17 Tips To Make Intermittent Fasting Easier

Intermittent fasting can be quite difficult to do especially when you first started. Here's 17 tips to make it easier.


4/30/202316 min read

brown wooden frame with white paper
brown wooden frame with white paper

To make IF work as seamlessly as it can for you, these are some tips which I personally find useful to incorporate IF into my life.

Tip 1: Understanding Hunger

Be ready to experience lots of hunger pangs especially if you are used to eating breakfast early in the morning.

As I mentioned before, I had a serious issue of hangry and I thought it was fully justified.

I was informed and convinced that feeling hungry is a message from our body that it is running low on fuel and needs to be topped up ASAP.

And going hungry regularly will result in gastric problems, clamps and even blacking out from hunger.

I will often hear horror stories of people who missed their meals regularly (either due to work or girls on diet) and ended up in hospital; with their stomach acid burning through the walls of their stomach, resulting in constant gastric issues for the rest of their life.

Just like how the car will start beeping when it is low on fuel (unless the notification is faulty which will lead into even bigger trouble), hunger is the signal of getting us fed.

Wifey always describes me as, “A hungry Xuan (my Chinese name) is an angry Xuan”.

A rabid dog is probably the best way to describe me when I missed my mealtime for more than an hour; I was ready to snap at anyone standing in the way of my food.

Nowadays, angry Xuan rarely shows itself due to several factors (meditation, stoic teachings, exercising etc) and the most prominent reason is the understanding of ghrelin.

Gremlin Ghrelin

Ghrelin is a hormone that is produced in our guts and its primary purposes are to stimulate our hunger, stored fats and release growth hormones.

When administered directly to humans, it increases our food intake by a whopping 30%.

And the best part of its characteristics?

Ghrelin secretion is entrained by our daily eating behaviour.

Timing on when ghrelin is secreted
Timing on when ghrelin is secreted

The graph above shows the average amount of ghrelin was secreted in a 24-hour duration.

Did you observe that the ghrelin (non-dotted lines) starts to peak even before the subjects had their meals?

We have Pavlovian conditioned ourselves to feel hungry (like the dog salivated) at certain times of the day (akin to the bell) according to our previous eating behavior.

Graph on secretion of ghrelin during fasting
Graph on secretion of ghrelin during fasting

This diagram shows how ghrelin decreases over time the longer the participants fasted.

Which in terms supported anecdotal evidence where people claimed that they felt less hungry after 3-4 days when they do prolonged fasting (5-10 days).

These explain why sometimes when we miss our meals, we don’t feel hungry after it.

We thought that we were too hungry and had become less sensitive but the truth is, ghrelin has dropped and will arise again when the timing of the next meal is around the corner.

We are conditioned to eat 3 meals or more ever since we are playing in mud and sands.

Morning snacks, snacks in between or after physical games (like football, baseball and basketball), afternoon snacks, desserts after meals, suppers... we are all about eating.

Most of the hunger pangs are just timed signals that your body is expecting food around that hour.

Hunger pangs are programmable by habits, not an indication of what our body needs.

After understanding these scientific facts, all my self justification of hangry collapses.

Hunger pangs are incessant but they will pass eventually in an hour or so. It is helpful to know the difference between needing to eat and wanting to eat.

Ride out the hunger wave and you find yourself not wanting to eat again.

It gets much easier with experience and sometimes you won’t even notice it.

But if you are really hungry (feeling dizzy and nauseated), don’t beat yourself up if you ate something.

IF is supposed to make your life easier and healthier, not to complicate it.

Eating a small portion of protein packed snacks such as almonds or hard boiled eggs can help to keep you in a ketogenic state (fat burning) while waiting for your next eating window.

Try not to make it a habit though.

Snacking throughout defeats the biggest purpose of intermittent fasting which is to get your insulin level low most of the time.

Tip 2: Be Ready For Mood Swing

Other than hunger pangs, you may find yourself becoming moody and low on energy when you are in the beginning state of IF.

This is due to hunger hormones reacting as your body is adapting to the new optimized eating habits.

It will go away eventually (3 days to a week) and you will love its effect.

Most people report higher focus and energy level once they get used to IF. So don’t fool yourself by thinking that you need to eat to feel better.

That is your gluttony self or dopamine addicted mind speaking. Our mind is often our biggest enemy when it comes to reducing reliance or quitting an addiction.

Fight on and you will see light at the end of the tunnel.

Tip 3: Plan Your Meals In Advance

Try to do the planning after you have your last meal of the day.

It will be better if you can have an exhaustive meal plan for the week.

When I first started IF, I usually don’t plan for my breakfast (at noon) as I almost eat the same things over and over again.

