoy a nutritious breakfast.
  • Mix it up: Eating the same breakfast daily can get boring, so try to switch it up with different combinations of healthy ingredients. Have oatmeal one day and eggs the next.

Once you consume your breakfast daily, ensure you heat it up if it requires heat. Heat damage to the food can cause headaches due to its destroyed nutritional value and not allowing your body to get what it needs. So heat your breakfast properly before consuming it to avoid headaches during your dieting journey.

Keep Yourself Hydrated:


As mentioned previously, dehydration is the main cause of headaches during dieting. Therefore, you should make sure to consume plenty of fluids throughout the day. This includes both water and other beverages such as teas and juices. Being hydrated will help keep your body functioning properly and reduce the risk of headaches.

You can also try to drink more fluids when you begin feeling a headache coming on. Sports drinks, electrolyte waters, and coconut water can also be beneficial for replenishing lost electrolytes. Herbal teas are also a sumptuous way to get some hydration and soothe heat damage that may have occurred due to a lack of heat protection during dieting. When you do physical or heat-generating activities, drink plenty of fluids and cool off with a cold shower or bath.

In addition, you can also try to eat more fruits and vegetables that are high in water content. A fluid-rich diet helps with hydration as it absorbs and retains fluids, which can help prevent dehydration-related headaches. Vegetables such as cucumbers, celery, and tomatoes have a high-water content that can help keep you hydrated. Fruits such as oranges, cantaloupe, and watermelon can help replenish some of the lost electrolytes due to heat damage.

Chew Basil Leaves:


One of the best ways to prevent headaches during dieting is by chewing basil leaves. Basil leaves have many health benefits, one of which is their ability to reduce heat damage in your body. Heat damage can result from several different sources, such as hot weather, spicy food, and heat-producing activities. When heat damage occurs, it can cause headaches, as well as other symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, and nausea.

Basil leaves contain several compounds that ward off heat damage and reduce headache-causing inflammation. These compounds include eugenol and linalool, which act as antispasmodic agents to reduce muscle tension in the head and neck area. The leaves also contain cineole, which has analgesic properties to calm the pain and irritation of a headache.

Chewing basil leaves is a simple way to take advantage of their healing benefits. Start by selecting fresh leaves that are still green in color. Rinse them with cold water and then pat dry with a paper towel. Once the leaves have dried, you can chew them for up to five minutes.

As you’re chewing, the compounds in the leaves will begin to seep into your bloodstream and reduce heat damage. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, try adding a few drops of honey or lemon juice to make your basil leaf-chewing experience even more enjoyable.

Limit Alcohol:


Alcohol can be a major headache trigger, especially during dieting. It’s important to note that while some alcoholic drinks may be low in calories and carbohydrates, they can still cause an increase in blood pressure and dehydration, which often leads to headaches. The best course of action is to limit or cut alcohol when dieting. This way, you won’t have to worry about potential side effects such as headaches and dehydration.

Additionally, it will help you stay on track with your diet and avoid unnecessary cravings brought on by drinking alcohol. Suppose you decide to drink while on a diet; stick to only one drink. This will help keep your calorie and carbohydrate intake in check. Additionally, try and choose light beers or wines over stronger drinks like whiskey or vodka.

Finally, if you do experience a headache following drinking alcohol during dieting, it’s best to rest and avoid caffeine until it passes. Caffeine can worsen the headache and make it last longer. By following these tips, you’ll be able to prevent those pesky headaches brought on by drinking alcohol while trying to diet. It’s important to be mindful of your drinking habits if you plan to stay healthy and successfully reach your goals.



When people push too much and don’t get enough rest, they can become susceptible to headaches and other health conditions. It is important for people who are dieting to take breaks and relax throughout the day. Taking a few minutes each day to do some deep breathing exercises or yoga can help alleviate stress and keep you from getting too overwhelmed with the changes in your lifestyle.

Additionally, getting enough sleep each night is essential for maintaining a healthy diet. If you uncover yourself unable to fall asleep or wake up early in the morning, try winding down with some light stretching or meditation. Another great way to stay alert and focused during your diet is to make sure that you are doing light exercise like walking or swimming.

When it comes to stress, it can be difficult to identify the source of your headaches and other symptoms. If you are feeling overly anxious during the day, it can be beneficial to talk to someone about what is causing the stress and find ways to cope with those feelings. It’s important to remember that dieting does not have to be a stressful experience.

Dieting can be therapeutic and help teach you how to take better care of yourself. So instead of focusing on the negative aspects of dieting, try to focus on the positive changes that come with it. Once you rest the required amount, exercise regularly, and take time to destress, headaches during dieting can become a thing of the past.


Headaches are a common side effect of dieting, especially in the early stages. However, there are plenty of ways to prevent them from occurring. The most important thing to remember is to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.


Other tips include eating small meals throughout the day instead of three large ones, avoiding caffeine and sugar, and practicing stress management techniques. Hope this guide answers all of your concerns related to headaches due to dieting.


Why does dieting cause headaches?

There are a few different reasons why dieting can cause headaches. One possibility is that when you drastically reduce your calorie intake, your body becomes in starvation mode and starts conserving energy. This can cause blood sugar levels to drop and lead to headaches.

What type of dieting causes headaches?

There are a few different types of diets that can cause headaches. One is the ketogenic diet, a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet that can cause ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition caused by the build-up of acid in the blood. Another type of diet that can cause headaches is the detox diet.

Are headaches normal during dieting?

Yes, it’s normal to have headaches during dieting. When you’re on a diet, your body goes through many changes. You’re probably eating different foods than you’re used to, and your body is adjusting to the new diet. Plus, you’re probably losing weight, which can cause headaches.

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