An increasingly popular eating method known as intermittent fasting is going through periods of time without eating or restricting one’s food intake significantly.
If you are unfamiliar with the fundamentals of intermittent fasting and how it works, we recommend that you read our article Intermittent fasting: How it Works and What to Expect before continuing reading below.
Practicing IF (Intermittent Fasting) is a simple way of improving one’s health and well-being. There are many different methods of IF but there is one common question related to all IF methods and that is: How can I avoid being hungry when I’m fasting?
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Hunger and Intermittent Fasting
Hunger is part of intermittent fasting. It doesn’t make fasting difficult. Your reaction to the hunger does.
Food cravings, if you’ve ever experienced them, may seem ten times worse when you are fasting. This is not the case. A majority of people don’t allow themselves to go without food for lengthy periods of time, therefore they don’t realize that hunger is temporary.
Because your body and brain are so effective at convincing you to seek fuel, you can easily consume more energy than you require. Your hunger is controlled by your food-gut-brain connection. It’s a complex system that includes hormones, physiology, and your psychological reaction to food.
Sometimes you’ll feel hungry 1-2 hours after a huge meal, and even if you’re not hungry, the sight of your favorite food can make your stomach growl. Hunger is, as Pavlov demonstrated, a conditioned reaction to a stimulus that may be reconditioned.
Have you ever noticed how hunger seems to come at the same time every day? This is because the hormone ghrelin, which increases hunger, rises in anticipation of a typical meal – the body has trained to boost hunger during normal feeding times.
Appetite and true hunger
The desire to eat food is referred to as a person’s appetite. Stress, boredom, seeing or smelling food that appeals to them, routine, habit, or special event can all boost a person’s desire to eat.
The boundary between “that smells extremely wonderful” and “I need food for energy” may be thin. When you include boredom and stress, it becomes much more difficult to distinguish when you’re hungry and when you’re not.
True hunger is a physical need to eat, which is frequently accompanied by stomach grumbling and discomfort. It is satisfied by eating almost any food. You can’t crave some particular food and call it hunger.
When you experience it, you know it’s a typical reaction that indicates a need for food. It improves the taste of food and makes eating more pleasurable. A hungry person is always amazed at how delicious even the most basic foods can be.
You’ll need to learn new ways to respond to hunger during intermittent fasting, such as changing what you eat or how you respond to hunger signals.
How to manage hunger during intermittent fasting
Preventing hunger while intermittent fasting is the best approach to deal with it. If you eat nutritious foods during your eating windows and drink plenty of water during your fasting time, you will feel less hungry when practicing intermittent fasting.
The first few days of fasting are the most challenging since your “trained appetite” will push you to eat, and true hunger will take some time to adjust to.
Here are the best methods for dealing with hunger during intermittent fasting:
Consuming enough amounts of fluid, especially water, is the simplest, easiest, and healthiest way to avoid hunger when fasting. Thirst is commonly mistaken for hunger, so drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Because food provides approximately 20-30% of the fluid your body needs, it is very easy to become dehydrated while fasting. To stay hydrated, most health experts recommend the 8×8 rule: eight 8-ounce glasses (just under 2 liters total) of fluid each day.
However, your thirst should alert you when you need to drink extra water, so always listen to your body.
If you have difficulties drinking water, especially in the morning, try adjusting the temperature. This will make it more palatable depending on whether you prefer warm or cooled water. If it doesn’t work, you could also try sparkling water.
Drink tea or coffee
Black coffee or tea without sweeteners won’t break your fast.
According to research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, decaffeinated coffee reduces hunger the greatest, followed by normal coffee. A cup of coffee or tea hydrates the system, boosts energy levels, and provides a delightful burst of antioxidants.
Note* – Always consume coffee or tea in moderation. Try not to drink more than 2-3 cups a day.
Coffee and tea from the Camellia sinensis plant (green, black, oolong tea) contain caffeine. Caffeine can have negative side effects if consumed in excess.
Here you can learn how you can enjoy your coffee without breaking your fast during intermittent fasting.
Consume high quality low-carbohydrate, high fat and protein meals during your eating windows
Increasing your protein intake will help you feel fuller and lower your hunger hormone levels.
Protein’s appetite-suppressing qualities are not restricted to animal sources like meat and eggs. Vegetable protein sources, such as beans, and peas, maybe just be as fulfilling as animal protein sources.
Reduce your carbohydrate intake and increase your protein and fat intake.
Refined carbs (sugars, refined grains, white bread) and foods with a high glycemic index will make you feel full for a short period of time. Additionally, refined carbohydrates lack the fiber and minerals that keep you full.
You will feel fuller for longer if you replace refined carbs with whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes.
Natural fats are no longer seen as dangerous, according to new research. Simply reduce your sugar and starchy food intake, ensure you’re receiving enough protein, and eat enough natural fats.
Get a good night sleep
A 2014 study reveals that a lack of sleep decreases activity in the region of the brain responsible for making responsible food decisions.
In addition, partial sleep deprivation is related to changes in the appetite-regulating hormones, leptin, and ghrelin, and these changes would imply an increase in hunger, which could lead to increased food intake and weight gain.
Adopting sleep-promoting activities including following a sleep schedule, providing a restful atmosphere (a cool, dark, quiet room), addressing worries and concerns before bedtime, and avoiding devices and blue light an hour before bedtime are all recommended.
Try to keep yourself busy
When you’re bored, you’re more likely to overeat. Even if you’re not hungry, you’re more likely to look for a snack to pass the time or feel better about yourself.
Ghrelin levels tend to rise around mealtimes, so plan ahead and make sure you have something enjoyable to do at this time. In addition, make sure that you select the right fasting window so that your mind and body are doing something that diverts your attention away from eating.
You should plan your fasting hours around activities when you can. Anything that isn’t food-related can be done at this time, such as reading a book or hanging out with a friend, scheduling a work meeting at the time you normally eat lunch, cleaning the house, etc.
Manage your stress level
Excessive stress has been shown to cause an increase in appetite. This is mostly because of the way it affects cortisol levels. Higher levels of cortisol are typically regarded to enhance the desire to eat and the desire to overeat, however, individual results may vary…
Stressed women ate more calories throughout the day and ate more sugary foods than their non-stressed counterparts, according to published research.
Your stress levels can be reduced in several ways. Exercising, meditating, practicing yoga, keeping a diary, and seeing a therapist is a few of the alternatives.
Stay away from food
Max Planck researchers have demonstrated that the mere sight of delicious food stimulates the appetite. So, when you’re fasting, avoid going to the grocery store, eating out, or even going to the office break room.
Avoid watching others eat or prepare food during your fasting period. Maintain a food-free work environment to help you feel less hungry while on an intermittent fast.
Finally, these suggestions are only a few easy ways to reduce your hunger and appetite during intermittent fasting when you feel like such sensations are higher than normal. If you stick to your schedule and use some of these methods to manage your appetite IF should be easy to follow.
You should also be aware of the possible side effects of intermittent fasting. If you’re new to intermittent fasting, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.
Disclaimer: All the information on this website is for educational purposes only. Nothing on this website should be considered as health or medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or trusted health professional before following any dietary, nutritional, or herbal recommendations.