For the past three weeks, I have been practicing intermittent fasting. For those of you who don't know, intermittent fasting is a way of eating. You eat during a certain time period and you're in a fasting state during the other parts of the day. I made a list of tips to help those of you who are considering fasting. Whether you're doing it for weight loss or just to feel healthier, here are some things to think about while you are doing intermittent fasting.
1. Do your research.
I didn't know that there were so many different types of fasts out there. Some people only fast a few days per week. Some people fast for 20 hours and eat for 4. Apparently women shouldn't do certain types of fasts because it interferes with hormones. Make sure you do your research to find the type of fast that is right for you and your specific health goals.
2. Plan around your schedule.
Be strategic about your fasting and eating times. Think about it, why fast at noon if you and your coworkers always order food at that time? Or why plan to break your fast at 6 am if you sleep until 9? I planned my eating hours around the times that made sense to me. I would break my fast at noon, which is my normal lunch time, and eat until 6 which is around the time that I'm finished with dinner.
3. ALWAYS have healthy food available.
There were a couple of days when I would leave work late and have nothing ready to eat at home, so I would stop at a fast food restaurant. It's quick and convenient, but also full of unnecessary calories, sodium, and fat. I realized that I would have to prepare my dinners the night before so I would have a healthy meal to come home to (the advantages of meal prep!).
4. Find the right time to exercise.
When I was doing my research, a lot of people say to exercise right before you break your fast... But I can't even form full sentences when I'm hungry, let alone complete a workout! Plus, I'm at work the hour before I eat. I found that it worked better for me to workout AFTER eating my last meal. It's not ideal to exercise at 7 pm, but it was the best time for me.
5. Don't overdo it.
If you feel unbearably hungry, EAT! The goal of intermittent fasting isn't to starve yourself. When you start to feel hungry, drink some water. If you're still hungry, you need to eat a snack (just try not to binge). If you need to, add more hours to your eating period. It's hard for most people to cram your daily nutrition in a few hours. It won't hurt to cut two or three hours out of your fast.
I realized in these past weeks that intermittent fasting is easier than I expected! After a while, it started to feel natural to cut off my eating at a certain hour. It prevents late night snacking (which is my weakness!) and saves time in the morning from not fixing breakfast. At the end of three weeks I had a lot more energy without caffeine, and I was more regular (TMI). I definitely recommend fasting for the general health benefits, but keep these tips in mind when choosing the right one.