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What To Do When You Are Hungry During Intermittent Fasting? 9 Simple Ways 2023

what to do when you are hungry during intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting doesn’t have to leave you hungry. Photo: Shift Drive/Shutterstock

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Intermittent fasting or IF is the practice of regularly alternating between periods of eating and periods of fasting. Intermittent fasting is often practiced to lose weight.

There are many popular ways to do intermittent fasting. Some of the most common ones include time-restricted eating, switching between feeding periods and fasting periods every day, and alternate-day fasting, fasting for a full day every other day. No matter which method you choose, fasting requires extended periods of time without eating, which can make anyone feel hungry.

This article will cover simple tips to curb your hunger while practicing intermittent fasting. For those looking for more support while IF, check out the DoFasting reviews for one of the best intermittent fasting apps.

9 Tips To Curb Hunger During Intermittent Fasting

If you feel hungry during fasting hours, you’re not alone. Consider the following nine tips, which we will discuss further in this article:

  • Drink water.
  • Keep your blood sugar steady.
  • Fast overnight.
  • Focus on protein, fat, and fiber.
  • Keep busy.
  • Chew your food.
  • Chew gum.
  • Differentiate between emotional eating and real hunger.
  • Focus on low-calories foods.

9 Tips To Curb Hunger During Intermittent Fasting

what to do when you are hungry during intermittent fasting
You don’t have to let hunger ruin intermittent fasting. Photo: Maridav/Shutterstock

Drink Water

Curbing hunger can be as simple as hydrating more.[1] As it is, dehydration can feel like hunger, so we should be reaching for a glass of water before we assume we need a snack. But even if the hunger pangs are coming from an absence of solid food, filling the stomach with liquid can temporarily ward off feelings of hunger.

Keep Blood Sugar Steady

One of the fastest ways to bring on hunger is to spike blood sugar. When we spike blood sugar by eating carbs and sugar, we set ourselves up for low blood sugar soon after.

Our blood sugar can also drop if we’re not eating enough. During eating windows, eat well-balanced meals, evenly spaced throughout the feeding period, especially if you’re prone to undereating.

Remember to choose healthy foods to break a fast. For an idea of good foods to eat, check out the intermittent fasting food list.

Fast Overnight

We don’t feel hungry while we sleep, not only because we’re sleeping, but because our liver gives us a steady supply of energy while we sleep. The liver stores glucose as glycogen,[2] our energy reserves, and releases it throughout the night when our blood sugar is low. 

If you want to fast but don’t want the hunger pangs, shift your fasting times to align with your sleeping schedule. A 16:8 version of IF is good for this. Your feeding window could be between 11am and 7pm (when you have your last meal for the day), and your fasting period could be from 7pm until 11am the following morning (when you can eat breakfast again). 

Focus On Protein, Fat, And Fiber

Hunger pangs are hard to avoid if we don’t get enough calories, especially while fasting, but even during our eating windows, too.

During eating periods, make sure your body gets everything it needs: protein, fat, and fiber. Include these nutrients in every meal during feeding windows. Don’t only eat carbohydrates. Nevertheless, don’t forget to treat yourself to delicious food when you can (eating should be a joy).

Keep Busy

It’s easy to be distracted by hunger pangs and food cravings. The antidote is to keep our bodies and minds occupied. This is a great opportunity to engage in a hobby or to exercise. 

However, make sure you exercise with caution, since intense workouts while doing IF may not be suitable for everyone. Read up on best practices for intermittent fasting and working out.

Getting adequate sleep is another healthy way to keep busy. In fact, insufficient sleep can cause elevated levels of ghrelin,[3] the hormone which makes us feel hungry.

Chew Your Food

An overlooked reason for hunger is poorly digested meals. Increased chewing has been shown to help control appetite and increase weight loss.[4] Aim for 20-30 chews before swallowing, or wait until the food is the consistency of cream.

When food is chewed better, we feel satiated for longer. Additionally, pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues and be sure to stop eating before you get too full (overeating will not help you feel less hungry later).

Chew Gum

Chewing gum is one way to curb hunger when it sets in. The act of chewing something can be distracting and brings up saliva which can temporarily ward off hunger. Be sure to choose a low-calorie or sugar-free gum. 

Differentiate Emotional Eating From Real Hunger

Emotional hunger can feel similar to physical hunger, making us reach for snacks when what we really need can not be satiated with food. 

Emotional hunger is driven by feelings or emotions. Emotional hunger tends to come on suddenly and is not satiated by food (we just want more and more food). Conversely, physical hunger tends to come on more gradually and is satiated when we nourish ourselves with whole, healthy foods.

