3 Benefits of Fasting at Work (& How to Get Started)

Science by Ben Tanner, PA-C

3 Benefits of Fasting at Work (& How to Get Started)

I’ve found fasting at work to be extremely effective, for a few different reasons.

In short, it makes fasting easier, and I’m more productive at work.

You can probably even get some health benefits at the same time. [1] What’s not to like?

With that in mind, I’ll explain three specific benefits of fasting at work, how you can get started in an easy and sustainable manner, and a couple of extra tips to help you be successful.

Let’s dive in.

3 Advantages of Fasting at Work

There are three main reasons why it makes sense to fast at work.

1. Fasting at Work is Easier than Fasting at Home

When you’re fasting, it makes sense to stay busy. In other words, distract yourself. That way, you won’t be as inclined to think about food, or as tempted to quit the fast.

When you’re working, this happens naturally. Assuming you’re fairly busy, you’ll be continuously distracted by your work, which will make it easier not to dwell on food, and easier to ignore transient feelings of hunger.

2. Fasting at Work Makes You More Productive

This one’s pretty intuitive, so I’ll bet you thought of it already.

But one of the big advantages I’ve noticed from fasting at work is that I simply have more time to get things done. That’s because I’m not spending as much time eating — or even just looking for food.

For example, when I work in the ER, there’s often free food available in the physician lounge. But I may have to walk quite a distance across the hospital to get it. So it ends up taking several minutes out of my shift.

On a busy day, that can be a deal breaker. So I’ll be glad if I’m mentally prepared to just fast through my shift (or at least most of my shift).

3. Fasting at Work Can Potentially Improve Your Focus and Mood

Some people find that even during short-term fasting they have a better ability to focus, and a more positive mood. I’ve certainly found this to be the case.

Something about the blood flow not getting diverted to the gut as much–and being more available to the brain–certainly makes a difference.

But this effect is more pronounced during a somewhat longer fast, when your ketone levels become significantly elevated. Ketones have a generally positive effect on mood [2], and people often find it easier to focus when they have high ketones as well.

That’s one of the main ideas behind bulletproof coffee (aka keto coffee), along with the little energy boost it can provide.

How to Start Fasting at Work (Gradually and Sustainably)

Like any new habit, it’s better to start slowly (and make it easy at the beginning [3]) if you want to keep it up for a while.

In other words, think of it like the opposite of a New Year’s resolution.

When people make New Year’s resolutions to lose a bunch of weight, or go to the gym, they usually only last a couple days. That’s typically because they try to do too much, too soon.

So when you’re deciding how to fast at work, try to start very slowly, with something that’s only a very slight challenge. Just enough to keep you interested.

Step 1 is to Stop Snacking

Just like with fasting in general, the first step to start fasting at work is to stop snacking in between meals.

Once you cut out the snacks in between your meals, you’re already doing some mini fasts which will give you a little more experience, and a little more confidence.

Here’s an example of what this looks like in real life:

If you work a normal-ish schedule, you might have breakfast before going to work at 8 am.

Ideally, try to have a satisfying breakfast that will keep you full for a long time. Like scrambled eggs, bacon, and an avocado, for example.

Then it will be pretty easy to wait until your lunch break, and say “no” to snacks in the meantime.

Later, you could have a satisfying lunch, perhaps around noon, or 1 pm. And then don’t eat again till you get home.

Essentially what you’ve done is limit yourself to just one meal (and no snacks) during your shift. For many people, that’s already a significant amount of progress.

What to Eat During Your 1 Meal at Work

As I alluded to above, if you eat food that’s high in fat and high in protein, you’ll stay full longer. So it’s pretty easy to say “no” to snacks.

That’s because both fat and protein are pretty good at stimulating satiety [4]. In other words, they cause your intestines to secrete various hormones that make your brain know that you’re full.

As a bonus, fat and protein both slow down gastric emptying, which means your stomach stays full longer. As a result, you don’t get hungry as soon as you would otherwise.

Here are a few examples:

Nuts, seeds, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and whole-fat dairy are a few general categories of food that are higher in fat and protein.

Try to avoid any processed carbohydrates, like white bread, rice, tortillas, chips, soda, juice, etc. When you eat that type of food, it causes a blood sugar spike, followed by a “crash”[5].

When you crash, not only do you tend to feel sluggish, you also get hungry again, and may have additional cravings for junk food. Naturally, that makes fasting more difficult.

What about a Meal Replacement Shake?

If you’re looking for something quick to eat at work that fits the criteria above, a well-formulated meal replacement shake could be an option.

While it may not be ideal to subsist entirely on meal replacement shakes, they can certainly be convenient and useful in some situations. Like getting through a busy work day, for example.

HLTH Code meal replacement shakes are low in carbohydrates, and high in both fat and protein, which makes them ideal for long-lasting satiety.

I’ve found when I drink their shakes, I don’t get hungry for quite a while afterwards, which is a big advantage.

(The one addition I personally make is to add a little extra salt, since they don’t have very much sodium. If you’re fasting, it’s generally helpful to get some extra sodium, so keep that in mind.)

Where to Go from Here

Consider what I described above as “Stage 1” of fasting at work. You’re still having one satiating meal in the middle of your work shift…but nothing else.

Later on, maybe you’ll want to do a longer fast, like fasting all the way through your work shift.

But there’s no rush. Give it a few weeks, or maybe a few months.

When you’re first starting out, there’s no need to be super-ambitious. Start with something realistic that you can keep up for a while, get some reps in, and then go from there.

Summary & Final Thoughts

Fasting at work can be both easier and more convenient when compared with fasting at home.

It can also be a more efficient way to accomplish your health goals.

Remember to start slowly, with an approach that’s easy at the beginning. Cutting out snacks is a good first step.

It also helps to eat foods that are higher in fat, and higher in protein, because they keep you full longer. Avoid refined carbohydrates, as these will spike your blood sugar and may cause you to crash and feel sluggish or hungrier afterwards.

If you’re looking for more resources, I’ve shared additional experiences and strategies about fasting while working at the emergency room in a separate blog post, so feel free to check that out as well.

Hope you’ve found this info helpful!

Ben Tanner has worked as a PA (similar to a doctor) since 2014 in the ER, family practice, and urgent care. He now shares info about fasting and nutrition via his blog and podcast, hoping to prevent some of the health problems he treats during his day job. You can find his blog at fastingwell.com


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413118302535
  2. https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/mental-health-guides#depression
  3. https://jamesclear.com/three-steps-habit-change
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholecystokinin#Satiety
  5. https://youtu.be/uIuXox33VAg

This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.