Fasting has become a popular way to lose weight and build health in recent years, and for good reason. Today’s advanced fasting methods can boost weight loss, trigger cellular repair, and increase cognitive performance without subjecting yourself to the “starvation diets” that may have been used in the past.
Nonetheless, there is a lot of confusion surrounding the idea of fasting, and it does require some strategy and planning. You can take full advantage of fasting’s many benefits if you avoid these common mistakes.
Mistake #1: Using fasting as an excuse to go crazy on your “off” days
Most fasting plans allow you certain periods of time where you can eat normally, without restricting calories or certain foods. But don’t use this as a free ticket to eat tons of desserts, pizza, and fried foods.
Not only will this leave you feeling sluggish (and possibly with a killer stomach ache), but it won’t help your body continue its detox process — because you’re simply filling it with more things to detox!
Mistake #2: Not eating enough during your normal meals
On the flipside, you don’t want to be too strict during your fasting free time. Limiting your calories or portions on your normal eating days will not help you get faster results from your fast. Instead, it puts you in a permanently “hangry” state that will eventually work against you.
The idea of fasting is to help you listen to your hunger cues and to eat satisfying, nutritious meals. So, go ahead and put some extra vegetables or healthy fats on your plate if you’re still hungry at dinner. Chew your food well and enjoy it, take your time eating, and simply stop when you start to feel full.
Mistake #3: Being too aggressive with your plan
It’s great to have high goals when it comes to fasting — and if you go with a plan tailored for you, you can find amazing success. But if you do too much at the beginning, you’ll make fasting more difficult than it has to be and may set yourself up for burnout very quickly.
In general, we don’t recommend that the initial phase of a fast is extremely strict and paired with a hard core exercise routine. If you do too much, too quickly, you may find that your hunger is quickly out of control, you’re fatigued and sore, and you’re tired of fasting before you’ve even hit your stride.
A gradual approach will allow your body time to adapt. This may involve starting with shorter fasting periods and slowly working your way up. For workouts, you may want to do the same amount you’ve been doing — don’t feel like you have to push yourself any harder, especially if you’re feeling fatigued.
Mistake #4: Not staying hydrated
Water helps you sustain your energy levels, and aids your body in detoxing during your fast. Without it, you’ll likely feel tired and may confuse thirst with hunger. Be sure to drink the recommended amount of water each day: hydration is just as much a priority as the foods you eat during a fast. You’ll likely also need to use electrolyte drinks if recommended by your doctor or nutritionist.
Mistake #5: Attempting the wrong type of fast
People can fast in a variety of ways, and each one has its own distinct advantages. Intermittent fasting, like the 5:2 plan, involves calorie restriction for two days a week. Time-restricted fasting means you eat all your meals during a certain window of time, usually 8 hours or less, each day. Prolonged fasting, such as the ProLon fasting mimicking diet, involves fasting with specific plant-based foods that promote a fat-burning state in the body.
The type of plan you choose depends entirely on your individual needs. Talk with your doctor or nutritionist before beginning any fasting plan to be sure you’re choosing one that will be safe and effective for you. If you simply pick one out of the dark without getting expert advice, you lower your chances of success.
Have you been wondering if fasting could boost you health and weight-loss efforts? Garcia Weight Loss offers personalized weight-loss programs designed to help you look and feel your best. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on June 21, 2018