Want to start intermittent fasting but don’t know how? Do not worry I got you covered. Here we are going to learn what intermittent fasting is and the mistakes you want to avoid once you start.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not a diet; it’s a way of scheduling your meals so that there are times when you eat (eating window) and times when you don’t eat (fasting window).
Some people put it this way: intermittent fasting is about when you eat, not what you eat. That is not entirely true, as we will see later in this post.
Intermittent fasting schedules.
The most popular method is the 16:8 fast. On this schedule, you have an eating window of 8 hours and a fasting window of 16 hours. For instance, your eating window starts at 11 am and ends at 7 pm. From 7 pm until the next morning at 11 am you don’t eat anything.
Intermittent fasting has become very popular as a way to lose weight as it cuts calories. However, many people are finding that this way of eating is not working for them. Let’s look at some of the possible reasons for this.
Mistakes To Avoid During IF
1. Too much dairy
When you’re intermittent fasting it’s important to be mindful of what you eat. Although dairy is healthy, it can be high in fat and therefore high in calories. Some people struggle to lose weight while intermittent fasting because they lose track of this fact.
2. Restricting all day and binging at night
We have all done this at some point in our lives – working all day with no time for a meal and then getting home absolutely starved. What’s the end result? You eat everything in sight regardless of its age or taste.
Be sensible, this is exactly what will happen to you if you eat for the first time at the end of the day. You are bound to consume way too many calories in that one sitting – more than if you had eaten another meal in your eating window.
Overeating at night shortly before you go to bed is not a good idea – it will interfere with your sleep quality due to ongoing digestion which should be completed before you go to bed.
To limit this craving for food too late in the day, consider scheduling an eating window between
10 am and 6 pm. Once you finish your fasting eat something light to start your digestion again. Don’t binge!
3. Not Enough Salt
Intermittent fasting leads to a drop in insulin levels and then the kidneys excrete excess water which can lead to a loss of water weight. With water loss comes a potential loss of electrolytes i.e. Na, K, Mg and Cl.
You want to avoid an electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes are important for many body functions, so make sure you add enough salt to your food during your eating windows to make up for this.
Keep in mind that fruit and vegetables are good sources of electrolytes so see that you eat enough of those as well.
4. Not Eating Enough
Not eating enough during intermittent fasting can backfire. If you cut too many calories you may become extremely hungry and be tempted to eat anything that you can lay your hands on. Extreme hunger often leads to indiscriminate overeating.
The answer is to use your eating windows to enjoy healthy, nutrition-dense food. It’s enough that you are not eating anything during your fasting window, you don’t need to starve yourself during your eating window as well.
Besides, doctors warn that we should always take in enough calories to keep our bodies functioning optimally. If we don’t eat enough, our organs can’t function and we end up extremely fatigued.
Also, you need to eat enough during your eating window so that you don’t get so hungry during your fasting window. So, you need to eat enough nutrient-dense food that will keep you satiated for longer. That means you must focus on eating complex carbs, healthy fats and protein.
5. Not having a big enough “Why’
To succeed at intermittent fasting, you have to be clear on why you are doing it. Intermittent fasting involves a profound lifestyle change, are you really prepared for that? Be realistic, it’s not easy to go without food for 16 hours day after day. You must have a pretty good reason to put yourself through that.
And not only that. Intermittent fasting involves changing what you eat. For intermittent fasting to work, you need to avoid sugars and follow a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, proteins and healthy fats. It won’t work on a diet of junk food eaten during your eating window and starving the rest of the time.
If you are not committed to a lifestyle change, it might be too hard to follow through on eating this way.
6. Not being prepared
Intermittent fasting involves a drastic lifestyle change. First, you will be eating at odd times, so you probably won’t have your meals with the rest of the family. You will be having breakfast when they are having a tea or a coffee break. If you work a standard 9-5 job, it will be difficult to follow the 16:8 schedule. It might be easier to do the alternate day fasting schedule.
The thing is, intermittent fasting doesn’t fit in with normal meal times and you must keep that in mind. You’ll have to figure out when you’ll have time to prepare your meals and when you’ll be able to eat them. If you don’t schedule time to prepare your meals, you’ll be tempted to eat whatever is at hand when your eating window arrives.
7. Eating The Wrong Foods
This is where most people slip up. They think that as long as they don’t eat for 16 hours, they can eat anything during their eating windows. The thing is, calories are still calories, no matter what window you’re in!
The body burns calories when you fast, but this gain will be lost if you eat indiscriminately during your eating window. For the best results, you should follow a low-carbohydrate diet that features nutrition-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, protein, healthy fats, whole grains and legumes.
