There are several different options when it comes to fasting. In general, intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern involving not eating or being very restrictive with your foods for certain periods of time. IF has been linked to various potential health benefits, including weight loss, a lower risk of chronic diseases, and better cognitive health. However, if not done properly, fasting may be potentially dangerous to your health. Keep these tips in mind to help you fast safely.
Stick to Shorter Fasting Periods
There is no one way to fast, so you can choose your fasting periods how you like. There are several popular intermittent fasting patterns you might want to consider.
The 5:2 pattern is a popular option, where you restrict your calorie intake for two days out of seven per week. The 16:8 pattern is another popular regimen where you only consume food during an 8-hour window and fast for 16 hours per day each day of the week.
You can also do a 24-hour fast with the “eat stop eat” pattern, which involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice per week. In general, you should aim to fast no longer than 24 hours since longer fast periods can lead to issues such as dehydration, hunger pangs, lack of energy, lack of focus, and mood changes. Learn more about before you start.
Eat a Small Amount When Fasting
Overall, fasting will involve restricting some or all food and drinks for a chosen period of time. While you cannot eat any food at all on fast days, some popular patterns, like the 5:2 diet, allow you to consume some calories on fasting days.
If you want to try intermittent fasting, it is generally safer to start by restricting your calories so that you can eat a small amount of food on your fast days rather than not eating at all. It can also help make fasting a more sustainable option since you will be better able to control your hunger later on.
Don’t Break Fasts With a Huge Meal
After not eating or restricting your food, it can be tempting to celebrate by binging. However, eating a meal to break your fast can leave you feeling tired and bloated. It might slow down or even halt your weight loss if your main aim for doing intermittent fasting is to shed a few pounds. The best thing to do when breaking your fast is to simply eat as normal, balancing a healthy and nutritious diet.
Being mildly dehydrated can lead to issues such as dry mouth, headaches, fatigue, and thirst, so it’s essential to make sure you are getting enough fluids when fasting. Ideally, you should consume around just under two liters of water or another sugar-free fluid each day to stay adequately hydrated. However, it might be necessary to drink more while fasting since we normally get around 20–30% of the water our body needs from food, so keep this in mind.
Intermittent fasting can be an effective way to get your eating under control as well as lose weight and improve your health. However, it’s important to know how to do it safely and control the risks of restricting your food intake.