If you’ve read some of my previous posts on intermittent fasting, you know why it works so well for getting a ripped physique.
In short, the thing which makes intermittent fasting so powerful, is it’s potential to buffer a ton of calories for later in the day.
This allows you to have large, satiating and fulfilling meals during the evening (at a time when most people want to enjoy food), all while shedding fat at the same time. And this is why I absolutely love intermittent fasting.
But, recently I’ve learned that some of you who’s been through my free 5 step video course, struggles with hunger and weird feelings during the fasted window. And to be honest, this is completely normal, especially in the beginning of using IF.
Luckily though, this is an easy fix!
So, make sure you read to the end of this post to find out why some people feel bad when getting started with IF, and learn the 8 intermittent fasting tricks that’ll make your fast feel like a breeze.
Why Some People Feel Bad During The Fast While Others Don’t
The reason different people experience different feelings when fasting is because of nervous system activity.
We humans have something called The Central Nervous System (CNS). The CNS is our processor (in computer language) which gathers all information that happens both inside and outside our body and sends it to the brain. The brain then processes this information and sends out signals to all of our organs to perform certain tasks to keep us alive.
The part of the CNS that’s connected to food is called the autonomic nervous system, which is a system that we can’t directly control ourselves. We can however change how it should be expressed, since it’s automatically regulated by things like daily rhythm, meals, physical or mental activity and other activities that we do.
The autonomic nervous system have two different “subsystems” which are the opposite of one another and they’re called:
- The sympathetic nervous system
- The para-sympathetic nervous system
These systems can easily be described with the metaphor of a balance board:
When the sympathetic nervous system increases, the para-sympathetic nervous system simultaneously decreases and vice versa. Having a balanced activity between these two seen over days and weeks leads to health and well-being.
The sympathetic nervous system
This system becomes more activated when you’re exposed to physical, mental, and emotional stress, which would be fight or flight situations, and it prepares the body for physical activity.
Your blood flow to the muscles increases, your pulse and blood pressure increases, your pupils gets dilated, and as various hormones increases which releases your body’s stored energy reserves to be used as accessible energy. (This is why you burn fat so effectively during the fasted window)
The para-sympathetic nervous system
Contrary to the sympathetic system, this system becomes more activated when the body is at rest and in lack of stress.
When activated, your heart activity and blood pressure decrease, your level of stress hormones decreases and “feel good” hormones such as oxytocin increases, blood flow increases in your digestive system, which supports the processing of food, and the body’s healing processes improves.
What Does This Have to do With Intermittent Fasting?
When we’ve been fasting for multiple hours, our sympathetic nervous system increases a lot, which essentially means the body enters an environment of stress. This stress is necessary to get a person to go out and seek or hunt food. It’s a survival mechanism that the human species has developed throughout thousands of years.
And this is the reason why some people feel bad when they start using intermittent fasting. They’re simply not used to getting stressed in this way.
This stress is NOT negative, it’s actually the opposite!
The fact that you’re creating a stressful environment in your body is also what promotes fat loss. In other words, your body becomes very good at using stored body fat as fuel. The stress is only negative if it doesn’t come down eventually.
And once you eat and the fasted period is over, the nervous system shifts considerably, and the para-sympathetic system becomes more dominant. This is the time when people experience relaxation, happiness, calmness and peacefulness.
The only difference between a day of intermittent fasting and a “regular” day, is that with the intermittent fasting schedule you get bigger shifts between sympathetic (stress) and para-sympathetic (relax) nervous system activity, just like this:
While you get smaller shifts with a standard schedule, like this:
The reason why the intermittent fasting type schedule works so well is because most people find it easier to lose body fat with such a meal frequency, simply because they can feel extremely satiated and satisfied later in the day, while being fine with a bit of hunger and stress in the morning.
Having 2-3 large and very fulfilling meals later in the day beats having 5-6 smaller meals evenly spread throughout the day.
What’s even better is that, with the 8 tricks you’re about to learn, even the fasted window will feel like a breeze. Which means that fat loss will truly become effortless, and so will staying lean once you get there.
So, without further ado, let’s get to the tricks:
Trick #1 – Know That You Won’t Starve To Death
This is a good psychological trick.
Often when people start intermittent fasting they’re afraid that hunger will be overwhelming during the fasted window, even to the point that they won’t survive.
So, taking a 14-18 hour fast is not only very survivable, it’s even healthy for us, and something that we’re evolutionary adapted to do.
Anyways, simply knowing that you won’t starve to death as you go into it can be very helpful psychologically.
Trick #2 – Stay Hydrated
Drinking water is more a necessity than a trick.
But, above keeping us alive and well, water also does the trick when it comes to blunting appetite.
One thing that’s common in today’s age is mixing hunger with thirst. Very often the hunger that we experience is actually just thirst, especially during the morning hours.
Drinking a large glass of water right after waking up, followed by a few glasses during the fast is not only healthy for the body, by cleansing it from toxins and making sure we’re hydrated, it’s also very appetite suppressant.
So, drink water!
