Health

Intermittent Fasting Do’s and Don’ts

photo of empty dish and a dessert fork
The benefits of intermittent fasting are plenty and have been scientifically proven. From weight loss, improved heart health and increased energy levels, daily practice can optimize your overall health and quality of life. If you’re new to intermittent fasting, here are some useful tips to keep in mind during your fasts.

DO: Consult With An Expert

While intermittent fasting is an effective tool that can help improve your health, it is best to consult with an expert before immediately trying a fasting program, especially if you have an underlying health issue, experiencing nutritional deficiencies, are pregnant or breastfeeding. With any form of fasting, you can encounter common symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, mental fog, lowered energy levels as your body adapts and transitions to using fat for fuel instead of sugar.

DO: Be Patient With Yourself

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Changing your dietary lifestyle habits will take time. According to health psychologist, Phillipa Lally, it takes people roughly about 12 weeks or 86 days to really form a habit. If you’re focus is to lose weight, keep in mind that weight loss varies from person to person so you may not see significant and concrete results immediately, as most of the weight you will be shedding will be water weight.

DO: Keep Track Of Your Fasting Progress

Be consistent. If you want to see changes in your health, you need to stay consistent and be accountable. There are many free apps available that can help you track your fasts and progress such as the LIFE Fasting Tracker or Zero. You can also browse a variety of subreddits on Reddit such as r/intermittentfasting, r/fasting, r/extendedfasting for any questions, encouragement and accountability.

DO: Replenish Your Electrolytes

Your body and your heart require electrolytes to function well. Electrolytes are important minerals that include sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium and many others which are found in the body and in a variety of food sources that are essential for the functioning of our cells and organs.

During your fast, make sure to listen to your body, stay hydrated and replenish your electrolytes so you can prevent symptoms that can cause you to feel lightheaded, dizzy, fatigued due to the loss of electrolytes.

DON’T: Avoid Being Active During Your Fasts

Fasting can be stressful to the body, so make sure to find ways to stay relaxed. A great way to do this is to get the body active and moving through exercise which will release endorphins and relieve stress. Here’s a great list of energizing, full body workouts you can try right now that don’t require any equipment.

Another alternative is simply going for a walk which will help keep you busy, especially if all you’re thinking about is eating. Research shows that walking while fasting is no more stressful than walking on eating days; in fact, fasting subjects spontaneously maintain their daily step count without affecting the benefits.

DON’T: Overfeed During Your Eating Window

If you’ve opted for a longer, prolonged fast (more than 72 hours), you need to avoid shocking and bloating your system with a huge meal that’s high in calories and carbohydrates. Stick with your normal eating routine and consider starting small with easily digestible foods to help your body slowly adapt back to eating.

DON’T: Let Unhealthy Foods Overshare Their Welcome

To get the most out of this practice, cultivate eating more whole foods such as meat, fish, eggs, vegetables and fruits in your diet and reducing your consumption of:

  • Fast Foods
  • Processed Foods
  • Sweets
  • Simple Carbs
  • Sugary Sodas
  • Sweetened Fruit Juice

The most delicious of foods are often those that are the most unhealthy for our bodies. As Michael Pollan says in his book, ‘Food Rules’, treat treats as treats and don’t let them overshare their welcome.

DON’T: Fast Too Long

If you’re just starting out, keep your fasting regimens short and up to a maximum 24 hours. Extended fasting higher than 24 hours can increase your risk in encountering symptoms such as dehydration, mood changes, irritability, lack of focus and decreased energy levels. Start slow and gradually build up your fasting windows once your body gets used to going without food longer.

Let’s Discuss!

How is your intermittent fasting journey going? Have you noticed an improvement in your health? Let us know in the comments below!

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