7 Treacherous Intermittent Fasting Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)
Are you eager to begin your intermittent fasting lifestyle? Intermittent fasting can be just what the doctor ordered for you to start to shed excess body fat and lose unwanted pounds. However, before you dive in head first, you must understand how to approach a time-restricted diet. Several intermittent fasting mistakes can not only derail your weight loss efforts; they can also increase your risk of weight gain.
So, we’re sharing the seven most common intermittent fasting mistakes to avoid, including tips for intermittent fasting that can keep you more energized and help you lose more weight.
1. When You Choose the Wrong Fasting Plan
Intermittent fasting allows you to eat all of your day’s nutrients during one set period and refrain from eating for the remainder of the day. This food allocation may feel unusual at first, especially since intermittent fasting might be a departure from your typical eating schedule. When you fast, you’ll be substituting your regular three meals per day with one of many intermittent fasting protocols. Take our quiz to find an intermittent fasting plan that suits you best.
The intermittent fasting protocol you choose can often lead to the most common IF mistake: choosing a fast that’s too demanding or merely the wrong fasting protocol for you. Think of it this way: if your body is adjusted to eating every two hours, an intensive 24-hour fast will likely drain your energy and leave you feeling discouraged. Similarly, if your daily schedule keeps you up late at night, it’s wise not to begin your fast at 5 p.m. If you start your fast early in the evening, you’ll run the risk of staying up longer than expected with no food.
Success Tips: Do your research and find an intermittent fasting protocol that works best for your needs. The fasting plan you choose should correlate with your existing schedule and not overextend how comfortable you feel restricting food. For instance, if you’re a beginner, 14:10, when you fast for 14 hours and plan all your meals in 10 hours, would likely suit you.
2. You Overeat When You Finish a Fast
It’s no secret you’ll feel extremely accomplished after you complete your first fast. However, this sense of pride is no excuse to overtreat yourself. You’re probably going to feel hungry after a fast. And perhaps you may think the calories you ate post-fast will make up for the calories you lost while you fasted. If you feel this way, it could justify your desire to overeat and negate all of the hours of hard work you’ve put in.
One of the primary benefits of intermittent fasting is its ability to bring down your insulin levels and help your body tap into alternative energy sources to burn fat. When you overeat after you complete your fast, your blood sugar and insulin levels spike instantly, which can ruin your effort and give you an annoying headache, nausea, and make you feel jittery.
Success Tips: To avoid intermittent fasting mistakes like overeating, you’ll need to have a plan. Consider preparing a healthy fruit, or veggie-packed meal that’s ready to eat once your fast ends. When you eat, be sure to chew your food well and take breaks to digest and sip water. These steps will help you feel fuller, so you can stop eating before you over-stuff yourself.
3. You Eat Too Little Before You Begin a Fast
The eating period before your fast is called your “feasting window” for a reason—you’re supposed to eat your fill and satisfy your hunger. When you’re hungry, the hunger hormone ghrelin signals your brain to eat. Ghrelin levels increase and intensify your appetite when you restrict food. Elevated levels of this hormone can make you feel ravenous and have low-energy during your fast.
Success Tips: Contrary to popular belief, if you don’t eat enough before your fast, you’ll never be able to satisfy your ghrelin hormone, and you’ll remain hungry for the duration of your fast. The feasting period is essential for you to have both a healthy and enjoyable fast. Therefore, be sure to consume plenty of healthy foods during your feasting window—fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and lean protein are all fantastic options to help curb your hunger.
4. You Choose Unhealthy Food During Your Feasting Window
Aside from not eating enough in your feasting window, another common intermittent fasting mistake is to overeat or to consume unhealthy foods before or after your fast. Though your body experiences the most benefits while in its fasted state, the foods you after or before a fast are what will energize your next fast. So, if you fill yourself with foods that can elevate your blood sugar or help you feel full temporarily, you won’t experience the full benefits of a fast. Primarily, the success of your fast rely on what you eat when you’re not fasting.
Success Tips: Your feasting window provides the nutrients to power your fast. So, stock up on complex carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits for energy and fiber, and to help curb your hunger. Limit refined carbohydrates, like sugars, starches, and processed foods. These simple carbs cause your blood sugar to skyrocket and create a rush of insulin your body will use for fuel instead of metabolizing fat. Find the right nutrition guide; it will help you maintain more energy, feel less hungry, and lose more weight over time.
5. You Don’t Drink Enough Water
Did you know that your body is composed of almost 70% water? With water content that high, you need to consume large amounts of water to stay hydrated. However, not all of your water consumption comes from the H2O you drink. Approximately 20 to 30-percent of your daily water intake comes from the food you eat. So, you must increase your water intake while you fast to make up for the water lost from your diet.
Another common intermittent fasting mistake is to start your morning with a coffee or caffeinated tea before you drink any water. While you slept, you lost nearly one liter of water just from the humidity in your breath. Caffeinated drinks have a diuretic effect that causes the need to urinate, further draining your body of hydration. Plus, a substantial amount of caffeine can negatively impact blood sugar levels, which makes you more insulin resistant and more likely to store unwanted fat.
Success Tips: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Always start your day with a glass of water before you drink any coffee or caffeinated beverages. Likewise, aim to consume eight to ten glasses of water per day.
6. You Make Poor Lifestyle Choices
Your lifestyle choices significantly impact your weight loss success. The food you eat, the amount of sleep you get, and even your stress levels affect your weight loss immensely. Similarly, if you fail to exercise or remain active during your fast, it can plateau your success. Intermittent fasting can help you torch fat, exercise, and an active lifestyle are essential if you want to build muscle and chisel your ideal physique.
Success Tips: Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle, not a diet, so you’ll have to treat it as such. Focus on filling your body with healthy foods, drinking enough water, and getting eight hours of sleep each night. Exercise during intermittent fasting can allow you to burn 20-percent more body fat, so aim to remain active and complete three to five hours of physical activity per week.
7. You Give Up When Your Results Aren’t Immediate
An unfortunate intermittent fasting mistake is when you give up when you don’t see immediate results. Realistically, it will take time for you to lose weight and shed stubborn body fat. You’ll lose water weight or bloat right away and drop one to two pounds per week after your initial weight loss. Don’t feel discouraged when you don’t see rapid weight loss; studies show if you lose it too quickly, there’s an increased chance of it returning.
Success Tips: Embrace your body during each stage of weight loss. You’ll never see overnight success, but a gradual and steady weight loss with intermittent fasting is a healthy and dynamic method to help you permanently shed body fat.
A few missteps are only natural when you’re just starting an intermittent fasting plan. But, if you learn from these common periodic fasting mistakes and incorporate these useful tips for intermittent fasting into your lifestyle, you can safely and efficiently lose weight.