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Here are some intermittent fasting tips to help you if you’re just starting out on your intermittent fasting journey. Or even if you’ve been doing it for a while. There are tips here for everyone.
Before I progress any further please note that I am not an expert on intermittent fasting (or anything for that matter). The information provided here is solely based on my personal experience with intermittent fasting. It does not constitute medical advice. Before you embark on any kind of fast please seek advice from your own health care provider.
I have only been fasting for a very short time and these tips are more so for me than they are for anyone else that’s reading this.
I got into intermittent fasting after reading this incredibly amazing book on fasting. The benefits of which are too numerous to mention here. Some of which I have experienced personally in just the short time I have been fasting. I don’t particularly follow all the recipes in the book but it’s very useful and I’m incredibly grateful to have stumbled upon such a life changing gem.
Intermittent fasting is something I intend to do for the rest of my life.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating schedule. What this means is that you schedule and eat your meals within a certain period known as the feeding window.
The remaining time, during which you’re not eating, is the fast. It’s intermittent in the sense that you have periods or eating and fasting.
Intermittent fasting is not a diet.
Intermittent fasting does not restrict how much food and drink you consume. It only allows you a limited time to consume your diet. However much you wish to, and can, consume within your feeding window is entirely up to you.
Having said that, there are certain foods that do better on intermittent fasting.
What to Eat When Intermittent Fasting
Depending on how long you fast for, your body may start burning fat for fuel instead of glucose. This tends to occur after 12 – 18 hours of fasting. By eating a high fat diet your body will continue burning fat for fuel even when you’re not fasting.
This is the coveted state of ketosis which has been shown to have numerous health benefits, one of which is weight loss.
That’s why the Ketogenic diet is very popular with intermittent fasting. Ketogenic diet is a diet that consists of high fat, moderate protein and low carb.
A common approach to intermittent fasting is to follow a ketogenic or a low carb diet.
This way, the body can maintain a state of ketosis for much longer instead of alternating between burning glucose and burning fat for fuel. Ideally, a low carb diet is encouraged when intermittent fasting. But this is not always possible.
What you should eat when intermittent fasting should be based on what your body can tolerate. At the moment, I try to eat low carb whenever I can and I don’t follow a strict ketogenic diet.
There are various methods when it comes to intermittent fasting and these methods focus on the fasting and feeding periods.
In other words these methods are all based around how you schedule your meals. Meals can be scheduled over a period of hours, days or weeks. Most people schedule their meals around a regular 24-hour day.
Daily Intermittent Fasting Schedule
There are other fasting periods that go beyond a 24-hour period such as the 36, 48 or 72 hour fasts. That is however outside the scope of this post for daily intermittent fasting. Which is what I do.
The image below shows some of the most popular daily intermittent fasting methods.
I currently fast for 22 hours daily. That means I eat all my food within a 2-hour window. The fasting or eating window you choose depends entirely on your individual situation.
Whatever intermittent fasting option you decide on, the following tips will hopefully help make your journey easier and more sustainable.
7 Intermittent Fasting Tips for Beginners
You will fail several times over on your intermittent fasting journey. There’s no doubt about that. You’re either going to fail in your eating schedule or your actual diet (if you’re following one). Failure is inevitable.
You need to learn and accept that fact now before you even begin.
There will be days, weeks or even months when you will not feel like fasting at all. And that’s okay. You’re human after all. We’re all human. What you need to do, is to quickly forgive yourself and move on. Do not dwell on your shortcomings and use failure as an excuse to give up.
Let’s say you’re driving home and your car breaks down on the way. Would you remain where you are and accept that your journey is over? That there’s no point going home.
Here’s what I think. I think you would do everything necessary to get home.
You’d feel frustrated, mad or angry. Then you’d accept what has happened and figure out a way to get from that point to your destination. Simple!
It’s the same with intermittent fasting. When things don’t go according to plan, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, take your time to deal with the issue. Figure it out, make the necessary adjustments and move on. Intermittent fasting is not a race. It’s a journey towards good health.
Progress is what counts. Progress over perfection.
Set realistic goals
You’ll fail less if you set goals you can achieve in the first place. Setting an achievable goal does not mean you’re not challenging yourself enough. It just means you’re being realistic and willing to grow. Progress is a better way to advance than failing many times over.
There’s only so much failure you can take before you get discouraged and pack things up because it’s too hard and unattainable. Rightly so.
The easiest way to approach things is to only set one goal at a time.
When starting out with intermittent fasting, it’s important to simplify the process as much as possible. Don’t over complicate things by trying to achieve too many goals at once. For example, don’t start a vegan diet with exercising and intermittent fasting all at once. Unless of course you’re already exercising and on a vegan diet. If not, don’t.
What you should do instead is to add one simple uncomplicated layer at a time.
When that has been ticked off, go ahead and set another. Master a single layer first. Get comfortable with it before adding another layer on top.
Also remember that your goals are exactly that. Yours.
They’re not set in stone or legally binding with severe consequences if not met. While it would be nice to achieve certain goals, you cannot hope to achieve what you cannot achieve. If that makes sense.
So set realistic goals and adjust them as you go along if need be.
Have a clear fasting plan
Have a clear plan as to how you want to achieve your goal. Especially as it relates to the type of intermittent fasting method you want to embark on long term.
When I started intermittent fasting I didn’t have a plan. My very first fast was a 36-hour fast. Huge mistake. While I successfully completed the fast (with great difficulty I must say), I couldn’t do it again. The next time I tried to fast for 36 hours which was a few days after the first fast, I failed miserably.
