If You Want to Try Intermittent Fasting to Lose Weight, Do These 7 Things

05/06/2018 - 08:12 AM

You've been hearing so much about intermittent fasting (IF) and all the benefits — including weight loss [1], reduced sugar cravings, more energy, improved mental focus, better digestion, and disease prevention — and you're psyched to give it a try. Here's what you need to know about how to start intermittent fasting [2] so you can do it safely and have the greatest success.

Get the Green Light

Before beginning this new eating lifestyle, it's best to get the a-OK approval from your doctor. If it's been a while, now's a good time to have some bloodwork done, get an all-around checkup, and chat with your practitioner about your plan, and make sure they're on board with you doing it. Aside from feeling good about knowing that you're healthy enough to start IF, it'll be great to go back for a follow-up appointment and be able to compare your blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and other numbers to see how much they've improved.

Pick a Plan

Just because the 5:2 plan [4] worked for your dad, doesn't mean it's the best plan for you. Research all the protocols including 16:8 [5] (Leangains), Alternate Day Fasting [5], and the Warrior Diet [6], and find the one that best suits your lifestyle, and one that is sustainable. There is no one plan that's best [7], or the most-effective — it's whichever plan is best for you.

Take a Look at Your Diet

Although one of the benefits of intermittent fasting [8] is the flexibility and the leniency it allows in being able to eat what you want and to eat larger meals in one sitting, you're not going to feel very well if you fill your eating window up with crap.

So before you even think about intermittent fasting, take some time to clean up your diet. Focus on eating whole foods including healthy fats, enough protein [9], and complex carbs, and limiting the processed carbs and sugar. This will make your transition to IF so much easier, because if you're fueling properly during your eating window, you won't feel hungry or low-energy when you're fasting.

Start Off Slow

Even if you're a jump-straight-in-the-pool kind of person, it's better to take a one-step-at-a-time approach when intermittent fasting. If you go from eating three meals and three snacks a day to eating only 500 calories a day (5:2 plan), you're more likely to have terrible side effects including headaches, dizziness, crankiness, hanger, and even nausea.

There's no rush! Take several weeks to ease into the plan you've chosen [11]. If you're especially hungry on a certain day, or not feeling well, or expecting your period, listen to your body and eat if you need to. You may also need to modify your workout routine in the beginning — hunger from intense workouts will make it much harder to stick to your plan.

Helpful Tips in Dealing With Hunger

You will feel hungry, but there are ways to deal with it to make it easier to handle.

Avoid This Mistake

It's natural that after feeling so hungry and "deprived" while fasting, that once your eating window begins, you're going to want to gorge yourself with all your favorite foods. Eating too much too soon [14] is bound to make you feel sick, cause bloating and worse digestive issues, and, like me, will end up causing weight gain [15].

Have your first meal planned out, so the minute your eating window begins, you'll have a healthy, perfectly-portioned meal waiting for you. Make sure it includes your favorite foods so you're not left feeling unsatisfied.

Track Your Progress

Keep a journal and write down your thoughts, how you feel emotionally and physically, and you can also track your weight here if you hop on the scale. Take photos at the beginning of your journey, too. Sometimes it won't seem like your body composition is changing, but when you look back at a photo from a few months ago, you'll be able to notice how far you've come.

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