Fasting is a part of many cultures and religions, but the act of abstaining from food for short periods is also used by many athletes. Intermittent fasting is also a staple component in many diet plans, praised for its ability to boost your metabolism, help prevent Type 2 diabetes and managing weight loss.
If you’re wondering whether this could help you develop better eating habits, get in shape or treat a medical condition, here are five tips to help get you started.
Before you read further, however, it’s important to note that intermittent fasting can be dangerous. Restricting your caloric intake drastically affects your blood sugar and hormone levels, so you should speak to your doctor about your fasting plans and obtain medical clearance before you begin to fast.
1. Choose a Plan That Aligns With Your Goals
If you are considering fasting to lose weight, your diet will be different than someone who is fasting to improve athletic performance or gain muscle. There are three major types of intermittent fasting in the fitness and health communities. It’s okay to try one and modify it or drop it completely if it doesn’t work for you.
- Eat-to-Eat: This is a 24-hour fasting plan where you abstain from any food from one 24-hour period to another, typically only eating dinner.
- The 5:2 Plan: You eat normally five days a week, but on the other two, you limit your caloric intake to 500 calories.
- The 16/8 Method: You skip breakfast and only eat during a given 8-hour period everyday, such as noon to 8pm.
2. Start Small
A good way to transition from three meals a day to fasting is to make your meals smaller and space them out more. If you typically eat lunch at noon, for example, you can push it back to 1 or 2 pm. You could also start by skipping one meal a day, such as breakfast, and eating your other two meals like you normally do.
3. Eat Healthy
Fasting is not about avoiding calories so you can keep the weight off and gorge on junk food. Intermittent fasting is rooted in nutrition, so you should be eating balanced meals that are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and healthy fat. Avoid sugar and caffeine-loaded drinks and any meal substitutes.
4. Follow a Workout Plan
It’s safe to hit the gym when you’re fasting, but you shouldn’t overexert yourself in an attempt to lose weight faster.
5. Make Sure Your Mental Health is Okay
If you are fixated on losing weight, have an eating disorder or have suffered from one in the past, you should not start intermittent fasting without a professional’s approval.
Talk to your doctor about yourweight loss goals. You can take things a step further by speaking to a therapist and making sure your self-esteem is not rooted solely in losing weight and enhancing your appearance.
Fasting has many health benefits, but it’s not for everyone. If you try it out and realize it’s not for you, that’s okay. There are still plenty of ways to lose weight, gain muscle and live a healthy life.