If you are new to fasting, then congratulations, you are on the path to better health. In fact, I’m not too far ahead of you. After completing my first 72 hour fast I have some tips that I have learned along the way. Cravings will come, and hunger will go… How to get past the hunger, cravings, and psychological thoughts about food is the question.
Why Are You Fasting in The First Place?
Intermittent Fasting has grown in popularity in recent years. While fasting has been around for thousands of years, only recently has a new resurgence begun in the health and wellness community.
People fast for all sorts of purposes. Some need help in losing weight, others may have an inflammatory disease that they want to heal, while others do it just because it’s a way to maintain good health. There have even been studies (here) that suggest that fasting can slow down the aging process and help you to live longer. Significantly longer!
Why I Began Fasting?
First of all, I must say that I’m not overweight. I’m 46 years old and was only about 10 pounds heavier than the weight I graduated high school.. I was pretty proud of this fact. However, what was going on inside my body wasn’t quite the same success story.
On a routine checkup with my doctor, I found out that I was likely pre-diabetic. He scheduled a 2 Hour Glucose tolerance test to confirm the diagnosis, and yes indeed I am “Pre-Diabetic”… I must say, that I’m not so certain what that “Pre-Diabetic” means.. I’m almost diabetic?
Like I would “almost” be an alcoholic if I could no longer control my drinking? I would say that I am a diabetic, but my insulin resistance just hasn’t reached the point where I have to take insulin for the rest of my life…
- If you are diabetic, here is how you can overcome the early morning “Dawn Phenomenon” High Blood Sugar readings.
- Diabetes Alert – Starch Resistant Foods are a myth! You cannot turn a potato into a low glycemic food like some advocates claim. UPDATE : I Tested Resistant Potato Starch.. Mind Officially Blown!! I take back what I said! Here are the results of testing unmodified potato starch with blood sugar levels for 2 hours. However, I haven’t tried heating a potato, and then chilling it in the fridge overnight.. That will come next!
The doctor told me that I could “control” my blood sugars through exercise and eating healthy.. Ok, I’m on board with the exercise. You can burn your glucose stores with some good ole exercise. BUT, I want to do more than just control my blood sugar, I want my cells to work they way they used to!
After, hours and hours of research on how to REVERSE Diabetes, fasting was a topic that came up often. However, it was the types of websites that would say that Diabetes could be cured. The Government sites, hospital sites (Mayo Clinic for example) would say that it could only be controlled and basically you need to be on medication for the rest of your life.
While, I’m not a doctor I feel that I caught my diabetes early enough to where I could CURE my diabetic condition. I was at least going to give it a helluva try.. This is what led me to fasting.
Blood Sugar NORMAL at the 40 Hour Mark During 72 Hour Fast
(No Medication Needed)
(Image Taken by ME on 1-04-2019)
Hunger Pangs, and Cravings During Intermittent Fasting
I started out with intermittent fasting.. I began by fasting for 16 hours a day, with an 8 hour window to consume my calories. I started to get hungry at about the 14 hour mark, but it wasn’t bad at all.
My dinner would be at 8, I would go to bed by midnight and wake up at around 6AM. So, by the time I got out of bed I was already 10 hours into my fast. Considering, your hunger hormone Ghrelin is at it’s lowest point in the morning I wasn’t even hungry until around 10AM. So, my hunger and cravings didn’t really take hold until 10AM.. When your only 2 hours away, it’s not hard to manage your hunger when the finish line is so close.
18 and 20 Hour Fasts Were Harder
I admit when I advanced to 18 and 20 hour fasts, things began to get more challenging. How was I going to get past these hunger pangs and cravings for carbohydrate ridden foods like breads, pasta, pizza, etc… I was losing some weight, which is good for my pre-diabetes, but I wasn’t eliminating foods that were spiking my glucose.
When you have high blood sugars, you are going to be hungry.. Intermittent Fasting isn’t going to help a diabetic if they are still eating the same foods that got them into trouble in the first place.
Here are tips on how to get past the hunger cravings on 18 & 20 Hour fasts… and tips to tell if you are in ketosis. We will move on to the 72 Hour fasting tips next.
1. Go low carb… You don’t have to get all Keto-Fied on 18 and 20 hour fasts. Just kick the sugar, and carb laden foods to the curb. This means no more potatoes, corn, processed foods, etc… Eat proteins and low carb vegetables. You will find that your 18 and 20 hour fasts become much easier.. After awhile, they become a breeze.
2. Stay busy… When your fasting, your mind is going to drift towards food. You have spent a lifetime of eating, frequent snacking, and yes there will be a void. Your “comfort foods” were killing you, but there will still be a void. Hunger and cravings can get the best of you if your not careful. If you last eat at 8PM, your next meal won’t be 2PM or 4PM.. If your at work, then try to stay focused.. If your at home, do anything.. It can be constructive like doing all the laundry in the house or going on a 5 mile hike.
