Most people get this one wrong – coffee and caffeine. Coffee is probably the very first thing that’ll be recommended for you to reduce your hunger while fasting.
And there is some evidence to support this. One meta-analysis examined the effects of coffee and caffeine on appetite control.
It found that coffee could help reduce appetite anywhere from half an hour to four hours after consumption.
It also found that somewhere between 3 and 4.5 hours after drinking coffee the appetite suppressant effect wore off. Therefore, coffee may help you reduce hunger for somewhere between 3 to 4+ hours.
Most people immediately assume that this is caused by the caffeine found in coffee. Some people even buy caffeine pills, then deal with the jitters and other side effects to reduce appetite.
However, another study proves that this might be totally unnecessary. That’s because caffeine may not be the factor responsible for the appetite-reducing effects.
This study had participants drinking different kinds of coffee and coffee-like beverages to then test any differences. These were: a regular caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee, a placebo drink (water), or water with caffeine in it.
Surprisingly, the decaffeinated coffee reduced hunger the most, followed by regular coffee. Meanwhile, the water with the caffeine didn’t really reduce hunger at all.
This study shows that there may be something in the coffee itself that reduces hunger. And it doesn’t seem to be the caffeine.
Further research on this is required. But it’s interesting to note that, in this study, the decaffeinated coffee also significantly raised the peptide YY hormone.
This hormone is released in your intestine, and it lowers appetite and hunger.
The point is – drinking either decaffeinated coffee or regular coffee in moderation may reduce your desire to eat.
Just keep in mind that too much coffee will elevate your cortisol levels and cause side effects.
Also, beware that most weight loss aids make claims about appetite-suppressing effects without research to back up these claims.
This could range from magic weight loss pills to detox cleanses that don’t even work to apple cider vinegar. I actually like apple cider vinegar but as far as suppressing appetite, the research is very limited.
CLA is a very popular fat loss supplement that has been shown in one study to decrease appetite. But this didn’t affect the food amounts the participants ate. So further research on CLA is definitely required.
#2 Eat the right foods during your feeding window
The second real way to reduce hunger while fasting is by eating the right things during your feeding window.
Out of all the fasting protocols, the 16/8 method is the most common approach to fasting.
With this structure, people usually choose to skip breakfast and have their first meal around 12 or 1 o’clock.
This means that they have to stop eating 8 hours later, around 8 or 9 o’clock.
This happens to be the time of day that many people struggle with their food cravings and appetite the most.
Sure, you might have just a couple of hours until bedtime. But in those 3-4 hours you can binge and eat more calories than you ate for the whole day.
It’s going to be way harder to fast if you ate a bunch of empty calories before you started your fast.
So, what should you eat before you begin fasting? And is there anything that you can consume while fasting that won’t impair fat loss?
Well, one large review of over 50 studies showed that high-protein diets can greatly reduce appetite and increase fullness.
In this review, researchers found that if a meal consists of at least 1/3 (about 30%) of protein, it’ll have this strong appetite-reducing effect.
Another study showed that having just 0.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily can achieve the same appetite-reducing effect.
So make sure that you’re eating enough protein throughout the day. It’s also a good idea to have a substantial amount of protein during your last meal before beginning your fast.
The last meal should have 30-40% of calories coming from a protein source.
Fiber is also believed by most people to lower appetite, and it can. But a meta-analysis on the effect of fiber on hunger showed that many sources of fiber do not reduce hunger.
Another systematic review on fiber confirmed this. It also found that more viscous sources of fiber reduce appetite much more than non-viscous sources.
Examples of viscous fiber sources include beans, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and oats. But one of my favorites for the purposes of fasting is psyllium husk.
There are studies specifically on psyllium husk that show a significant reduction in appetite even when taken in small doses.
One of these studies showed that all you need is just 1 teaspoon to reduce appetite. And 1.5 teaspoons provide even more consistent results.
One teaspoon of psyllium powder only has about 11 to 12 calories making it a super low-calorie way to reduce your appetite.
Taking 1 to 2 teaspoons of psyllium husk before beginning your fast can help you reduce hunger. Just make sure you drink a lot of water with it.
Also, having one teaspoon of psyllium husk during fasting to hold you over isn’t going to negatively impact fat loss. Similarly, your insulin levels won’t be really affected.
Yes, it will knock you out of your fast. But it can help you manage your hunger better while fasting.
