Intermittent fasting, is a magical solution, that humans recently re-discovered a few years ago. When one is on IF, they fast for a period of time, and then there is an eating window, during those hours one eats, and then fasting begins again. There are unlimited patterns of IF, for example, 5 days eating- 2 days fasting, 12-hour fasting-12 hours eating, 16 hours fasting- 8 hours eating (this is the most popular one). Basically, there is no hard and fast rule or a diet plan to follow IF, you have to go with your gut and eat what suits your body. Since the very beginning, I have been dying to talk about intermittent fasting. It has so many benefits, and it is much easier to follow in comparison to diets like keto etc.
#1 Rule: Break your fast with a MEAL
It is very important what you eat in a window. You do not need to live on the edges and cut your meals. Since you are fasting for most of your time, you need to make sure you include three things in your diet i.e fibre, protein and fat. Do not skip the fat. I repeat do not skip the fat. Although, I am not telling you to eat fried food. You need to include healthy fat foods in your diet like cashew. When you are fasting, your body starts burning your fat.
#2 Rule: HYDRATE
During your fasting period, drink as much water as you can. In the morning, before breaking your fast, when you drink water, I would recommend adding a pinch of sea salt. When you are fasting, the amount of insulin to be released decreases, since there is less sugar intake. Due to this, your body would start releasing water and electrolytes, and trust me you would want to restore that.
#3 Rule: Start Gradually
Speaking from my personal experience, you should start IF gradually. You’d want to start from 12:12 fasting, then decrease your eating window gradually.
The reason behind it is, it is not easy to start with 16:8 fasting, which will eventually make you give up (which led me to give up). So I started again, gradually increasing my fasting period. If I can, so can you.
#4 Rule: Keep your fasting period Flexible
Now you might be upset, that you have to go on a dinner that does not start before 8, and might break your fasting schedule. IF is a flexible fasting plan. If you know you have to eat till 9, then plan your previous meals accordingly. For example, if you have an 8-hour eating window of 12 p.m to 8 p.m, you can shift your eating window to 1 p.m-9 p.m. Or if you work on a night shift, shift your eating window accordingly. There are very few reasons to cheat on this plan.
#5 Rule: Fix your Sleeping Schedule
Yes, you might wanna fix your sleeping schedule. Now you must be thinking that I am just going overboard, but this is what I learnt from actually following IF. If you sleep early, you can save yourself from midnight cravings. I know how difficult it is to not have a snack when watching a movie late at night. And once you break the fast in the middle of a night, it will make you feel bad about how you tried to do this all day, and you couldn’t control yourself at night.
TIP: If you download a tracker app, it will help you keep on track. But do not run after the clock to break your fast. When it is time to break your fast, just wait for a minute and let your body guide you. If you are hungry, you can eat, but if you are not, it is your motivation to increase your fasting hours.
And, yes you can take cheat days. They are harmless if you can go back on track without any trouble. It is hard to get back on track after a cheat day, or a weekend.
IF is a better option if you are looking for a consistent plan for weight loss, decreasing cholesterol levels, creating an optimised hormonal profile, mental sharpness, better immunity or lower inflammation. Personally, I can not bear bloating, it just makes me feel so uneasy and IF has really helped me to control my calorie intake. It helps to cope up with that urge to lose one more pound, in a healthier way.