Top 20 tips that make intermittent fasting easy to practice.

Have you tried intermittent fasting and felt the discomfort of the hunger pangs, dizziness, or uncontrolled desire to eat during intermittent fasting? Are you planning to start intermittent fasting in a few days?

These tips will help you a lot in completing the fast successfully.

There is a word of caution before you read further. This article is not about water fasting[1]. Water fasting is a type of fast in which food, as well as the water, is restricted. Water fasting is done in religious fasts and is recommended in a few therapies. We do not recommend water fasting regularly, as enough scientific data is not available regarding its safety.

Side effects are few if you drink adequate water during the fast, and these side effects were mostly mild. [2]

Fasting is also not safe if you are on certain types of antidiabetic drugs. So you should consult your doctor before you start fasting.

Be clear about the concept of intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is not about the quantity of food that you eat daily. Intermittent fasting is a plan in which you decide to fast for a certain number of hours every day and eat during the remaining hours of the day. That means that in the most popular 16:8 plan of intermittent fasting; you fast for sixteen hours every day and eat during the remaining eight hours of that day.

So intermittent fasting is different from a calorie-restricted diet because, in this plan, you consume the same amount of food that you usually eat but in a restricted window of eight hours or four hours in the 20:4 advanced version. [3]

Of course, eating the right quantity of food to meet your nutritional  The advantages and disadvantages of combining intermittent fasting with a calorie-restricted diet will also be explained in this article.

Although you can not eat anything during your fasting window, you can drink the following things during fasting: –

  • Water
  • Black tea without sugar
  • Black coffee without sugar
  • Herbal tea without sugar
  • You can mix cinnamon, black pepper, salt, black salt, or any other spice of your choice to the water, tea or coffee

You can not add the following to your drinks

  • Sugar
  • Cream
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Coconut oil

Of course, you cannot drink colas and other drinks which contain sugar in them. Also, avoid drinks with artificial sweeteners.

Two most important reasons for failure to follow the intermittent fasting plan are: –

Before we start discussing the tips, it is essential to understand the main reasons why people fail with intermittent fasting?

  1. Hunger pangs: It is normal physiology when you are hungry. The intensity of hunger pangs keeps increasing as we continue to fast.  Hunger pangs occur every time we skip a meal. Eating three meals a day is something we have learned as a cultural practice over the years. Our body gets trained to remain hungry between dinner and breakfast. That is why we do not feel hunger pangs in the night, although the interval between dinner and breakfast may range from nine to twelve hours depending on your habit.
  2. Social pressures: There is a general belief in the society that “ breakfast is the essential meal of the day.” People around you will continuously nag you regarding the harmful effects of skipping breakfast. You will find it hard to resist when friends around you are sipping colas and eating burgers at a party.

Here are the top 20 tips to help you fast without any discomfort.

1. Start with the easiest method of fasting.

Skipping your breakfast and eating lunch and dinner is the method that works for most individuals. Most people find missing the dinner hardest to practice.

Here is an easy example: Suppose you eat your dinner at 9 pm, and you skip your breakfast and eat lunch at around 1 pm, this gives you a fasting interval of 16 hours. Most of the fasting interval is during your sleep time, making this method the easiest of all. You only need to resist the desire to eat during the first few hours of the day. We feel less hungry while we are busy in our work in the morning as compared to the evenings when we are comparatively free. Most people are engaged in their work in the morning hours, making the fasting easier.

Most people find sleeping difficult while hungry, hence skipping dinner for intermittent fasting has resulted in poor compliance as compared to skipping breakfast and eating breakfast. Although a few individuals have been successfully practicing intermittent fasting by eating breakfast and lunch and skipping dinner. Hence you can try this option if it suits your lifestyle and if hunger does not affect your sleep.

You should increase the duration of your fast gradually. If your target is 16 hours or 20 hours of fasting, first start with a 14 hour fast or a 12 hour fast and then increase 1-2 hours in weekly increments.

Stay on the 16:8 plan for a few months before you try the more advanced 20:4 intermittent fasting plan. Jumping to a more difficult system straight away is a sure recipe for failure.

2. Sunday or a holiday should not be the first day of your intermittent fasting.

Starting intermittent fasting from Sunday or a holiday may be a tempting idea. You may think that it will be easier to fast on a Sunday than a working day. You might think that less physical activity on a Sunday will make you less hungry. But, it is challenging mentally to start your fast on a Sunday or a holiday. With friends or relatives around you eating their favorite dishes, it is tough to resist food, especially when you face the hunger pangs of the first few days of your intermittent fasting journey. Better start fasting from Monday and enjoy your Sundays as a reward for the hard work of the last six days. You will be more motivated to continue intermittent fasting in the long run by skipping the fast on a Sunday.

