Set your goals
The first thing you should do is think about what you want from intermittent fasting. It can be a great tool for understanding hunger and getting comfortable with it. You can try to improve insulin sensitivity and lose excess body fat or you can use it to improve fat utilization for endurance exercise. These are all good reasons to give it a try. Just remember why you’re going into it, so you can decide if it’s worth it or if you should quit.
Start slowly and progress gradually
It’s all about adaptation. All of the benefits come from your body adapting to the fasted state, so don’t rush it, don’t jump into the strictest method of intermittent fasting immediately. Start with a 12/12 approach, give your body a few weeks to get used to it and then progress to 16/8 if all goes well. For more details on each method, read the first article in the series.
Choose the right foods
Even though intermittent fasting is mostly about timing of when to eat, it still matters what you eat. Actually, it matters even more! You have to make sure you eat nutrient-dense foods, enough protein sources like fish, meats, eggs, or legumes, plenty of veggies, and some nuts and seeds for healthy fats too. If you don’t have a good foundation, adding fasting on top won’t do you any good. It will just make you hungry and increase the potential for overeating.
Listen to your body
If fasting is a new thing for you, then you should pay extra attention to what your body tells you. Monitor your hunger and cravings – if you are binging on junk foods after your fasting window, you’re probably under-eating. Monitor your mood and mental health – if you use intermittent fasting to “compensate” for overeating, you should re-evaluate. Pay attention to your sleep quality, energy levels, appearance, and health too. Be aware of warning signs and make changes or stop if they persist.
Your whole lifestyle matters
Intermittent fasting, at least in the beginning, can be a substantial source of stress for your body. Make sure your lifestyle works as a whole and you’re not dealing with other stressors too. If you’re already not getting enough sleep, are stressed at work, with finances, and in relationships, plus are over-exercising, then fasting is going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
So keep in mind, intermittent fasting is only one of many ways to approach eating. If you do it right, you might get a lot out of it. But if it doesn’t work for you, then there’s no need to force it.