In the past few years, intermittent fasting has exploded in popularity. A survey by the International Food Information Council showed that it was the most popular diet of 2018. Lots of people, including celebrities like Jennifer Anniston, Hannah Jeter, and Brielle Biermann, have gotten amazing results from intermittent fasting. Proponents of the diet say that it not only helps with weight loss but also improves your energy, concentration, blood sugar levels, and more.
All of the buzz surrounding intermittent fasting has definitely made us want to try it, and we bet you do too! Read on for some great fasting tips that can help you lose weight and feel your very best.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a style of eating that involves eating for part of the day and fasting for the rest. Most intermittent fasting plans have you fast for 14 to 16 hours and eat during a shorter window of 8 to 10 hours. Some people extend the fast to a full 24 hours, but that’s not necessary to experience the benefits of the diet.
Proponents of intermittent fasting say that the diet makes it easy to lose weight. Because you’re fasting, you may not have to count calories. Fasting and skipping meals naturally leads to a caloric deficit, so as long as you don’t go overboard during your eating window, you’re likely to lose weight.
Many people say that intermittent fasting has also increased their mental clarity and lowered their blood sugar. There’s even evidence to suggest that fasting can protect against certain diseases like dementia. Here’s a closer look at the key benefits of the diet.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
Initial research on the health benefits of intermittent fasting looks promising. Here are some of the results.
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Helps in losing weight
Initial studies do seem to support the claim that intermittent fasting can help you lose weight. In a recent study, participants decreased their body weight by up to 8% over a period of 3 to 12 weeks. Following an intermittent fasting plan also helped them decrease their body fat by up to 16%.
Intermittent fasting may help you lose weight for a few different reasons. Fasting can help you reduce your calorie consumption and shed excess pounds. Skipping meals may also increase your norepinephrine levels, a hormone that boosts your metabolism and lowers your insulin levels. Insulin prevents fat from being broken down, so having less of it in your system may contribute to weight loss.
Helps in retaining muscle
Intermittent fasting may be better than other diets for people who want to build muscle. One study showed that restricting your calories every day leads to more muscle loss than intermittent calorie restriction. So if you want to hold onto more muscle while dieting, you may want to try fasting for one or two days and eating normally during the rest of the week.
Protects against cognitive decline
Initial studies have shown that intermittent fasting may help reduce cognitive decline and prevent dementia. Experts believe that fasting improves cognition because it generates new brain activity and cells.
Do you feel ready to give intermittent fasting a try? Here are some tips to help you get started and experience the best intermittent fasting results possible.
Improving your intermittent fasting results
Not everyone who tries intermittent fasting gets results. Here are some tips that will help you stick to your diet and maximize your weight loss.
1. Find the right diet for you
In order to get great intermittent fasting results, you’ll have to find a diet that fits within your lifestyle. If waiting to eat until lunch makes you feel tired and foggy at work, for example, you won’t stick with it. Luckily, you can adjust your fasting schedule to suit your needs. Here are just a few of the ways that you can tailor your diet to your schedule.
Fast for 16 hours, eat for 8
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The 16:8 diet involves eating all of your meals within an 8-hour window, such as 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This allows you to eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner at normal times while still fasting for 16 hours each day.
Fast for 20 hours, eat for 4
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The 20:4 diet is a time-restricted eating plan similar to the 16:8 diet. But instead of consuming all of your meals within an 8-hour window, you’ll limit your eating to just 4 hours during the day. This diet allows you to get in a solid meal or two while still fasting for 20 hours total.
Fast for 5 days, eat for 2
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Another popular intermittent fasting plan is the 5:2 diet. It allows you to eat normally for 5 days during the week and then fast for 2 non-consecutive days. You can completely abstain from food on fasting days or eat 500 or 600 calories to give you a little fuel.
2. Ease into it
Another mistake that beginners make with intermittent fasting is jumping into it too quickly. If you’re used to eating every 4 hours, fasting for 16 hours straight will be a huge challenge. It’s better to start small and work your way up to your desired fasting schedule. Try to fast for just thirty minutes or an hour longer each day to give your body time to adjust without food.
3. Stay hydrated
During a fast, it’s really important to stay hydrated. Believe it or not, you get about 20% of your hydration from the food you eat, such as water-rich fruits and veggies. So when you’re fasting, you’ll need to drink more water to compensate for the lack of food and prevent dehydration. Women should drink at least 2.2 liters of water on fasting days and men should drink 3 or more. You can also enjoy coffee and tea during the day to fill your stomach and stave off hunger pangs, but be sure to drink at least as much water to offset the dehydrating effects of caffeine.
4. Watch out for overeating
Overeating is one of the main reasons why people don’t see intermittent fasting results. As you’re skipping meals and fasting for extended periods, you can be a little more relaxed about calorie counting compared to other dieters. But that doesn’t mean that you can load up on unhealthy foods or eat huge portion sizes without compromising your progress. If you overindulge, you’ll cancel out the calorie deficit you gained by fasting and end up halting your weight loss.
One of the best ways to prevent overeating after a fast is to meal prep. Plan out exactly what you’re going to eat when you break your fast and portion it out into a tupperware container in advance. That way you won’t reach for unhealthy convenience foods or load up your plate just because you’re hungry.
Another good tip is to eat your first meal slowly before you go back for seconds. Take twenty minutes to sit down and really enjoy your food. If you eat more deliberately, you’ll be able to listen to your hunger and fullness cues better and stop before you feel overstuffed.
5. Eat filling, high-fiber foods
Eating high-fiber foods is another thing you can do to prevent overeating. Filling your plate with fruits, veggies, and whole grains will help you feel fuller while you’re fasting. You’ll also eat fewer calories during your eating window if you pick foods that are satiating and low-calorie, and this will ultimately help you lose weight.
6. Keep yourself busy
It’s essential to keep yourself busy on fasting days. If you don’t have anything to do, your mind will constantly drift to food, which will make it harder to stay out of the snack drawer. When you’re not at work, try to stay occupied by reading a book, taking a walk, or enjoying a hobby.
7. Don’t do strenuous workouts while you’re fasting
Trying to do a high-intensity workout on an empty stomach is tough. You may feel tired, dizzy, or lightheaded, and you definitely won’t perform at your best. That’s why it’s better to plan your workouts around your eating schedule. Try to go to the gym during your eating window or on days when you’re not fasting. That way you’ll have the fuel you need to power through your workout.
8. Listen to your body
Just like any diet, it’s not always possible to follow your intermittent fasting plan perfectly. A friend might want to eat dinner at a time that’s outside of your eating window, or you might feel super hungry a few hours before you’re scheduled to eat. When those situations come up, it’s important to listen to your body and be flexible. You don’t want your diet to become onerous or prevent you from socializing. It’s more than okay to bend your diet from time to time as long as you get back on track.
Intermittent fasting has lots of potential health benefits, including weight loss and improved cognition. But it isn’t right for everyone. Some people don’t feel well if they go for hours without eating. Also, people with certain conditions like diabetes and heart disease definitely shouldn’t try the diet.
If you’ve been struggling to lose weight with more traditional diets, however, intermittent fasting may be just what you need. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of dieting because you don’t have to count your calories as closely in order to lose weight. Altogether, we hope these tips can help you achieve great intermittent fasting results and shed those extra pounds you’ve been wanting to drop. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, let us know in the comments below!
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