Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular diet types today. Many have sworn by its effectiveness, hence the drive of many more to give it a try. This technique refers to abstaining from eating for a set period of time before consuming food again during your specified eating window.
The rationale in intermittent fasting is that when you limit your food intake, your body starts to use up its stored fats and energy during your fasting window. If you’re trying to lose weight, this practice may be effective. Other proponents also suggest that intermittent fasting, when done correctly, may also improve your health and may promote longevity.
There are 5 stages of intermittent fasting, which can be daunting for first-timers. Nonetheless, here are four tips to help you succeed in this endeavor safely:
- Prepare Before You Start
Before you start intermittent fasting, take the time to prepare. You can’t really prepare your body for it, as you’ll only start to feel the adjustment on the first day that you begin intermittent fasting. However, you can prepare your meals for your eating window. By doing so, you can prevent crashing and binge-eating on unhealthy food when you feel the urge to eat more, while you still can during that timeframe.
A good way to do this is through pre-making freezer bags of chopped vegetables and fruits in batches that you can simply thaw and turn into a smoothie. You can have those healthy smoothies in replacement for unhealthy meals and beverages to keep you satiated and full during your eating window. Plus, the calorie count with fruits and vegetable are low, too.
If you’re keen on giving it a try, these are some of the best smoothie recipes with low-calorie counts:
- Green smoothie, using any green leafy vegetable like spinach or kale, then mixed with almond milk, avocado, and flax seeds.
- Red velvet smoothie, by creating a beet puree (or any red fruit) – plus, this gives you that added boost of Vitamin A and Calcium.
- Berry smoothie, using a mixed puree of almond milk, blackberries, and blueberries (which you can substitute with any other berry you prefer).
- Stay Hydrated
To keep your stomach feeling full, proper hydration is important. The next time you feel hungry, you might want to give it a second thought whether or not you really are hungry. Perhaps you’re just thirsty.
Staying hydrated, however, doesn’t give you a free pass to calorie-filled drinks, even during your eating window. Apart from the smoothies above, water will always be your best bet. You can also opt for plain coffee (minus all the unhealthy milk and cream) and low-carb teas.
If you’re not the type who drinks a lot of water, here are some tips that may help you develop this habit:
- Hydrate as soon as you wake up and right before meals.
- Bring a water bottle with your wherever you go.
- Add flavor to your water by infusing it with fruit slices.
- Start with a Doable Schedule
Take it easy on your body. During your first few days of intermittent fasting, you may want to start with an intermittent fasting schedule that’s doable for you. This can reduce the chances of failing to keep up or continue simply because your body was shocked by the drastic change.
For instance, if your goal is to eventually be able to do a 16:8 intermittent fasting schedule, this would mean fasting for 16 hours and eating within the eight-hour window. If you’re used to eating three meals and a snack, you may want to start with a fasting period of 12 hours and then gradually increase this until you reach the fasting period of 16 hours.
Starting small can help your body build tolerance for it, so you can also prevent crashing.
- Avoid Obsessing Over Food
When you’re on your fasting period, then you’ll surely want to skip those cooking shows you may have gotten used to watching. It’s not going to help your adjustment, as you’re only going to feel even hungrier. Plus, the adjustment will be more difficult.
Stop obsessing over food. Unless you were invited to a party or there’s a special occasion to celebrate, then do avoid giving yourself ‘rewards’ or ‘excuses’ to cheat during your fasting window.
It can be challenging to get started with intermittent fasting, especially when your body is used to eating at least three times a day. But gradually, your body would get used to the adjustment, and intermittent fasting can become your daily way of life.
These tips can help you stay safe and be successful with intermittent fasting. But, they’re not meant to substitute sound medical advice. As you start this new health and fitness pursuit, it’s also best to bring up your concerns with your doctor. By doing so, you know you’ve got sound advice from a medical professional also guiding you along the way.