Weight Loss Headaches- Why they happen, How to avoid them

Published on: Modified on:



It’s the great Catch-22 of migraine disorder: weight loss headaches.  We’re constantly reminded about the strong link between obesity and migraines.  Experts encourage losing weight to reduce migraine symptoms.  Sounds promising,  but every time you start a weight-loss diet, what do you get for your efforts?  A big headache.  Weight-loss headache: It’s not necessarily a migraine headache, but it sure doesn’t help to keep you on the weight-loss bandwagon, either.  Here are some possible reasons for new headaches that you get whenever you try to lose weight.


Hunger headache

Migraine brains like consistency; any deviation from your normal eating habits- skipping meals, or fluctuations in your blood sugar- will likely trigger a migraine attack the size of Texas.

Of course, what you eat is just as important as how much or how often you eat.  A cup of cooked white pasta might have the same amount of calories as a cup of whole-wheat spaghetti, but nutritionally, they are worlds apart.  Ounce for ounce, whole-grain foods are packed with more vitamins, minerals, and tummy-filling fiber than starchy white processed foods, leaving you feeling more satisfied after finishing a meal and less likely to suffer a hunger headache.


  • WEIGHT LOSS HEADACHES- WHY THEY HAPPEN, HOW TO AVOID THEM, MIGRAVENTWhen cutting back on calories, make it gradual.  Avoid crash dieting.  Aim to lose one or two pounds per week…or month.  The slower you lose the weight, the longer you will keep it off, anyways.
  • Don’t skimp on quality while shopping for low-calorie foods to stock your pantry.  Avoid “diet” foods that are devoid of vitamins and minerals, yet packed with preservatives, refined sugars and flours, and artificial fillers.  Include filling foods in your diet, like protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that do not trigger migraines.
  • Don’t fall for imitation foods like “fat-free cream cheese” or sugarless pancake syrup.  Instead, opt for natural maple syrup and real butter, and just use less.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism moving and to keep migraines at bay.
  • Be prepared.  Always keep an emergency stash of your favorite non-perishable treat in your car, purse, and work desk.

Which Foods Trigger the Most Migraines? See our Checklist

Dehydration headache

Sometimes your become dehydrated when trying to lose weight.  When this happens, your blood vessels constrict in an effort to retain moisture, causing spasms, and decreased oxygen to the brain. The result is dehydration headache.  So, how much water do you need?  Currently, experts recommend that you drink half of your body weight in ounces.  If you weigh 180 pounds, then you should drink at least 90 ounces (approximately 11 cups) of water each day.


  • Make it easy to fulfill your daily water requirement.  Stock up on plenty of good drinking water, and stash water bottles around your house.  Keep a bottle by your telephone or computer.  Stash one in the car and your emergency migraine tote bag.
  • Invest in a good quality stainless steel water bottle, and keep it clean.  Metal water bottles stay ice cold longer than plastic bottles, and they last forever.


Stay Hydrated without Drinking Water- 5 Hydrating Foods

Detox headache

Ironically, eating healthier can give you a headache.  If part of your migraine diet plan includes following a restrictive diet, then you’re eating fewer foods that supply toxins to the body.  As a result, your body goes into detox mode, sweating out toxins throughout your day.  A few side effects of detox, however, include migraine-like headaches and skin disruptions like acne.


  • Hang in there!  Detox is a temporary phase and worth the efforts.  Countless studies prove that weaning your body off migraine triggering foods and chemicals significantly reduces migraine frequency and severity.
  • Supplement with natural vitamins, minerals, and herbs. Some excellent nutrients are magnesium, riboflavin, and coenzyme Q10.


Please tell us…

  • Are you currently using a migraine treatment that causes weight gain as one of its side effects?
  • Have you been successful in losing weight while battling with migraines at the same time?
  • Please share your success stories with our readers!
  • As always, we welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Spread the love…

Please share this article with your friends, family, or anybody you care about!

Read more about migraines and nutrition:

Eat like a Migraineur- 7 Migraine Diet Tips

How to Make a Migraine Headache Diary

Chocolate for Curing Migraines- 10 Astonishing Cocoa Facts


From the Dietitian: Avoid the Hunger Headache

Headaches When Losing Weight- LIVESTRONG.COM