Intermittent fasting, or IF, is one of the most popular ways to lose weight and keep it off ( 1 ). If you’re not sure what intermittent fasting entails, it’s simply an eating pattern that involves brief periods of normal eating, followed by longer periods of eating fewer calories. Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight quickly, but even more importantly, it may help you keep that weight off in the long run ( 2 , 3 ). In this article, we’ll go over how to make intermittent fasting successful so you can see the best results possible.
Related: 18:6 Intermittent Fasting for Accelerated Weight Loss
Tip 1: The truth about breakfast
if you’re trying to lose weight, skip breakfast. There’s an age-old theory that skipping breakfast will make you hungrier throughout your day and lead you to eat more later on. However, evidence suggests that intermittent fasting—fasting for 12 hours a day or longer—can actually help reduce weight and body fat by increasing your insulin sensitivity. If you’re trying to lose weight, try skipping breakfast and having just coffee (or tea) until lunchtime instead.
Related: Keto Diet vs Intermittent Fasting
Tip 2: Don’t give up if you struggle
If you’re having a difficult time fasting during your first few attempts, there are a few things you can do to help yourself out. First, it’s important to tell yourself that you might not be ready for intermittent fasting. This is especially true if you feel weak, lightheaded or generally off; these symptoms are very common in beginners and should pass in about an hour or two.
Tip 3: Stay active during your fasting window
Just because you’re not eating during your fast doesn’t mean you can’t stay active. In fact, physical activity is one of many ways to promote more fat burning during a fast. Some studies indicate that exercising while in a fasted state may be beneficial for fat loss and overall health when done 3 or 4 times per week. Exercise is important to maintain good health and promote fat loss with IF, so make sure to stay active during your fasting window as much as possible!
Tip 4: It’s ok to enjoy yourself
If you’re using intermittent fasting to lose weight, it’s perfectly acceptable to indulge from time to time. You’ll be surprised at how much extra weight you can lose by enjoying a piece of cake or a bowl of ice cream once in a while. As long as your overall goal is to lose weight and get healthier, eating cake every now and then won’t derail your efforts.
Tip 5: Drink more water than you think you need
Your body will get dehydrated much faster while fasting, so you’ll need to drink more water than usual. A good idea would be to load up on a few bottles of water before your fast, and keep them around in case you get thirsty. Also, chug some water right when you wake up so that you don’t have a dry mouth all day.
Tip 6: Understand your cravings, track them & learn from them
After you’ve been fasting for a while, you’ll probably begin to notice patterns in your cravings. For instance, do your sweet cravings seem to come around noon every day? Do you crave salty foods or pasta on Sunday afternoons? Try keeping a food journal and see if any patterns emerge. By knowing what factors trigger certain cravings, you can better avoid them—and be able to indulge when it makes sense.
Tip 7: Prepare what you can in advance.
While it may be tempting to dive right in and just fast, it’s always good to have a game plan. If your schedule permits, preparing some meals in advance is an excellent way to make sure you have quick access to something if hunger strikes while you’re on-the-go. This way when hunger hits, you won’t be caught off guard and forced to choose between starving and eating junk food.
Tip 8 : Weigh before and after fasting.
Before beginning any fasting regiment it is always important to weigh yourself. Tracking your weight will give you a rough idea if your fasting plan is working for you or not. If you are losing weight then consider intermittent fasting. If there is no change, then maybe you should try something else. It’s that simple! It really depends on what your goals are, as well as how quickly you want to achieve them.
Tip 9 : Experiment with different times of day.
Many people find that intermittent fasting works for them best when they start their eating window earlier in the day and end it later, rather than vice versa. If you’re interested in trying out a fasting schedule but don’t want to begin at 6am on Monday, test starting your eating window at 11am Monday morning and see how you feel. Just remember that even if an earlier start feels good to you, aim to finish your eating window by 7 or 8pm.
Tip 10 : Focus on how good you feel on non-fasting days.
While you’re fasting, it may be easy to get preoccupied with how many calories you’re saving. But focus on how good it makes you feel. You don’t have to count calories on non-fasting days; rather, eat when you feel hungry and stop when you are full. If you eat more than usual during non-fasting days, don’t punish yourself—simply resume your regular eating schedule until your body has adjusted.