Before you try intermittent fasting, set yourself up for success by following these steps.
1. Decide on the type
If your goal is to lose weight, consider how much weight you want to lose. If it’s important, it may make more sense to start with an alternate-day fast, although it’s more difficult, Varady says. This way, you can lose a fair amount of weight in the first two months, which can keep you motivated. Then you can switch to a time-restricted diet because it’s easier to stick with for the longer term, she says.
2. Define your window
If you’re trying to eat time-limited, you’ll need to decide on your eating window. This can be done preferably. Some clients tell Bauer they just don’t need to eat in the morning, so they’ll start their meal window with lunch, have a snack, and then have dinner. Others will squeeze all three meals into the smallest consumption window.
Not ready to go all the way? Try a 12-hour fast, which is the most natural pattern for people, Bauer says. It’s not as strict, but it does stop eating at night, which can help you lose weight and reduce heartburn or sleep problems caused by eating food too close to the body. bedtime, she said.
3. Strategically plan your fasting days
Fasting can trigger unpleasant emotions like “hanger” (anger caused by hunger), as well as fatigue and headaches, Susie says. She recommends looking at your week and keeping in mind the days when you need to perform especially well, such as a day when you have a presentation for work. These are not the days to plan a fast.
Likewise, if you have a major social function (a birthday party or other celebration), it can be very difficult to fast on days when special foods are a major component. Thinking ahead to fit IF into your lifestyle, not the other way around, is key to making it work for you in the long run.
4. Always look for nutritious foods
The belief that during feast times you can eat whatever you want isn’t quite true, especially if you want to do it healthy. “Fasting is no substitute for healthy eating,” says Bauer. To get the nutrients you need, focus on foods with lean protein, fiber and low-GI carbs, fruits and vegetables, she says. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. This will ensure that you don’t become dehydrated, which will only exacerbate side effects like headaches.
5. Drag your window
Again, if you’re on a time-restricted diet, you don’t have to keep the same eating window every day. You can adjust it according to your commitments. For example, if you have special plans for brunch, swipe your window up so you can participate and feel happy and satisfied (not deprived) while intermittent fasting.
6. Consult a healthcare professional
You might have a lot of questions about whether IF is right for you, what to eat, or how to make it work in your own life, especially if you have underlying health conditions. In that case, it’s best to contact a registered dietitian nutritionist for advice on how to do this safely, says Susie. You can find one in your area by using the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics nutrition expert finder at EatRight.org.