Chances are you’ve come to this article because you’re having trouble with your fast - you’re not seeing the weight come off, your metabolism isn’t boosting, and you’re miserable for most hours of the day. Alas, don’t fret, we’re going to dive into the 5 most common intermittent fasting mistakes that you’re probably making and how to fix them.
Intermittent fasting (IMF) is not a diet, it’s a pattern of eating. More importantly, it's a way of life. It really has nothing to do with the foods you can eat, but when you eat them. Relatively simple and straightforward, the most popular way to intermittent fast is the 16/8 Method. This involves skipping breakfast and eating only within an 8-hour period of the day while fasting for the other 16.
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Because intermittent fasting does not have extensive research conduction, conclusive evidence is hard to come by. Remember the overall goal - to improve your body's system and give it a reboot itself naturally, every day. Intermittent Fasting is not a one-size-fits-all lifestyle by any means. But it's certainly worth a try!
Intermittent Fasting Mistake #1: Overeating
This is one of, if not the most crucial intermittent fasting mistakes we see people making when they begin implementing IMF. If you’re not eating a nutritious amount of food during your eating window, that can lead you to feeling hungry AF during your fast, in turn, causing you to overeat right when the clock strikes noon. Been going overboard? Chances are you’ve been sabotaging your fast (and your metabolism) along with it.
Overeating is due mainly in part to our emotional response to fasting. In a world when we have food available at our fingertips, readily abialble in our fridges, and at the click of a button delivered to our door, we’re used to having food all the time. When you fast, your brain thinks differently and when you stop fasting, it tricks you into thinking that you have to eat as much of you can in a fit of deprivation. This is also called binging.
Say you’re used to eating 2,000 calories in a day and you start fasting. You go through your 12-16 hours without eating, you have your first bite of food around 11am, and the next thing you know you’ve eaten your lunch and your best friends because you can’t satiate your hunger. You eat so much, you don’t want to eat again (like any small snacks during the afternoon) and you eat another big dinner because you get too hungry by the time you’re off work. Next thing you know, you’ve eaten two giant meals consisting of 3,000 calories by the end of the day and the start of your next fast. You feel like crap, you ate like crap, and now you can’t eat anything for the next 12 hours. See the psychological mind f*ck you just threw yourself into?
Take it easy on the food, pal. My recommendation, eat 2-3 moderately sized meals within your fast and allow yourself a healthy snack or two in the in-between. Condition your brain and your body will follow, trust me on this one.
Intermittent Fasting Mistake #2: Under-eating
Reducing calories is an effective way to lose weight, yet it can cause unwanted results when you combine it with intermittent fasting. This leads to under eating during your 8-hour window, and if you under-eat and fast, your body might cue in starvation mode, holding onto body fat and actually trying to get rid of muscle. Yikes! Talk about the opposite affect you’re going for, eh?
In short, when you don’t eat enough you’re going to gain weight. Fasting is going to go against your innate physical cues (like hunger or fullness) so it’s important to understand how much (and of what) you need to eat during your eating window. The best way to do this? Having a nutrition coach, like the ones over at The Swole Kitchen, help you out and design a plan that custom fits your wants and needs when it comes to your intermittent fasting and body goals.
You can check them out here: The Swole Kitchen
Intermittent Fasting Mistake #3: The Fast Doesn’t Work Without The Feast
Fasting isn’t a magic pill or really magic at all. One of the biggest intermittent fasting mistakes you could be making? Ignoring what you eat in favor of when you eat.
Look, we get it, changing habits is hard, but if you’re not willing to improve what you eat, like ditching the processed food single pack burritos from the frozen section in leu of some oatmeal or eggs and bacon in the morning, guess what? Intermittent fasting isn’t probably going to work for you, and neither will any other diet, until you’re truly ready to make a change from eating processed foods to whole foods.
When you ignore what you eat, you exacerbate this intermittent fasting mistake into some big disadvantages. We’re talking a loss of muscle, increased body fat, reduced weight loss, and a serious lack of nourishment. You’re already fasting, so why make it harder on your body?
Make sure you’re choosing the most nutrient-dense, nourishing foods for your feasting phase of your day. This means including protein, functional carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fiber. The better you do this part the better you’re going to make it through your fast without being overly hungry or undernourished.
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Intermittent Fasting Mistake #4: Drinking The Wrong Thing During The Fast
What can you drink during intermittent fasting? Great question! There are studies coming out recently that provide consumers with more scientific evidence that supports what you can and cannot drink, but at this time, the more simple you can keep what you drink, the better.
Some examples of what you can drink during intermittent fasting include:
- Purified Water or Electrolyte Water
- Baking Soda & Water
- Water & Glauber’s Salt
- Herbal Teas
- Black Coffee
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Fasted Lemon & Cayenne Pepper Water
What should you not drink during your intermittent fast? As a general rule of thumb, you should stay away from beverages with sweeteners, since they will cause your body to produce an insulin response (exactly what we're trying to stay away from, during the fasted state).
All in all, try to avoid drinking anything with caloric value or anything that will spike your insulin. Avoid this intermittent fasting mistake and stay in your fast, longer, reaping more of the benefits.
**Some people will argue that coffee or lemon water, for example, will break your fast. Since there is inconclusive evidence and there are various reasons for fasting, we recommend doing what’s right for you and your goals**
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Intermittent Fasting Mistake #5: IMF Doesn’t Fit Your Lifestyle
If the key doesn’t fit, why do you keep trying to jam it into the door? Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone, despite all the hype, and if you’ve tried it and you’ve done everything you can to ensure a successful fast and you’re still having issues, it’s okay to back away from it. If you enjoy breakfast and it’s your favorite meal of the day because it gives you the energy you need to boost you through your day, then keep eating it. If you’re an athlete who works out at 5am and who pukes on an empty stomach, then ‘eat the food Tina’ and go workout. If you work the night shift and fasting causes you a major loss of energy, then just don’t do it.
Sometimes we try so hard to get to our goals that we compromise our overall health. This may include your mental, physical, and/or emotional health. If IMF doesn’t work for you, or even if it does, the biggest way to make a dent in your health is by eating whole, nutritious, and natural foods.
On the flip side of this argument, if you’re trying IMF and it’s hard for you because you’re hungry and not getting where you want to go as fast, give it more than just a week or two. Science says it takes 28 days to make a habit stick, and if you’re trying to make IF work for you, avoid these common intermittent fasting mistakes and give it your best shot.
The Most Common Intermittent Fasting Mistakes: Conclusion
If you’re trying to lose weight, increase your metabolism, and improve your overall health then intermittent fasting may be a wonderful option for you, your goals, and your lifestyle. If you find yourself following all the rules and you’re not enjoying it, then realize it’s just not for you and move on. Our best recommendation is this: listen to your body and be in tune with what it is trying to tell you, not just what you saw online, what some celebrity said, or what a company is trying to sell you. You do you, booboo!
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