8 intermittent fasting mistakes that people make (and how to fix them)
Intermittent fasting is among the most popular diet plans of modern times. The best thing about intermittent fasting is that when done the right way it can offer a host o of health benefits like reducing weight, enhancing metabolism, regulating digestion, and even building your immune health. However, many people complain that they don’t notice any change in their weight after a long period of intermittent fasting schedule. Others may feel starved and weak. There is a high possibility that they are doing it the wrong way. If you are also among those people then this post will draw your attention to the possible intermittent fasting mistakes that deny you the positive results and also present the tips to do it the right way:
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting refers to different meal schedules that systematically alternate between fasting and eating sessions with an objective to curb overeating and reduce calorie intake.
What are different methods of intermittent fasting?
There are various different methods of intermittent fasting suiting an individual’s convenience and preferences. Three most popular methods include:
- Alternate day fasting: Constantly following the pattern of fasting one day and eating your favourite foods on next day.
- Time-based daily eating: Eating the entire day’s food in a specific time window, say 4 hours or 8 hours
- Periodic fasting: Fasting for a day or two every week while eating the normal meals during remaining days
What are some common intermittent fasting mistakes?
Here are a few common mistakes people unintentionally make that prevent them from enjoying the benefits of intermittent fasting:
1. Forcing your body into long fasting mode
One of the major mistakes people make is to abruptly switch from 3-5 meals/snacking sessions a day to following 4-hours of eating window. This way you force your body unnaturally into fasting. The body responds negatively and it affects your psychology as well.
The best way to start intermittent fasting is to go for gradual changes- starting with a longer eating window and shorter fast durations and then advancing steadily to increasing the duration of fasting.
Start with 12 hours of eating window which is easier for your body to adapt to considering the fact we normally spend a considerable time sleeping and don’t feel hungry the few hours after we wake up.
Then you can gradually and constantly reduce an extra half an hour to this eating time window until it comes down to an 8-hour window.
2. Turning eating window into an overeating window
One thing to remember is that intermittent fasting offers you an eating window- not an overeating window. Consuming a high amount of calorie-rich foods during the eating window defeats the very objective of intermittent fasting that aims at reducing weekly calorie consumption.
Bring down your calorie consumption. For instance, if your daily caloric intake is 2500 calories then aim to bring it down to 1500-1700 calories during the eating time window. For that, you need to wisely schedule your meal plans during the eating window.
For instance, if you cannot overcome overeating habits then choose the plan with a smaller eating window like 4 hours.
Likewise, if you tend to eat multiple smaller portions with significant gaps then a larger eating window like 8 hours will be best for you to ensure that you have sufficient time to consume the required amount of calories.
3. Not having a diet plan to meet your specific needs
For better effects of intermittent fasting you also need to choose the right types of food that you can safely consume during the eating window. Before selecting the ideal foods you first need to assess your daily nutritional requirements based on your routine. The caloric requirements and ideal fasting gaps for an active workout freak would be very different from the one who spends most time doing a sedentary job.
Moreover, you also need to balance the things to hit the right diet equation that satisfies nutritional needs without too much restricting taste preferences. Likewise, it is equally important to determine the right fast/feast time window that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine.
Carefully assess your daily routine, understand nutritional requirements, and then select the right plan and specific foods/portions that ideally align with your weight loss plans without any health risks.
4. Ignoring calorie-count of foods
Along with the portion, the type of food also matters a lot. A slice of regular white bread has more calories than a slice of whole-wheat bread. Likewise, a cube of regular cheese contains higher fat when compared to a low-fat cottage cheese cube of the same size. So, even with a smaller eating time window of 4 hours, you will eat starchy, sugary, and fat-rich foods then you will end up exceeding ideal caloric intake even if you don’t overeat.
Make sure that you eat wholesome nutritious rich that make you feel fuller faster without loading you with too many calories, fat, sugar, or other weight-increasing compounds.
