6 Practical Tips for Getting Started With (& Sticking To) Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) boasts notable benefits such as improved mental clarity, increased fat burning, and better digestion—so it’s no surprise that you may be intrigued to give IF a try. Many people have found incredible success with it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park when it comes to getting started.
Here are 6 of my top tips before you start an intermittent fasting program and how to optimize results.
Tip #1: Start slow
Don’t try to attempt a prolonged fast right off the bat. Even a regular “mini” fast of 12 hours will do wonders for your energy, metabolism, and mood. Keep it simple and start off by leaving 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. For example, if you eat dinner at 7pm, you would then have breakfast no earlier than 7am the following day.
Do this for the first few weeks, which is enough time to see how your body reacts to this new pattern of eating.
Tip #2: Completely abstain from food
During your fast, you should completely abstain from consuming calories. That means that even a seemingly health snack like a piece of fruit or a small handful of nuts can knock you out of your fasting state. I’ve seen people trick themselves into thinking they’re fasting by failing to notice that they’re still adding cream and sugar to their coffee. I can’t stress how important it is to be incredibly mindful about not consuming any calories during your fasting hours.
Tip: 3: Stay Hydrated
Looking for a way to curb your appetite during your fast? Enjoy calorie-free drinks such as water, black coffee, and even green tea, which has been shown to decrease hunger and boost fat burning. But as mentioned earlier, don’t sneak in cream or sugar to your drinks, and be careful to not over-caffeinate.
Tip #4: Break your fast with quality calories
You may think that you deserve a super indulgent treat or cheat meal after your fast but gorging on foods high in calories and low in nutritional value will only keep you from your health goals. Instead, fill up on quality calories in the form of whole foods, including plenty of fibre-filled veggies and high quality proteins, and a healthy source of fat at each meal.
Tip #5: Eat enough
Although intermittent fasting doesn’t give you a free pass to eat cheeseburgers and candy, it’s important to not restrict calories either. Your body still needs nutrient-dense foods, even if you’re changing the hours in which you eat them. If you skip breakfast, be sure to fill up at lunch and dinner with enough calories to meet your daily needs. Otherwise, you’ll get hungry during your fasting hours, making it harder to stay on track.
Tip #6: Get a good night’s rest
Studies show that when we’re sleep deprived, we’re hungrier and more likely to give into cravings. Increased hunger means more temptation which makes fasting more difficult. Instead, aim to be asleep by 11pm at the latest to give your body enough rest and keep fat-regulating hormones such as insulin in check.
A final word on intermittent fasting
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach that works for everyone, and that’s especially true with intermittent fasting.
Fasting may increase the stress hormone cortisol and for people suffering from adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, and eating disorders, this may cause more harm than good. At the same time, given all of the potential health benefits of intermittent fasting, don’t count yourself out before trying. Working with a qualified health professional who is experienced with IF may be especially helpful as you start out in order to set yourself up for success over the long-term.
Do you have any more questions on intermittent fasting? Have you tried it yourself? I’d love to hear below!
Danica is a holistic nutritionist, wellness expert and health coach on a mission to help women around the world find their optimal well-being. She is the founder of Nakd Health, where she coaches clients to prioritize wellness in their busy lives with delicious recipes, nutrition advice, fitness and lifestyle changes.