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9 Things you should know about Intermittent Fasting

If you are thinking of starting an intermittent fasting programme, it is important to understand what you are getting into and how you can maximise the benefits. Below are some tips that you may find useful once you decide to give intermittent fasting a go. For a quick 101 on intermittent fasting, please take a look at the video. Remember to always consult your doctor or qualified healthcare practitioner before taking up a new eating plan.

1. Transition Slowly

When you begin the fasting process, it is best to ease into it and let your body become accustomed to the change. Choose one of the milder protocols, such as 16/8 for two days a week or maybe a single 12 hour fast, which builds up to 16 if you experience no ill effects. The 12/8 works as follows: On evenings that you are at home you eat dinner no later than around 6.00pm, for example. You then eat your next meal 16 hours later, at 10.00am the next morning. Lunch should be around 2.00pm and then dinner again at around 6.00pm. Some people find they would rather eat a big brunch around midday and then dinner at around 6.00pm. This method of intermittent fasting has many health benefits and is often considered easier to follow than other intermittent fasting protocols.

2. Don’t Let Yourself Become Faint

Intermittent fasting can be tough on your body to begin with, especially if you normally eat 6-8 small meals throughout the day. If this sounds like you, try starting with transitioning to fewer meals. You should never be so hungry that you feel faint. If this happens, it is time to eat and rethink your protocol.

3. Listen to Your Body

It is important to always listen to your body regardless of your eating plan, but even more so when on an intermittent fasting protocol. It is entirely possible that the first protocol you try will not be the best one for you and your body will let you know if this is the case. While it is good to give the protocol some time to start working, do not put yourself through months of discomfort just to reach your end goal. Your body always has the final say.

4. Don’t Binge!

Binge eating is a common and harmful mistake that a lot of beginners to intermittent fasting make. It is very tempting after a long fast to consume all the food you can get your hands on, thinking that you have ‘earned’ the right to a little excess. This is absolutely the wrong way to fast. You should be aiming to eat the same healthy and nourishing foods that you would on any healthy eating programme, only in a shorter space of time. Remember, your body has exactly the same nutritional needs, regardless of the time-frame in which you meet them.

5. Stay Hydrated

Make sure you stay hydrated while you are fasting. People often include drink in their fast, but water contains no calories and will not negatively affect the process. It is also possible to drink things like tea or coffee (black and unsweetened) as they contain no calories but this may not be advisable for you as caffeine can also make you more dehydrated.

6. Don’t Clock Watch

Fasting requires discipline but it shouldn’t consume your life. Try to make it a normal part of your daily routine that you follow without having to think too hard. Try setting a timer on your phone for when to eat, then you can take all the thought out of it and go about your day.

7. Fasting Hours Should Be While You Are Sleeping

Sleeping is a great way to get through a big chunk of fasting time. Your body naturally starts to slow down at night and does not burn as many calories as when you are active. When considering whether to add more fasting hours before or after sleeping, try to think whether you are naturally hungrier in the morning or the evening. If you normally wake up ravenous then it is better to get more hours in the night before so that you have less time to wait in the morning.

8. Keep Yourself Busy During Waking Fasting Hours

Over time, intermittent fasting will become second nature to you, but the transition can be difficult, as can the breaking of any long-held habit. Have a plan in place for how you are going to occupy your mind, such as work or hobbies. Most of the battle is in your mind and you can win this by staying busy and distracted.

9. Exercise While Fasting

This may not be for the absolute beginner, but there are certainly benefits to exercising during your fasting periods. Exercising towards the end of your fast is a great distraction. It is also easier to burn calories when fasting so you are doubling up on the calorie burning benefit. Remember to listen to your body when exercising. Stay well hydrated and never try to push through any faintness.

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