For that, you don’t have to follow a monotonous, tasteless diet which feels more like a punishment. You can add an interesting assortment of foods with different tastes, textures, and categories- legumes, veggies, crispy nuts, juicy fruits, fulfilling (lean) proteins, and delicious grains. Just make sure that the total calories of the food combination should be less than your regular calorie intake.
5. Depriving yourself of minimum calories
Just like overeating the under-eating during the eating window is not advisable at all. To be more precise, you shouldn’t eat less than your specific caloric consumption. For instance, if your calorie consumption is 1200 calories, it means you are depriving your body and brain of the calories they deserve. It interferes with your regular metabolism process and eventually, you will start losing the muscles- instead of fat.
Lack of pre-planned daily schedule is a major reason behind lower than ideal caloric consumption.
Many people consider and calculate the weekly average only and try to compensate for extra calories of the previous day by eating lower calories the next day. That is not the ideal approach as it leans on extremities.
Prepare a well-defined calorie consumption chart for every day of the week where the daily calorie count remains almost the same. You can have different varieties of foods for each day provided they have the same number of calories.
6. Not keeping yourself well hydrated
Food not only offers us nutrition but also keeps us hydrated. So reducing food consumption during Intermittent fasting also means that we lose the hydration provided by food. This is one of the reasons behind intense appetite during the eating phase. Moreover, this lack of hydration also leads to muscle cramps, headaches, and other health issues.
Increasing water intake during intermittent fasting can save you from these cravings and also protect you from its side effects that we mentioned above. However many people might find it difficult to drink a larger amount of water while eating less food. In that case, you can consider taking fruit juices, healthy homemade sorbets, etc.
7. Considering intermittent fasting as a exercise-free weight loss solution
The beginners generally have the notion that intermittent fasting is enough to reduce the fat without any need for a workout. The reality, however, is that daily workout will actually give an extra push and thus multiply the effects of Intermittent fasting. If you are concerned that working out while eating less than a regular diet will adversely affect your health then you are right to some extent but there are wise ways to rule out this possibility.
Avoid workout sessions during the fasting period and make sure that you follow each session with a good amount o healthy carbohydrates as well as proteins
It is best not to follow intense workouts during intermittent fasting but if you must do it regulate your glycogen levels by easting sufficiently before starting the sessions
8. Turning intermittent fasting into a punishment due to extreme strictness
Many people become extremely strict with themselves while following intermittent fasting. As a result, they start feeling stressed. Being too strict with your intermittent fasting schedule can trigger your appetite and eventually creates stress.
One of the main purposes of intermittent fasting is to offer a sustainable way to regulate your calorie intake without being too harsh on you. So it is completely fine to take a day or two of a break if you want to. Likewise consuming an extra cup of healthy smoothie over the threshold of your intermittent fasting calories is quite okay (if it is just once in a while). Being too strict with yourself in the matters of food can make your life stressful and promote binge eating
Some other tips for sustainable intermittent fasting
- Ambiance, sights, smells and even cutlery play a vital role in determining your portions and increase your cravings. So, avoid eating at food outlets during intermittent fasting as it can compel you to indulge in unhealthy eating habits.
- Familiarize yourself with the nutritional terminology (and their health impact) and don’t buy any food items before reading and understanding their nutrition properties
- Replace processed foods with home-cooked fresh foods
- Reduce sodium and sugars content
- Each time you eat packaged delicacy (even in modest amount) offset it with the double quantity of healthy- digestion-friendly foods like spinach
- If you cannot resist snacking try some healthy snack recipes at home. You can prepare various easy snacks at home and pack them in a jar. It will offer you an instant and healthy way to quickly fulfill your snack cravings.
In order to enjoy the best benefits out of intermittent fasting you need to make sure to follow it the right way. Avoid going to extremes while following intermittent fasting schedule. If you will respect the fasting session and eat wisely during eating time window you will experience the expected benefits within reasonable time.