Many people consider the 16/8 method the simplest and most sustainable way of intermittent fasting — this is a good place to start.
Another approach is to simply fast whenever it’s convenient. Skip meals from time to time when you’re not hungry or don’t have time to cook.
The following tips may help people stay on track and maximize the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Ok, let’s do it!
1. Give it time.
Start slowly. Start small. Start gradually. Give yourself time to adjust!
Of course you want results right away…
You need to give yourself body time to adjust to fasting, particularly if this is your first time.
Remember that it’s normal to get hunger pangs when you first start and chances are you’ll slip up a handful of times too, this is also OK and normal!
It doesn’t mean you need to give up or that it won’t work for you. Instead it’s an opportunity to learn, to question why or how you slipped up and take steps to stop it from happening again.
Trust the process and follow through even when it get’s tough. You can do it!
Go Gradual For Greater Success
Say you’ve chosen the 16:8 plan. You decide to start tomorrow. If you’re used to eating at 8 a.m., no need to push yourself the first day until noon. It’s OK to work your way up to it. Delay your breakfast 30 minutes, then an hour, and so on. Gradually increasing your fasting window will prevent issues like headaches, dizziness, low energy, and general sadness about not eating.
3. Exercise, but don’t overdo it.
You really should combine exercise with intermittent fasting to get the most out of it. Just don’t overdo it.
Don’t attempt to run a triathlon or expect to max out your reps when you’re exercising in a fasted state, but do perform light to moderate cardio and bodyweight exercises. Stop immediately at any time if you feel week or dizzy, and remember to drink water while intermittent fasting!
Things to consider with excersise and intermittent fasting:
- how much exercise/training you do on a regular basis
- how intense you work out
- how well you rest and recover
- how well intermittent fasting is fitting into your regular routine and normal social activities
- your stress level and other demands
4. Start Your Fast After Dinner
One of the best tips I can give you is to start your fast after dinner.
Doing this means you’ll spend a big chunk of your fasting period asleep.
Particularly when using a daily fasting setup like 16:8 if you start fasting after dinner it might look something like this:
- You’ll spend 1 – 3 hours watching tv, getting ready for bed, etc.
- You’ll spend 6 – 9 hours asleep
You’ve already fasted for anywhere from 7 to 12 hours, making a 16 hour much more manageable. Once you get up in the morning, really all you’ll be doing is skipping breakfast.
5. Break Your Fast With A Normal Sized Meal
The food you eat can influence your ability to both stick to your diet and stick to your fast and this is where intermittent fasting can help you out big time.
- Making every calorie count. If the chosen plan allows some calories during fasting periods, select nutrient-dense foods that are rich in protein, fiber, and healthful fats. Examples include beans, lentils, eggs, fish, nuts, and avocado.
- Eating high-volume foods. Select filling yet low-calorie foods, which include popcorn, raw vegetables, and fruits with high water content, like grapes and watermelon.
- Increasing the taste without the calories. Season meals generously with garlic, herbs, spices, or vinegar.
What you DO eat is as important as what you DON’T eat.
Get the nutritional basics down first. Eat good quality food, in the right amounts, at the right times. For most people, this is enough to get into great shape.
Just remember intermittent fasting isn’t an excuse to eat whatever you want. It’s all about calories in and calories out. Be smart and make healthy choices.
6. Use Drinks to Trick your Stomach
Drink a Ton of Water
One thing intermittent fasting has taught me is that what I thought was hunger was probably thirst or boredom. Drinking tons of water throughout the day will keep your stomach full, help you feel more alert, and help satiate that need or habit of having to put something in your mouth.
Drinking tea, black coffee, or sparkling water can help too, I often have a tea or coffee around 9:30 or 10 a.m. if I feel a little hungry, and it kicks the hunger immediately. Without a doubt hunger pangs will set-in from time to time when fasting.
As long as the drink is 0 calories you’re good to go, examples include;
- Sparkling water
- Black coffee
- Black tea
- Green tea
- Diet drinks
7. Stay Busy
Avoiding obsessing over food. Plan plenty of distractions on fasting days to avoid thinking about food, such as catching up on paperwork or going to see a movie.
Day one of intermittent fasting might feel amazing. You’ll be on a high from trying something new, and you’ll love the increased clarity and energy you’ll feel in a fasted state. Days two through four may be absolute hell. Thoughts of doubt, sadness, rage, and daydreams of swimming in bowls of mac and cheese will absolutely happen.
