Intermittent fasting, or in the simplest terms a dieting method that provides a specific time frame for eating and for not eating, requires that you follow your schedule strictly for the entire system to work.
There are different types of intermittent fasting programs, with some eating windows going for as long as 8 hours and some as short as 4 hours. Regardless of the IF program you are in, the rules are the same. Here are 10 of the intermittent fasting don’ts that you should always remember.
1. Don’t forget to consult a physician first.
You should check with your doctor before even trying to do intermittent fasting on your own. Even if you think you are healthy, it’s still best to confirm that your body is ready.
2. Don’t fast if you’re not fit to do so
IF is not for everybody, especially not for kids under 18 years old, pregnant or lactating women, diabetics, and anybody else with a health problem. If you are taking prescription medications, you should also lay off intermittent fasting because the results can be unpredictable.
3. Don’t go over feast before fasting.
Some people tend to gorge on food moments before the actual fast begins, but this is counterproductive. If you must eat, nutritionists recommend that you load up on healthy fats, lean meats and plenty of veggies, instead. You may add some fruits for their natural sugar content, but try to stick to the low-glycemic kinds like berries.
4. Don’t ignore what your body is telling you.
Intermittent fasting can have pretty uncomfortable side effects. If you push your body too hard, you might experience dizziness, palpitations and other signs that could be dangerous if not addressed immediately. The general rule is that if you find yourself unable to function properly during IF, stop.
5. Don’t forget your vitamins.
Because you are limiting your food intake, be sure to remember to take your vitamins daily. Vitamins in liquid form are recommended for those in IF because they are easier to absorb. A basic multivitamin product will suffice, but it’s still best to talk to your doctor about the right supplements to take while on this program.
6. Don’t overexert yourself.
You might be tempted to partner your IF program with some hardcore fat burning exercises, but experts say you need to do this with caution. Of course, it’s recommended that you engage in physical activity to supplement your diet, but high-intensity cardio routines can be problematic, especially if you’re not used to doing them. Light exercises are okay, as well as passive activities like massage or acupuncture.
7. Don’t shut yourself out.
Being on an IF program can seem alienating. Your friends will be out wining and dining and you’re on schedule and cannot share in the food and drinks. But that doesn’t have to be so. You can get your friends to help you get through the process, or seek out support communities online so you can compare and discuss experiences with others who are on the same path. It’s important to purge emotions at this time when you’re not eating so that you can remain mentally strong in what could be a physically draining endeavour.
8. Don’t forget to hydrate.
You must drink at least eight glasses of water per day, and this is all the more important when you’re on intermittent fasting. An easy way to check if you’re getting enough fluids is to see your urine, which should be light in colour. If it's dark, then that means you lack water and should be consuming more.
9. Don’t succumb to a victory binge.
When you have gotten through your 12 hours of not eating, don’t “celebrate” with a victory buffet after. The key is to change your mindset about intermittent fasting so that you can better appreciate its benefits, instead of seeing it as some sort of punishment. If you gorge on food after your fasting time has lapsed, then all the work put into the fast will be useless.
10. Finally, don’t stress over it.
Following a schedule for eating can be stressful, especially if you’re used to eating anytime you want. Relax and try techniques like meditation and yoga to calm your body and mind. You will need to preserve your energy so you can continue performing your usual tasks without a hitch for the rest of the day.
By Vanessa Doctor
This article first appeared in International Business Times.