Focus On Low-Calorie Foods

Although you shouldn’t eat any calories if you are fasting for less than 24 hours, you can eat very low-calorie foods if you are fasting for longer periods of time. For example, the 5:2 IF method suggests eating normally for five consecutive days, followed by fasting for two consecutive days. 

It would be extremely difficult (if not impossible) for many people to fast completely for two days straight, so during this time, you’re encouraged to have roughly 500 calories. 

Why You Get Hungry While Fasting

what to do when you are hungry during intermittent fasting
It is common to feel hungry while fasting. Photo: Chinnapong/Shutterstock

It’s understandable that one would feel hungry while practicing IF, or any time when food intake is restricted. Sometimes, no matter how much we eat during feeding windows, it may not be enough to sustain us during long fasts, and that’s when the hunger pangs can set in. But don’t worry, there are several ways to manage that hunger.  

Food Hacks To Help You Reduce Hunger While Fasting

Some people have trouble sticking to IF due to frequent hunger, but there are ways to curb it. You can enjoy very-low-calorie beverages to sustain you during fasting windows.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has barely any calories. Consuming a little during fasting hours will not ruin the fast or interfere with weight loss. If anything, ACV can help stabilize blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity,[5] especially when taken about 30 minutes before a meal.

Black Coffee

Black coffee, or coffee which does not contain any milk or sugar, is acceptable to drink while fasting. It will not interfere with the IF process. If you are a coffee drinker, feel free to drink black coffee during fasting times.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is broth made from boiled down animal bones. It has many essential nutrients, minerals, protein and fat, however, it has very few carbohydrates. It is okay to have a little bone broth during fasting, however, there are conflicting opinions about whether or not bone broth technically breaks a fast.


MCT oil is a popular supplement used on the ketogenic diet because it is high in fat and can help increase satiety, which can ward off hunger. MCT oil does contain quite a bit of calories, but ingesting a small amount (1-2 tbsp at most) is okay to do while IF. Add a little MCT oil to your black coffee if you need to curb hunger during fasting.


Intermittent fasting requires extended, recurring periods of time without eating solid food. IF is a practice many people use to lose weight, balance hormones, and feel more energized. However, this practice can often leave people feeling hungry, especially during fasting times.

In order to curb cravings and experience less hunger, you must address your hunger, but do it in a way that does not compromise the effects of fasting. Some of these methods include staying hydrated, chewing food, balancing your blood sugar, and fasting overnight, all of which can also minimize weight gain.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will eating during a fasting window ruin IF?

Eating solid foods high in calories will break a fast. Ideally you should only eat during your eating window. While fasting, it’s best to stick with water, coffee, ACV, and small amounts of MCT oil if you need something to tide you over.

Is fat loss still possible if I drink ACV during fasts?

Yes, not only will ACV not interfere with fasting, it may actually help with fat loss by balancing blood sugar. Drinking ACV as part of a low-carb diet, and combined with exercise, can be beneficial for weight loss, if used in moderation.

Can I drink bone broth while fasting?

Technically drinking bone broth will break a fast, however, bone broth contains protein and healthy fat but relatively few carbohydrates, so you might consider relying on it in small amounts to ward off hunger.

Can I drink alcohol during fasting times?

No, alcoholic drinks often have a lot of sugar and calories and should not be consumed while fasting, especially because too much alcohol on an empty stomach can make you sick. Alcohol should be limited during an eating window as well, but it’s not as imperative as during a fast. 

+ 5 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Anon, (2023). Products – Data Briefs – Number 313 – July 2018. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db313.htm.
  2. López-Soldado, I., Bertini, A., Adrover, A., Duran, J. and Guinovart, J.J. (2020). Maintenance of liver glycogen during long‐term fasting preserves energy state in mice. FEBS Letters, [online] 594(11), pp.1698–1710. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/1873-3468.13770.
  3. Cooper, C.B., Neufeld, E.V., Dolezal, B.A. and Martin, J.L. (2018). Sleep deprivation and obesity in adults: A brief narrative review. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, [online] 4(1), p.e000392. doi:https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000392.
  4. Hamada, Y. and Hayashi, N. (2021). Chewing increases postprandial diet-induced thermogenesis. Scientific Reports, [online] 11(1). doi:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-03109-x.
  5. Driss Ousaaid, Laaroussi, H., Meryem Bakour, Asmae El Ghouizi, Abderrazak Aboulghazi, Badiaa Lyoussi and Ilham El Arabi (2020). Beneficial Effects of Apple Vinegar on Hyperglycemia and Hyperlipidemia in Hypercaloric-Fed Rats. Journal of diabetes research, [online] 2020, pp.1–7. doi:https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/9284987.


A Health Coach specializing in Integrative Nutrition, I approach wellness with a holistic and functional medicine perspective. As a writer, I simplify intricate topics such as nutrition, gut and hormone health, mental well-being, and spiritual health,… See More

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