Furthermore, another neat trick that I’ve tried is drinking sparkling water, and it works extremely well! The carbonic acid fills up the stomach a lot which helps supress appetite even further.
Trick #3 – Drink 1-2 Cups of Coffee During The Fast
This is the crème de la crème when it comes to blunting appetite.
However, caffeinated drinks also helps promote both mental and physical activity, which are important aspects of making the fasting feel easier (which we’ll look at in a moment). It also improves calorie burn and hence makes fat loss easier.
Just remember to not over-consume caffeine though, try sticking to two cups/drinks a day max. Caffeine is a stimulant substance, which means that it’s easy to become resistant to it. When that happens, the effects on satiety diminish, and the refreshing effects of caffeine reduces as well.
Trick #4 – Eat or Drink Sugar-Free Stuff
This is a trick that works very well for some people and not so well for others. Personally I have somewhat of a sweet tooth, and drinking things like diet sodas helps me a lot during the fast. Usually, I have 50 cl of diet coke during the fast and I’m satisfied for multiple hours to come.
However, I’ve seen this strategy totally backfire for some individuals. It seems that when some people get a taste of something sweet, they’re pretty much screwed and needs to eat. So, if you want to try this trick, do it with caution, and learn how you respond.
Trick #5 – Move Around/Stay Active
This is an odd one.
Isn’t it contradictory to believe that moving around actually blunts appetite?
Well, it does and here’s why:
First of all, by staying active during your fasted window, you get your mind off of eating by changing your state. This is true because you get a sense of purpose and certainty by moving. Like my mentor and role model, Tony Robbins, use to say; “Motion creates emotion.”
By moving you positively change your physical state, which means you’re also changing your mental state, which helps breaking negative patterns (like thinking about food). In fact, often we eat out of boredom and emotions, not because of true hunger.
Secondly and more importantly staying active will make you feel better.
One of the potential drawbacks of fasting, especially before you get used to it, is that you might experience brain fog, light headaches and dizziness.
The reason you might have some of these side effects when getting started with intermittent fasting is because of the elevated levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, noradrenaline and HGH that you’ll have during the fast as a response to not eating.
Luckily, staying physically active during the fast usually removes these side effects completely. This is because these fat burning hormones primes your body to move around, which explains the basics of our physiological nature, that we need to move in order to seek out and hunt food.
Trick #6 – Eat a Fruit
This is a strategy that I got from Greg over at kinobody.com
When you’re at the end of your fast and haven’t eaten anything in 15-20 hours, your liver glycogen stores are slowly getting smaller. What this does is sending a strong signal to the brain that food is scarce, and that’s when you start to experience hunger.
By having an apple for example, you will get small amounts of fructose in your blood, and this is highly beneficial at this hour.
You see, fructose is a sugar that can only be taken up by the liver. What this means is that you’ll fill up your liver glycogen stores with only 75-100 calories, which then signals your brain that these stores has been restored, which then blunt your appetite for another couple of hour.
This is great, because now you can “fast” for longer and have an even bigger feast come evening.
Furthermore, fruit includes fiber which are known to have positive effects on satiety as well.
Trick #7 – Get Enough Sleep
This one is big.
And I know, sleep is boring and just sort of takes care of itself, right?
But here’s the thing:
Sleep is the most important aspect for recovery, arguably more so than food. Research has shown that if you’re not sleeping well, you will see huge negative effects on your physique development.
Not only will you see far less than optimal results from your training and diet with poor sleep. You’ll also lose control over your impulses, which means that skipping food as you’re supposed to during your fasted window will be very hard to do both physically and mentally.
This has to do with a bunch of various hormones getting completely screwed up with poor sleep, which is outside the scope of this article. Just try your best to get good quality and quantity sleep and you’ll find that intermittent fasting will work in your favor.
Trick #8 – Be Flexible
Being flexible with your fasting times is just So. Incredibly. Powerful!
And you want to know the “secret” behind staying lean long-term? It’s actually pretty simple and very liberating.
Well, the secret is to stop depending so much on willpower!
In fact, humans are terrible at depending on willpower, especially when trying to get and stay lean. Once you learn to be flexible with your fasting schedule, you’ll remove having to depend on willpower.
So, how do you become flexible?
Well, it’s simple!
If one day you get very hungry 14 hours into the fast, then just listen to your body and eat.
If on another day you aren’t that hungry, let’s say 16 hours into the fast, then just push your fast to 18 hours.
The length of the fast has nothing to do with fat loss, more than the fact that a longer fast will push more calories later into the day, that’s it.
So, you don’t have to strictly stay with 16:8 or 18:6 or whatever protocol you’ve set up for yourself. If you learn to listen to your body and are flexible enough you’ll be successful at both building and keeping a ripped physique.
If you haven’t yet gotten started with intermittent fasting, then you need a schedule. As you’ve learned in this post, I’m all about being flexible with my diet and fasting as I think this will lead to the best results both mentally and physically.
If you want to set up a flexible fasting schedule for yourself, then check out this article!