  • 2 eggs fried with leftover brown rice

  • 1 avocado

  • 1 cup of almonds or other nuts available

  • Mixed vegetables of broccoli / bean sprouts / or whatever i can find in the fridge (oven)

  • Pumpkins and marinated chicken (cook in oven)

Dinner planning wise is quite unavoidable since I am cooking for the family.

While I eat for sustenance, they need variety (especially with the two girls) to sustain their interest in eating.

Before setting a consistent meal for breakfast, I will spend lots of unnecessary time thinking about what to cook for both meals.

It takes up the mental capacity and uses decision making muscle (too much causes decision fatigue).

Plus, it really makes you hungry when you plan your meals while fasting.

Having a set meal and dinner planned for the week free up my mental space and leaves room to do more productive things.

It also allows you to buy your groceries in advance and save time travelling (unless you actually find grocery shopping relaxing).

four clear plastic bowls with vegetables
four clear plastic bowls with vegetables

Tip 4: Don’t Watch Food Videos Or Recipes

Common sense huh?

You will be surprised how many of us will do exactly this while fasting.

As I mentioned above, failing to plan your meals beforehand will likely make you think about what to eat, reading recipes and watching how-to videos while you are still fasting.

You can feel your mouth salivating like a hungry dog and hunger pangs assault in full throttle.

While we can use our willpower to throttle through, there is no need to suffer unnecessarily.

Focus on work instead.

Tip 5: Be Busy During Fasting Hours

Have you ever tried waiting for the water to boil in the kitchen while your favorite show is playing in the hall?

It is excruciating.

It feels like eternity watching for the bubbles to appear even though in reality only 5 mins had passed.

If you keep looking at your watch while waiting for the hunger pangs to pass, you are likely to give in to the howling eventually.

Try distracting yourself with other stuff instead.

During my awakened fasting hours, I will focus on doing my most important work such as writing posts like this and get lost in it.

I rarely feel much hunger when I am preoccupied with tasks.

Think about days that you were overwhelmed with work, only to realize that you had skipped a meal or two without acknowledging it.

But when you are bored, you are likely to snack regardless of whether you are fasting or not.

I also read about people who will schedule long hours massages/spa or go hiking on their full day fast which sounds really enjoyable and relaxing to me.

One day, I will try it when someone can take care of the kids in my stead.

Doing some workout during the fasting period can help too.

Several research indicates that exercising reduces our hunger inducing hormones, ghrelin while increasing appetite suppressing hormones, leptin (1).

High intensity work is extremely helpful provided that you are not on prolonged fast (more than 24 hours). It is quite impossible to feel hunger during the workout while you are gasping for air.

Get ready for stronger ghrelin assault though as the appetite suppression only lasts an hour or so before our body starts crying, “feed me”.

This is especially true if you do long workout sessions (1 hour or more) as compared to HIIT (2).

person using computer on brown wooden table
person using computer on brown wooden table

Tip 6: Start With Longer Eating Window

Ease in slowly especially if you have strong attachment with food.

Jumping into an extended fasting window too early may cause excess hunger, irritability and lightheadedness.

Starting with 12/12 windows will be much easier as you will only need to handle hunger pangs for 4 hours while handling the other 8 hours of stomach growling while you are in dreamland.

Eat your breakfast and nothing else after dinner.

Once you are comfortable and become more adventurous, do 14/10 and eventually 16/8.

Take your time.

Slow and steady wins the race.

Tip 7: Focus On Eating Healthier

Eating well is crucial for getting good energy flow and feeling good.

One common problem among intermittent fasters is that they try to squeeze all the junks they will eat into their eating window and feel like shit afterwards.

They experience artificially high levels caused by the chemicals found in the junk food and then experience sugar crash later.

They also experience extreme food coma and lethargic mood throughout the day.

Then they wonder why isn’t IF giving more energy as promised.

No amount of fasting will help when all you have in your diet is crap such as refined carbohydrates, sugar, artificial food enhancers and unhealthy oil.

Eat more wholefood to optimize IF benefits.

close-up photo of vegetable salad
close-up photo of vegetable salad

Tip 8: Do it 7 days a week

text, logo
text, logo
a close up of a giraffe with a sky background
a close up of a giraffe with a sky background

Doing something every day is golden to make a habit stick.

It is difficult to build momentum when you don’t do it regularly. When things get into motion, you require much less willpower to kick start an action.

Just like a train.

When in stationary, a single piece of log can stop it from moving even an inch. It also needs a lot of fuel to get it moving.

Once it reaches a certain momentum, it can smash through steel-reinforced walls while requiring much less fuel than when it was moving out.

Doing IF on certain days and not other days will not give much benefits and you will certainty experience more frustrations and hunger pangs as your body does not have a fixed daily schedule to follow through.

Which is why it is much easier to adopt time restricted eating than selective day fasting as the latter will require way more willpower to follow through and doesn’t build momentum.

Personally I feel doing time restricted fasting everyday and having occasional prolonged fast is the best way to reap benefits of IF.

