Fasting can be incredibly beneficial. It can also be incredibly difficult. If you’re looking to reap the health benefits but aren’t all that interested in the process, this article is for you. Today, we are going over some helpful fasting tips to help you get through your fasting window.
What To Eat During Intermittent Fasting?
Most know what fasting is: the practice of refraining from food for an extended period. However, what exactly you’re supposed to do during a fast can be confusing. What you’re allowed to eat or not eat will depend on the type of intermittent fasting plan you’re following. These plans include:
- The 16:8 Method - Only eating for eight hours of the day and fasting for the other 16 hours
- The 5:2 Diet - Eating normally for five days of the week and restricting yourself to a small number of calories the other two days
- Eat Stop Eat - Eating normally every other day and fasting every other day
- The Warrior Diet - Eating small snacks during the day and a big meal at night
As you can see, what to eat during your fast will depend on what fasting method you’re practicing.
How Long Does it Take For Intermittent Fasting to Work?
The idea of fasting may go against everything you were ever taught when it comes to your diet. Believe it or not, fasting can induce several key bodily functions such as ketosis and autophagy and can even help boost our energy over time. This seems impossible since you’re not providing your body with the nutrients you need. During a fast, your body will resort to burning fat rather than sugar, which provides long-term health benefits.
The best part, it doesn’t take long for a fast to make an impact. As shortly as four hours into a fast, your body’s blood sugar begins to fall, and 14-hours into a fast, your body starts burning fat for energy. In extreme fasts - i.e., 24-hour, 48-hour, and 72-hour fasts - autophagy can be maxed out.
Is Long-Term Fasting Safe?
Those who are experienced when it comes to fasting can long-term fast without too many drawbacks. Experts recommend extreme fasting only once or twice per month. But for beginners, long-term fasting can be dangerous. Your body needs vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to stay healthy. Robbing your body of these nutrients for an extended period can be hazardous.
That’s why it’s important to understand your limitations. Those with diabetes should never fast as it can lead to dangerous dips and spikes in blood sugar. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid long-term fasting. Speak with your doctor before fasting to ensure it’s safe for you.
What Should You Not Do While Fasting?
Many view fasting as an art form. Those with experience know the best practices. Those who are new to fasting will have to learn the ropes. Learning the things NOT to do while fasting often comes from experience. To save you the trouble, here are some of the things you should look to avoid when starting a fast:
- Do not stop hydrating - Unfortunately, too many people think they should also stop drinking water while fasting. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it’s important to be as hydrated as possible when fasting
- Don’t push your limits - Your body will slowly grow more and more used to fasting. This means you should ease your way into extended fasting rather than jumping right in
- Don’t starve yourself - This can be confusing. Since you are fasting, you shouldn’t be starving yourself during your eating window. If you don’t eat enough during eating windows, your body will continue to feel hungry, making your life miserable
- Avoid a high carbohydrate diet - During fasting, your body’s insulin levels will go down. A high carbohydrate diet can lead to insulin resistance, which all but defeats the purpose
- Do not drink alcohol - Alcohol can slow down the breakdown of fat, which essentially ruins your diet even if it’s only a liquid
How to Deal With Hunger While Fasting
Even for those who are experienced, hunger will eventually start to creep up. This makes the fasting process incredibly difficult. Avoiding food during a fasting window can be a nightmare. Below are some tips to help you get through these fasting windows without eating:
- Stay busy - Keeping yourself busy can help you avoid unintentionally breaking your fast. Trick your mind into forgetting how hungry you are
- Stay hydrated - Dehydration can be terrible while fasting
- Eat whole foods on non-fasting days - Make sure you’re eating nutritious meals during your eating window
- Stop fasting if you feel unwell - If at any point during your fast you begin feeling unwell, you should stop the fast. Feeling tired, hungry, or irritable is expected. Feeling unwell is a sign that you should stop or even seek medical help
What are the Best Hours for Intermittent Fasting?
It’s important to plan out an intermittent fasting plan. Doing so will help you pick the fasting and eating windows that work best with your schedule and lifestyle. Remember, one of the ways to deal with hunger during a fast is by keeping yourself busy. Proper planning plays a key role in that.
Those who practice the 16:8 method often choose to skip out on breakfast and eat an early dinner. This leads to an eight-hour eating window that encompasses both lunch and dinner. Most find this the easiest way to incorporate fasting into their everyday routine.
What to Eat After Fasting?
Fasting works best when paired with a healthy and balanced diet. Ending your fasting window with a massive meal from your favorite fast-food chain accomplishes nothing other than ruining the results of your fast. In fact, it’s incredibly important that you don’t end a fast by overindulging yourself as it can lead to health issues.
During your eating windows, you should be eating as much protein and whole foods as possible. Fasting can lead to muscle loss, and one of the easiest ways to prevent this is by eating enough protein. Protein can also help you manage your hunger during your fasting windows.