The Dos and Don’ts of Intermittent Fasting

Ilia Jones  |  Posted: Friday, October 18th, 2019

Many of you most likely have heard of intermittent fasting (IF)  in some regard. It’s very much a buzzword at the moment, and to some, it seems like just another fad diet.  But how can we know for sure? We’ve done the heavy lifting for you by delving into what intermittent fasting really is, and what kind of benefits it does or does not provide.  If you’re keen to try this form of eating, we’ve listed a few handy “dos” and “don’ts” to get you started on the right foot.

What is Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating marked by cycles or periods of eating and fasting. It’s a different kind of diet in that it focuses on the when of eating habits as opposed to what.  The particular schedule involved varies, but the structure is the same.  It is based on splitting up the day into eating period and fasting periods.  The idea behind intermittent fasting came from the history of human evolution.  Before the invention of grocery stores and refrigerators, humans were forced to fast for certain periods of time.  This caused humans as a species to be able to function without food for those periods of time without going hungry.  

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

There have been many different claims of benefits of fasting, but studies have shown this practice to be particularly beneficial to both a reduction in weight and an increase in metabolic rate.

The reason for the connection between intermittent fasting and weight loss is clear.  It automatically lowers caloric intake, which plays a direct role in your weight. If you regularly eat 1500 calories a day and start reducing that by fasting for a period of time, you won’t be physically able to maintain your same weight after an extended period of time.

This change in eating also causes a change in hormone levels.  It specifically increases the release of norepinephrine which is known as a fat burning hormone.  Because of this change in hormones, the metabolic rate is increased.  This release of hormones has also been linked to improving brain health and anti-aging benefits.

There are specific ways to do intermittent fasting correctly. In order to reap the benefits, follow the proper dos and don’ts of fasting.

The Dos

Determine when your eating periods and fasting periods will be

There are a few different ways to fast.  Some of the most popular ways to start intermittent fasting are the following:

  • The 5:2 method
  • The 16/8 method: Fasting for 16 hours, eating for 8 hours.
  • The daily fasting method

Listen to your body

Starting a fast whether it’s a full day of fasting or just a few hours can be daunting and difficult.  The key to being successful is to listen to your body. Start small and if you start to feel lethargic or any negative effects, listen to that and eat something if you feel the need.

Eat Fibrous and Fatty Foods

Foods that are higher in fiber content are more filling and paired with foods that are higher in healthy fats, they will keep you fuller longer.

The Don’ts

Don’t restrict calories during the eating period

The purpose of the eating period is to give your body the energy it needs to function.  It can be tempting to restrict calories during this eating period but that can derail your progress and cause your body to crave more food and break your fast before you’re ready.

Don’t binge-eat during the eating period

The opposite of restricting calories is binging.  This can also be detrimental because you will increase calorie consumption and slow down the benefits of fasting altogether.  

Don’t overexert your body while fasting

When you’re fasting, your body is lacking the normal amount of energy you typically get from your daily meals. While It’s okay to workout as you normally would, it’s important to not overexert your body to the point of exhaustion.  

The key to intermittent fasting is to be mindful of what you’re eating and when. Listen to your body and give yourself a good chance of succeeding by starting with a realistic ratio of fasting to eating. Get a full education on the dos and don’ts of intermittent fasting as well as an overall understanding of how you can make nutrition work for you!