Starving on Intermittent Fasting

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

You were so looking forward to intermittent fasting.

You wanted the serious weight loss, the major energy boost, and to clear away your brain fog once and for all.

You dove in with high hopes and a lot of enthusiasm.

The problem is, you feel miserably hungry.

Like gnaw off your own arm starving.

What gives?

a handwritten sign that says Hungry!

If your stomach is growling, and you’re severely hunger while intermittent fasting, I’ll tell you what the likely cause is, and what you can do to reduce your hunger.

Because, let’s face it if you feel miserably hungry while fasting, you’re probably going to abandon it long before you reap the amazing results you want.

Let’s dive in and take a look at the most common reasons your hunger is out of control while fasting.

In this article: -

  1. 6 Reasons You Feel Like You’re Starving
  2. A Typical Timeline To Get Fat Adapted

6 Reasons You Feel Like You’re Starving (And What You Can Do To Curb Your Hunger)

#1 You’re going too fast.

If you dove into intermittent fasting and went to two meals per day right away, you’ll need to ease off. I recommend that people start by eliminating all snacks and sticking with three meals per day until you’re naturally able to go longer periods of time between meals without getting hungry.

The basic premise is that you want to move into fasting, and lengthen the time between meals, so gradually that your body easily adjusts. Then, you won’t experience hunger that’s so overwhelming you’re convinced you’re about to starve.

#2 You’re not consuming enough fat and protein

Healthy fat is the key to allowing you to go longer between meals without feeling hunger. Of the three macros of food - fat, protein, and carbohydrates - the fat will keep you fuller for longer.

As well, make sure you’re getting enough protein. You may be one of the people who can’t get by on 3 ounces of protein per meal. Try increasing to 6 or even 7 ounces and see if that helps curb your hunger.

Protein will also help stabilize your blood sugars, and it’s important for recovery. But too much of it can be problematic; we’re aiming for a moderate protein amount, not high protein.

#3 You’re eating too many carbohydrates

I can’t emphasize enough how essential it is for you to reduce your carb intake.

If your carbs are too high, you’ll never get into ketosis, which is when your body has switched from burning carbs for fuel to using fat for energy. In fact, the way you get into the fat-burning state of ketosis, and adapt to it, is by keeping your carbohydrate intake low.

How low? For most people, under 20 grams per day. If you work out a lot, you may be able to eat up to 50 grams per day.

But if you eat whatever you want while fasting, you’ll keep yourself in sugar-burning mode instead of transitioning to fat-burning.

Trying to intermittent fast when your body isn’t adapted to fat-burning will cause you a lot of suffering: extreme hunger; the inability to tap into your own fat reserves for fuel, constant blood sugar fluctuations with their accompanying irritability, dizziness, and mood swings. Blood sugar swings are torturous for your brain.

#4 You’re not eating enough vegetables

a basket of healthy vegetables

You need 7-10 cups of vegetables every day. Most people, even if they’re health-conscious, don’t consume anywhere near this amount.

One reason you need this amount is to ensure you’re getting enough potassium and magnesium. Without sufficient amounts of these two minerals, it’s difficult for your body to adapt to the fat-burning mode and stay consistently in ketosis.

Potassium and magnesium are also necessary to improve Fat Storing Hormone resistance, which is a state where your body is unable to properly use all the Fat Storing Hormone it produces, yet keeps producing more because it gets the mistaken signal that your cells need more. Fat Storing Hormone resistance is a pre-diabetic condition that signals your blood sugar and Fat Storing Hormone levels are putting you on the road for significant health risks.

On the days I don’t consume enough vegetables, I can actually tell my blood sugars aren’t quite right!

#5 You don’t drink enough apple cider vinegar

Or you may not be consuming any apple cider vinegar at all. Here’s why you need to:

  • Apple cider vinegar will support better digestion of protein
  • It will improve your Fat Storing Hormone and blood sugar levels, which will help you go longer between meals.

Consuming adequate amounts of apple cider vinegar is a simple way to extend the time between meals and help you to succeed with intermittent fasting.

a picture of a bottle of apple cider vinegar with apples next to it

#6 You’re snacking on the wrong items

If you’re so ravenous that you feel you have no choice but to snack between meals, eat healthy fats instead of carbs or protein. Fat not only keeps you fuller longer, but it triggers your Fat Storing Hormone the least of any other macro you eat.

Recently, my wife and I flew across the country. We didn’t have breakfast before our 4 ½ hour flight. We ate nothing until about 4 pm. You’d think we’d be starving! But we weren’t - because we’re comfortably and fully fat-adapted.

As a side note, if you travel a lot and wonder how on earth you’re going to eat healthy, fasting is awesome. You can travel, not eat for hours (because you’re fat-adapted), and feel completely fine, unlike everyone else who needs snacks, are tired and falling asleep. We’ve all been with them on the plane, right?

When you’re successfully adapted to fat-burning before you travel, you’ll free yourself from the tyranny of needing to eat frequent meals.

This all sounds great, but you may be wondering just how long fat-adaptation will take.

I’ll explain.


A Typical Timeline To Get Fat Adapted

Interestingly, it doesn’t take all that long to get at least half of your body into fat adaptation. If you’re meticulous about what you consume, in about 3 days you’ll be halfway to fat-burning mode.

You won’t be completely there yet, but you’re on your way.

Give it another day to get you to about 75% fat-adapted. Each day brings you closer. For most people, it takes only about a week to get fully into fat burning mode.

Now, full disclosure: it may take you a little less time, or it may take you longer if your Fat Storing Hormone resistance is significant and your blood sugars tend to be all over the place. Be patient, and give your body time to heal.

But my point is: give it time. Use the list I gave you here if you’re so hungry you’re about to give up. I encourage you to stick with it, because the serious hunger can be corrected, making it much easier for you to stay with it.

You don’t have to suffer. There’s simply no need for you to go through feeling like you’re seriously starving.

I encourage you to get past the feeling of starvation. It’s temporary and easily corrected. Once you do, you’ll unlock the power of intermittent fasting for yourself.

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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