“You’re not hungry. You’re just bored.” — a buddy who gave me a harsh dose of reality one day when I was having a tough time with intermittent fasting and hunger
I’ve always had trouble with eating because I’m hungry and eating because I have nothing better to do. This is why I had to put together a guide for everyone who struggles with the idea of hunger and trying to get into a form of intermittent fasting.
How can you fight hunger when you’re new to fasting? I’m going to show you how you can fast safely…
As you may already know, I’m a huge fan of different types of intermittent fasting because I’m really good at doing nothing.
Most people don’t share my love for fasting because they get hungry. They miss one meal and they complain to me about how they’re literally starving and unable to function. I can relate. That used to be me. It takes some time to get used to not eating every 2-3 hours, but I promise you that it’s worth it.
Why even bother with dealing with hunger and intermittent fasting?
The WSJ recently announced that this is no fad. The article went on to state:
”Fasting is one of the biggest weight-loss trends to arise in recent years. Endorsed by A-list celebrities and the subject of a spate of best-selling books, it was the eighth most-Googled diet in America in 2018.”
I agree. Fasting is becoming more mainstream by the day.
The professor, Dr. Michalsen had one line that really stuck out to me:
”Scientific evidence for the glory of breakfast is scarce. Instead, we should skip it and eat lunch like kings.”
This means that you don’t have to stuff your face first thing in the morning. You can spend your mornings being productive and then feast in the evenings. There’s no rule that states you must eat breakfast.
We’ve come to accept instant gratification when it comes to eating. Hungry? There are a dozen drive-thrus or you can just order food to your doorsteps from like 6 different apps. You always have access to food and it’s tempting to eat nonstop.
You’re still reading because you’re interested in giving intermittent fasting a shot.
Intermittent fasting has given me more mental clarity, better work outs, a better physique and a control of my hunger.
The problem is that we’re so accustomed to waking up and eating and then eating eating every few hours that we struggle with skipping breakfast. I promise you that once you get your hunger under control with intermittent fasting, you’re going to be a new person.
This one quote stuck out to me…
“Another huge benefit of fasting is that it recalibrates your hunger demand signals. We often think we are starving after a few hours without food. ‘I have’t had anything to eat since breakfast,’ we shout at $145 in the afternoon. We literally say: ‘I’m starving.” You are not starving. Humans can survive thirty days without food. You can make it a few extra hours.” — Jocko Willink
Most of us are hungry by lunch even after eating breakfast. This is what generally terrifies us about skipping breakfast. We don’t think that we can fast safely because we feel that our hunger will make us faint.
Martin Berkhan did an excellent post on why breakfast makes you hungry. The article is worth a read if you have some time. Here’s a quick summary:
“In a sense, it’s funny that blood glucose regulation works better in the fasted state, relative to the aforementioned breakfast scenario. It’s understandable when you consider that in the fasted state, you have balance between input and output, which in this analogy would be glucose and insulin. Glucose input to the blood is low and is well maintained with a low level of insulin in an insulin sensitive person.
With breakfast, insulin output is disproportionate to the input (breakfast), due to cortisol. A mismatch that would otherwise not be present under different circumstances (i.e. the same meal eaten later in the day, with low cortisol, or by someone with lower insulin sensitivity).”
I’m not smart enough to even pretend to make sense of that. Most people who skip breakfast don’t even notice that they’re hungry until late in the afternoon. Eating breakfast usually makes you more hungry. You’re ready to eat again by noon.
This article on Live Science goes into detail on the different types of hunger:
“Hormones in the body signal when energy stores are running low. When this occurs, levels of ghrelin (sometimes referred to as the ‘hunger hormone’) start to rise, but then become suppressed as soon as a person starts eating.”
Then they bring up…
“Pleasure is relevant to both homeostatic and hedonic eating, whereas the need for calories only comes into play during homeostatic eating.”
It’s definitely worth looking into the science behind hunger.
I personally used to be guilty of eating out of boredom after a long day. Intermittent fasting has given me a system that forces me to eat only within a few hours so that I’m not tempted to scarf down a bag of chips every evening.
Here are my best tips for fighting hunger in the morning…
These are my exact tips for making sure that I stick to my intermittent fasting plan.
- Sleep in. Instead of waking up to cook, you can sleep in a little longer. Sleep is everything (more on this later).
- Keep busy. Go to work and start working. Most people eat out of boredom. Start your day off by getting straight to business.
- Drink a cold glass of water first thing. You can add pink Himalayan salt, apple cider vinegar or some lemon to spice it up.
- Drink sparkling water. This is my number one tool for when people ask me about how to not eat first thing in the morning. I rely on sparkling water. I find that it curbs hunger.
- Eat breakfast food for lunch. I love breakfast food, I just don’t have it at breakfast. I save the eggs and bacon for lunch or dinner.
- Eat more fats when you do eat so you feel fuller the next day. I take fish oil and I eat avocados to feel fuller after my daily feast.
- Avoid tempting situations. Don’t walk past that donut shop when you’re hungry! Nobody has the will-power to walk past a pizza shop or bakery when fasting. Try to avoid these situations until you get into a groove with intermittent fasting.
