You've heard so many positive things about intermittent fasting (IF) — that it can help you lose weight, help you get a handle on overeating, prevent belly bloat, offer improved mental clarity and sleep, and help prevent disease.
So you decided to give IF a try. No one prepared you for how fricking hard it is not to eat when the only thing on your mind now is how much you want to eat!
It's true that the first few days — and maybe even the first couple weeks — are going to be
the worst ever, though. You're going to feel hungry. You may get symptoms like a sudden case of wanting to smash open bakery windows to consume everything, including the all-purpose flour because, well, it's food!
Feeling hungry and angry, and a terrible combination of the two, is totally normal! Whatever you do, do NOT give up. Your body is used to eating all day, so it'll take some time for it to get used to this new eating schedule. Know that you won't feel hungry forever and with time, hunger will actually go away. But in the meantime, here are some things you can do to prevent hunger.
Fill Up With Water First Thing in the Morning
Water is your absolute best friend when doing intermittent fasting. First thing in the morning, chug a huge bottle of water. Aim for 32 ounces within the first hour. Then continue to drink nature's beverage every 30 to 60 minutes. Seltzer and mineral water are allowed, so if you prefer those, go for it! Just know that drinking this much will result in lots of trips to the restroom.
Drink Some Tea
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. Go out and buy a few so you'll have new and interesting flavors to try.
Coffee's Cool, but Use It Strategically
If you don't drink it black, you may want to start. Some experts anything under 35 calories during your fasting window is OK, so that means a little cream, unsweetened almond milk, butter, or coconut oil won't break your fast. But others say you should have zero calories, so black is best. Use your judgment, but use absolutely no sweetener.
Caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant, so while you may be used to sipping on a cup of coffee first thing, when doing intermittent fasting, you might want to change your habit up a little. Use the caffeine strategically to blunt your appetite by sipping on your cup when hunger strikes. So if you've already had your fill of mega amounts of water, and you're still feeling hungry, now's the time to sip on your cup of joe.
Chew on Gum
You may want to invest in packs of sugarless gum, as the chewing motion can stave off hunger. Stick to gum — no mints, cough drops, or other sucking candies as you don't want to consume any calories.
Eat Enough During Your Eating Window
You want to make sure you're eating enough during your eating window, and that will ensure you're not hungry the next day during your fasting window. Aim to eat healthy 80 to 90 percent of the time, and include protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs. And while intermittent fasting does give you the freedom to eat what you want, eating junk won't keep you full and energized as long as eating healthy, whole foods will.
Ensure that you choose the appropriate fasting window so that your mind and body are doing something that takes your mind off of food. Don't torture yourself by doing things that involve food. Stay out of the kitchen and away from grocery stores, the office break room, restaurants, and bars. During your fasting window, avoid watching other people eat, preparing food, or scrolling through Pinterest recipes for tomorrow's dinner. Read a book, hang with a friend, immerse yourself in a work project, exercise, clean — do anything that's not at all related to food.
Get Enough Sleep
If your body is missing out on sleep, feeling tired and having low energy will make you want to eat. That's because not enough sleep decreases the "I'm full" hormone leptin and increases the "I'm hungry" hormone ghrelin.
Phone a Friend
Sometimes you're just too damn hungry, or the temptation to eat is just too damn strong, that you need some outside support. Call or text a friend who's also doing IF, or someone who knows you are, to say, "Work just had bagels delivered and everyone's toasting, smearing, and chewing is driving me crazy!" Or find inspiration from looking through Instagram accounts or YouTube videos on intermittent fasting. A little support can be such a powerful thing.
Find Your Motivation
Focus on something that's stronger than your hunger, a deeper reason to keep you from opening the fridge. Do you want to have the energy to play with your kids? Do you want to prevent diabetes or heart problems before they start? Are you trying to feel less self-conscious about the belly fat you've been trying to lose for years? Find something that's bigger than you and you will have all the willpower you need to do intermittent fasting.