INTERMITTENT FASTING FOR BEGINNERS: 8 MAJOR TIPS & TRICKS
During the month of January, right after the Christmas period, I gave intermittent fasting a try.
I only did it for around a month, and I was shocked to see the results. I lost 15 pounds within a one month period and lost a few inches around my mid section!
I wasn’t super overweight to begin with but had around 10-15 pounds to lose like most average people.
The best thing? I didn’t even really feel hungry thanks to my filling meal prep breakfasts and I only fasted for 6 hours a day.
Intermittent fasting can definitely yield weight loss results quite quickly providing you know how to do it properly.
Fasting randomly without a solid plan or giving up too soon can lead to less than stellar results.
Thinking of trying a new fasting plan but not sure where to start?
Take a look over these do’s and don’ts of intermittent fasting for beginners for ultimate weight loss success.
You can read more about my journey with intermittent fasting in this post: how I lost 15 pounds in one month without exercise.
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DO Pick the Right Fasting Plan For Your Schedule
This is something I always struggled with as a beginner; knowing which plan to pick for my busy schedule.
After doing a ton of research I found that there are 2 main intermittent fasting plans; one where you fast every day for a set amount of time, the second being where you choose two non-consecutive days in the week and greatly limit your calorie intake.
I personally chose the first option and combined it with a slight calorie decrease as I was worried vastly limiting my intake on only 2 days would make me feel sluggish and tired.
I only fasted for around 6 hours though rather than 8 hours as often recommended and did eat a super nutritious and filling breakfast and dinner with snacks in between. I definitely did not starve. That is absolutely NOT the goal here.
When fasting every day it’s best to select a time that matches your daily schedule. I chose to fast between breakfast and dinner, which actually worked pretty well.
Once I was busy with my work, I barely noticed I hadn’t had a full meal in a few hours.
When fasting, it’s always a good idea to consume the majority of your calories in the morning so you’re ready for the day ahead.
Dieticians recommend this (but I also had a just as filling dinner so don’t panic if that doesn’t work for you).
I caught up with an NYC dietician in this post to see whether eating late at night actually led to more fat storage.
DO Add More of the Right Foods to Your Meals
We all know that overcompensating with junk and other fast foods is a big no-no when it comes to intermittent fasting, but adding more of the ‘right’ foods to your plate can speed up intermittent fasting weight loss results.
What do I mean by this? Our bodies crave and need 3 main ‘groups’ of food to function; protein, carbohydrates and fats.
Loading up your breakfast and dinners, for example, with starchy carbohydrates and saturated fats is obviously not great as not only can this cause digestive distress, but it also adds way more calories to your every day diet.
Loading your plate with heart healthy fats, wholegrain, unprocessed carbs and lean, high quality protein is actually encouraged during intermittent fasting and is a great intermittent fasting tip for beginners.
Again, the goal here isn’t to starve, but to moderately decrease calorie intake whilst swapping out unhealthy foods.
Just make sure you’re not massively overcompensating on your portion sizes i.e. eating a breakfast twice the size of what you would normally eat as this does defeat the object.
DO Start Out with Smaller Fasting Time Periods
It’s common for beginners to jump right in at the deep end and start with a 12 hour fasting window straight away.
The problem with this is that you’ve gone from zero to hero too quickly and are likely to crave sugary and salty snacks.
You might ever suffer from headaches and hanger, becoming angry from being too hungry.
I started out with 4 hours for the first week and then ramped up to 6 hours the following 3 weeks.
Start out with a 4-6 hour fasting window first, then slowly ramp up to 8 hours (if you’re following the 8 hour plan), then when you’re getting used to intermittent fasting, go for a 12 hour fasting window (again, only if you’re following that plan).
If you’re clever, use the 8 hours you sleep to eat into that 12 hour period, meaning you only have 4 hours to ‘wait’.
That means you could eat 2 hours after you get up and refrain from eating anything 2 hours before bed.
Honestly, I know people do do the 14-16 hour intermittent fasting schedule, but I think it’s super unrealistic for beginners, and not to mention a little dangerous for newbies.
Stick with 4-8 hours and see how you get on before taking it further.
DO Break Your Fast With the Right Foods
It’s best to break your fast with a heart, healthy filling meal to get your digestive system working again. Fun fact: that’s why breakfast is called ‘breakfast’!
Choose from a selection of easy to digest foods, and avoid anything high in sugar or salt.
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A snack high in protein and fats such as a handful of walnuts is a good idea to break your fast before you eat a meal 15 minutes later.
DON’T Avoid Fats
Contrary to popular belief, fat doesn’t make you fat.
In fact, your body needs fats to survive; even a tiny amount of saturated fats is needed.
Make sure to keep within your daily recommended allowance (RDA) of fat intake whilst intermittent fasting.
Peanut butter and dark chocolate for example are high fat foods that when consumed in moderation are considered part of a healthy diet.
DO Eat a Rich, Varied & Nutritious Diet on Non-Fast Days
If you’re following a fast-non-fasting plan, this is one intermittent fasting tip you’ll want to take note of.
One big mistake beginners make is bingeing or eating unhealthy foods on their non-fast days.
The thing to remember with intermittent fasting is that it’s not magic, nor is it a get out of jail free card for easy weight loss.
There’s a good reason you’re limiting your calories on fast days and that’s because you want to achieve your weight loss goals faster.
Try not to ruin your hard effort by a cheat day.
On non fast days you’ll want to stock up on complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, high fiber veggies and whole grains.
You can also download an app such as My Fitness Pal to track how much of each macro and micros (vitamins etc) you’re getting.
DO Drink Plenty of Water
As with any food plan, you’ll want to gulp down your water. And only water.
The only exception to this rule is green tea which is loaded with antioxidants and is a thermic food in itself, meaning it helps to burn fat.
Staying hydrated can also lessen food cravings as scientists have proven that thirst is often mistaken as hunger.
Stay away from coffee, creamers, milkshakes and other heavy drinks laden with sugar.
DO Focus on Your Goals
Intermittent fasting will take time to get used to, so try to stay busy and focus on why you’re fasting in the first place.
When hunger pangs strike, think about why you want to lose weight.
Is it to feel fitter? Look slimmer? Fit into those new pair of jeans? Focus on your goals to keep your mind off the cravings.
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