4

votes

Intermittent fasting and I'm craving... nicotine?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 11, 2011 at 7:47 PM

I haven't been a smoker in years. But ever since I started IF a week ago, I've been craving cigarettes like mad in the evenings. It's a fairly strong craving, so strong that I actually went to the store in a moment of weakness and bought a pack. I tried to smoke a cigarette, was completely disgusted with it and myself, got the rest of the pack wet and crumbled it into the garbage.

This is odd behavior. I've been repelled by cigarettes and the smell of burning tobacco for years, and now suddenly it smells good to me! WTH?

I have a few guesses, but I'd love to know if this is something anyone else has experienced. My first thought is that it's an oral fixation -- some sort of compensation attempt spurred by not eating during those hours -- but weirdly I don't crave food at all.

Another thought is that I'm experiencing a detoxification of latent toxins accumulated during the years I spent as a smoker (though it's been 10 years since I smoked) and that's what's causing the cravings to resurface? That's wild speculation though.

Any thoughts and experience would be greatly appreciated.

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3

(6719)

on May 31, 2013
at 03:44 AM

smoke um if you got em

Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on February 05, 2012
at 04:24 AM

this would explain my odd cravings then. I quit smoking cigarettes not long ago. Addiction is gone, but random craving by the end of a fast day.

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on August 01, 2011
at 08:32 PM

I have now noticed a definite correlation between periods when I'm losing weight and nicotine cravings. My weight is coming off in bursts, like 7 pounds in a week followed by several weeks of nothing. I can now determine when I'm losing weight because of the nicotine cravings, which I confirm by weighing myself. This is the strangest thing...

9759643ce5d97ab8fa649ae954656c4c

(3325)

on June 17, 2011
at 06:04 AM

Thanks for your input! I see I'm not alone. :)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 13, 2011
at 04:16 PM

It is said that "bad experiences" and the memories of them are stored in the muscles as deep tension. So, this wouldn't surprise me either.

9759643ce5d97ab8fa649ae954656c4c

(3325)

on June 12, 2011
at 03:33 AM

Craziest thing; before paleo, I attributed a lot of my mood swings & afternoon crashes to the fact that I drank coffee (one soy latte per day) and I was always beating myself up for it & trying to quit. The coffee wasn't the problem! It was the soy milk & whatever rice syrup/evaporated cane juice was in the soy milk. That teeny-tiny bit was killing my mood and energy level and keeping me addicted. After eliminating that and only using unsweetened coconut milk (homemade) creamer, I could take or leave coffee. I do enjoy it and drink it moderately, but it doesn't have the power over me anymore.

9759643ce5d97ab8fa649ae954656c4c

(3325)

on June 11, 2011
at 10:55 PM

Not bizarre, this is exactly along the lines of what I was thinking. I wasn't sure about the science behind it though, because the only exposure I've had to this idea was from the Master Cleanse and other fast/cleanse literature I've read in the past, none of which ever cited actual studies. Whatever the documentation, this is ringing true for me and I'm going to be mindful of it as I adapt to this process. Thank you for your response! :)

9759643ce5d97ab8fa649ae954656c4c

(3325)

on June 11, 2011
at 10:48 PM

I'm definitely under stress, but I have been for quite some time now. The cravings started immediately after I started IF. I also started having trouble sleeping. I think the adaption process has brought these things up for me. Before IF, I was eating a lot in the evenings and often went to bed with food in my belly. I would wake up feeling groggy and horrible, so an immediate benefit for me has been the elimination of that unhealthy cycle. I'm hoping the quality of my sleep will improve my stress level and then I can tackle the quantity of sleep I'm getting (after my nervous energy subsides).

9759643ce5d97ab8fa649ae954656c4c

(3325)

on June 11, 2011
at 10:39 PM

This is all very helpful and along the lines of my thinking. Thank you! I'll try the coconut oil this evening. I was under the impression that no calories were to be consumed during the fast, but I'm willing to experiment in order to hack this.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 11, 2011
at 09:59 PM

yes, fatty acids are being released, but the question remains (can anyone help?) what happens with them: are they 'burned' (beta-oxidation) or just flow idly around the body, and then re-incorporated into lypocites?

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on June 11, 2011
at 09:55 PM

And make sure that we're getting antioxidant rich foods at the same time!

