Intermittent fasting is one of the best ways to lose weight quickly and improve your overall health. But one of the biggest challenges people face when fasting is suppressing their appetite.
This can be difficult, especially if you are not used to fasting for weight loss. Many find it extremely difficult to control their hunger to end up giving in and ruining their fast. It’s easy for those beginning with fasting to get “hangry” without using ways to overcome this hunger in the first place.
Appetite suppressant pills don’t really work and can give you unwanted side effects. And using a diet pill will only cause the weight gain to come back once you eventually stop taking it. You can reduce your hunger without having to take weight loss pills.
You can use simple strategies to feel full enough not to fall prey to the dreaded hunger pangs. If you feel like you’re starving and can’t “turn off” the hunger, this article will share the best tips and tricks to suppress your appetite while fasting.
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How to Not Feel Hungry While Fasting
Intermittent fasting, or IF, is an effective dieting trend gaining popularity in recent years. Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and improve your overall health (1). But many people find it difficult to control their appetite while fasting and give in to hunger pain.
You are so hungry while fasting because your body is used to eating during this new fasting window. Your stomach has an increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin, causing you to feel hungry so you’ll eat. But you don’t need to eat since your body has plenty of energy it can already use in your fat stores.
When it comes to intermittent fasting, you’ll lose the most body weight with a longer fasting window. I recommend 16 hours of fasting with an 8-hour eating window for most (women especially). This is the most effective for losing weight and being able to stick with in the long term. But if you’re able to work up to 18-20 hours a day fasting, that could be even better.
If you’re just starting, start with a shorter fasting window and work your way up. Twelve hours should be the minimum from when you ate your last meal the night before. Then each week, keep adding an extra hour to your fast until you work up to 16 hours a day. This allows your stomach to shrink down, and ghrelin levels will lower as you become used to not eating during your fasting window.
Intermittent Fasting Hunger Tips
The magic with intermittent fasting is you’ll eventually stop feeling hungry as the hunger comes and goes in spurts. As ghrelin is released you’ll feel hungry, but that wave of hunger will subside, and you’ll be able to continue through your fast.
With hunger and cravings, you’ll gradually become better at getting rid of them the longer you’ve done intermittent fasting. Your stomach shrinks, ghrelin levels go down, and cravings subside when you stop eating those bad foods. Sugars, starches, and refined carbohydrates cause cravings, so you should work towards removing these foods from your diet to stomp out the cravings.
So how long does it take to stop feeling hungry?
When fasting, the hunger only lasts about 20-30 minutes before the ghrelin wears off. Knowing how to get through these waves of hunger can make or break your results. Suppressing your appetite during these times is crucial to getting through your fasting period.
In the long term, you’ll stop feeling so hungry after 2-4 weeks of intermittent fasting. Of course, hunger will be most challenging at first when you’re just getting used to and adjusted to the fasting schedule. But with some time, your stomach will shrink, your body will adapt to the fasting, and you’ll know how to control hunger while fasting.
Best Appetite Suppressant for Fasting
So now that you know that the hunger and your appetite will lessen over time, let’s discuss how to curb the hunger. The best appetite suppressants are approved “fasting drinks” that you can have when you’re fasting that won’t break your fast.
These drinks help raise your satiety which is the feeling of being full. When you feel fuller, the hunger pains will lessen, making it easier to get through your fast. These fasting drinks make you feel satiated when intermittent fasting and can speed up their fat-burning effects.
- Water: Water is the best drink to have while fasting because it’s calorie-free, helps suppress appetite, and raises your satiety (2). When you drink lots of water while fasting, you’ll feel fuller and less hungry. This means you’ll be able to get through your fasting window with less difficulty. When you become dehydrated, it’s easy for your body to confuse thirst for hunger (3). So making sure you’re well hydrated by drinking enough water is vital to getting rid of hunger while fasting.
- Lemon Water: Adding some lemon juice to a glass of water is a tasty way to get more water in your body. Lemon not only adds some natural flavor to the water but has health benefits too. Lemon juice can improve your blood sugar and insulin response to food intake, boosting weight loss (4).
- Black coffee: Coffee is satiating, contains caffeine and antioxidants that can create more fat loss when fasting. Caffeine is a natural thermogenic that increases your fat-burning metabolism and gives you an energy boost (5). The antioxidants in coffee help you look and feel better by fighting off damage-causing free radicals in your body. You can add a little bit of cream or use this best coffee creamer with C8 MCTs:
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- Heightened energy levels
- Reduced cravings & appetite
- Graceful aging
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- Green tea: Green tea (unsweetened) is another fantastic fasting drink that boosts satiety, increases your metabolism and fights aging (6). Green tea is packed with polyphenols that make you look and feel better. Studies have found those who drink green tea can lose belly fat faster (7). You can drink another herbal tea too if green tea isn’t your thing.
