Intermittent fasting refers to the act of refraining from eating at certain intervals so you can achieve your weight loss goals. This weight loss approach involves skipping some meals so as to prompt your body to burn unwanted fat to produce energy. During fasting periods, the body basically goes into some form of ketosis (burning fat instead of carbohydrates for energy). The fat burned in the process of energy production is what leads to weight loss. In a nutshell, intermittent fasting basically involves alternating periods of eating and fasting in a programmatic manner.
Intermittent fasting is most effective for people with high food-to-fat conversion rates – those who tend to pack on weight even when taking small amounts of food. The effectiveness of this method, however, depends on how keenly you follow and adhere to your plan. To get the most out of intermittent fasting, you will also need to know a few Dos and Don’ts of this weight loss technique. Here are some dos and don’ts along with crucial info you’ll want to know about intermittent fasting.
Have a plan
If anything you wish to achieve is going to work, you need to have a plan. The same obviously applies to intermittent fasting. To make a plan, you need to have defined goals and reasons as to why you are fasting in the first place. You also have to consider factors unique to your body, such as existing health conditions, so that your plan will be detailed enough to make sure the method works best for you. Before you enter into any diet plan or start intermittent fasting, you should schedule an appointment to see your doctor to get their advice.
Drink lots of water
Since you are deliberately going to deprive yourself of food, you need to ensure that you remain hydrated. Drinking water during intermittent fasting is crucial. If you ask an expert nutritionist the question ‘what can I drink while fasting’, water will be the first answer you receive. Those who are in moderate fasting should only drink non-caloric drinks, while those undergoing open fasting should avoid drinks that are more than 20 kcal.
While fasting, water helps give your stomach the feeling of fullness, curbing your hunger. On normal days, you would typically drink a few glasses of fluid, and the food you eat also contains water, helping keep you hydrated. Drinking more water during fasting helps make up the water deficit due to the lack of food being eaten, helping you stay hydrated when on an intermittent fasting journey.
Pay attention to your body
Our bodies will all react differently to fasting, so there is no way of really telling how you will react until you have actually started fasting. Pay attention to any changes to your body, energy levels or any other negative symptoms that may arise when you start fasting. If you start feeling weak, dizzy, or or you otherwise feel like you can’t go about your normal daily routines, immediately stop the fast.
You may feel tired or groggy when you first start fasting, as your body is working on less energy than it is typically used to. If this feeling continues, you should consider stopping the fast or seeking medical advice from your doctor.
Don’t fast if you have a health condition
Fasting isn’t meant for everybody. If you have a chronic illness, are pregnant, or are under medication, your body needs all the energy it can get. Fasting deprives the body of this energy, making entering into a fasting schedule inadvisable. While intermittent fasting is essentially a way to lose weight and maintain weight loss, there are other weight loss methods that may be more suited to your specific needs. Have a chat with your doctor to get some advice on which weight loss methods may be best for you.
Avoid eating too much the day before fasting
When you know that the next day you may not be eating much, if anything, you might be tempted to overindulge the night before. It’s good to fuel up for the next day but you should avoid fatty meals. Your body needs slow-burning nutrients that will leave you energised for the following day so it’s best to opt for nutrient dense foods such as carbohydrates, proteins, and unsaturated fats.
Avoid energy-demanding activities during fasting
If you are going to lose any weight or at least maintain any weight loss you have already achieved, you need to balance diet (fasting) with exercise. That said, working out or engaging in strenuous activities when you are fasting is not advisable. Studies show that light to moderate exercises is more beneficial than strenuous exercise. Overdoing it can have a negative effect on your body and can also take a toll on your mental state, making it more difficult to maintain your fasting routine. At the same time, don’t use the fact that you’re fasting as an excuse to sit around and do nothing.
Types of intermittent fasting
As you may already know, there are various styles of intermittent fasting. All of them may be effective in achieving the weight loss results you are chasing, but at varying rates depending on the style you choose and diligently observe the rules. Some popular intermittent fasting approaches include:
- Overnight fasting. Where you restrict your eating to daytime hours (such as 6am-6pm), 12-hour fasting, and eating periods.
- Eat, stop, eat. Fast for 24 hours at least one or two days a week combined with resistance training.
- Whole-day fasting. You take only one meal a day.
- 16/8 fasting. You fast for 16 hours a day, eating only during the remaining eight hours (such as 8am-4pm).
- 5:2 fasting. You maintain normal eating for five days but restrict your caloric intake to 500-600 calories for the remaining two days of the week.
- Alternate-day fasting. Fast every other day, with calories restricted to 500 or less on fasting days.
Intermittent fasting is quite effective in maintaining a healthy weight as well as in weight reduction. Due to the effect that fasting may have on the body, you should check with your doctor before attempting any kind of fast to make sure that you won’t be doing yourself any harm. If you need to schedule an appointment with a doctor, the fastest and easiest way to search for and book healthcare appointments online is through MyHealth1st.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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