What I ended up doing for a few weeks instead, a very unstructured mix of all sorts of fasts. Let’s just say what I was doing, wasn’t really intermittent fasting. I was just eating at random. No surprise that I didn’t achieve any success. I struggled with hunger pangs a lot during that time and had absolutely zero focus.
It took a while to dig myself out that situation and start my journey all over again. It took longer than necessary to now be on the right path, but we learn from our mistakes.
When you decide to start intermittent fasting you’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and heartache by setting a clear fasting plan from the start.
There are various intermittent fasting protocols to choose from. Sometimes you can’t really tell which one works best for you until you actually start fasting. It does however help to have a plan in place and something to aim for. A reference point that you can use to measure or adjust your fasting as you go along.
Choose an easy intermittent fasting schedule to begin with and work your way up from there. Reducing your feeding windows as you go along.
Treat your body with respect
Stay hydrated and make healthy food choices. No matter how long and hard you fast if you don’t eat the right foods you’ll end up at the starting point somewhere down the road. Especially if you’re fasting for health reasons.
During a state of fasting especially for fasts lasting over 18 hours, your body works so hard to clean up your cells and revitalize them. The last thing you want to do is grab some rubbish and dump them into your body and cause additional stress for another intense round of cleanup. So treat your body with some dignity and enjoy a healthier life. Adjust your whatever you put in your body towards a more healthy scale. If it’s not food, don’t eat it.
Eat mostly foods that have not hugely been interfered with and are still close to their natural form. Avoid heavily processed foods and food additives.
Eat each meal to satisfaction.
When you are fasting intermittently you should be eating enough to last you for a while. Intermittent fasting is not the same as starving. You should not deny your body food and nourishment during periods of eating.
One easy way to know if you’re eating enough is whether you feel satisfied after eating. Please do not binge. That’s very unhealthy and there’s no need for that.
Eat to your satiation point and stop.
Go by whatever markers that work best for you. If that involves counting calories then by all means count your calories.
Whatever you do, never ever starve yourself (and never binge). With time your body will gradually adjust and you’ll be able to tell more easily how much you need to consume to last you until your next feeding period.
Look after yourself both physically and mentally. Self care cannot be overlooked when embarking on something ans life changing as intermittent fasting.
When you’re ready, incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Exercise has a way of making you feel an added boost in morale. Apart from the general benefits of exercise, i.e. weight loss, muscle improvement etc, exercise adds an extra layer of discipline and drive when you’re intermittent fasting.
Have a daily routine
When you start intermittent fasting, you’ll have some extra free time on your hands. Time you otherwise would have spent preparing and eating food.
How you spend all that time is very important. It’s actually quite common when fasting to spend all your free time on meaningless endeavors. Like thinking and fantasizing about food.
This can only cause you to feel frustrated and probably break your fasts prematurely because you’re bored. This is why a daily routine is important.
Plan your day and stick to it as much as possible. This includes planning your meals in advance.
Nowadays I tend to cook a maximum of 3 times a week. I do a lot of meal prepping and cook mostly on Mondays and Fridays. I also read and exercise daily. It’s amazing that I still have the same 24 hours in a day as I did before. But I achieve a lot more now with that time.
If you don’t have a hobby, now is the time to get one.
Measure your progress
Whether you like how your progress is going or not, you need to measure it and keep track. This is the only way you can know when you reach your goal. Measuring your progress will show you whether you’re on the right track or not. If not, then you can easily adjust things to get you back on track.
Same thing applies if you’re already on the right path. If you find what’s working you can stick to it and achieve even better results.
How you choose to measure your progress depends on what your overall goal is. If you’re doing intermittent fasting to lose weight then it makes sense to weigh yourself periodically. That’s a good way to know if you’re losing the desired weight.
Measuring is always a good way to assess your current position as it relates to where you’re going.
Personally. I measure my blood pressure every day or as often as I can. I started intermittent fasting as a way to keep my blood pressure under control.
By tracking my blood pressure, I have been able to adjust my eating window to where it is now. So measure, adjust and measure your progress as often as required.
Do not obsessively track your progress. You’ll only set yourself up for frustration or a complete breakdown when things go awry. Because they will.
Intermittent fasting is a personal journey. So stay in your lane and stay focused. Avoid unnecessary distractions and things that do not build and encourage you.
However, in seeking encouragement, seek it wisely. Seek encouragement from like-minded people who are on a similar journey. For one, avoid trawling the internet and searching for how fast it took other people to achieve their goals on intermittent fasting. While it’s good to see other people’s achievements, you can quickly become discouraged if you’re not getting the same or similar results.
You’re a unique human being. What worked for other people may not necessarily work for you. You’ll need to figure out your own path and what’s best for you.
I highly recommend the Reddit Intermittent Fasting Community. But as with every social media platform, apply caution.
Don’t look outside yourself for the solution to your success. You already have the ability to do intermittent fasting. All that’s required is a goal, a plan and some focus.
Also, there’s no need to explain yourself to or seek approval from anybody. Unless of course they’re your primary care provider.
So focus completely on yourself and know that this is an individual journey and not a race. It is a lifestyle. Your lifestyle. Live and enjoy it for yourself.
It’s okay to take time off. It’s okay to fail. The important thing is that you continue to make progress in your health and well-being no matter how little.
If intermittent fasting is right for you, you’ll eventually reap the benefits in your own time. I hope you’ve found these intermittent fasting tips useful and I wish you every success in your journey.