- Zero-calorie sparkling waters: This is another handy beverage to have stocked in your fridge when fasting. Zero-calorie sparkling waters like La Croix effectively fight off hunger with their carbonation. They’re also tasty and a great way to distract yourself from hunger. Just make sure you check the label since some sparkling waters have hidden sugars. These are great to have too to fight the urge to drink alcohol at night which will slow the fat burning process. Artificial sweeteners like sucralose aren’t great for you but they won’t break your fast.
- Apple cider vinegar: This is another health-boosting tool to have in the house. Adding a tablespoon to a glass of water can increase satiety, helping you fight off the hunger pangs (8). Apple cider vinegar only contains a tiny minute amount of calories that won’t break you fast if you’re doing it for weight loss. It could boost your results by lowering your blood sugar response to food (9).
Going to Bed Hungry When Intermittent Fasting
One of the worst things you can do when intermittent fasting is to go to bed hungry. If you go to bed hungry, you’ll be even hungrier than usual the next day. This will make it even harder to fight off the hunger pangs.
When you go to sleep hungry, you’ll most likely suffer from poor sleep quality. When you don’t sleep well, then you’ll crave high-calorie junk foods the next day. Plus, you’ll have less self-control the next day, which spells disaster if you’re intermittent fasting (10).
I advise you to have your last meal around 8 pm and then fast through the night and next morning until lunchtime the next day. Your last meal should contain protein, healthy fats, low carbs, and plenty of fiber. Try not to drink alcohol since it could negatively impact your deep sleep and cause you to overeat. You don’t have to follow a keto diet but intermittent fasting does work best with a low-carb diet (11).
The protein is highly satiating, making you feel fuller. Healthy fats are also a great way to increase the feeling of being full. Finally, it’s a smart idea to consume more fiber, such as vegetables, to fill out your stomach. When you’re fasting or dieting, your stomach has shrunk down yet. So filling it out with fiber will be a great way to feel full without consuming a bunch of calories.
If you still feel hungry after dinner, try eating a tablespoon or two of almond butter. It should help make you feel fuller and have no stomach grumbling when you’re trying to sleep. Calorie restriction will result in a higher hunger level so using these tricks is critical (12).
How to Distract Yourself While Fasting
One of the best tips to distract yourself while fasting is to chew sugar-free gum. Chewing gum won’t break your fast and is a great way to help you feel less hungry. Studies have found chewing sugar-free gum can reduce hunger, appetite, and food cravings (13). I always have some gym on me for this reason, and it can help tone up your face too.
One of the reasons I recommend fasting in the mornings is it’ll be easier to distract yourself with work. Getting work and things done in the morning can keep you busy and away from food. Also, try not to watch TV or go on social media because you’ll get bombarded with food and drink advertisements and posts.
Emotional eating is common with many and intermittent fasting can help to improve your mood and focus. If you suffer from emotional eating, using some of the above-approved fasting drinks will be critical. In addition, doing some of your favorite hobbies like reading or walking in nature can fight off emotional hunger.
Adopting a strong mindset can power you through the fast when you experience hunger. Remember why you’re intermittent fasting in the first place and your goal. Remember, this isn’t real physical hunger to survive, and your body is just used to eating right now. You’ll get to have some food again when your eating schedule starts.
Finally, I like to exercise to curb hunger and burn more fat. Exercise when fasting has been found in studies to increase satiety by altering your hunger hormones. You don’t have to do a hardcore workout when fasting but even going on a walk with your dog is beneficial. You can also take a steam, use the sauna, and take a cold shower to curb hunger quickly.
The Last Word
Finding ways to suppress your appetite and keep yourself from getting hungry is vital for your intermittent fasting plan. Of course, eating food should be restricted to your eating window, but high hunger levels can tell you the opposite.
Switching over to a low-carb diet works best with intermittent fasting. If you’re used to eating a lot of sugars and carbs, then your body will be a “sugar burner.” Once your blood sugar levels dip, you’ll get hunger pangs and get “hangry.” Again, eating a high protein diet with healthy fats and fiber-rich vegetables is key.
Then adding in fasting drinks from the above list can reduce hunger and even give you better results by boosting your fat-burning metabolism. Stress reduction techniques such as sleeping better or mediation can help you keep cortisol levels low. Stress as we all know can cause emotional hunger.
I’ll also take a super greens powder like MetaboGreens when fasting since it contains adaptogens. These adaptogens help your body better adapt to stressors. It’s not always easy to reduce stress, but you can improve your body’s response to these stresses.
Now that you know how to suppress your appetite, it’s time to add this to your intermittent fasting plan to have better success and the best results.
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.