Intermittent Fasting: Dos and Don’ts  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- In case you’re unfamiliar, intermittent fasting (IF) is a type of eating plan that calls for periods of eating and fasting. But for the periods in between, you can consume water, coffee, and tea, chaach aka buttermilk of thin consistency, etc.
- Numerous celebrities such as Vanessa Hudgens, and Halle Berry etc. swear by intermittent fasting.
- You must study the concept behind it and make wise choices before you embark upon it, so that your IM diet does not falter.
Many diets focus on what to eat, but intermittent fasting is all about when you eat. This is one diet that gives you slots (in terms of timing) — you only eat during a specific time. Fasting for a certain number of hours each day or eating just one meal a couple of days a week, can help your body burn fat, shows research.
Can the human body handle long hours of fasting? Are we not told that staying hungry for too long will make us prone to acidity? Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Dr Mark Mattson who has studied intermittent fasting for 25 years, says that our bodies have evolved to be able to go without food for many hours, or even several days or longer. He cites how in prehistoric times before humans learned to farm, they were hunters and gatherers who evolved to survive — and thrive — for long periods without eating. They had to: It took a lot of time and energy to hunt game and gather nuts and berries, Dr Mattson says.
With too much digital work with lesser running around, humans have eased themselves into the unhealthy sedentary lifestyle. Extra calories and less activity can mean a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses. If we are not burning as many calories and as efficiently as even our elders did 50 years ago, we must at least cut down on the quantity of calorie intake.
Scientific studies are showing that intermittent fasting may help reverse the trends of non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular problems, diabetes, blood pressure, obesity, hypertension etc that we have set ourselves up for.
But there are many who find that despite their best efforts and determination, Intermittent Fasting is not delivering the results for them. Why is it that IF does not work for some? Here is a troubleshooting guide. Are you doing these things wrong?
- Are you eating the right foods? At your designated mealtime, are you eating sugars and refined grains? Harvard experts suggest that you must switch to eating fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats (a sensible, plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet), instead. According to a scientific study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a “Pesco-Mediterranean Diet with Intermittent Fasting” works wonders for weight loss. The Pesco-Mediterranean eating style is primarily a plant-rich diet, but the aquatic animal (fish, seafood, and seaweeds) food sources provide an array of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, some of which are not readily accessible in vegetarian or vegan diets.
- Are you messing up the cooking oil part? When you were advised to cook with olive oil, did you check how much and which variety of olive oil you can use and how? Make extra-virgin olive oil the oil you cook with. Do not overdo the quantity bit — or you will notice weight gain (it’s fat after all, so the calories can add up quickly). But the solace is that it’s rich in heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, so you can feel good about keeping a bottle handy in the kitchen. You can also use it in cold applications to make salad dressing or to drizzle on cooked veggies or side dishes, says a report in Everyday Health.
- Have you chosen the wrong Intermittent Fasting plan? According to the Women’s Health magazine, the 16:8 method of intermittent fasting involves fasting every day for 16 hours and restricting your daily eating window to eight hours. In the 5:2 IF plan, you normally eat five days a week and cut back to 20 per cent of your normal daily calorie intake for the other two. Women can have about 500 calories on “fasting” days, while men are to consume about 600. There are 4 more types of IF plans — viz. the Alternate-day fasting, the Eat-stop-eat diet, the 14:10 diet, or the Warrior Diet plan. We suggest you check with your dietician, nutritionist, and doctor about what goes well with your body and lifestyle.
- You’re eating too much during your eating window: Do not let the hunger pangs get the better of you and your resolve. Just because you have been fasting for 24 hours or 16 hours, does not mean you binge eat during your eating window. Do not try and cover up for the time you were fasting and end up eating so much that you feel guilty or defeated later. Instead, you will be better off eating sensibly, so practice mindful eating.
- You are not eating enough protein: Whether it is vegan protein, protein powders, or sources like lean meat and chicken, protein is an essential building block, remember that protein is important for bone mass, muscle mass and recovery after you exercise. Protein not only gives you a feeling of satiation, but it also helps you make it successfully from the fasting window to the eating window. Ditch the carbs and refined sugar, go for delicious lean protein!
- You are not hydrating the body enough: As you go on intermittent fasting, be careful that you are keeping your water intake as advised. IF diet contains low calorie, water-dense foods, especially fruits and vegetables that one can eat in the intermittent period if hunger pangs get the better of you — such as chopped cucumber, etc. And when you’re not eating at all—not even these low-calorie foods—it’s important to make sure you’re drinking more fluids than normal to avoid falling short. You can drink very watery buttermilk (chaach), no-sugar green tea, sparkling water, plain drinking water, etc. Some people prefer herbal tea and/or bone broth as the latter helps replenish key electrolytes, such as calcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals that are depleted throughout the day.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.