Fasting is part of many religious traditions and is also used as a dieting strategy. Regardless of your intention, fasting leaves your stomach feeling empty, sometimes eliciting noisy "protestations." You can take certain measures can to help suppress your appetite while fasting. Drinking water, taking high-fiber supplements and certain herbal substances may help ease hunger pangs enough to help you sustain your fast. Discuss a healthy fasting plan with your doctor before beginning.
Regularly drinking water benefits your cells, tissues and organs and helps flush toxins from your body. Drinking water fills your stomach, and can help you feel more full. In fact, sipping a glass or two before a meal can lead to eating less. According to a February 2010 study published in "Obesity," overweight middle-aged or older adults who drank 500 mL of water before a meal lost more weight than study participants who did not. Keeping a water bottle at your desk at work or while running errands while you are fasting can help you stay ahead of your food cravings.
Fiber is a natural substance that absorbs water and expands in your digestive tract. This expansion gives you a sense of satiety or fullness, allowing you to go longer without eating or to eat less. During a fast -- when you are not consuming foods that contain fiber -- a fiber supplement can help you achieve similar effects. Psyllium husk powder and capsules, for instance, are available at grocery or health food stores. Mixing the powder in some water or taking the recommended capsule dose can help you feel more full.
Specific herbal remedies as well as synthesized plant extracts may have an effect on your appetite. Caralluma fimbriata is an edible cactus used in Indian cuisine and was used by hunters to suppress appetite during long hunts. A study published in "Appetite" in May 2007 examined the plant's effect on overweight populations -- having a body mass index of 25 or more. Study participants who received 1 g of the herbal extract per day experienced a significant decrease in hunger levels as well as waist circumference. Talk to your doctor before taking this herb; results are not guaranteed.
Before fasting, visit your doctor to discuss your overall health to determine if a fast could potentially harm you. Fasting used to lose weight quickly is not always the best option, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your fast is for weight loss purposes, consider a less extreme plan that reduces calories and promotes calorie burning through exercise.
- "Obesity"; Water Consumption Increases Weight Loss During a Hypocaloric Diet Intervention in Middle-aged and Older Adults; E.A. Dennis et al; February 2010
- Ray Sahelian, M.D.: Top Ten Important Tips for Healthy Weight Loss and Reducing Sugar Addiction
- "Appetite"; Effect of Caralluma fimbriata Extract on Appetite, Food Intake and Anthropometry in Adult Indian Men and Women; R. Kuriyan et al; May 2007
- Mayo Clinic; Fast Weight Loss, What's Wrong with It?; Donald Hensrud, M.D.