How to Safely Use Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
If it feels like you’ve been dieting your entire life, it’s probably time to try something new. While fasting has been around for thousands of years, many people have only recently begun experimenting with it for weight loss. The major question that keeps popping up is, “Is intermittent fasting safe?” The answer is yes…if you do it the right way.
Are you interested in trying intermittent fasting for weight loss? The following steps will show you how to do it safely. But first, let’s talk about what it is and how you can make it work for your schedule.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a form of dieting that requires you to make a conscious decision to skip certain meals. Most people choose to skip breakfast, but you have the option to skip dinner instead. During the rest of the day, you will consume your calories during a specific, pre-selected period of time. The most common method of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 method, which means your fasting window is 16 hours long and your eating window is 8 hours long.
For example, let’s say your eating window begins at 11 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m.. Most people eat two large meals during that eating window, but you can do whatever works best for you. Keep in mind that the whole purpose of intermittent fasting is to decrease your daily calorie intake by skipping an entire meal each day. If you’re consuming the same number of calories in your eating window as you were on your other diets, it’s not going to work. The whole point is to be in a caloric deficit at the end of each day.
Won’t it cause my metabolism to crash?
Before we go on, we must address this other pressing question. Let’s skip to the answer: No. Contrary to popular belief, fasting for 16 hours a day will not damage your metabolism. It would take several days for your body to go into starvation mode.
In one study, researchers compared calorie-restrictive dieters that ate several small meals throughout the day with intermittent dieters. They found no significant difference in weight loss. Whether you choose to eat six small meals or two larger meals per day, your body will burn the same number of calories. It doesn’t mean that one diet is better than the other; it just depends on the person.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
The benefits of intermittent fasting are actually quite plentiful. These benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Weight loss.
- Decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more.
- Reduction in stress, cholesterol, and inflammation.
- Improvement in overall health and longevity.
How to Safely Utilize Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
Pick a Time Frame that Will Work for You
As mentioned earlier, most people choose to skip breakfast and eat their first meal around 11 a.m.. This means that you’d finish eating by 7 p.m.. Obviously, this schedule won’t work for everyone. Let’s say you have to be at work at 5 a.m.. Waiting until 11 a.m. may be too difficult for you, so you could move your window to begin at 8 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.. In other words, it doesn’t matter when your eating window begins, as long as you consistently fast for 16 hours straight.
Keep in mind that, during the 16 hours, no calories can be consumed. That includes beverages (yes, I’m talking about flavored coffee). Adding any kind of creamer or sugar to your coffee would break your fast. If you need caffeine in the morning, try black coffee or unsweetened, zero-calorie green tea.
Choose Healthy Food
The whole goal of intermittent fasting is to consume fewer calories than you’re exerting each day. One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is eating too much processed food. Your meals should be comprised of mostly fish, lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. These foods will provide you with the nutrition that your body needs to thrive.
Related: The Whole Foods Shopping List
Processed food not only lacks valuable nutrients, but it’s also generally higher in calories, too. In other words, it’s way easier to overeat unhealthy food. This brings us to the next point…
Track Caloric Intake
One of the first things you should do is find out How Many Calories You Should Be Eating Daily to Lose Weight. You must also make sure that you’re eating the appropriate amounts of each macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat). If you need help figuring that out, read: How to Calculate Macronutrients for Weight Loss. Once you know, you can plan your meals accordingly.
For example, if you need to eat 1,500 calories a day to lose weight, you’ll want to make sure that your two meals are around 750 calories each. Now, you may feel like you’re overeating, but you’re not. Eating a day’s worth of calories in an 8-hour window is going to make you feel full, but weight loss comes down to calories in, calories out. If you maintain a deficit, you will lose weight.
Prioritize Exercise (Preferably Before Eating)
While it is not absolutely mandatory, we highly recommend working out before eating. This will promote optimal fat burn and help your muscles recover faster. If your eating window begins at 11 a.m., do your best to exercise before then. If your schedule doesn’t permit a workout that early, don’t worry; intermittent fasting will still work for you. Timing doesn’t matter as much as ensuring that you get your workout in at some point, each day.
Do you exercise in the morning? Would you like to start? Try these awesome, early-bird workout routines:
- 7-Day Morning Workout Challenge
- Daily Morning Pump-Up Workout
- 7 Quick Morning Workouts
- 4-Week Morning Fat Blaster Calendar
Who Should and Shouldn’t Use Intermittent Fasting?
In terms of diet, every person has different wants and needs. This is exactly why a diet can work for one person but not the other. If you are a healthy adult, intermittent fasting is a safe, alternative choice for weight loss. Keep in mind that your body will take time to adapt to any diet, especially intermittent fasting. If you’re used to eating every few hours, the first couple of days will be a little rough. However, if you can get through the first week, we think that you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how good you feel!
If you are someone that absolutely must eat every few hours, intermittent fasting will not work for you. Furthermore, children, pregnant women, people with type-1 diabetes, and those who currently (or have in the past) suffered from an eating disorder should not partake in intermittent fasting.
There is no “magic” diet. No matter what diet you choose to participate in, it’s going to require hard work and dedication. Intermittent fasting is an effective, safe option for healthy adults. We recommend trying it for one full month before deciding whether or not it’s right for you.
It’s not necessarily better or worse than other diets; it’s just a matter of whether or not it’s better for YOU.
Are you going to try it out? Have you tried intermittent fasting in the past? Let us know what you think about it in the comment section below!
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