3. Do not brag to everyone that you are fasting.

The moment you tell your colleagues and friends that you have started fasting, people will bombard you with tons of information regarding the benefits of breakfast,    “ Breakfast is the most essential meal of the day” and stuff like that. If someone offers you something to eat or drink, politely refuse by saying that you are full, of course, if you are comfortable lying. There is no need to brag about the fact that you can stay hungry and still feel well. Also, arguing with people who are not fasting regarding the health benefits of fasting and skipping breakfast is going to make things difficult for you. Not bragging about your latest endeavor is the most crucial tip for the first few days of your fasting.

4. Eat a normal quantity of food when you break your fast.

You don’t have to be too fussy about what you eat while breaking your fast. There are several articles on the internet that describe in detail regarding what foods you should eat and what foods you should not eat while breaking your fast. A few precautions are required when fasting for prolonged periods, say three days and five-day fasts. If you are fasting for only sixteen or twenty hours, you can eat whatever you want and also there is no need to worry about the quantity of food that you want to eat. Over days you will realize that intermittent fasting creates a feeling of well being, and your cravings for junk food start decreasing. After a few weeks of practice, you will feel the desire to eat healthy food instead of junk food.

5. Understand these stop symptoms.

If you feel dizziness, headache, or hunger pangs make it difficult for you to concentrate on your work, then you should eat something immediately. It is ok if you fail on a couple of occasions in the first few weeks of your intermittent fasting journey.

6. Remain busy in your work or take a walk.

Every time you feel hungry, take a short walk if possible. Getting over the sudden desire to eat is easy with this simple hack. Divert your mind by drinking some water or black tea. If possible, go out for a walk.

7. Hydration is especially important during the fasting window.

Remain well hydrated during your fasting period. Drink plenty of water. Carry a water bottle wherever you go. You can add little quantity of black salt, cinnamon, turmeric, or black pepper to the water if you find drinking plain water difficult. You can add any of the above ingredients of your choice to the water in small quantities. However, you can not add lemon juice or any fruit juice to your water in the fasting window.

8. Include some fat in your last meal.

Include some fat in your dinner if you intend to skip breakfast or add some extra fat in your lunch if you want to skip the meal. Adding some excess healthy fat will help you complete the fast and still feel full. Do not worry about the extra calories as you need to do this for the first few days. You can cut down fat from the other meal if you are too conscious about the calories. Eating the recommended quantity of healthy fat is necessary for the feeling of satiety after a meal. It is challenging to complete the fast on a low-fat diet as a low-fat diet will make you hungry after a few hours.

9. Eat whole-grain food and avoid processed and junk food.

Eat more and more whole grain healthy food. Avoid eating processed food and junk food. Stop drinking colas, which contain a high quantity of sugars. Also, read the labels of things like sauce and various toppings for sugar content. Excess sugar in your diet can make intermittent fasting difficult.  Remember things like high fructose corn syrup, etc. have the same harmful effects as sugar. Food choices of those who practice intermittent fasting improve over time. The cravings for sugary dishes also decreases over time.

10. Do not ignore the micronutrients in your diet.

If you do intermittent fasting and eat junk food at lunch and dinner than you will not be able to succeed in the long term, junk food like pizzas and burgers are loaded with calories and lack the essential micronutrients present in a healthy meal. High sugar content in them also increases food cravings just hours after eating junk food.

Nutritional deficiencies increase food cravings. If you suffer from any nutritional deficiency like B12 deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, iron deficiency anemia, etc. then take your treatment regularly and follow up with your physician as per the schedule.

11. Exercise timings during intermittent fasting.

Although many individuals workout in the morning during the fast without any difficulty. But if you have just started intermittent fasting, you will find it exceedingly difficult to overcome the hunger pangs after the workout on an empty stomach. If possible, try to shift your workout to the afternoon or evening if you are skipping breakfast. You can turn back to working out in the morning after a few months once you are comfortable with your intermittent fasting plan.

12. Drink black tea and black coffee.

Black tea and black coffee are known to suppress appetite. You can drink black tea and black coffee in the morning hours if you are not sensitive to caffeine. Add a small quantity of cinnamon, black pepper, salt, black salt, or any other spice of your choice to the tea or coffee to enhance its taste. Do not add milk, sugar, butter, or cream to your tea or coffee. You can drink bulletproof coffee (contains coconut oil and clarified butter) for the first 4-5 days of your intermittent fasting as it creates a feeling of satiety. As butter and oil are not allowed in the intermittent fasting so you will have to give up bulletproof coffee from the second week of your plan.

