You Will Be Hungry

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Hungry Hungry Hippo

For those beginning their journey in intermittent fasting, or for those who have done it for a while — you will be hungry.

There’s no getting around that. Of course, the hunger will diminish with time, and you will tolerate it better, and most of you will even master it — in fact hunger will often go away within minutes.

But, you’ll always get hungry. It’s part of life for millions of years. And it should always be part of life today. (Of course, the food industry seeks to eliminate this, primarily for the purpose of profit. And, with the current obesity rate as an indication, our culture has submitted.)

I’m here to remind you: do not forget why you’ve invited the sensation of hunger to be a regular part of your life.

Hunger tells you that you’re doing something good, for your health and for your body composition.

Remember also that hunger is not the same as starvation. One is a transient sensation based on complex factors like hormones, psychology, and blood sugar dynamics. The other is based on extremely low (or no) food intake for extended periods of weeks or months.

In western society, it’s not likely that any of us is willing to reach starvation. In fact, it’s almost highly challenging to do so. Food is everywhere you look, and the trigger to eat surrounds us daily.

Hunger. Let it be part of your life. Give your body a chance to adapt to it, to benefit from it, and to even experience it.

Intermittent fasting — it’s not always comfortable. But neither is overweight and obesity.

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32 Responses to You Will Be Hungry

  1. Brandon says:

    For myself, the hunger sensation was lightest the first few days, then all of a sudden it got a bit harder to maintain a fast. Reason being, I discovered, was most likely because I was not eating healthy whole foods with lots of nutritious fats. I was using my 19 hour fast as an excuse to go out and eat crappy dinners. If I eat 5 eggs, whole wheat “carb balance” tortillas, picante sauce, and american cheese, I’m full all day.

    I am really going to try to focusing on following the Warrior Diet approach (without the “under eating” phase), for example, breaking the fast with lots of vegetables and a piece of fruit, then eating my protein and fats, followed by low glycemic carbs if I am still hungry.

  2. Sigi says:

    Very true, Johnny.

    The first few days that I implemented my IF practice (I do about 17/7 – eating window 1.30 to 8.30 pm), I did experience regular hunger pangs during the mornings, and I wasn’t sure if I could continue doing this on a longer term basis. But after only a couple of weeks my body seems to have adapted, and it’s become much easier. Today I don’t recall having any hunger sensations at all until I was ready to eat at 1.30 pm. And if I do get the occasional little rumble, I have a drink of water and get on with what I’m doing, and I simply forget about it within minutes.

    More importantly, I’m not averse to (or afraid of) being a bit hungry any more. Instead of feeling like an ’emergency’ that has to be dealt with, I can appreciate it as a sign I’m doing something positive for my body and health.

  3. Russ says:

    I’m on day 10 of a 16/8 schedule, and besides a bit of a grumble around 10am, I never feel hungry. I go ahead and eat at noon regardless of hunger because I don’t want too lose weight TOO fast. Even after only 10 days, my abs are much sharper and I’ve dropped about 3 lbs. I think 3-4 more lbs and I should be at my goal of 8%.

  4. Sondra Rose says:

    I did my first “longer” fast yesterday (21 hours) and noticed how much I could relax into it, knowing that there was enough fat on my body to sustain me and plenty of food available when I was ready to break the fast.

    Next week, I will do a 24 hour fast. It feels really freeing to trust my body and release myself from all the stories of how much to eat and when.

    Being with my hunger is not so different from being with any of my emotions–another opportunity to be present.

    And food tastes even better when I am ready to eat!

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  6. Jordan D. says:

    Yep. Hunger’s good. It lets me know that I’m on the right track. It’s only when I don’t get hungry that I worry! lol. JK, sorta.

  7. I’m looking to start Intermittent Fasting in the next few weeks so this is really useful to me. I suffered with binge eating in the past so would eat every couple of hours so that I never got hungry as hunger was a trigger for me. It developed into a fear of ever getting hungry which I had to fight really hard to overcome.

    Now I don’t mind if I get hungry between meals – I know that there is always food available and that I’m not going to starve. I’ll be easing into IF by eating a late breakfast and making that first meal later and later.

    Thanks for an awesome blog!

  8. David says:

    What’s amazing is that your food tastes better if you wait to eat it for when you’re really hungry. I noticed that I started eating way better than ever before. I started intermittent fasting this year, during January.

    I feel like keeping the habit of intermittent fasting forever because I’ve only seen improvements in my body, my inner state and also in my performance during the day, both physical and mental.