- Give it at least two weeks. The first week you’ll feel weird. By the second week, you won’t even notice that you don’t eat first thing in the morning.
A buddy just messaged me on Instagram to tell me this:
“I feel much better just having coffee and water. And my hunger has completely vanished in the mornings. Today I forgot to eat at 12 and it was 1pm by the time I realized I should probably eat something.”
He struggled at first but he eventually got into the hang of intermittent fasting and skipping breakfast. Everyone reacts differently to skipping breakfast. I just want to ensure that you fast safely.
Bonus tip: don’t tell anyone that you’re fasting. People get weird about this stuff. Keep it to yourself until you get results.
Check out this video below on the five biggest mistakes that we make with intermittent fasting…
How do you fast safely?
In order for any form of intermittent fasting to work, you have to get your calories in when you do feast.
The goal is to limit your eating to a tighter window. You shouldn’t deprive yourself of the calories.
Here’s how I simplify everything:
Treat yourself to a decent sleep. You can hit snooze a few times because you don’t have to cook breakfast. Start your day off with coffee, sparkling water, tea, water or all of the above. Get to work and get shit done. Eat lunch like you normally would. Eat dinner 6-8 hours later like you normally would. Keep busy before bed or just wind down. You’ve just fasted for 16 hours without thinking about it.
When you’re ready for it, you can transition to a tighter window and extended fasts (a different topic for a different day).
If you’re ever feeling dizzy when fasting, don’t be afraid to break your fast early. The goal is to make progress and to ease into your new eating style.
This then leads us to the top secret weapon when it comes to intermittent fasting. Sleep.
Why sleep is your secret weapon…
When I first tried to overcome my bad habit of midnight snacking, a friend gave me a simple solution.
GO TO SLEEP!
We spend too much time on mindless scrolling and mindless eating when we could just go to bed early. On top of going to bed early, a full rest actually helps you manage your hunger throughout the day.
We can discuss every tactic in the world about fasting, eating, and working out. However, all of that is useless if you’re not getting enough sleep.
I’m not even going to pretend like I know much about this topic. I’m going to reference an excellent book, “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker, PhD
Check out these scary facts on sleep…
“Perhaps you have also noticed a desire to eat more when you’re tired? This is no coincidence. Too little sleep swells concentrations of a hormone that makes you feel hungry while suppressing a companion hormone that otherwise signals food satisfaction. Despite being full, you still want to eat more. It’s a proven recipe for weight gain in sleep-deficient adults and children alike. Worse, should you attempt to diet but don’t get enough sleep while doing so, it is futile, since most of the weight you lose will come from lean body mass, not fat.”
It gets worse…
“Weight gain caused by short sleep is not just a matter of eating more, but also a change in what you binge eat. Looking across the different studies, Van Cauter noticed that cravings for sweets (e.g., cookies, chocolate, and ice cream), heavy-hitting carbohydrate-rich foods (e.g., bread and pasta), and salty snacks (e.g., potato chips and pretzels) all increased by 30 to 40 percent when sleep was reduced by several hours each night.”
Long story short: make sleep a priority!
Your mind will turn on you when you’re exhausted. You also won’t be able to push it in the gym when your body just isn’t properly recovered.
Watch this video on what I do when I get hangry while fasting…
Every fast will be different. Every day is a new battle.
How do the experts manage hunger with intermittent fasting?
I decided to go through Google to see how others were able to fast safely and manage their hunger.
The aforementioned article on Live Science brings up an interesting point on cravings:
“The best practice for fighting hedonic hunger is to keep those highly palatable, tempting foods out of the house.”
This may sound simplistic but most of us aren’t logical beings. If we see a bag of chips or a box of cookies laying on the table, we’re tempted to open it up and chug the entire thing.
I did an experiment at a party the other day. I left a bowl of chips out in the open. Everyone ate the chips because they were right there. Most of us don’t have the self-control to turn down snacks.
This article on Yahoo! Lifestyle mentions the following:
“Herbal tea can be used like water. Sipping on hot tea will fill you up, and also the flavor can help satisfy your need to eat. It’s OK to drink three or more cups of non-caffeinated tea within your fasting window”
Men’s Health said the following:
“Protein-rich breakfasts have been linked to less hunger throughout the day, as opposed to say, a bagel. “
Shocking Fit bring up an excellent point:
“Hunger signals are often misleading – usually, we just need water.”
Kinobody wrote about 9 strategies to do intermittent fasting:
“Don’t think about fasting. Just go about your day, and understand this is very good for you, and this is what your body is designed to do. Your body will kick up energy through increasing fat mobilization. Going without breakfast isn’t a big deal!”
I just managed to put together a 2,000 word article on how to not eat. That’s how you can control your hunger with intermittent fasting and fast safely. The first meal of the day is indeed important, it just doesn’t have to be at 8 in the morning or when you first wake up. If you want to try intermittent fasting, but are worried about getting hungry, then this is the article for you.
The first few days may be rough, but if you keep busy you won’t even notice that you’re hungry. On the bright side, you can also sleep in instead of waking up early to meal prep.