The good news is that we have solutions! Keep reading.
Fasting has its own set of common “problems” – certain things that we as coaches see over and over. This is especially true for those who are new to fasting.
The obvious one, but let’s talk about it.
Of course when you don’t eat for a period of time, you’re going to feel hunger. It’s natural.
It’s what the body does.
But here’s the thing: what we usually feel as “hunger” is not true hunger. It’s part habit, and part hormones.
We are used to eating every day at certain times. When those times come and go and we don’t eat, the body starts sending those signals we know as hunger.
When insulin is lowered, which is what happens when you fast, ghrelin (the hunger hormone) goes up.
That’s exactly what the body is supposed to do. The good news is, it means you are in fat burning mode instead of fat storing mode.
And keep in mind that hunger comes in waves. It’s not going to be constant.
Many Extended Fasters report that after day three or so they no longer feel hunger.
So what’s the best solution for hunger? Ride the waves!
Remind yourself that it’s only a little wave, it will subside. Stay busy. Stay hydrated. And take your electrolytes.
Cravings are a different ballgame. They’re not the same as hunger.
You can be craving something and not be hungry. You just want a specific thing.
Cravings are usually rooted in emotions and have certain triggers.
Know your triggers and make a plan!
Get to know yourself. When you have a craving, think about what was happening at the time that the craving started.
Were you bored? Stressed about something? Watching TV? Or something else?
Once you figure out what sets the craving off, make a plan for what to do next time you are in that situation.
Let’s say when you get bored you crave something sweet. Okay.
So your plan might look like, “The next time I get bored I will go for a long walk.”
It doesn’t have to be a walk, it can be anything you want.
The important thing is that you make the plan and that you engage the plan immediately when the trigger starts.
Don’t spend one second contemplating a craving, just jump right into your plan.
Bonus tip for cravings
Think past the craving!
Don’t stop at how good it’s going to feel in the moment. Go past that and think about how you’re going to feel later.
How will you feel the next day? Physically and emotionally? Is it worth it?
This is one we hear quite frequently, especially in those first few days of fasting.
The culprit is usually carbohydrate addiction. That’s what it boils down to!
If your normal diet was laden with carbohydrates, you’re probably going to feel crummy for a bit.
Try going low carb or Keto before you start fasting. This will make it much easier on you when you start the fast.
If you do that and you still get headaches, it’s most likely related to hydration or electrolyte balance.
Make sure you’re getting in your electrolytes and drinking your water.
You can take tylenol if needed for headaches. But do not take ibuprofen on an empty stomach.
This is one of the more frustrating effects of fasting.
While we love the energy that comes with fasting, sometimes that energy doesn’t know when to stop.
Many fasters complain of either not being able to fall asleep, or sleeping very little.
We have a few options for you.
Some people take melatonin and it works for them. But it doesn’t work for everyone.
A dose of electrolytes an hour or so before bed can help because of the magnesium in them.
A warm bath with some Epsom salts sprinkled in can help you wind down.
And of course creating a proper bedtime ritual is always good.
Get off electronics, turn the lights down, do some reading or something else that gets you in that sleepy mode.
And if you do all that and still can’t sleep, the good news is that Dr. Fung suggests we might not actually need that much sleep.
He advises to only go to sleep when you’re actually tired, even if that means less sleep.
This isn’t a “physical” problem, but it can be a pain, nonetheless.
Family, friends, and business associates might not always understand fasting.
Or sometimes you might just not feel good telling someone you’re fasting.
Do the best you can. Life happens.
In social gatherings or business meetings where food is present, you can put food on your plate and not eat it.
Do a lot of chatting and interacting with other people. Most people won’t even notice that you’re not eating.
When it comes to family, it’s a little trickier.
If your family is supportive of your fasting, it might just be a matter of avoiding the kitchen while everyone else is eating.
But if they expect you to eat with them, we suggest going for Intermittent Fasting instead of Extended, and scheduling your eating window around family meal time.
And when situations come up that you just can’t get out of eating, do the best you can with what you have available.
Look for low carb or keto options if you can find them.
There’s always a solution!
We’ve made fasting sound horrible: hunger, cravings, headaches … oh my.
But the truth is that fasting is not only doable, it’s actually enjoyable. And if you are determined, there’s always a way to make it work.