How to Try Intermittent Fasting Safely

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How to Try Intermittent Fasting Safely

woman eating healthy foodIntermittent fasting has multiple benefits.  Mounting evidence shows it can help you improve your overall health, reduce your risk of chronic illness and help you live longer. And the big plus for many people is it can help you lose weight.  But it’s important to try intermittent fasting safely.  Things can go wrong. Here I’m going to give you some important tips about how to avoid common pitfalls and do things the right way.

Maybe you’ve heard about intermittent fasting (let’s also call it IF so I don’t have to type it all the time) but aren’t sure how to go about trying it.  Maybe you’re wonder if it would work for you as well as it hass worked for so many others.

Too many people try IF a few times but give up because they find it too challenging at first or they make some easily avoidable mistakes. In this article I want to let you know how to try intermittent fasting with a healthy and safe approach. You would also learn about its key benefits so that you can decide whether it will work for you.

Approaches to Intermittent Fasting 

There are several different approaches you can take intermittent fasting. Here are three:

  1. Going without eating for 24 hours 1 to 2 days a week.
  2. Fasting every other day or so.
  3. Eating only within a limited time period, for example from 6 PM to bedtime.

You may try any one of the three approaches or maybe all of them to find out what works best for you. You have to take into account your lifestyle, health conditions and other factors into account before choosing any one of the fasting strategies. I do recommend starting out slowly. Maybe try going without food for 16 hours one day, then a few days later try 24 hour fast.

Tips for Safe Intermittent Fasting

Whatever approach you decide to try, here are few helpful tips for safe intermittent fasting:

For one thing, start slow. As I mentioned, one low key approach suggests not eating for 16 hours, then eat in a fairly generous 8 hour window.  This is a relatively easy way to see how you do without food.

A common way to take this approach is to start the fast in the evening and then not eat until 16 hours later, generally the following afternoon.  A fine point is to make sure you don’t eat your last meal or snack within 2 – 3 hours of going to bed.  You’ll be more likely to store the calories if you go to bed immediately after eating.

Pick the Right Day to Fast

Next, choose a day of the week that is not too busy and without too many demands on you. It is possible that you may face some minor detox issues, especially when you are starting out with it. You should have sufficient time to relax if required. 

If you’re going to try a 24 hour fast, you should eat a light meal on the evening before the fast. Steamed vegetables and salad along with some protein rich foods would be ideal. If you eat a heavy meal the evening before the fast it can make you feel more hungry the next day, making it difficult to complete the fast. You should also avoid taking alcohol on the evening before the fast.

Be Careful About Exercising While Fasting

When you first try a fast, avoid doing intense workouts or exercise or any kind of vigorous physical activity. You can do some light exercises, walking or yoga or stretching. Eventually, you may actually find it beneficial to exercise in a fasting state. In fact some experts recommend it if you want to optimize weight loss.

However, it’s best not to try that when you’re starting out. Wait until you have a good sense of how your body reacts to fasting.

Juice Can Help an Intermittent Fast

Some people drink vegetable juice on their fast day and this can have great health benefit. Celery, watercress, chicory, greens and cucumber are some of the best vegetables you can use to prepare juices for your fast days. You should minimize carrots and avoid beet juice as they are high on sugar content.

Your body requires adequate supply of fluids during the fast. Water and herbal teas are the healthiest options. You should take at least 2 liters of fluids and avoid fruit juices, alcohol, coffee and soft drinks.

Watch for Detox Symptoms

When you first start with intermittent fasting you may face a few detox issues like headache, feeling dizzy etc. People who consume a lot of caffeine and sugar may face more detox issues compared to others. These typically are mild and will pass as your body becomes healthier and you adapt to a fasting lifestyle.

However, if you feel unwell and it gets difficult for you to continue with the fast, by all means stop. Eat a light meal and some easily digestible food. It may take some time for the body to adjust to a fasting schedule. Wait a day or two and then try again, perhaps changing your pre-fast meal or adding fresh vegetable juice to your routine.

How to End the Intermittent Fast


greasy fast food

How Not to End the Fast

When it’s time to break the fast, whether it’s after 16, 24 or 36 hours do so by eating a relatively light meal. Lightly steamed vegetables and lean protein such as fish or chicken along with a small amount of healthy fat (a slice of avocado, or some olive oil, or nut oil or nut butter) would be ideal. Avoid loading your body either with heavy fats or simple starches.

Following these tips should keep you safe and feeling well while your first experiment with intermittent fasting.

Sometimes You Need A Doctor’s Guidance

Of course if you have any serious health issue such as diabetes or hypertension you need to check with your doctor. In the long run, IF can actually prove beneficial for many medical conditions but it requires careful monitoring and perhaps adjustment of medication doses when you’re starting out. You’ll need a doctor’s guidance.

For most people, that’s not an issue and a practical guide like Eat Stop Eat is all you need.

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