Like anything else related to the human body, fasting is a very personal experience with unique results for each individual based on many factors such as age, current state of health and level of commitment, among other variables. Nevertheless, some things generally hold true for most people when it comes to daily fasting for weight loss. Based on my own experience (after a 45-lb weight loss within less than a year of fasting), here is my list of the top five perhaps little-known tips for successful daily intermittent fasting if you want to lose weight.
Tip #1: The key to success is 99% mental
In the beginning, you are likely to hear a small voice inside your head saying, “This can’t possibly be healthy” or questioning, “I should eat something, right?” It’s so deeply ingrained in us that eating frequently is necessary, that doing the contrary can cause some apprehension. This feeling quickly subsides as soon as we see for ourselves that, in fact, we do quite well by eating much less frequently than we had been eating by habit. Quiet the inner overeater, by remembering that daily intermittent fasting is a long-term, sustainable weight loss strategy with numerous health benefits. You can rest assured that you are on the right track.
Tip #2: Don’t try to eat enough to make up for the fact that you haven’t eaten
Calories do still count – even when you’ve fasted for many hours. This is another mental game. Your mind will reason that you have to consume lots of food to make up for the meals you’ve missed or in attempt to hold you over for as long as possible into your next fast. This is not the case. You can and should eat a reasonable amount of food during your eating window based on your current weight and goal. This may be difficult at first, but eventually you’ll find that your appetite will normalize. Although daily intermittent fasting does not require calorie counting, I don’t disagree with those who track calories in the beginning to get an idea of what a “reasonable” amount of food means for them in relation to their weight loss goals. Although, I no longer count calories, I did so for several months until I got the hang of it.
Tip #3: Breaking a fast correctly is more difficult than fasting
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of fasting has to do with eating, rather than fasting. Mahatma Gandhi said, “More caution, and perhaps more restraint, is required in breaking a fast than in keeping it.” Because we have only a narrow window of time to get all the proper nutrition and calories, it’s tremendously important to consume foods that provide the greatest nutrient density and to focus on foods that are satiating. Although daily intermittent fasting does not imply any specific diet, it’s a no-brainer that your diet should keep processed foods, empty calories, and junk food to a minimum.
Tip #4: Graze an “appetizer buffet” or eat one complete meal, but don’t do both
I’ve found that people tend to tackle daily intermittent fasting in one of two ways – they either, graze on various foods during their entire eating window, or they eat one complete meal (such as a salad, dinner and dessert) and call it a day. It took me a while to realize that weight loss tends to happen more steadily if you choose one or the other option on any given day, rather than doing both which tends to cause over eating.
Tip #5: Recognize that no one really cares that you’re fasting
Really, they don’t… and the longer you’ve been practicing the fasting lifestyle the less they’ll care. By this I mean that a) after months of fasting, people are likely to stop commenting, asking questions or giving unsolicited advice about your eating habits and b) after they’ve grown fully accustomed to your fasting, they’ll no longer cut you any slack in consideration of the fact that you haven’t eaten for most of the day. Both behaviors are a blessing in disguise. It means you’ve truly adopted fasting as a lifestyle and others around you recognize that.
What’s your top tip? Please share in the comments below.