Most people feel too intimidated to fast because they fear hunger pangs. What happens when we fast, though, is our bodies adjust to the drop in glucose levels, no longer making us crave food all the time. So when we don’t feel hunger pangs, do we break the fast or keep going?
You should not break a fast if you’re not hungry. Take advantage of it and resist eating any food until your fasting window. On the other hand, if it’s time for a fasting window when you should be consuming a specific number of calories, you should eat nutritious food despite not feeling hungry.
This might feel too complicated, especially when you’ve just started fasting and your body is still adjusting. In this article, we will discuss when you should break a fast and how to do it properly.
When Should You Break a Fast?
Generally, you should try your best to stick to your fast despite raging hunger pangs. If you’re new to intermittent fasting (especially if you have not prepared adequately for it beforehand), you will feel very hungry during your fast – and that’s perfectly normal!
On the flip side, however, there are valid reasons for breaking a fast. You know your body best, and listening to it is vital in determining whether you should wait until the hunger pangs have subsided or eat something.
If the situation falls under the latter and you know you have a genuine reason for it, don’t feel guilty about not sticking to your fast. Your health is your utmost priority. And you should never sacrifice it to complete a diet plan.
Let’s explore the circumstances under which breaking your fast is recommended:
If You’re Feeling Sick
During intermittent fasting, if you feel sick, for example, if you’re vomiting, feeling nauseous or dizzy all the time, or are too weak to go on with your day as usual – you should take a break from your fast and eat something light, such as bone broth or soup.
Such symptoms could indicate that the fast has negatively affected your blood sugar levels. Those who are diabetic or have thyroid problems are especially prone to such adverse side effects and should not go on an intermittent fast or any similar diet plan, as it’s not only highly uncomfortable, but risky for your health.
Therefore, to ensure you don’t experience negative side effects, consult with your doctor and have yourself checked before intermittent fasting. Furthermore, not all diabetics are aware of their condition, so you may be diabetic without knowing it because the symptoms might not be as pronounced as they are in others.
Also, don’t wait until the side effects are very serious before doing something about it. It’s normal for fasting to bring side effects such as lightheadedness, nausea, dizziness, or weakness, especially at the start. However, none of it should be persistent or severe.
As you can see, it’s essential to listen to your body and to be able to identify when something is wrong compared to the normal (and temporary) side effects of a shift in your food intake.
If the Hunger Pangs Don’t Go Away
Real hunger pangs take about 20 minutes to go away. However, if the hunger doesn’t subside after a long time and even after drinking tea or coffee (without any sugar or milk), that could signal that your body needs more time to adjust to the new routine.
This is common when you’re new to intermittent fasting, and you shouldn’t feel bad about deciding to break your fast if you experience this. We all adjust differently, so allow your body the time and patience it needs.
However, be careful not to make it a habit, though. Break your fast only if you absolutely can’t deal with the hunger pangs – or it will be hard for you to stick to the fast later on.
If Your Mood Is Being Too Affected
It’s normal to feel a little cranky when you’re fasting. But when you have a lot on your plate, and you feel intensely irritable, or your moods are all over the place when you need to stay focused and perform, you can consider breaking your fast.
Don’t worry, you can always start again when you’re better prepared mentally and physically. Work with your body, and be patient as you try to get used to this new lifestyle.
How To Break a Fast
When it’s time to break a fast, it’s tempting to treat it like summer break – a time to binge and eat whatever you please. But this is not the way to do it at all. Breaking your fast correctly is part of the fast itself, and when you don’t do it right after an extended fast, it can wreak havoc on your health.
Here are a few tips to break your fast correctly:
Plan Your Meal Ahead
To ensure you stay consistent with intermittent fasting, plan your meal ahead rather than deciding on the spot once it’s time to break your fast. When you’re new to intermittent fasting, everything looks decadent, and you’ll want to feast at the earliest opportunity.
However, if you plan your meals carefully beforehand, you’ll take better control of your diet by reducing temptation.
Eat Small and Slow
When it’s time to break your fast, remember to eat small portions slowly. When you’re hungry, you will be tempted to eat a lot and fast, and this can disrupt your digestive system and make you feel ill. Therefore, stick to the serving portions you planned for yourself, and consume your food slowly, allowing your body to get reacquainted with food at a normal pace.
Stay Away From Processed or Junk Food
Finally, staying away from processed or junk food is crucial. Intermittent fasting is part of a lifestyle that will help you improve your overall health and wellbeing. And you don’t want to ruin your progress by eating foods that are not good for you.
Eating junk food during your fasting window or after a fast can also increase your cravings. So, if you plan to do intermittent fasting long-term, snacking on chips will not help you.
Fasting is challenging, and breaking your fast is tempting, even when you’re not hungry. However, by listening to your body, you can determine whether you should give in and break the fast or wait until the hunger pangs pass.