Whether you’re a seasoned faster, have had trouble sticking to a practice, or are thinking of trying fasting for the first time, these are our top tips to help make your fasting experience more pleasant.
Caution: Fasting is not for everyone, especially those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, under the age of 18, or have diabetes, low blood pressure, or a history of eating disorders. Please consult your doctor before starting a fasting practice.
How to Make Fasting Easier
Fasting Tip #1: Prepare Yourself to Enter Fat-Burning Mode
One of the best ways to make a fast easier is to shift away from relying on glucose from carbohydrates for fuel to jump-start the body’s innate fat-burning capabilities.
Not only will this prime your metabolism, but it will also help stabilize your blood sugar and energy levels, reduce cravings, and minimize the “hangries.”
Where should you start?
A week or two before your fast, begin cutting out alcohol, sugar, and refined carbohydrates (think sugar-sweetened drinks, sweets, bread, high-carb snacks like chips, pretzels, crackers, etc.), and choose high protein and high-fat foods instead.
Fasting Tip #2: Stay Busy
With less time spent planning, preparing, and eating meals, there will be more time for other things. However, the more time you spend checking your watch and dreaming about food, the harder your fast will be.
To remedy this, find productive ways to keep yourself occupied: You can work on a home project, read, learn an instrument, journal, meditate, walk outdoors, or spend time with loved ones.
It's also important to know that longer fasts can take a toll on your energy, so be mindful not to over-commit or be overambitious, especially with exercise.
Fasting Tip #3: Think of Hunger as a 'Wave' to Ride
Fasting is an incredibly individual experience, and pangs of hunger affect different people in different ways.
But the enlightening part is, hunger doesn't get worse over time. It merely comes and goes, like a wave.
Our bodies get used to eating at certain times, so what we experience as ‘hunger’ is more like a ‘habit.’ These sensations of hunger will arise (usually around regular feeding times) but will soon pass.
If you experience severe hunger or stomach pains that don’t go away (last more than an hour at a time), there's no shame in ending your fast early. Listen to your body!
Fasting Tip #4: Give Your Water a Boost
If you don't find plain water very enticing, you might consider flavoring it.
Staying hydrated is essential during a fast, and merely adding fresh lemon or cucumber slices can make drinking water more satisfying and satiating.
Just avoid adding too much juice or anything with more than a few calories. Sugar and artificial sweeteners will break your fast, however zero-calorie natural sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit are OK.
Sparkling water is also an excellent tool, as the carbonation can help to curb hunger.
Fasting Tip #5: Drink Coffee or Tea
The caffeine in coffee and tea suppresses appetite, increases fat burning, and helps maintain optimal energy levels . In other words, caffeine not only makes fasting easier, but it enhances its benefits.
Studies show that even decaffeinated coffee has appetite-suppressing properties, which is good news for caffeine-sensitive people .
You might be wondering, “But, doesn’t coffee break a fast?”. The short answer is not usually. In fact, it supports most fasts.
Although coffee and tea make fasting easier, many of the things we habitually add to these beverages will break a fast. So, think twice and do some research before adding creamer, sweeteners, or anything else to your coffee, decaf, or tea.
Fasting Tip #6: Supplement with Electrolytes
Your body can quickly become depleted of electrolytes during an extended fast. An electrolyte imbalance can lead to cramping, fatigue, dizziness, and in severe cases, even blackouts. Supplementing with electrolytes is an easy way to combat this problem.
However, you'll want to avoid choosing an electrolyte supplement with any sugars or additives. Opt for a clean electrolyte supplement, simple trace minerals, or just reach for a pinch of high-quality sea salt.
Fasting Tip #7: Use Essential Amino Acids
Essential amino acids (EAAs) are an excellent tool for anyone who is fasting to improve body composition, engages in fasted exercise, or wants to stave off hunger pangs.
Just make sure you’re using a formula like Kion Aminos that’s pure EAAs (not BCAAs) and doesn’t contain added sugar or calories.
Confused about the difference between EAA's and BCAA's? Click here to learn more.
Note that amino acids will suppress autophagy and therefore break a fast where longevity is the goal.
Fasting Tip #8: Choose the Right Kind of Fast for You
There is no 'perfect' way to fast.
In fact, there are a number of different fasting methods out there, all of which contain varying degrees of health benefits.
Knowing your primary goal going into a fast can help you choose the right kind of fast for you.
If making your fast easier helps you turn fasting into a sustainable part of a healthy lifestyle, then definitely use all the tools at your disposal.
However, we'd like to close with the idea that fasting doesn't always need to be easier...
Sometimes the most meaningful benefits of a fasting practice come from the physical and emotional capacities we develop when we bring awareness to our impulses, lean into discomfort, and improve our relationship to food and hunger.
Wishing you happy and healthy fasting!
Bakuradze, Tamara, et al. “Four-Week Coffee Consumption Affects Energy Intake, Satiety Regulation, Body Fat, and Protects DNA Integrity.” Food Research International, vol. 63, 2014, pp. 420–427., doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2014.05.032.
Acheson, Kevin J et al. “Metabolic effects of caffeine in humans: lipid oxidation or futile cycling?.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 79,1 (2004): 40-6. doi:10.1093/ajcn/79.1.40
Greenberg, James A, and Allan Geliebter. “Coffee, hunger, and peptide YY.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition vol. 31,3 (2012): 160-6. doi:10.1080/07315724.2012.10720023