The Science of Motivation

Managing Your Intermittent Fasting Window

Thanks everyone for jumping on to check out the latest IF post!  I hope you have been enjoying the series so far. 

This post covers that daily part of the IF regimen where you are not eating, i.e. you are in a fasted state.  Preferably, most of that is accomplished while you are sleeping, as managing your hunger and/or cravings then is a lot easier than doing it while you are awake.  With that said though, your hunger and cravings during the awake period of your fast will subside with time as long as you are sticking with the program.

Personally, I've found coffee to be very helpful in getting me through the morning to the end of my fast at noon.  It keeps my head clear and does take my mind off eating.  

Regarding the last section of the article below about exercising during your fast; if you choose to exercise, don't go too hard at it.  You'll wind up blowing your fast because you are so hungry from your workouts.  I tend to work out during my eating window to avoid this.

Good luck!  - John

During intermittent fasting, you have two phases; the fasted state and the feeding state, or fed state. When you are fasting, this is the period of time where you don’t have anything to eat or anything with calories, including beverages with calories. This is often the challenge for people, especially those fasting for 16-24 hours or longer. 

So, what are some tips for dealing with the fasted hours?  Stay hydrated with no-calorie beverages to help you blunt hunger, preferably those with caffeine if you are able, i.e. coffee or tea.  

Sleep through your fast if you can.  

Perform activities that will keep your mind off eating...stay busy.  

Exercise, if you feel up to it, to support the fat-burning affect of your fast.  

Read on for more details...

Drink Water, Coffee, and Tea During Your Fast

It is really important that you stay hydrated during your fasted period, which does seem to be an issuer with people starting this. Continue drinking plenty of water while you are fasting, as this keeps you hydrated and can help keep you full. 

You can also have coffee or tea, just don’t put anything in it with calories.  Coffee is particularly useful during this period because it is known to curb hunger.  Just don't overdo it - stay in the two cup range if possible and try not to drink it after 12 pm if possible.  Caffeine in the afternoon will wreak havoc on your sleep patterns and that brings a whole other set of challenges to your goal on losing body fat (more on that in another article). 

Some people will have diet soda or add a sugar substitute with no calories to their coffee, but if you notice intermittent fasting isn’t working for you, this might be where you are going wrong.

Sleep Should Make Up the Bulk of Your Fasting Window

Naturally, a good amount of your fasting hours should exist while you are sleeping. You are already going to be in a fasted state during this time, so the rest of your fasted hours are before and after your bedtime hours. This is a good way to schedule it as well. You want to consider if you are hungrier in the morning or evening when deciding when the eating hours should be. Someone who is starving when waking has a harder time fasting in the morning. So, you can adjust your schedule to where your fast actually starts late in the afternoon, instead in the evening.

Keep Yourself Busy During Your Fasting Window

While you will likely get used to fasting over time, it can be hard in the beginning. When you have some of your fasting hours before or after bedtime, this makes it a little more difficult not to want to snack. However, keep in mind it won’t last forever, and soon you will be able to enjoy the foods you love. A good way to distract yourself from thinking about foods and counting down the hours is to simply stay busy. Find hobbies, focus on work, or go for a walk. This can really help to keep your mind off the food or lack thereof.

Exercise During the Fast

This is going to vary based on the person, but there are a lot of benefits to working out in your fasted state. First of all, you are already burning more fat, so adding in a fasted workout just helps you to burn even more. You can also avoid the hunger pangs by working out, and distract yourself with your fitness routine.

Check out the next post in the IF series:  Workouts and Intermittent Fasting