If you consume nutrient-dense food, you will feel satisfied for longer and it will become easier to stay without food during your fasting period and you’ll be less tempted to overeat during your eating window.
Junk food doesn’t keep one satisfied, that’s why we eat so much of it.
During the eating period, you can eat whenever you want, but it’s not advisable to snack continuously. If you do this, plus eat two big meals, you are bound to ingest too many calories.
When you do snack, don’t go for the usual high-calorie crisps and biscuits. Rather go for water-rich vegetables and fruits like cucumber, celery, strawberries, watermelon and tomatoes.
9. Habit Eating
When you start intermittent fasting you can’t continue with old eating habits, especially not if you have been used to eating fast food and things like sweets and chocolates.
Intermittent fasting can help you to reduce your calorie intake, but if you make unhealthy food choices after a long fast, you could end up ingesting too many calories and gain weight instead of losing weight.
10. Not Enough Sleep or Handling Stress
If you are doing intermittent fasting to lose weight, getting enough sleep is crucial. Research has shown that there is a close link between lack of sleep and weight gain. People who sleep little tend to weigh more than people who regularly get enough sleep. That is because being tired and having no energy makes you want to eat something. We have all experienced that.
And did you know that people who sleep well tend to consume fewer calories than people who don’t sleep enough hours?
A good night’s sleep also has other benefits, including better concentration and productivity, protection against serious illnesses, and boosting the immune system. A good night’s sleep also helps you to handle stress better.
11. Not Personalizing Your Fast
This is another big mistake that many people make. As far as possible, your new eating regime should fit in with your existing habits. If you are someone who goes to bed late and gets up late in the mornings, don’t schedule your eating window to start at 6 am.
Also, if you usually eat every 3 of 4 hours, you’ll really suffer if you suddenly have a 16-hour fast window. Consider easing into the new schedule with a slightly longer eating window of 10 hours first. If you change to a long fasting window too suddenly, you might suffer from extreme hunger and be tempted to break your fast too early.
Of course, you don’t need to settle for the 16:8 schedule. Many people report excellent results from following the alternate-day fasting schedule. It is simple: you eat one day and the next day you fast. Alternatively, you can try the 5:2 schedule which allows you to eat regular meals on five days of the week and fast the other two days.
Bottom line, choose a schedule that is most likely to fit in with your current lifestyle otherwise you might set yourself up for failure.
12. Doing an Intense Workout During Your Fast Window
A healthy exercise program is important in conjunction with intermittent fasting. In fact, it will accelerate weight loss. However, a high-intensity workout on an empty stomach is not a good idea.
The point is, if you plan an intense workout, don’t plan hours before you can eat. Don’t go for a 20- mile run if you know you can only eat 6 hours later. Your body can’t function optimally during an intense workout session with no fuel in the tank.
13. Eating Whatever You Want During Your Window
This is a mistake that many people make. After starving themselves for hours, they feel free to make up for that by eating anything. If your goal was to lose weight, then you have to stay mindful of what you eat.
Facts remain facts: if you eat too many calories, you’ll put on weight, you won’t lose weight. What made you put on weight before you started intermittent fasting, will make you put on weight during intermittent fasting.
If you want to gain weight-loss benefits from intermittent fasting, you need to stop eating processed food and refined sugars and start eating more plant-based whole foods.
14. Not Drinking Enough Water
Drinking water can help you to lose weight if you drink it instead of other beverages that contain calories.
Drinking cold water may also be a way to speed up your metabolism. Researchers have found that drinking 1.5 liters of water per day can raise resting metabolism, leading to a weight loss of about 5 pounds in a year.
Water can also help fill you up so you don’t feel so hungry. Studies show that drinking water a half an hour before you eat can help you to eat less.
15. Feeling Guilty If You Eat Outside Your Window
It is normal to feel guilty when you do something that you promised yourself you wouldn’t do, like eating during your fasting window. But guilt is wasted energy. Don’t indulge in guilt- it doesn’t change anything.
If you find that you are very hungry and need to eat, you need to listen to your body and have something to eat. Experts warn that if we ignore hunger continuously, we fall out of sync with our bodies and end up developing an abnormal attitude towards food. Remember, intermittent fasting is not about starving yourself.
Rather than feeling guilty, remind yourself of the real reason you started intermittent fasting in the first place. Let that motivate you to push through and continue another day.
Intermittent fasting can help you to lose weight and it has many potential health benefits, but you must be realistic about it. It is hard to go without food for hours; you must be prepared for that. If you decide to give it a try, make sure you avoid the mistakes we discussed, and good luck to you!