How to Deal with Hunger and Cravings While Fasting

Fasting has become an increasingly popular way to lose weight, improve health, and promote longevity. However, dealing with hunger and cravings can be one of the biggest challenges when fasting. This article provides effective strategies based on the latest science to help you successfully overcome hunger and stick to your fasting regimen.

Avoid Triggers That Lead to Hunger and Cravings

One of the most important things you can do is avoid common triggers that make you feel hungry and crave food.

Stay Out of the Kitchen Being in the kitchen surrounded by food can stimulate your appetite. If possible, avoid spending excess time in the kitchen outside of mealtimes.

If you cook for your family, try batch cooking 1-2 days per week. Make extra portions that can easily be reheated so you don’t have to cook every day. You may also want to explore ordering prepped meal kits to cut down on daily cooking.

Minimize Exposure to Other Food Cues

Eating while watching TV, at your desk, or in the car can become habitual triggers. Break these habits by removing food from these areas and settings. Only eat during designated mealtimes at the table.

Grocery shopping when hungry can also lead to cravings and impulse buys. Try ordering groceries online or shopping after eating to minimize this effect.

Understand the Biology of Hunger

Believing some common myths about hunger can sabotage your fasting success. Learning how real hunger works can help you manage it.

Hunger Comes in Waves, Not Constantly

Hunger is not linear. It builds then subsides in waves. At the start of a fast, hunger will intensify but then diminish as your body taps into fat stores for energy. Riding out a wave of hunger is very doable.

Aim to distract yourself for 30-45 minutes and the pangs will pass. After fasting adaptively for some time, you may find the hunger waves decrease in intensity and duration.

True Hunger vs Cravings

Physical and mental cues can trigger cravings mistaken for real hunger. True hunger is when your body needs food for energy. But you may crave food out of habit, emotional reasons, or sensory cues.

Pay attention to these false alarms. Over time you can retrain your body not to expect food outside of feeding times.

Use Strategies to Blunt Hunger and Cravings

When starting out fasting, using certain aids can help minimize feelings of hunger.

Drink Appetite Suppressing Beverages

Beverages like green tea, coffee, and bone broth can help suppress appetite. Green tea contains EGCG, which research shows can reduce hunger hormones. Fasting teas with green tea, black tea, and herbs like cinnamon, ginger, and matcha may also be helpful.

Try Dry Fasting

Avoiding all fluids during the fasting window may intensify thirst instead of hunger. This can work for fasts under 18 hours. However, take care to stay hydrated when not fasting.

Get Moving

Aerobic exercise and going for walks can distract you from hunger by releasing feel good endorphins. Schedule activities like walking or classes during usual mealtimes.

Build Healthy Habits Around Fasting

Creating consistent rituals and routines around your fasting practice is key for long-term success.

Standardize a Fasting Schedule

Decide on a regular fasting plan that works for your lifestyle. Consistently skipping certain meals or snacks each day trains your body to expect fasting during those times.

Eat Mindfully

Make eating a focused activity. Eliminate distractions and pay attention to physical hunger cues. Eating only while distracted can lead to overeating.

Get Quality Sleep

Sleep impacts hormone regulation including the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin. Prioritize 7-9 hours of quality sleep to assist with appetite control.

Manage Stress

High stress and cortisol levels can increase hunger and cravings, especially for calorie-dense comfort foods. Adopt regular stress management practices like meditation, yoga, or breathwork.

The Takeaway: overcome the hunger and food cravings

With the right strategies, you can overcome the hunger and cravings that can accompany fasting. Avoid triggers, understand the biology of hunger, use helpful tools, and build solid fasting habits. Be patient through the initial adaptation phase. Hunger should subside as your body adjusts, making fasting feel effortless.

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