The best way to get through this is to keep busy. Start intermittent fasting on a day or week that you’re on the go.
Don’t torture yourself by doing things that involve food. Stay out of the kitchen and away from grocery stores and restaurants. Avoid watching other people eat, etc.
Boredom is the enemy.
It’s the silent killer that creeps in to destroy your progress little by little, slowly wearing you down and pulling you backwards.
Think about it…
How many times has being bored lead you to eat more than you should do, want to or even realize you are.
- You’re doing something mundane at work and the snacks left in the kitchen are beckoning
- You’re at home watching Netflix, it’s ok but not captivating and you find yourself mindlessly reaching for the snacks
But what is it about being bored that causes you to eat?
You can thank dopamine, a chemical in the brain, for this.
Dopamine is the reason you feel good when you accomplish a goal and is responsible for reward-motivated behavior.
Interestingly, it’s been found that eating can stimulate the release of dopamine and as a result the good feelings it provides.
It’s really not surprising that you eat more when bored, you’re practically hardwired to chase that dopamine high.
8. Stick To A Plan
Having a routine makes it so much easier to stick to intermittent fasting. When you discover what works for you and stick to it every day you remove the doubt and second-guessing from the equation.
- Beginning and breaking your fast at regular times every day
- Using a weekly diet where you eat the same (or similar) things each day. I eat eggs every day for brunch
- Prepping food in advance
All you have to do is follow through.
Not mention that establishing a routine helps to remove decision fatigue.
Decision fatigue is the term given to the deterioration of your ability to make decisions after a prolonged period of making decisions.
What this means is that if you’re continually having to make decisions like;
- What you’ll eat
- When you’ll eat it
- When you have time to cook it
- If it fits your calories and macros
You’ll eventually get to the point where you make the wrong or easy decision because you’re ‘decision making muscle’ is worn out.
By reducing the number of decisions you need to make each day you’re essentially removing the potential barriers to your success.
If you’re struggling to see the progress you want and often find yourself straying from your diet and fasting hours, you will benefit from implementing a routine.
9. Expect ups and downs.
They happen, it’s part of life, and it’s part of the process. By staying open-minded and not panicking during the downs you’ll figure out how to have more ups.
This is one of those points…
Intermittent fasting is not a quick fix or shortcut to reach your goals if nothing else is working for you.
It’s purely another dietary setup than can work very well for some people, if it’s used properly and fits in with their lifestyle.
When you’re intermittent fasting it’s important to keep this in mind and know that, yes, it can bring incredible results, but these results are reliant on many factors.
- Hitting your calorie and macronutrient goal
- Training consistently
- Applying progressive overload
The same goes for all diet setups, so whether you’re using intermittent fasting or something else you need to keep this in mind.
How To Foster This Mindset In 3 Steps
- Set your goals based on realistic expectations of what’s actually possible not what you wish was possible
- Be single minded in your efforts and understand that consistent effort towards a singular goal is the best route to success
- Be patient. Realize that just as you didn’t lose the body of your dreams in a day, week or month, neither will you build it that quickly
Choose a Plan That Suits Your Life
There are a few types of intermittent fasting, including 16:8 (fast for 16 hours, eat for eight), 5:2 (significantly limit your calories two days a week and eat regularly the other five days), and the Warrior Diet (eat four hours, fast for 20).
I started off eating 10 hours and fasting for 14 hours, and now with almost nine months of IF under my belt, I pretty much eat during a seven-hour window and fast for 17 hours. That’s just what works for me and feels the most effortless.
Some people might want to skip dinner instead. Find a plan that works with your schedule and lifestyle, a plan you can sustain, especially if intermittent fasting is something you want to do long-term. This may take a little time, so be flexible and open to trying different fasting and eating windows.
Fasting Doesn’t Suck
I wish I’d known that, while fasting does suck for the first four to seven days, your body quickly adjusts. After the first week or two, you’ll start feeling amazing — you’ll wonder why you waited so long to try intermittent fasting! It’s shocking how much mental clarity and focus you’ll have, how much more energy you’ll have (eating always made me feel tired afterward), and how much you’ll enjoy feeling light and not having to think about food.
I was also shocked by how not eating curbed my hunger for the rest of the day. I used to want to eat all day long. Fasting actually makes me feel fuller with a smaller amount of food and keeps me feeling fuller for longer periods of time.