It's no wonder intermittent fasting is such a popular eating plan. No calories or macro counting, no expesive shakes and weird ingredient. Just a pormise of a slimmer and healthier you. But how exactly should you do it?
These are our top tips to consider during each stage of intermittent fasting.
STARTING YOUR FAST
It is preferable to start fasting little by little. Chances are, if you want to start off with a long fast, you won't be able to sustain it. Neither is your body or your mind ready for it.
It is best to start with a simple, intermittent 12/12 fast, meaning you leave a 12-hour window between your last and first meal. Since sleep is naturally part of your fasting, you may only need to have an earlier dinner and delay breakfast a bit to get there. You could have dinner at 7pm and breakfast at 7am the next day, fo example. Once you feel comfortable, you can begin to extended your fasting periods.
If you are thinking of fasting for a long time, you need to prepare in advance. First, you should start thinking about your eating habits, even before you start.
Studies reveal that animal-based products may need to be eliminated from your diet while you fast, as this along with skipping breakfast may have a significant desirable health effects on lipid (fat) profiles.
DURING THE FAST
You should drink plenty of water, at least 2 litres a day is recommended by specialists. You can also incorporate some infusions, as well as unsweetened green tea. Black coffee is also allowed. Dehydration is a common side effect as we receive a lot of water from fruits and vegetables, so increasing water intake is recommended.
You can carry out your activities as usual. In fact, it is advisable to exercise during fasting hours, as some studies show it may help increase fat burning.
And of course, you should always pay attention to what your body is telling you, and how you feel.
COMING OUT OF THE FAST
Keep in mind that all this is not much use if, when you stop fasting, you binge on junk food. Instead, fasting is a complement to a healthier life, where you take care of your diet and your physical condition.
That's why getting off fasting is almost as important as the fasting period itself. You should do this in a gradual and healthy manner.
A yogurt with cereals, fruits and seeds can be a perfect first meal to break the fast, if you have it for breakfast. And something with plenty of vegetables for lunch is the perfect option to replenish the nutrients.
KEEP IT IN MIND
Fasting is not for everyone! Individuals who are underweight, struggling with weight gain, under 18 years of age, pregnant or breastfeeding should not attempt an intermittent fasting diet as they need enough calories to develop.
While fasting, you may experience headaches, feeling cold and your energy levels may fluctuate. If hunger pains are interfering with your life, don't push through. The idea is to feel good, not to starve yourself.
Above all, if you feel poorly or have any doubts about wether or not you can fast, consult with a medical professional first.