As a Nutritionist who has been Intermittent Fasting for over 7 years and has helped thousands of men and women around the world on their fasting journey, I've developed quite a few tools to help beginners start off on the right foot.
Because although Intermittent Fasting comes off deceptively simple (you just don't eat for a bit, right?), it can actually be a bit tricky, especially if you want to do it the right way to achieve a weight loss or wellness goal.
Today, I'm sharing 10 Intermittent Fasting tips and tricks for beginners to help you start seeing (and FEELING) results faster!
#1: Don't jump straight into it
I know this post is about 16/8 Intermittent Fasting, but I've found it's best to not jump straight into a 16 hour fast. Going straight into a 16/8 fasting routine can be a difficult transition, especially if you're used to eating from the moment you wakeup until right before bed. Instead, easing into the fast by first starting with a 12 hour fast and increasing the length by 30 minutes every few days can be a more gentle experience.
Plus, many of the benefits of Intermittent Fasting can still be experienced with a shorter 12 hour fast! You can checkout how Guylaine lost 44 pounds fasting for just 12 hours per day with my blog post HERE.
#2: Drink water (and possibly electrolytes)
Intermittent Fasting can often cause dehydration due to the natural dip in our storing hormone insulin. This dip tells the kidneys to release water and sodium - both of which can lead to dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance. It's this imbalance that can cause some of those initial pesky issues such as headaches or low energy.
But by ensuring you drink enough water throughout the day (including during the fast) and possibly adding electrolytes as well, you can help ensure you feel your best during the fast and throughout the rest of the day.
#3: You CAN have coffee/tea during the fast
Coffee and tea can be quite helpful during the Intermittent Fast because caffeine acts as a natural appetite suppressant. Eventually, as the body starts learning how to burn fat as fuel, most people who use Intermittent Fasting find that they don't need to suppress their appetite during the fast. However, in the beginning, using coffee or tea can be helpful.
You can stick to black/unsweetened coffee or tea or experiment with adding in a bit of certain types of cream. You can checkout my video above for the full details of what you can add into your coffee without breaking a fast.
#4: Know what breaks a fast (and what doesn't)
Vitamins? Sparkling water? Lemon tea? Make sure you know what breaks a fast (and what doesn't), because it's not quite as black and white as you might think.
Checkout my blog with all the details of what breaks a fast HERE.
#5: Break your fast the RIGHT way
Intermittent Fasting is a great tool to help with weight loss and wellness goals, but if you break your fast the wrong way, you could reverse your results. In the Complete Intermittent Fasting Bundle, we focus on teaching what to eat during the eating window to help double down on the benefits of Intermittent Fasting. This concept centers around protein, fat and fiber rich meals (not snacks). Our program has been used by thousands of men and women (like Jeannette, pictured below!) around the world to help them achieve their weight loss and wellness goals.
If you're looking for the details of exactly what to eat once you break your fast to help you best achieve your goals, you can find the Complete Intermittent Fasting Bundle HERE.
#6: Don't end your eating window with a dessert
Desserts are typically high in sugar. These high sugar foods will spike blood sugar levels and lead to a sudden crash. This crash can increase sugar cravings and hunger, which will make your next day fast very difficult and uncomfortable.
If you absolutely need to have some type of dessert before you start your fast, try my zero sugar hot chocolate recipe. This recipe has zero grams of added sugar and 18 grams of protein to help boost satiety and prevent next day sugar cravings.
You can checkout my super simple (and DELISH) recipe HERE.
#7: Don't do this alone
Any lifestyle change, whether it be a change to your diet, sleep schedule or exercise routine, is easier when you have the support of those around you. This group can quickly become your source of inspiration and motivation when you might need it the most. If you don't have people in your day-to-day life that can make this change with you, it might be a good idea to join an online group of folks making the same lifestyle changes as you.
We have a free private Facebook group with over 18,000 members from all around the world that help support one another throughout their Intermittent Fasting journeys. You can check it out HERE.
#8: Break your fast earlier in the day
This is known as eTRF (early time restricted feeding) and has been found to be better than other forms of Intermittent Fasting when it comes to achieving a weight loss and fat loss goal.(1) Ideally, the goal with eTRF is to have the eating window as early as possible so you're not eating later in the evening. For example, instead of having the 8 hour eating window be from 12pm-8pm, we would want to shift it to 10am-6pm. It's important to make sure that whatever eating window you choose still fits your schedule and lifestyle. So you can try and pick the earliest eating window that works for your life.
#9: Go for a walk during the fast
Walking is a low intensity exercise that primarily burns fat as fuel and therefore can help the body more efficiently shift into a fat burning state during the fast. If possible, try and go for a walk first thing in the morning or at some point during the morning fast. This can be as short as 10 minutes or as long as 60 minutes - whatever fits your schedule!
#10: Don't use the fast to justify a bad diet
Like I mentioned earlier, Intermittent Fasting is a great tool, but it's not a magic pill. If you're breaking your fast with donuts and pumpkin spice latte's, your body isn't going to reap the plethora of benefits that Intermittent Fasting can provide. And quite honestly, you're not going to feel great either.
But fasting should also not be used as a crutch after "cheat meals". A common mistake I see with those just starting is that they'll add 24 hour or 36 hour fasts after a "cheat day" to help "bounce back" faster. This method leads to yo-yo results, unstable blood sugar levels, increased hunger and quite possibly an imbalance in hormones.
And it's not to say that you can't ever have some of those treat items ever again, but it's important to be strategic about it. You can checkout my "treat meal" strategy with the video above.