Fe87afa634afe26f4f6fd956abe0b46a

(565)

on June 11, 2011
at 09:14 PM

This has happened to me several times during periods of long low heart rate exercise. I used to chew tobacco, and deep into a hike I would crave and actually smell tobacco. I could almost taste it, it was so strong. It makes complete sense that toxins are stored in our bodyfat, and are released through oxidation. Another reason to get rid of our excess fat!

F4aff43df6a8a49a1c3879c1233ee560

(459)

on June 11, 2011
at 08:31 PM

Try eating a a spoon full of coconut oil while fasting, and see if it gets rid of the craving. I believe the benifits of IF are primarily due to protein restriction, so it shouldn't comprimise the fast.

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10 Answers

4
F4aff43df6a8a49a1c3879c1233ee560

(459)

on June 11, 2011
at 08:19 PM

Nicotine releases free fatty acids from fat cells. My guess is that during IF your body is having trouble releasing sufficient energy from fat tissue. Presumably some part of your brain still remembers the satiating effect of nicotine, and thus the craving.

A brief Hyperlipid post on nicotine: http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2009/08/nicotine-on-move.html

F4aff43df6a8a49a1c3879c1233ee560

(459)

on June 11, 2011
at 08:31 PM

Try eating a a spoon full of coconut oil while fasting, and see if it gets rid of the craving. I believe the benifits of IF are primarily due to protein restriction, so it shouldn't comprimise the fast.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 11, 2011
at 09:59 PM

yes, fatty acids are being released, but the question remains (can anyone help?) what happens with them: are they 'burned' (beta-oxidation) or just flow idly around the body, and then re-incorporated into lypocites?

9759643ce5d97ab8fa649ae954656c4c

(3325)

on June 11, 2011
at 10:39 PM

This is all very helpful and along the lines of my thinking. Thank you! I'll try the coconut oil this evening. I was under the impression that no calories were to be consumed during the fast, but I'm willing to experiment in order to hack this.

2
1f8384be58052b6b96f476e475abdc74

(2231)

on June 16, 2011
at 04:15 PM

i smoke....and i only crave cigs/nicotine when i am VLC and high fat...

carbs and lower fat make me have no desire for cigs

9759643ce5d97ab8fa649ae954656c4c

(3325)

on June 17, 2011
at 06:04 AM

Thanks for your input! I see I'm not alone. :)

2
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on June 13, 2011
at 04:39 PM

Man it is the funniest thing. I have not smoked cigarettes in about 11-12 years. Over that period I did have the occasional cigar -- like 3 or 4 a year. However a few years ago, I kind of lost my taste for them and haven't had any.

But over the past 7-8 weeks since I have been strict Paleo, I've been having cravings for cigars. Every night for a while, so much that I actually had a short one that had been sitting around the house for a while (probably 2-3 years). I kind of intentionally picked one that I knew was all dried out so I wouldn't enjoy it too much. It wasn't as disgusting as I'd hoped, so I think I'd better watch myself.

I would like to think that I've been burning fat during this time -- I'm certainly trying, with a VLC diet and much more intense exercise. So maybe this corroborates the theory that I'm releasing long-stored tobacco toxins?

2
0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on June 11, 2011
at 08:08 PM

This is going to sound so bizarre. In fact if someone were to tell me this a few months ago I would probably think they were a little looney.

I read very recently, (I am so sorry that I can't locate the link, but I'll put it in comments if I come up with it), that if you are oxidizing bodyfat which was stored at a time when you consumed such things (the cigarettes) that you could actually get cravings for those things.

Dang, I want to find that link! I'm reading a book now that talks about biophotons and how the natural human electrical charge is 62-68 Hz and that we are all being of energy. If that's true, then maybe this cravings thing is true too!

Fe87afa634afe26f4f6fd956abe0b46a

(565)

on June 11, 2011
at 09:14 PM

This has happened to me several times during periods of long low heart rate exercise. I used to chew tobacco, and deep into a hike I would crave and actually smell tobacco. I could almost taste it, it was so strong. It makes complete sense that toxins are stored in our bodyfat, and are released through oxidation. Another reason to get rid of our excess fat!

9759643ce5d97ab8fa649ae954656c4c

(3325)

on June 11, 2011
at 10:55 PM

Not bizarre, this is exactly along the lines of what I was thinking. I wasn't sure about the science behind it though, because the only exposure I've had to this idea was from the Master Cleanse and other fast/cleanse literature I've read in the past, none of which ever cited actual studies. Whatever the documentation, this is ringing true for me and I'm going to be mindful of it as I adapt to this process. Thank you for your response! :)

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on June 11, 2011
at 09:55 PM

And make sure that we're getting antioxidant rich foods at the same time!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 13, 2011
at 04:16 PM

It is said that "bad experiences" and the memories of them are stored in the muscles as deep tension. So, this wouldn't surprise me either.