3. Keep your eye on the prize… You are fasting for your health.. For you it may be weight loss.. For me it is wanting to stabilize my blood sugar and cure my fatty liver (which is what causes diabetes in the first place).
4. Don’t be drinking alcohol and expect to fast the next day… It’s my belief that fatty liver is what caused my blood sugars to rise. I’m not overweight, but I did drink more than I should. If I would drink the day before, I would CRAVE carbohydrates and junk food in general.
How to Get Past Cravings on a 72 Hour Fast
1. Don’t go into a fast after eating high carb foods in the days prior to your fast. Your body will be craving carbs at about the 10 hour mark if you at a high carb dinner the night before. This even goes for a shorter intermittent fasting goal. Your literally torturing yourself with the hunger that will set in on day 1, day 2, and possibly even day 3 of your 72 hour fasting goal.
I recommend permanently changing your eating lifestyle to be 30 grams of carbs or less per day. However, if your not yet willing to commit to this lifestyle then at least go low carb for two days prior to a 72 hour fast. You will get cravings between your low carb meals, but you won’t be wanting to eat off your arm!
2. 72 hours is your goal, and what will get in your way are the hunger and cravings. You will lose sight on all of the benefits that a 72 hour fast provides. Some of the benefits include :
- Autophagy (I’ll dedicate a future post to this, but let me tell you, it can be life changing for those who want better health. So, Be Sure to Like “Healthy Body Hacks” on Facebook! to follow our blog!
- Your blood pressure lowers – If you are on blood pressure medication, you should monitor this closely. Also, as a reminder you should speak to your doctor to let them know about your plans of a 72 hour fast.
- Your blood sugars return to normal – Once again, if you are on blood sugar medication this can be an issue. Hypoglycemia can be an issue, that you should be concerned about. You can literally go into a diabetic coma if it drops too low.
- Reduces inflammation – Check out this study on how fasting can drastically lower body inflammation (which is the cause of about every disease imaginable).
How to Survive Fasting for 72 hours
1. Expect to be hungry and go through a few spells of hunger cravings on the first day.
Your body is used to being in a fed state. It is as much psychological as anything else. Just expect it, know that it will pass and it’s quite painless.
2. Have your “cheat plan” in place…
If you come to a point where you are opening the cupboard and are going to end your fast, remember that you have a cheat if absolutely necessary. I cheated… Well, sort of.. There are mixed reviews on this. I nearly caved but my research found that if I keep the cheat under 50 calories, the fast will continue along with most of the benefits.
For me, I made a cup of white tea (no calories and the same plant as green tea… It’s only harvested earlier). I added 1/2 TEASPOON of coconut oil. It was incredibly refreshing, and the fat does not spike your glucose whatsoever. 20 minutes later, I felt somewhat satiated.. I then felt confident that I could finish my fast!
3. Envision your health how it is right NOW, and where you want it to be in the near future.
You may have a huge goal to lose 100 lbs or more.. You can’t lose 100 lbs in day. Shorten your expectation window, like you shorten your feeding window on intermittent fasting. In just 3 short days you can have normalized your blood sugar levels, broken your addiction to carbohydrates, and lose 5 pounds (or more for some people).
You will have did something that 99% of the people in this country never try. You have won a battle against yourself. Your confidence will boom, and you will be inspired to do more.
4. Take Frequent Blood Sugar / Blood Pressure Readings to Follow Your Progress
If you suffer from high blood sugar (or blood pressure for that matter), take regular readings throughout the 72 hour fast. You will literally see progress being made.
5. On day two I just felt better!
Maybe I had entered into ketosis, where your body begins to burn fat rather than glucose for energy. Your body and brain function better on fat! You will feel it.. You will be able to FOCUS like you never have before. I felt this at around the 40 hour mark.. Some experience this earlier, and some later. It’s a nice feeling.
So, there are some of favorite tips on how to get past those hunger cravings while doing a 72 hour fast. Your life depends on it. Whatever discomfort you feel, is just a short lived / temporary discomfort. The benefits will continue long after your fasting has ended, if you change your eating habits.
I will be doing more posts on fasting, the Ketogenic Diet, and maybe may try the carnivore diet to up the game even higher. Stick around and find out if I can BEAT diabetes.
I am not a doctor, and this post is meant for informational purposes only. My opinions are based on my own personal experiences and not intended to treat any disease.
Please see your doctor for any health issues that you may have.
At some point in the future I’m going to do a glucose test and see if I can return my blood sugar back to normal within two hours of eating this carb heavy meal. I truly believe it’s possible, and have even read plenty of testimonials from people who have permanently cured their diabetes and lost a ton of weight at the same time.
One more thing, before I close out this post, I want to thank Dr. Jason Fung who has led me to intermittent fasting, and why a 72 hour fast can totally reset your body. Here is a video about diabetes, high blood sugars, fasting and how you can turn your health around and it’s not that hard!! In my opinion, Dr. Fung deserves a medal for all the lives that he has saved!