The first helps us to keep our insulin low for majority of the time and occasion full day fast jolts our body and reset our palate for cleaner eating.

Tip 9: Be Flexible

Might sound contradictory with the point above but adjust the eating/fasting windows as if you see fit.

It is ok if there are days that you may want to move the eating window forward.

For example, sometimes I will move forward with my eating window when I visit my mother-in-law or extend my eating window for an additional 1 hour to eat dinner with my parents.

Just try to stick to it 80% of the time.

You will keep the benefits you have gained from IF even if you can’t keep to your schedule for a few days.

As Dr Panda, author of The Circadian Code, said in the New York Times about his experiment on giving his lab mice off on weekends to overeat: “Yet, most of the benefits of time-restricted eating were sustained.”

He continued, “These include reduced body weight, reduced body fat, reduced cholesterol, better glucose control, reduced liver fat, increased endurance and better motor coordination.”

Relax and no need to be anal about the schedule. It will only cause unnecessary stress.

Tip 10: Hydrate!

Drink lots of water.

It is useful in handling hunger pangs, keeping you alert and getting your body going. We are made up of 70%-80% water and we derived 20% of it from the food we eat.

It is also common that when you don’t eat you may not remember to drink water as frequently.

Dehydration can cause plenty of problems which include headache, fatigue, lightheadedness and poor sleep quality.

These symptoms are also often mistaken as side effects of intermittent fasting.

Put a 2L water bottle by your side and try to finish two of them every day.

Otherwise, set reminders to drink if you don’t have bigger bottles.

Tip 11: Don’t Forget Your Salt

One trait of eating less meals a day can lead to having less dietary salt intake.

Contrary to popular belief, restricting salt is actually bad for your health.

First let us look at is salt really bad for you?

Asian countries which are notorious for having high salt content in their diet (Japan with a notorious dietary sodium of 11g!) hold 4 places out of the top 5 longest life expectancy in the world.

And here’s the catch, people in Switzerland also have an average of 9.1g salt consumption a day.

So if salt is really so bad for your health, why are they ranking up there in the first place?

Of course, it will not help if you take too much salt.

But since our blood is mostly salt, having low blood sodium can cause several problems such as loss of energy, muscle weakness, seizures and increasing insulin resistance.

If you are experiencing certain symptoms of low blood sodium, consider dissolving ½ teaspoon of sea salt or Himalayan salt into a cup of water and drink it.

Do not use table salt!

They are highly processed, chemically bleached and then mixed with anti-caking agents so that they can flow seamlessly.

Tip 12: Get Plenty Of Sleep

The more you sleep the less time you need to face hunger.

Let’s say you adopt a 16:8 eating window.

You have your dinner at 6pm and start fasting at 7pm, sleep at 10pm and wake up at 7am.

As we usually don’t feel hungry in the first hour of waking up due to the influx of cortisol, you are left with 3 hours of fasting window to deal with which is much more manageable.

Other than reducing the number of hours that you have to experience hunger pangs consciously, sleeping well also helps in charging your willpower to overcome cravings (3).

You also have more energy and better focus which result in higher productivity.

This kills three birds with one stone.

white snow on brown sand
white snow on brown sand
white cat sleeps under white comforter
white cat sleeps under white comforter

Tip 13: Break Your Fast Slowly

It is understandable that you will want to suck in your food like a vacuum cleaner after more than 10 hours of fasting.

But hold your engine!

Other than causing stomach ache (I had it twice), clomping down your food increases your chance of adding inches to your waistline and developing metabolic syndromes.

Eating slowly and chewing our food thoroughly is the key to stay slim.

Reducing your eating speed also helps you in getting in tune with what your body is telling you about the food and becoming more intrinsic with what you eat.

A good beginning to healthy eating.

Tip 14: Don’t Eat Anything During Fasting Window

Taking any food not only will take you out of the fasting stake, it will only cause you to be hungrier.

Forget about so-called zero calorie food.

As long as you eat, you will activate your digestive system and may spike your insulin.

Like rebooting, it is much easier and beneficial to go cold turkey.

a yellow slow down sign on a pole
a yellow slow down sign on a pole

Tip 15: Eating A Low Carb Diet During Transition

Believe it or not, eating low carbs can sustain you longer than a high carb one (especially refined carbs).


Yeah.. Like you, I was brought up thinking that I need to eat refined carbohydrates for satiety.

Having bread for breakfast and then white rice for all meals after is necessary, otherwise I will need to eat again soon since I won’t feel full.

The truth is refined carbohydrates get absorbed into the body quickly and spike our insulin causing us to feel hungry earlier.

Noodles and bread made from flour are even worse as they are processed down to single grains, removed of all fibre and nutrients and break down into glucose quickly when digested.

