If you read our last post about the basics of intermittent fasting, you know the common pitfalls of starting a fasting regimen. The list below offers some suggestions for overcoming those common barriers.
- Start Easy – adjusting to longer periods of fasting can be difficult at first and can take some time getting used to. Instead of jumping right in to a 16/8 fasting window, take some time to let your body adjust. I suggest doing a few consecutive days of not eating for 14 hours. This way, you can get used to the longer periods without feeling initially overwhelmed. Once you feel comfortable with the 14 hours, go ahead and bump it up to the full 16 hour fast and go for the gold!
- Try Fat Fasting – One of the primary goals of fasting is to tap into stored fat and burn it for energy. Your body can switch into a fat-burning state, known as ketosis, with the help of intermittent fasting. Staying in a prolonged state of ketosis is possible by consuming fats rather than carbohydrates. This is important to keep in mind because often times we have to eat during our fasting period because of time constraints or just because of hunger pangs. Consuming healthy fat while in the fasting state is often an acceptable method of “cheating” because it allows your body to stay in a state of ketosis. By staying in a ketogenic state, your body gets used to burning fat for fuel and can continue to burn off stored amounts in your body.
- Caffeine is KEY! – We all know that caffeine in coffee and tea gives us that extra pep in our step, but did you know that it’s also an appetite suppressant? Like mentioned before, drinking black coffee or green tea is allowed on an intermittent fasting regimen, so drink up to help you ward off strong hunger pangs. NOTE: Be careful with over consumption of coffee or tea on an empty stomach. It is easy to get jitters and feel over-stimulated. Keep it to one cup!
- Water, Water, Water. It’s no secret that water is essential for life. Drinking an ample amount of water while fasting is very important because it helps with digestion, cleansing, and can help you feel full for longer. It is important to drink at least a cup of water prior to eating your first meal. This helps prepare your stomach for proper digestion of your first meal of the day.
- Start with Protein and Fat. Your first meal of the day is very important because your body is lacking and craving nutrients. It’s important to fill up on quality foods that will satiate you, rather than make you hungry in a few hours. Protein is important not only because it is the building blocks of the body, but also because it takes longer to break down. Fats are also important because they give your body a satiating feeling that carbohydrates cannot provide. It is also important to load your first meal with high-nutrient vegetables like spinach, broccoli, peppers, or any other colorful earth-grown food. One important tip that I follow is that you should try and have at least a fistful of greens with every meal. This will ensure that your first meal is one that provides the needed nutrients to power your day.
- Save the Carbs for After Your Workout. If you do not follow a ketogenic or low carb diet, and you consume carbohydrates, I would recommend that you save the majority of your daily carbohydrate intake for later in the day, or preferably after your workout. Carbohydrates are metabolized in the body as glucose, which helps your muscles perform better during strenuous exercise. After working out, much of this glucose, that is in the muscle, is burned off. Replenishing this through diet can be accomplished through eating carbohydrates post workout.
- Just Hold On! Making it through the first week of fasting is usually the hardest part. Your body sends you pleading signals trying to convince you that you need to eat. DON’T! IT’S A TRAP!… In all seriousness, you should visit your doctor prior to beginning any diet or fasting protocol. It’s important to understand your limitations and how far you are willing to go. That being said, going 16 hours or longer without food IS possible and something that a strong willpower, partnered with a steady routine can get you through.
Use these tips above to help you transition or break through the barriers of IF.
Be safe and happy fasting!