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 11, 2011
at 07:57 PM

Well, nicotine is fat soluble, so it is a remote possibility. As a bonus, burning fat for nicotine isn't nearly as noxious as burning tobacco.

1
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on June 13, 2011
at 03:57 PM

This happened to me too. Mysteriously, my trigeminal nerve (facial nerve) started firing off in extremely unpleasant ways. I still haven't figured out what's going on, and the CT scan I had done showed nothing. Anyway, nicotine cravings appeared and were strong despite being off them for 4 or 5 years now.

I didn't think of fasting, but I do IF now and then, and the pain has probably encouraged me to eat less- especially back when I was thinking it was related to dental health- so the mechanism may be the same. Or, maybe my brain is just looking for anything that it thinks will make it feel better...

1
D55b8c8cb2aecbc43607f947a4793208

on June 12, 2011
at 03:12 AM

I began craving coffee after starting VLC, after 20 years coffee-free. Switched to decaf after a year and am currently drinking 2-3 cups every morning with heavy cream. Thought it odd that I wanted coffee so very much. Perhaps caffeine could sub for nicotine for you?

9759643ce5d97ab8fa649ae954656c4c

(3325)

on June 12, 2011
at 03:33 AM

Craziest thing; before paleo, I attributed a lot of my mood swings & afternoon crashes to the fact that I drank coffee (one soy latte per day) and I was always beating myself up for it & trying to quit. The coffee wasn't the problem! It was the soy milk & whatever rice syrup/evaporated cane juice was in the soy milk. That teeny-tiny bit was killing my mood and energy level and keeping me addicted. After eliminating that and only using unsweetened coconut milk (homemade) creamer, I could take or leave coffee. I do enjoy it and drink it moderately, but it doesn't have the power over me anymore.

1
34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on June 11, 2011
at 08:07 PM

Are you under a great deal of stress right now? Maybe it has less to do with IF and more to do with stress. I quit smoking about 10 years ago also and abhor the smell of cigarettes etc as well. I do however have problems dealing with stress and in a weak moment thought I'd feel better if I could feel calmer like I did when I smoked. I'm never tempted to go buy any cigarettes though.

I did one time find some Nicorette gum that we had leftover from my husband quitting copenhagen and I thought it would be a genius idea to to chew a piece of that for the "calm" feeling I used to remember. To my horror, it actually had the opposite effect and I thought I was going to have a heart attack- not cool!

9759643ce5d97ab8fa649ae954656c4c

(3325)

on June 11, 2011
at 10:48 PM

I'm definitely under stress, but I have been for quite some time now. The cravings started immediately after I started IF. I also started having trouble sleeping. I think the adaption process has brought these things up for me. Before IF, I was eating a lot in the evenings and often went to bed with food in my belly. I would wake up feeling groggy and horrible, so an immediate benefit for me has been the elimination of that unhealthy cycle. I'm hoping the quality of my sleep will improve my stress level and then I can tackle the quantity of sleep I'm getting (after my nervous energy subsides).

0
C1a1a71943e7b27625d1f6f32b2feb6a

on July 24, 2013
at 07:04 PM

Dear Lunabelle. I'd like to suggest dopamine reward as the common denominator. IF sparks cravings as lack of food takes away the dopamine reward. Cigarettes provide the same reward, namely dopamine. Look up Dr. Kenneth Blum's Reward Deficiency Syndrome, often suggested to account, among other addiction phenomena, for the weight gain among quitters. It should get better, though I realize I'm not in your shoes...

0
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 01, 2011
at 06:44 PM

I'm fascinated by the other answers here about the stored nicotine being released from fat tissues, and am thinking they are probably right. But it also occurred to me nicotine is an appetite suppressant. Could you have been craving the cigarettes because you were hungry, and your brain remembered that cigarettes would stop that feeling?

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

(15833)

on August 01, 2011
at 08:32 PM

I have now noticed a definite correlation between periods when I'm losing weight and nicotine cravings. My weight is coming off in bursts, like 7 pounds in a week followed by several weeks of nothing. I can now determine when I'm losing weight because of the nicotine cravings, which I confirm by weighing myself. This is the strangest thing...

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