Intermittent Fasting Tips
Tips for Intermittent Fasting
If you are trying to lose weight with Intermittent Fasting and fasting for 16 hours or longer, here are few tips and things to keep in mind for your longer fasting days.
1. When the “intense” hunger strikes, it should pass or ease up within 15 minutes. Take some deep breathes, drink a big glass of water or some hot, unsweetened tea to help take the edge off.
2. When it’s time to break your fast, try not to begin eating during that period of intense hunger, wait until it passes or eases up before you begin eating. And when you eat, EAT SLOWLY! Sit down to eat. Set your fork down and take a breath between bites. Eat distraction free, no reading or internet or TV. Enjoy the company of your dining companions, taste and contemplate your food, how it tastes – these are mindful eating tips but they are especially important when practicing IF so that you don’t mindlessly overeat because you’ve been fasting and gone a long stretch without food.
3. Eat nutrient dense foods first. This is ideal always, but it’s especially important when you’re practicing longer fasts – you need to nourish your body with good food! Quality protein, fruits, vegetables, nuts. Have a treat if you want one, but nutrition should be your priority. Pay attention to your fullness cues. As soon as you feel full and satisfied, stop eating.
4. Get busy! Don’t sit around thinking about how hungry you are or what you’re going to eat next, get up and get moving. Become fully present in what you’re doing. Do your best to stay occupied and keep your mind off food. I like to think about the mornings as “time to wok” – it’s when I get most of my low intensity movement in (light housework, yard work, etc) which is also great for burning stored fat for fuel.
5. Once your metabolism is better adapted at burning fat for fuel (something it is learns to do through IF) consider adding a few short, high intensity workout into your week. (Short and high intensity is key!) Even better if you can do so in a fasted state and your body is already cranking away using stored fat for fuel. Exercise squashes your appetite for a while too. This isn’t recommended if you’re brand new to IF or starting from a diet that is especially high in sugar and carbs – it could leave you feeling shaky or light headed, so proceed with caution and don’t do anything you feel is unsafe or worrisome. Be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
6. When you first begin fasting, you might find that you overeat when you break your fast, but this should resolve itself and even out over the course a few days as your body and brain figure out that you’re not starving or enduring a famine. You should eventually return to eating a normal sized meals despite having just gone 16 – 19 hours without eating.
7. Eat whenever you are hungry during your eating window. Calories count, but you are eating to sustain yourself during your next fast. It’s normal to feel hungry sooner after your last meal than you use to, especially if you’re exercising. and that’s OK – this is the time to eat, so eat! (Now go read Tip #3 again.)
8. Break up your week with longer fasts and shorter fasts. I like to do one or two 19, 20, 21 hour fasts a week, doing shorter fasts on the other days – whether it’s for an event or life circumstances or just to cut yourself some slack – it’s no big deal. 12, 14, 16 hour fasting days will eventually seem easy and normal, they will feel like a piece of cake after you’ve done a couple of 19 or 20 hour fast. A 12 – 14 hour fast is basically eating nothing between dinner and breakfast. A 12 hour fast still has plenty of benefits and reinforces some of the great lifestyle and habit change that IF can teach us. (One of the great things about IF is the way it shows times you would mindlessly eat, or if you struggle with emotional or boredom eating, you will be forced to find alternate ways of dealing with the uncomfortable feelings that you dealt with using food in the past.)
9. Intermittent Fasting is easier when eat high quality carbs (i.e., fruits and vegetables) that have a low glycemic index or in conjunction with protein and fat to keep your blood sugar stable. This helps encourage your body to become efficient at burning stored body fat for fuel and keeps you from feel the rebound hunger that comes with a blood sugar crash after eating too much sugar or a lot of carbs.
10. I prefer to finish my last meal of the day a couple hours before bedtime. If you ate enough during your eating window you shouldn’t feel true physical hunger in the evening hours. If I feel slightly hungry before bed, that hunger feeling is gone when I wake up in the morning (or even in the middle of the night.)
11. Get plenty of good quality sleep! A sleep deficit often leads us to feeling hungrier than usual and disrupts our hunger and satiety hormones. You need to make sleep a priority, it’s important for your overall health but will also make a difference in achieving your weight loss goals.
12. Give yourself permission ahead of time to break your fast sooner rather than later if you are feeling anxious about fasting. It can be scary to think “I’m going to be so hungry! It’s going to be awful!” Knowing that “if it gets really bad, it’s OK to eat” can help alleviate some stress and can save you from sabotaging your efforts because it seems overwhelming.
Are you an accomplished faster and have some tips to add? Please share what works for you in the comments below!