13. In the first 2-3 days, hunger pangs are usual. After a few days, hunger pangs disappear suddenly.

If you want to succeed, then this is an essential concept you need to understand. Do not be frightened by hunger pangs. Do not think that hunger pangs are going to trouble you forever. Wow, hunger pangs disappear suddenly after2-3 days. After a week or so, you will be surprised to find how skipping breakfast used to make you so irritated. Most people give up fasting in the first week because they think it is too difficult, whereas it is not once you get past a few days. So be patient for the early 2-3 days if you are doing a daily fast or the first three weeks if you are doing a weekly fast. So, try the advice above, and you will succeed. Try the following hacks on the early 2 or 3 days to fight the hunger pangs: –

  1. Drink some water
  2. Drink black tea or coffee
  3. Distract yourself with some work or a short walk outside
  4. Eat a small cube of butter or one or two teaspoons of cream if the above steps do not stop your hunger pangs. Don’t worry if you have to break your fast in the first few days by this hack. You do not have to punish yourself with hunger pangs in the first few days. Your ultimate goal is to do fasting as a lifelong habit and not to impress others. Many bodybuilders who do intermittent fasting have succeeded using this trick

14. Intermittent fasting combined with severe calorie restriction is a sure formula for failure.

Many people who are desperate to lose weight quickly try to start with calorie restriction and intermittent fasting together. Although it is possible to do calorie restriction and fasting together, it is not advisable to start both together; otherwise, you will be facing a lot of mental stress. Start with intermittent fasting first and then do calorie restriction after 3-4 weeks. Remember, cutting calories is a short term measure just to lose fat, but intermittent fasting has a lot of benefits, including increased insulin sensitivity, improved immunity, etc. [4]

15. One out of the two meals should he heavier.

One full meal gives you a feeling of satiety and a feel-good factor. The happy experience of at least one full meal a day is significant for the long-term success of your intermittent fasting plan.

16. Stop snacking in between the meals during your eating window.

Although when the intermittent fasting is designed as a feeding pattern, it was recommended that you could eat any number of times during the four to eight-hour eating window. But in practice, those who avoid eating snacks between the two meals are more likely to succeed in the long term. Snacks are loaded with processed carbohydrates and sugars, leading to unnecessary fluctuations in your blood sugar levels and various hormones. If you have a sweet tooth, you can eat the dessert in small quantity immediately after a meal for more stable blood sugar levels and a feeling of satiety.

17. Eat a cheat meal every weak.

When you are fasting, you might be tempted to eat healthy food all the time; however, it creates the stress of missing your favorite food. Having a cheat meal has two benefits: –

  1. You feel motivated to continue with fasting as well as getting your favorite food once every week.
  2. High-calorie junk food once a week resets the leptin hormone level in the body. Leptin helps burn more fat in the body. Continuous weight loss over a period will motivate you to continue with intermittent fasting in the long term.

18. Maintain a log of your success.

Maintaining a daily record is the best method for motivating yourself. Just record daily in a notebook, calendar, or any digital notes you use in your mobile or laptop. Do not trust your memory to keep a record and ignore this real advice. Recording on a calendar, a notebook, or a device is the essential motivation you need to succeed. You can also make a small note of the reasons for failure on the days you could not achieve. You can use this information for self-improvement.

19. If you give in to your temptations and fail in your efforts, you can use the following advice.

You may fail to do intermittent fasting for a day or two due to some social occasion. Refusing to eat if a friend is offering a treat or not eating at an office party is rude. Improving your health at the cost of a relationship is not a good idea. But if you have fallen back into old habits and you are off track for several days or weeks, try again.   You might have failed several times in your fasting journey. It is ok to fail when you are trying a new habit. You must have seen your friends trying to quit smoking several times but finally succeeding.  Try again, and you will surely succeed by using the tips given in this article.

20. High-intensity workout and intermittent fasting.

Many bodybuilders and athletes practice intermittent fasting successfully without any difficulty. If you are on a calorie deficit diet, you can do intermittent fasting but do not further cut down the calories for the first one or two weeks.

Follow the above tips, and you will sail through the initial few difficult days of practicing intermittent fasting. Once your body adapts to the fast, you will enjoy the benefits of intermittent fasting for the rest of your life.

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