They spike your insulin level and leave them hovering in the bloodstream for a longer period, dampening the effect of leptin (hormone that affects satiety), causing you to feel hunger earlier.

Eating more fibre will slow down absorption of sugar into our blood, thus insulin is secreted at a slower pace and helps the feeling of satiety last longer.

Healthy fats such as avocado, coconut, nuts and animal fats are also known to increase satiety.

Think about the last time you had a buffet. The grilled steak tasted nice at the first serving.

After having 2 or 3 servings, it is unlikely that you can stuff any more meat in (especially fatty ones).

However, you can still eat ice cream or a piece of cake for dessert (the infamous second stomach for desserts) as they do not have satiety value.

I always get hungry much faster in the morning when I have meals high in refined carbs (such as bread or fast food) for dinner the day before.

Try to have a meal high in healthy fats, lots of fiber and low in carbs for the last meal of the day. It will help you avoid hunger pangs longer.

person holding white ceramic plate
person holding white ceramic plate

Tip 16: Walk it out

Having cravings?

Walking is a great way to keep your mind off hunger while providing some light exercises (especially useful if you are not a fan of exercising) and speed up depletion of glycogen in your liver.

Tim Ferriss, author of bestseller Tools of Titans, recommended going for a 3-4 hour walk in the mornings to kick start ketosis for his 3 day fasting routine.

Other than the physical benefits, walking also helps to improve moods and stimulate thinking.

A study done by researchers from Stanford University concludes that walking boosted creative output of its participants by 60% (4).

Go for a walk and before you know it, it is time to break your fast.

The only exercise I take is walking behind the coffins of friends who took exercise. - Peter O’Toole

Tip 17: Listen To Your Body

Everyone’s body is designed differently. What suits the other may not be the right fit for you.

Play around with your eating windows.

If you feel crappy without eating in the morning then skip dinner instead.

If you find yourself in a constant state of ravenous, experiment with long eating hours.

Give yourself time to adapt.

Get in touch with your most important vehicle.

Special Tip: Don’t Tell Anyone Around You

People will often discourage you when you try to do things out of the norm, even if it is actually beneficial to you.

Why? Because that is not the norm and norm must be right, right?

Not necessary.

There are plenty of examples why following the masses isn’t beneficial. Most people:

  • Snack multiple times throughout the day.

  • Follow the standard American diet which makes us fat (In Singapore we follow the food pyramid designed by US)

  • Don’t exercise regularly or at all.

  • Eat breakfast that is full of refined carbs and sugar.

  • Believe that sugary stuff is good for your mood.

  • Live on paycheck by paycheck

  • Plan their day around TV shows.

  • Get updated with latest affairs which is full of gossips and negativity.

Don’t follow the masses blindly.

Most of us follow the mass as it is the most convenient and has the least social resistance.

Many times we don’t even know why we follow certain trends.

Typical monkeys see monkeys do.

It is the same as if you want to start a business, eat vegan, build websites, embark nofap, or try to make a living with your passion; naysayers are everywhere, and you will often find that the ones that are closest to you show the most resistance and being the least supportive.

While they might do out of goodwill, most people offer advice even though they had no experience with what they preach.

I still remember my mother's look of absurdity when I told her I wasn't going to eat breakfast.

Try out for a month on your own accord and you will know whether it is right for you.

grayscale photo of woman doing silent hand sign
grayscale photo of woman doing silent hand sign


Intermittent fasting has changed how I react to hangry, and I learned to control my emotions better and not become emotionally dependent on food.

Fasting for a day or two can help break the unhealthy attachment/addiction we have with food.

It resets our taste buds and we become more in tune with our body.

Things that may taste heavenly sweet before (such as chocolate bars) become sickeningly sweet.

Food that had tasted delicious (such as instant noodles), left a yucky metallic taste that stayed in the tongue for hours after consumption.

You will also become more aware of how certain foods affect our body and mood.

Sugar causes me to become more irritable and have difficulty in focusing. Now I avoid them like plague.

Also having highly processed food for dinner causes me to feel lethargic and experience more severe hunger pangs earlier the next morning.

The link between our guts and the brain is more profound than what our current science is able to decipher thoroughly.

Having longer hours of not eating is always better for most of us.

It allows our body to digest food better and focus on recovery and achieve homeostasis.

But getting into intermittent fasting can be difficult for some people.

Hunger is a true deterrent and consistency can be hard to maintain.

Thankfully, for time-restricted eating even if you decided to eat on longer windows for 1-2 days such as weekends, you can still keep the benefits gained from previous effort.

IF is flexible and easy to implement if you understand hunger and do a bit of planning beforehand on what to do during fasting hours and what to eat for the meals in feeding time.

Stay busy when you fast, ease in slowly with longer eating windows, sleep and drink a lot, be consistent and most of all; listen to your body.

Eat well, eat less and be happy.

Let’s work towards better health and a more fulfilling life.