Intermittent fasting is the most favorite topic in the fitness world right now. It seems like everyone is doing it – and for a good reason! Intermittent fasting can be incredibly effective in losing weight, boosting metabolism, and improving overall health.
But there are things you need to know for intermittent fasting to unlock its true potential completely. In this post, we'll tell you about these 8 most common intermittent fasting mistakes people make and how to avoid them. Let's get started!
1. Not Choosing the Right Intermittent Fasting Plan
A one-size-fits-all intermittent fasting plan does not work for everyone, as different people have different body types. What works for some may not work as well for you.
Therefore, the most important detail revolves around finding an intermittent fasting plan that fits your lifestyle, schedule and goals are important. If you do not find a routine that suits and syncs with your lifestyle, you will likely give up on it too soon.
Here are the options to consider:
- 16/8 – Fasting for 16 hours with an 8-hour window is the most common type of IF plan. This one's beginner friendly and suits even people with complicated health problems like diabetes.
- 24-Hour Fast – This is what it is. You stay hungry 24 hours in this style. However, you can choose how many days a week or month you will do this for weight loss or other health benefits.
- 5:2 Diet – This is another famous way of incorporating intermittent fasting into your healthy eating routine. You are supposed to stay hungry on two non-consecutive days a week, which brings you a whole host of benefits.
- Alternate Day Fasting – In this plan, you observe fast on every alternate day. Fasting days mean you eat only 25% of your normal, and on non-fasting days, you can eat according to your normal standard.
- The Warrior Diet – Fasting for 20 hours with just a 4-hour eating window is the warrior style.
- The Eat-Stop-Eat Method – In this style, you observe a complete 24 hours fast once or twice a week.
Related Article: Intermittent Fasting: What is It, and How Does It Work?
2. Not Eating Enough When You Break Your Fast
Many people do not realize the difference between intermittent fasting and dieting, which often leads to disastrous attempts at weight loss. People assume they should starve diets during their eating window to see results. However, this method is not only ineffective but also dangerous.
In contrast, intermittent fasting lets you eat according to your choice within a set time frame. This way of eating allows your body a break from digesting food constantly throughout the day.
Your body needs lean muscle to function properly and burn calories, even when resting. When you don't eat enough during a fast, and for a prolonged period, your body starts to break down lean muscle for energy, which can be detrimental in the long run. The breakdown of muscles can slow your metabolism and cause fatigue and muscle wasting.
These are undesired outcomes, and that's one great reason why you need to stop restricting caloric intake while doing intermittent fasting. Also, you may start binge eating after prolonged diet restriction, effectively undoing all the dieting gains.
Eat enough to keep your energy levels balanced, and do not forget to up your protein game. Eat protein according to your body's needs to stay safe from muscle waste and fatigue.
3. Overeating When You Break Your Fast
As anyone who has ever dieted knows, hunger is not easy to put up with. This is especially true when trying to stick to a plan like intermittent fasting, which requires you to go long periods without food.
However, it's important to resist the temptation to overeat when you finally have a meal. Overeating can quickly offset any weight loss you've achieved and can lead to uncomfortable side effects like indigestion and bloating.
You must be aware of the hormone ghrelin when you want to lose weight. Ghrelin makes you feel hungry and increases your appetite after a fast. When you overeat, ghrelin spikes and makes you even hungrier than before, which can quickly lead to weight gain and stall progress.
Upon breaking your fast, eat a small healthy meal to avoid feeling ravenous and prevent overeating.
4. Choosing the Wrong Foods During Your Eating Window
While intermittent fasting, you don't acquire the ticket to devour whatever comes your way during your eating window. It's important to be mindful of the foods you're eating during your eating window. Sugary drinks and refined carbs can cause a spike in your insulin levels, which can offset the benefits of fasting.
If you eat processed foods while intermittent fasting, you won't lose weight — you might even gain weight. Eating junk food can also cause other health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Instead, focus on healthy, whole foods that will help you feel satisfied and energized. Foods like lean protein, vegetables, and fruits are all great choices. If you are a busy bee, you can use a low-calorie whey protein supplement to keep up with your protein needs.