It may also help you progress to a longer fast until you’re ready to transition to no-calorie fasting.
#3 Change your eating schedule and identify your best fasting-to-feeding ratio
Taking baby steps like this can help you stick to your fasting plan. This brings me to the most important tip of all, which is to change your habitual eating schedule.
Concurrently, you’ll need to select the right fasting-to-feeding ratio that works for you.
Now, this might sound simple, but it’s not, because there are so many different fasting protocols to choose from.
To name a few: the 16/8 method, the warrior diet, the one-meal-a-day diet, and the alternate-day fast.
Each of these fasting protocols will require different lengths of fasting ranging from 16-20, or even 24 hours.
There’s also extended fasting where you would fast for multiple days at a time.
Think of it as if it were the first time in your life that you went to the gym. You’d know that it would be a bad idea to start with 100-pound dumbbells.
Likewise, it’s a bad idea to start with the most difficult fasting protocol right out the gate.
This is because your regular eating habits have a huge influence on your appetite and hunger.
You see, there’s a hormone in your body known as Ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone.
When ghrelin is released, it stimulates your appetite. Studies show that ghrelin levels will spike at the times that you normally eat. For most people, this corresponds to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
This happens like clockwork. Without telling the time, your body knows, and will let you know “hey buddy, it’s time to eat, I’m hungry”.
Research shows that about 2 hours after the initial ghrelin spike, it goes back down to normal levels.
Basically, if you normally get hungry around breakfast time, and you simply wait 1-2 hours, your hunger should subside.
Conditioned hunger responses
It might surprise you that a lot of the hunger you feel daily is conditioned by your habits. But this was proven by the Nobel Prize Ivan Pavlov.
He trained dogs to feel hungry every time they heard a specific sound, even when no food was in sight.
In this experiment, he accidentally discovered that hunger is not only caused by the taste, smell, and sight of food. It can also be trained as a conditioned response.
The same applies to people. Say you’re used to eating your daily meals at specific times. If so, you’ve conditioned yourself to get hungry, every day, at those times.
You can actually pair all sorts of activities with conditioned hunger responses. For example, if you always eat a snack while watching tv, you’ll get hungry when you turn on the tv.
If you always eat when you feel bored, you’ll want to eat every time that you start getting bored.
The good news is that these habitual hunger responses are not set in stone. By practicing fasting you can break these automatic responses.
However, right now you probably have multiple conditioned hunger responses. If you tried to break them all at once, you will most likely fail.
Easy does it for success!
This is why you shouldn’t jump straight into a 24-hour fast. Instead, start breaking these habits one at a time.
A common starting point is the 16/8 split. Here you would fast for 16 hours and leave yourself an 8-hour feeding window every day.
But even 16 hours of fasting may feel difficult for some of you. If so, you can first start with a simpler 10-hour fast.
Simply, eat breakfast 1-2 hours later than you normally would. Then move on to a 12-hour fasting, then 14, and so on.
I guarantee you as – time goes on, your body will adjust to fasting.
In fact, this can be clearly seen in another study where participants fasted for 3 days straight. Rather than hunger increasing, overall ghrelin levels actually dropped over time.
So the bottom line is – start with a short fasting length. Then, whenever you increase your fasting range and become hungry before the end of it, wait an hour or two.
That hunger will probably go away on its own and your body will adapt with time.
That’s it, guys. I really hope this article has helped you out.
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To find out more you can click the link below.
Intermittent Fasting for Overweight and Obesity: A Meta-Analysis.
Coffee May Reduce Appetite For 1/2 hr to 4 hours after consumption.
Decaffeinated Coffee Acutely Decreases Hunger & Increase Satiety.
CLA May Reduce Appetite.
Systematic Review of Protein and its effect on satiety.
0.5g of Protein Per Lb Is Enough To Reduce Appetite.
Systematic Review of Fiber’s Effect on Satiety (Most Fiber Does Not Reduce Appetite).
Phsllium Husk And Satiety..
Not All Fiber Reduces Appetite: More Viscous Fiber Does.
Ghrelin (Hunger Hormone) Released During Normal Feeding Times (i.e. breakfast, lunch, dinner).
Pavlovian Psychology | Classical Conditioning | Pavlov’s Dogs.
Ghrelin Levels Steadily Drop After 84 Hours of Fasting.