6 Ways To Help You Get Through Hunger Pains When Intermittent Fasting
People fast for many reasons. Whatever reason inspires someone to start and experiment with restrictions on their eating window-– whether it’s to lose weight, enhance overall health, or for religious reasons – most people can agree that the idea of eating much less often sounds challenging. And for many people, it can be.
Just like any habit, you have in life, changing your daily routine can be hard. This is especially true about consuming food, which is something we as humans all have in common. Eating at specific times is so ingrained into our schedules that people often feel like fasting is too disruptive to their set lifestyles. But it doesn’t have to be difficult! In fact, you may find that fasting can aid in daily productivity and mental clarity.
On Stanford University’s Law and Biosciences blog, studies on intermittent fasting have shown that the diet can improve your brain health. According to the researchers, intermittent fasting can increase “…synaptic plasticity (a biological marker of learning and memory), enhances performance on memory tests in the elderly, leads to the growth of new neurons, promotes recovery after a stroke or traumatic brain injury, decreases risk for neurodegenerative diseases […] and may improve quality of life and cognitive function for those already diagnosed with these diseases. [Intermittent energy restriction] has also been shown to play a preventative and therapeutic role in mood disorders like anxiety and depression.”
With possible benefits like that, who wouldn’t want to try fasting? But even as the positive benefits stack up, you can’t deny that there are some challenges to participating in this diet, like rearranging your schedule, dealing with feelings of hunger, etc. To help you on the fasting journey, here are some tips from people who have successfully fasted and continue to do so.
Strategies to Manage Hunger Pains while Intermittent Fasting
Like any good battle strategy, it’s important that you prepare before you start. This may include a visit to your general practitioner to check for health conditions that may be adversely affected by dieting. Then, it’s time to put pen to paper and plan out your week. First, write down the events that cannot be changed, like your work schedule or classes at school. Then, find holes in your calendar where you can sit and enjoy a meal. If you’re abstaining from food for 16 hours a day, then be sure that your mealtimes are within that 8-hour window. For those with a day job, a typical eating schedule may be lunch at 1 pm and dinner at 7 pm. Other things to plan out include your grocery list, cooking schedule for when you want to prep your meals, and making sure that leisurely time with friends and family won’t disrupt your fasting schedule, and vice-versa.
2. Make a Commitment
It helps to self-motivate because you are your best cheerleader. Find ways that help hold yourself accountable to your goals. For instance, you can tell yourself that you won’t have your favorite dessert with dinner if you break your schedule. A good strategy is to also include your friends and family, not to necessarily partake in the diet too, but to cheer you on and help make this easier for you, however, they can. For example, your spouse can make sure you stop eating after your 8-hour window, and a work colleague can keep an eye on your desk for stray food before noon. Additionally, meditating has helped many stay positive and achieve better mental health – both of which will be necessary during your fasting period.
3. Drink Carbonated Water or Water with Salt
Right before and after your fast – and during your fast, too – drink a glass or two of water to stay hydrated. Water helps to curb feelings of hunger, and carbonated water does an even better job at that. Some people report adding salt to their water as well. You might want to consider potassium salt since potassium and sodium are essential for your body’s hydration. There is even electrolyte powder on the market that you can add to your water (just make sure there are no added sugars).
4. Eat Foods High in Fiber and Carbs
When planning your meals, be sure to include a lot of vegetables and fruit in your diet. Not only are those foods high in nutrients that help you feel fuller longer and with less caloric intake, but they’re generally good for you anyway! Try eating a sandwich with multi-grain bread with a side salad of romaine lettuce and tomatoes for lunch, an apple or orange for a snack, and a large plate of roasted vegetables – including broccoli and asparagus – with dinner.
5. Do Not Overeat
It’s common for many people who are new to fasting to think that it doesn’t matter how much you eat, as long as you eat within a restricted time frame. Remember that it’s also about caloric restriction, too. Additionally, eating large meals can make you feel tired and groggy after your body uses up all its energy to process all that food. Control your portions, and you’ll manage your hunger better.
6. Stay Busy
Research has shown that people tend to eat when they’re bored, and oftentimes the foods they choose are unhealthy, or they eat too much because the idea of boredom is too much to bear. Movement is a great way to keep yourself occupied, while also staying fit and boosting the benefits from fasting. And as mentioned before, since fasting can help boost mental functions, use this newfound clarity to get productive. Is there a side business you’ve always wanted to start? A project at home that seems to always be pushed off? Children that you need to spend more quality time with? Or maybe a local group of people who are fasting that you can join? Fasting is difficult for anyone, so don’t feel discouraged if you’re having a hard time with it. It gets easier, especially if you’re doing it properly and with a support system. Try the tips above to help you through this journey.