The true meaning of fasting is to keep calories out of your mouth for the period of time you are fasting, whether this is intermittent fasting or extended fasting. Obviously, water is fine, since it is 0 calories and encouraged, of course (and lots of it – more than normal to stave off hunger) because, without water, you will be dead in 3-5 days.
I usually suggest people start their fasting journey by easing into it with a 12 hour fasting period. You will be sleeping for 8 of these hours, so the time you aren’t eating while you are noticing that, is only 4 hours. If you time this to be 2 hours before bed and two hours after you get up, it’s a pretty easy first step.
Or, if you are particularly hungry when you wake or in the evening, you can tweak this to 4 hours right before or after you sleep.
The reasons for fasting are many. Most people do it to lose weight, and if done properly, it works well, to a point, until it stops working, and that’s different for each person.
The reason I fast is for health and longevity reasons and there is a ton of research showing those benefits. I do the 16-hour daily fast, but sometimes I’m able to stretch it out to 18 to 20 hours because longer is better.
Some people are very uncomfortable with experiencing hunger. Others have hypoglycemia issues. Both types of people are usually eating a high-carb diet, which is another topic, but in either case, these people have the most trouble fasting (even for 12 hours), so if you are in that group, here are some foods you can eat “fasting,” so you can ease into the pure form over time.
You will enjoy many of the health and weight loss benefits of fasting if you do eat these foods when absolutely necessary, but true fasting will give you the most benefits.
These foods will be a help for you as you transition into fasting if the hunger issue becomes a deal-breaker for you.
This list is also great for those times when you aren’t actually hungry but need to eat for “emotional” reasons (and we ALL have those times – even me). Plus, eating within 2 hours of bedtime is always a bad idea, unless you are trying to gain weight. The Sumo wrestlers in Japan have learned over the centuries that the best way to get fat as fast as possible is to eat the biggest meal of the day right before bed. Most of us though, aren’t sumo wrestlers, so if we get hungry, this post will give you some options so you don’t have to go to bed with a hunger level that might interfere with getting to sleep because a lack of sleep or poor sleep quality is fattening too!
When you are hungry on a fast or are doing intermittent fasting, before you eat anything at all, first make sure you are hydrated because a thirsty body often sends signals to the brain that it’s hungry.
If you don’t know if you are hydrated, here’s how to calculate the proper amount (for people who weight between 100-250 lbs.): Take your body weight in pounds, then divide by two and confirm that you have drunk that many ounces per day for the last two days (at least) including that proportional amount for today, based on the time of day.
Next, whether you have or haven’t consumed that much liquid, drink 8 ounces more and wait 21+ minutes. Coffee is great too, as this is often a potent appetite suppressant. Make sure it’s organic though because coffee is hard to grow, so non-organic versions are always full of pesticides and fertilizers. You can also add some stevia or erythritol to sweeten it if you like. Same goes for tea, if you don’t like coffee. These are my favorite and most effective go-to’s!
Then, if you still feel hungry, eat from the list of choices below.
- up to 50 cal. (usually 1 package) of seaweed, or
- up to three celery stalks, or
- up to 2 oz. of pickled ginger, or
- up to 3 oz. of pickles/zucchini/cucumber, or
- up to 4 oz. of sauerkraut/kimchi, or
- up to 8 oz. bone broth (with spices and salt if desired), or
- unlimited apple cider vinegar, or
- up to 2 oz. of leafy greens (that’s a big handful) with a splash of vinegar and salt to taste or
- unlimited habanero peppers (that’s a joke, but actually fine, if you really can because they will bump your metabolism burn higher than the calories of the peppers, as you sweat, and scream, and run around trying to extinguish the pain with cold water…)
Adding salt and spices to any of these options is also OK.
Important note and hunger screener: If the foods on this list don’t sound good enough to eat when you are fasting, then you aren’t truly PHYSICALLY hungry. It’s emotional hunger you are feeling in that case. If you are truly hungry, you will feel it in your stomach – not your head – and at least some of these foods will sound good enough to you to eat.
As you can see, fasting gets you in touch with what real hunger actually is. Most people in the USA have forgotten what that even feels like because food is so readily available. Hunger is actually healthy because it is only in that state you are detoxing and getting rid of “dirty” cells! To learn more about that and try a technique to help you learn how to get in touch with your hunger mechanism is to use the hunger scale technique.
Photo credit: https://traineracademy.org/