    Intermittent fasting is a great way to know yourself, your body and the way you respond to outer stimuli. I have lost lots of weight (around 7 kilograms) in 2 weeks and since then I have always maintained my perfect weight without any particular effort. I probably eat more now than when I used to have a “traditional” way of eating. IF taught me to tell hunger’s emotional triggers from the real hunger.

    That’s the real value it has. You really have your life in your hands 🙂

    David

  9. adavaskys says:

    Ever since starting to IF, I have come to appreciate the beauty of hunger when it is appropriate, and the ability to observe it when it is a result of a bad meal the night I had before. Hunger is amazing! I enjoy meals more fully, understand my limits better, transcend fear of food, and so much more. I love it. I used to have to eat every few minutes or at least every two hours and that’s how I thought “I just was.” Not so.

    Back in balance, back in action.

    Thanks for the blog, Johnny.

  10. Fritz says:

    Serious fat loss without the feeling of hunger is an utopia. Period.

    The “6+ meals a day” is advertised as fixing this, as eating frequently should keep the hunger in check. As we all know from our poor non-IF days, it is actually making it worse. Hunger stays strong after the small meals, and even worsens because of some insulin spikes. Nightmare…

    I’ll say using Johnny’s words: Calorie restriction — it’s not always comfortable. But IF is the easier way to go.

    We all know to drink (lemon) water when a hunger strike comes, so I’ll share another good trick: I tend to drink my share of fish-oil in the time I used to have lunch. I don’t count it as breaking the fast, as the amount of calories is practically nothing, still it somehow eases my stomach and I feel less hungry ’till my dinner :>

  11. Alexander Briceño says:

    STAY HUNGRY for me is STAY ALIVE, i am from Venezuela and i have been fasting for a year this is a excelent way of life very often not acepted. KEEP POSTING GREAT THINGS

  12. dboxing says:

    Question for Johnny. I’ve IF’d 16/8 for the past two months. Works great, but I’m not going anywhere body fat wise. Don’t misunderstand, I think that by using the IF method I’m presently doing I’ll never worry about getting fat. But, I’ve got a four pack and am looking to go to a six pack. I see basically 3 IF options. Continue with 16/8 but eat less and eat cleaner (although I eat pretty clean, basically Primal). Go to something like 20/4. Or try IF every other day (maybe one meal every 24 hours) and 16/8 on the other days. Would like your thoughts on the best way to use IF to get below 10% body fat. Additionally, it seems to me that the other health benefits of fasting, i.e., disease prevention, age reversal, etc. are amplified with the 20+ hours fasts.

    • Johnny says:

      Hi dboxing,

      The longer you can go between eating (up to a reasonable point), the greater the positive effect. You just have to find what is realistic and sustainable for you.

      Sometimes gaining more muscle weight is what a person needs to alter the percent body fat. But, losing more body fat can take you from a 4 packs to a 6 packs. It just depends on your perspective of the effort — to some, the effort to eat less to gain a 6 pack can be extreme, while to others the effort is worthwhile and may even lead to modified mental belief and behavioral changes that make the effort doable and even healthy.

      Another thing that I’ve found to be useful to get that last bit of abs is to do something that makes you sweat. Although it’s been a decade or so, I remember seeing a Japanese study that shows aerobic exercise stimulates fat mobilization subcutaneously… or fat right underneath the skin. Worth a try. Just make sure you balance your total exercise with enough rest and relaxation and make it sustainable over a lifetime.

      Best,
      Johnny

      • dboxing says:

        Very much appreciated. I’m going to up the exercise, and try to go to 20/4. I’ve read many of your posts, here and elsewhere, and have inferred that your theory is that there is no danger of losing muscle even when lowering calories as long as a person is engaging in resistance exercise. Obviously there are a lot of different ideas about what constitutes such exercise, so I’d be interested in your general thoughts. One of my issues is that I’ve screwed my joints up with competitive sports (football, track, and boxing) and pushing the heavy weights just is not very sustainable any more. Can volume work instead? Thanks again.

  13. lolo says:

    “Serious fat loss without the feeling of hunger is an utopia. Period.”

    Hi, my name is mister utopia, how are you?. I m fine, as in super lean. how? fasting 23 hrs every day. Then eating super big. today? huge and fatty rib eye steak fried in butter + one big ass 6 yolks @ 1 white omelet with 5 types of cheese and ham, fried in more butter. I was done half way trw, still i finished all. no desert. lots of chocolate yesterday… so anyway, I never feel hunger. EVER. If i did? i would eat / break my fast in a second! why? hunger SUCKS! If you feel hungry then you just need to fix your diet. that’s all i know.

