While America is one of the richest countries in the world, on some level, we’re also one of the unhealthiest. Over 71 percent of Americans are overweight, the majority of those being clinically obese. Obesity can lead to a myriad of health problems, including things like diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease, high blood pressure, certain kinds of cancer, and more.
Fortunately, there are solutions out there to help people lose weight and reclaim their health. For example, intermittent fasting has shown to be incredibly effective when practiced properly. However, there are common intermittent fasting mistakes that could have negative effects.
The key to any diet is learning how to approach it practically and safely to ensure maximum health and weight loss benefits.
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Intermittent Fasting Mistakes to Avoid
Before you can understand the common mistakes of intermittent fasting, you need to learn a little more about the process. Intermittent fasting can be accomplished in a number of ways:
- 24-hour fasting every 7-14 days
- Fasting daily with a large fasting window and a smaller eating window (16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating)
- Partial fasting (consuming roughly 25 percent of normal calories two days in a row each week)
Regardless of how you choose to approach intermittent fasting, it’s vital to educate yourself on what not to do. Keep reading find out how to fast appropriately and avoid common intermittent fasting mistakes.
1. Assuming Everyone’s Body Works the Same Way
Perhaps one of the hardest things about dieting is watching others succeed where you have failed. Even if you adhere to the exact same diet as someone else, odds are, you won’t see the exact same results. Studies have shown that people respond to diets individually.
For example, some people go on a keto-based diet and lose 20 pounds in the first week, while others could stay the same or even gain weight. The key is experimenting with non-extreme diets (as not to crash your metabolism) to see what works best for you. To avoid intermittent fasting mistakes or plateaus, you may need to experiment with your eating/fasting windows, adjust your workout schedule, and more to maximize weight loss results.
2. Starting Out Too Aggressively
Our bodies, while incredibly adaptive, are also somewhat fragile. Therefore, when starting any type of dieting, you need to ease into, rather than diving in headfirst. Regardless of how motivated you are about losing weight, avoid one of the biggest intermittent fasting mistakes of starting out too aggressively.
If you’re attempting intermittent fasting with daily eating/fasting windows, don’t start out with a 20-hour fast with only four hours of eating. Instead, ease into it with a 12 or 14-hour fasting window and a 12 or 10-hour eating window. As your body adjusts, you can modify the intensity.
3. Eating the Wrong Foods
While intermittent fasting provides a great way for most people to lose unwanted weight and decrease body fat, you can inhibit progress by eating the wrong foods. In fact, if you eat too many of the wrong foods, even in a small window, you could end up gaining more weight.
Also, remember that our bodies are essentially organic machines that run based on the fuel we provide. If we nourish our bodies with whole grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables, and cut back on sugar and unhealthy fats, we can optimize the intermittent fasting process. Alternatively, using intermittent fasting as an excuse to have fast-food, pizza, ice cream, and all other forms of junk food is a good way to gain weight and make your body feel terrible.
4. Eating Too Few or Too Many Calories
While eating the wrong foods can lead to an over consumption of calories, you also have to make sure you’re not eating too few calories either. Eating disorders and addictions often materialize from extreme dieting, restricting, or deprivation.
Additionally, eating too few calories could lead to fatigue, weakness, irritability, and a slowed metabolism (which will only make losing weight harder). Make sure you’re continuing to eat the right amount of calories during your eating windows.
5. Not Planning Ahead
One of the most severe intermittent fasting mistakes people make is failing to plan ahead. With this new way of eating, you need to make sure you’re prepared to avoid falling back on bad foods, not being in a position to eat when your window opens or going out with friends during your fasting window.
All of these issues can make intermittent fasting way harder than it needs to be. We recommend planning and preparing meals in advance. We also suggest making sure you plan ahead with friends so you can adjust your window if necessary, just avoid doing it often or it will throw off the whole process.
6. Forgetting to Stay Hydrated
When intermittent fasting, you must continue to drink water throughout the day. Drinking water will give your tummy a feeling of fullness. Additionally, your body depends on hydration to function properly, regardless of if you’re fasting or not.
If you fail to drink enough while fasting, your body will be more prone to headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue, and more.
7. Not Planning Your Workouts in Accordance with Intermittent Fasting
Unlike low-carb or ketogenic diets, you’re still allowed (and encouraged) to workout while intermittent fasting. However, your workout timing depends on your body and what type of intermittent fasting you’re doing.
For example, if you’re doing a 24-hour fast, just take that day as a rest day. Alternatively, if you’re doing eating/fasting windows daily, you can take two different approaches:
- Workout at the end of your fast (maximize fat-burning by working out on an empty stomach)
- Workout during your eating window (ideal if you’re prone to low blood sugar, dizziness, light-headedness, or nausea)
8. Not Intermittent Fasting Based on Your Schedule
Finally, one of the biggest intermittent fasting mistakes beginners make is failing to base their fasting windows on their current schedule. For example, your fasting hours should be primarily while you’re sleeping. Additionally, you need to think about your work schedule, your dinner schedule if you have a family, and, as mentioned above, your workout routine.
Are You Ready to Get Healthy and Lose Weight?
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Check out our nutritional coaching that offers everything you need to achieve your fitness goals, including support groups, nutrition classes, fitness plans, and more. We look forward to hearing from you soon!