While intermittent fasting is simple in theory, putting it into practice illustrates that alternating cycles of eating and fasting can be hard! Just as you wouldn’t go for a hike without the proper gear and support, you shouldn’t start fasting without doing research, planning ahead and setting yourself up to succeed.
When establishing any new habit, consistency is key. Intermittent fasting is no exception. Getting used to eating during certain time periods, managing your hunger, determining the best balance of nutrients and foods to stay satiated and energized… it can be a lot to manage. (New to intermittent fasting? Read this: What is Intermittent Fasting and Who Can Benefit from It?[link])
Challenges, obstacles and setbacks are part of the learning process, no matter what the goal is. Let us help you gain confidence with your fasting routine, so you can focus on everything else you have going on in your busy life. After all, life won’t stop – or even slow down – just because you’re fasting.
Read on for a rundown of 11 of the most common intermittent fasting mistakes – and how to avoid them.
1. Doing too much too soon.
Shifting from eating meals and snacks whenever hunger strikes to eating and fasting by the clock is a big change. Your body and mind may need time to adjust. It’s OK to take things slow. Start by having breakfast an hour later or dinner an hour earlier. From there, adjust your eating and fasting windows until you have achieved the ideal schedule.
2. Assuming a fast is all you need.
According to research, fasting can offer plenty of benefits for your brain and body. But as with any healthy habit, it should be part of an overall balanced lifestyle. In addition to fasting, choose nutrient-rich foods that provide lean protein, healthy fats and fiber. Get enough sleep each night (adults need at least seven hours), and manage your everyday stress. Together, these habits can help you build a strong foundation for a healthy lifestyle.
3. Eating too many calories.
Intermittent fasting involves eating only during certain times of day. And though you do need to take in your daily caloric needs during a specific window, you can still overeat and overdo it. Consider using a calorie and macronutrient tracking app until you get used to your body’s natural hunger and satiety cues.
4. Not keeping up with hydration.
Thirst is often confused for hunger. When you have hours to go before you break your fast, time can feel like it’s moving in reverse. Staying hydrated will help you feel your best during and after a fast. Be mindful not to guzzle too much plain water (more on that below).
5. Picking the wrong schedule.
There are plenty of ways to implement IF. Some people choose a 12/12 balance, others opt for 16/8 and others fast for 24 hours a couple of days a week. Find the schedule that’s right for you – not the one that you saw on social media. Reserve the right to change your mind – and choose a different feeding and fasting schedule.
6. Grabbing whatever’s in sight.
Intermittent fasting is like budgeting, but with nutrition. Your body needs to take in all the nutrients it needs during a shorter period of time. That means what you eat – not only when you eat – matters. Processed and sugary foods not only lack the nutrient density of whole foods, but they also burn off more quickly, so you’ll be more likely to feel hungry sooner. Focus on fiber, protein and healthy fats to stay full and satisfied while meeting your body’s needs.
7. Forgetting about fiber.
So many people fall short on fiber, despite its proven benefits.* Don’t fall into the “fiber gap” while fasting. You’ll only find fiber in plants – from lentils and oats to kale and raspberries – and it comes in a few different forms. But this nutrient is one that shouldn’t be ignored or restricted, no matter what kind of diet you follow. Fiber can promote regularity, satisfy hunger and beat belly bloat.*
8. Skimping on protein.
Each macronutrient is responsible for its own essential roles. Protein helps keep you fuller longer and is crucial for muscle growth. Protein (amino acids) building blocks help repair and maintain muscle tissue. Eating adequate protein (at least 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight) is especially important when you’re fasting, but also as you age and while maintaining an active lifestyle.
9. Ignoring electrolytes.
Water is an absolute must – after all, the human body is mostly water. Maintaining optimal hydration allows the body to regulate all the chemical reactions that need to happen. Your body also needs to maintain a balance of fluid levels inside and outside your cells. Hydration impacts muscle and nerve function, heart health, blood pressure and more. Electrolytes (including calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium) are essential for all those processes and more. They promote hydration and support healthy cell and organ function.* They are ideal before and after exercise, on hot days or for everyday use.
10. Assuming all drinks are created equal.
Liquid calories are still calories, so unfortunately, a double latte, green juice or kombucha will break your fast. If you are fasting, it’s fine to drink black coffee or unsweetened tea in moderation, along with water. But to feel your best all day long, you might also want to consider a beverage specifically made to support intermittent fasting.
11. Overlooking the essentials for a successful fast.*
Our new drink mix applies the “smarter, not harder” principle to fasting. It includes what you need for peak performance while following an IF plan.
Fasting Today® is formulated to not break your fast! With three essentials in one convenient product, it includes electrolytes, baobab fiber and the nine essential amino acids. Simply shake a scoop with 12 ounces of water, then drink up and carry on with your fast.
Fasting Today supports hydration, reduces hunger and promotes muscle health.* Learn more! [link to product page]