    • dboxing says:

      lolo,

      Hunger is not an issue for me either. Although I felt “hungry” when I first started doing 16/8, I knew it was just habitual hunger, and actually enjoyed denying my need for instant gratification. My issue is find the best IF schedule to get to single digit bodyfat, without losing muscle. 16/8 doesn’t seem to do that. I would be interested if the 1 meal per day did this for you, or if that is just for maintaining.

      • lolo says:

        @dboxing, my bodyfat? i never bothered to check… takes a look under the shirt,
        teh 6 pack abs is there … tries to grab some fat, and fails. yhep “single digit” here.

        if 16/8 is “not working” for you, then try to up your movement @ lower your calories @ both, or give 1 mpd a try, altrU i dont really think about days anymore, is one meal “when im hungry” usually it takes a day, a day and a half, sometimes less, sometimes more. (lots of factors, amount of NEAT, chocolate i ate XD, sleep, activity levels etc)

        ( edit looking at Johnny’s pics, i must be like… pulls number out of arse… like 7 % ?)

  14. Russ says:

    dboxing, not sure how Johnny can help if you don’t post what you eat and your stats. I’m in the same boat at around 11% BF, doing 16/8 for 15 days now. Weight is dropping, but I’m trying to find the “sweet spot” where I’m not losing too quickly. Want to keep it at 1-2 lbs per week.

    I’m counting calories also because I don’t find it to be inconvenient.

  15. IF'er says:

    I love the simplicity of your blog! I don’t understand why people are always so afraid of hunger. Now that I understand it better, I have learned to embrace it and almost enjoy the feeling of hunger.

    Keep it up with the awesome posts!

  16. Stizzorm says:

    I played around with DIF ages ago (Warrior Diet, but not taking calories during undereating phase). I found I had great energy, and staying active was my job at the time, as I worked in the warehouse of a feed store. Staying busy and/or active, and not taking in calories outside your eating window worked very well for me, and controled limbic hunger. I quit DIF, though, when I noticed there were a few days I wasn’t hungry. Instead of just waiting until I was actually hungry, I panicked and thought something was going terribly wrong. Instead of trusting that I had enough fat stores to sustain me for a few more hours, I trusted nutritionism and the “conventional wisdom” that fasting must have been ruining my metabolism. I am now working on rebuilding the DIF habit, and am enjoying the freedom.

  17. lolo says:

    mmm, u know what? im doing this… my next meal im cutting my cals… 50%, and see if there’s any hunger, then im going to keep on fasting at least 23 hrs anyway, is going to be a nice experiment! i think i need to feel a bit of this ” hunger” in order to be stronger, maybe im going to end up eating like a sob later, who knows , anyway is going to be interesting!

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  19. Thegirl says:

    Absolutely love this site, have lost 60 pounds this past year following IF and my life is completely different. 6 meal a day insanity no longer runs my life and I am free to enjoy a sharper mind and a tight body. Life is great, love the blog!!!!!!!

    • Johnny says:

      Thanks, Thegirl.
      Glad to hear you’ve been getting great results with IF.
      Used smartly, you’re also healthier!

      Best,
      Johnny

  20. lolo says:

    for the beginners. when possible, try to up your ( healthy) fats to at least 60% of your calories. Initially you don’t have to, why? You are using your own arse fat! Great. But once you ” run out” then you just HAVE to up your fats in order to remain sane. Yes you could always eat a shitload of protein and carbs, with little to no fat. If you wrk out that might work, but then make sure that you also up your “will power” cass yr going to need it! if you want to ” turn of the valve” ( and you are felling painfully hungry). The problem? will power > Limited resource, My advice? Help your fasts. Make it easy. Lower your insulin levels, i think that the ratio of macronutrients is important here: try to up your fats, try to lower your carbs, try to eat less protein ( at least on rest days) no need to suffer. Im not saying ” be a fkn monk” want to indulge? do it on training days! what to eat a shitload of insulin spiking protein? do it on training days! etc. etc

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  25. Caleb says:

    BY cutting out foods, you are cutting out the nutrients that come with them!!! Your body needs those nutrients to function well.

    • Johnny says:

      How do you determine if there’s a nutrient deficiency?
      Malnutrition is also OVER-nutrition.
      In North America, undernutrition is rare and isolated to clinical eating disorder.
      Intermittent fasting is not rooted in eating disorder, nor is it “cutting out foods.”

      Best,
      Johnny

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