And if you're looking for something sweet, try a few nuts or a piece of fruit. Only by making smart choices during your eating window will you maximize the benefits of intermittent fasting.
5. Not Drinking Enough Water
Water is a key element of any weight loss plan, whether you're fasting or not. Drinking plenty of water while fasting can help you stay fuller for longer and feel less tempted to snack. Additionally, your body will function better overall when it's well-hydrated.
Medical professionals say you need to drink at least eight glasses of water daily. It is especially important to do this when you are fasting. If water is not your cup of tea (no pun intended), you can always try other unsweetened beverages like green tea or herbal teas.
Even though black coffee has been known to dehydrate people, moderate amounts are OK occasionally. Make sure to take an extra glass of water for each cup of coffee.
6. Breaking Your Fast Unknowingly
Many people are perplexed by the term "clean fast." A clean fast is defined as not consuming anything except water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea during your fasting window. It's critical to pay attention to what you're drinking while fasting because, often, common beverages have concealed calories and carbs.
Foods that boast nearly zero calories or are labeled "diet" or "zero-calorie" normally contain copious amounts of artificial sweeteners, some of which can break your fast.
Anything other than water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea during your fasting window will break your fast and prevent the benefits of intermittent fasting. This can be frustrating, especially if you're trying to stay without food for benefits such as ketosis and autophagy.
When trying a drink on fast, check the labels to see if ingredients have hidden calories and nutrients that may break your fast.
7. Not Exercising While Fasting
If you want to improve your health or lose weight, know that physical activity is key. Exercise not only quickens your metabolism but also torches calories and enhances insulin sensitivity. All of these are cornerstones for successful weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.
If you don't work out while intermittent fasting, you're missing out on other perks fasting offers, like calorie-burning and a revved-up metabolism—both essential for dropping pounds.
Fasting can also lead to muscle loss because your body uses that tissue for energy. This decrease in mass then causes a drop in metabolism. To avoid this, strength train regularly — not only will it preserve your muscles, but you might see healthy weight gain, too, over time.
While intermittent fasting, continue or start an exercise routine to help burn fat and improve health. Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day of the week; even moderate-intensity workouts serve the purpose, such as walking, biking, swimming, or lightweight training.
Related Article: Fasted Vs. Fed Workouts: Which is Better for Women?
8. Eating Dinner Too Late
Many people find that they have more energy and focus later in the day, so they often eat dinner later than usual. While this may not seem like a big deal, it can disrupt the body's circadian rhythms, leading to several health problems.
For example, late-night eating can interfere with the body's natural sleep cycle, interrupting your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Additionally, it can disrupt the digestive process, leading to indigestion and other gastrointestinal issues.
So take your dinner early to optimize sleep and digestion- both of which are essential for weight loss.
1. What happens if you mess up your intermittent fasting?
The best time to break your fast will depend on how you're feeling that day. If you break it too early, you'll miss out on the energy that could have been used to get more work done. On the other hand, if you wait too long to eat, you'll start to feel agitated and lose focus during the day.
2. What causes intermittent fasting to fail?
If you want to be successful with intermittent fasting, try to do only a little at once. Many people fail when they start an intermittent fasting plan because they bite off more than they can chew. Start small and gradually work your way up to something more advanced.
3. Is it OK to have a cheat day of intermittent fasting?
With intermittent fasting, you can have a "cheat day." Basically, you eat whatever you want (and in abundance) on one day and then follow that with a fast. Some people alternate between cheat days and fasting days by following an "alternate day fasting schedule."
4. Does lemon water break a fast?
In short, lemon water will not break your fast. Although it contains no calories and zero sugars, drinking lemon water will not raise your insulin levels and thus won't interfere with your fasting period.
If you're thinking of trying intermittent fasting, be mindful of the common mistakes you must avoid. Overeating, under-eating, and eating dinner too late are all Pitfalls to watch out for if you want intermittent fasting to work for your body type. You should drink water or unsweetened tea during your fast — not sugary beverages!
And lastly, make sure that the foods you choose to eat during your 8-hour window are nutrient-dense and will fill you up until your next meal. Intermittent fasting is a perfect way to reset your system, but it doesn't work for everyone — listen to your body, and if IMF isn't meeting your needs, try something else!