The practice of intermittent fasting can seem straightforward at first, but you’d be surprised at the common mistakes being made. With all of the misconceptions, and false facts circulating the internet and the diet world, I’m here to help set it straight. Read on below to learn what intermittent fasting is and how we’re all doing it wrong.
You’ve heard the term before, but never fully understood it. What is intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting (IF) is the practice of abstaining from calorie/food intake for a certain period of time.
There are multiple ways people do this—some skip one meal a day, some go for 24-hour fast breaks, but the most common are the following: 12:12 and 16:8—fasting for 12 hours, eating window at 12 hours; fasting for 16 hours, eating window at 8 hours. There are plenty of other ways people practice IF, but 12:12 and 16:8 are the most commonly used.
Surprisingly, there are plenty of common mistakes and misconceptions when it comes to intermittent fasting—let me debunk them. False information flies around the internet, and some people may not even realize they’re spreading information that isn’t true. Here are some of the most common mistakes and misconceptions when it comes to intermittent fasting.
1) Not Being Aware Of What Counts/Doesn’t Count
This is a common mistake/misconception when it comes to IF. People are wanting to try intermittent fasting, wondering if certain foods or drinks wouldn’t “count” to consume during a fasting period. But, here’s the truth: no food can be consumed during your fasting period. That ruins the whole purpose of what fasting is—a break from consuming food/calories.
You can drink water, black coffee, and unsweetened, milk-free tea—because they’re calorie-free. But, there are no calories to be consumed during your fasting period. Some commonly mistake low-calorie foods able to be consumable during the fasting period, like fruits or vegetables, but this is a misconception. No food should be consumed during your fasting period to get the full effects and results of what you’re trying to achieve with IF.
2) You’re Eating Too Little
Make sure during the eating window that you’re giving yourself enough calories throughout. By not giving yourself enough calories, you could be messing negatively with your metabolism. It has been proven that not consuming enough calories can cause your muscle mass to cannibalize, which slows down your metabolism. Without your metabolism functioning properly, you could be unknowingly sabotaging your body’s ability to burn fat. And if you’re doing IF to try and promote weight loss, this may stunt that ability.
If you’re unsure of how to properly adjust your diet to fit the needs within IF, contact a registered dietitian and they can help you meet your nutritional needs safely. You want IF to be a healthy experience and not the opposite.
3) You’re Eating Too Much
Choosing a restrictive diet within your eating window can cause you to remain feeling unfulfilled during the eating period, which can lead to binge eating the moment that it’s time to eat again.
There are ways to avoid this. Try by aiding your fasting time to what’s most convenient for you and your lifestyle. Start with the 12:12 method, which may not be too different from what you do currently. Make it convenient for you and choose appropriate dietary choices to help you feel good and healthy.
Everybody is different, so every diet will be different depending on the person who is practicing IF. Choose a time period for you that makes sense and doesn’t make your body feel like you’re restricting your food intake. Make healthy conscious food choices and discover how many calories you should be consuming in your eating period. There are ways to avoid overeating during your fasting period. It’s a period of adjustment, but eventually, you will figure out what works best for you.
4) You’re Pushing Yourself Over The Limit
As mentioned above, it’s important to find a way to intermittent fasting that works best for you—not what works best for somebody else. You may hear of a friend who’s doing a crazy 48-hour fast and thinking “there’s no way I could do that!” — Well, good news. You don’t have to. Finding a proper way to implement IF into your daily routine, may not be how your friend does it. There are plenty of different ways to intermittently fast and it’s important you find the one that makes the most sense for you. Set yourself up for success, not failure. You don’t want to push yourself over your personal limit, just because you feel outside societal pressures. Taking care of yourself and your body means doing what’s best for you. If you need help trying to find a way of IF that works best, contact your doctor or registered dietician.
When IF is done correctly, it can be a great tool to help you lose weight, with other added health benefits. If you’re unsure of how to start or where to start, contact your doctor or a registered dietician, and they can get you all the information you need to get started (and make sure that intermittent fasting is a reliable, safe option for you.)
Remember to be easy on yourself. If you try intermittent fasting and find that it’s not for you, that’s fine! Don’t beat yourself up. You tried it and now you know.
And remember that your body isn’t someone else’s body. Your friend may be doing IF, but they may be doing it differently than you would. Everybody is different, so their way may not be the best for you. By trial and error, figure out what works best for you—once you do, you will feel better and be on your way to a happier, healthier lifestyle.
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