Intermittent Fasting: Dos and Don’ts
Check out the most important intermittent fasting dos and don’ts to ensure you get the most out of your fast.
Set yourself up for success by learning about the essential intermittent fasting dos and don’t.
If you feel like your diet could use some improvement, fasting might the answer. It can help regulate your appetite, aid in weight loss, and help prevent long term cognitive degeneration. Unfortunately, fasting can be daunting. That’s why we’ve compiled the most important intermittent fasting dos and don’ts so it’s as easy as possible to achieve the benefits from the age-old practice. Keep in mind that if you’re underweight or recovering from an eating disorder, fasting probably isn’t going to benefit you. No matter who you are, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before diving into fasting, and before making any other significant dietary change.
Simplify your fast and make it as enjoyable as possible with these helpful tips.
Drink lots of water and other zero calorie beverages
Don’t worry, caffeine addicts — there’s no need to cut out coffee or caffeinated tea during your fast, so long as you’re not adding tons of cream or sugar. Ultimately, the goal is not to consume any calories, so that your body is able to yield the benefits of food deprivation. However, some experts argue that up to 50 calories will still allow you to experience these benefits. Keep in mind that experts also advise against diet sodas, and anything that’s generally processed. The ingredients in diet sodas specifically can exacerbate feelings of hunger. Instead, try drinking a delicious fruit-infused sparkling water, like this Pastèque-flavored LaCroix.
Your initial thought might be to fast on a day when your schedule is completely and utterly empty. On the contrary, you should actually try to stay occupied on the day of your fast. Your mind will be focused on the tasks you’ve laid out for yourself, rather than the lack of food in your stomach. Tons of people accidentally complete 24-hour fasts on days when they’re too busy to eat, which we don’t recommend, but it goes to show that when you’re busy, fasting is much easier. Think about it — when was the last time you watched a movie on a lazy Sunday without eating your way through your entire kitchen? But maybe I’m just projecting . . .
Break the fast with a healthy, normal-portioned meal
It’s important to resist the urge to binge after you’ve successfully completed your fast. Since your digestive system has been resting during the period without food, consuming a huge amount of food at once is likely to upset your stomach. You’ll feel sluggish and borderline awful if you give into the urge to eat everything in sight. The feeling of regret could make you less likely to fast again in the future, and it’s the consistency of fasting approximately one day per week that leads to the benefits of weight loss, appetite regulation, and improved focus. Trust us, you’ll feel plenty full and content with a healthy, normal-portioned meal following the fast.
Don’t go fast-crazy
Fasting for a full 24 hours is quite the feat. If you’re new to fasting, we recommend starting with just one day per week. If you feel up for it in the future, you can bump it up to two nonconsecutive days, which seems to be the maximum recommendation according to experts. To see weight loss and hunger management improve, it’s imperative to remain consistent for several weeks.
Eat normally on the other days of the week
It’s incredibly important to get a healthy number of calories and nutrients on the days of the week when you’re not fasting. Hopefully this is easy to accomplish, since many people take up fasting for the express purpose of not wanting to limit themselves on the remaining days of the week. Basically, don’t deprive yourself. Try to eat well-portioned, nutrient dense foods, but definitely don’t feel bad about having a glass of wine or an extra piece of garlic bread. Listen to your body, and try your best to give it what it needs.
While we primarily focused on the 24-hour fast in this blog, there’s also other great intermittent fasting options in which the fasting period is much shorter. If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of a 24-hour fast, start with just 12 hours, in which seven or eight are spent sleeping, and build up to the 24-hour over an extended period of time. Alternatively, stick with 12-hour fasts everyday or every other day. Ultimately, you need to find what works best for you. There’s no right answer when it comes to how long your fast should be. Do what feels best for your body!
We hope these intermittent fasting dos and don’ts will allow you to flourish during your fast.