Best Time To Eat Intermittent Fasting
As stressed out in the previous points, your daily routine will determine the best time to eat when intermittent fasting.
For the following reasons, in my opinion, the evening is the best time to eat when intermittent fasting:
- There is time to prepare quality food
- You can dine with your family
- You could exercise in a fasted state
- Now your body wants to rest and grow
- And you can finish off the day relaxed
Improved mental focus is one of the main practical benefits of intermittent fasting. With the largest meal of the day, focus fades away, and the body relaxes. Therefore it only makes sense not to have planned any mental or physical exertion afterward.
When I want to exploit the mental clarity of fasting to get things done, I often extend the fasting period.
As a result, I am on one meal a day schedule. So I get more things done while only cooking once and finishing earlier.
Since a single meal per day is larger, the evening or late afternoon is the best time to eat during intermittent fasting when leveraging its flexibility.
One Calorie If You Live In A Dictionary
As you have just seen, any calorie ingested goes against the technical definition of fasting. But an all-or-nothing approach is rarely sustainable in the long term. You can still get a myriad of benefits without necessarily going for a strict water-only fast.
Now, if you are currently practicing water-only intermittent fasting and its easy and sustainable for you in the long term, then there is no reason to change that. But for the vast majority of people, including myself, flexibility is helpful to create a long-term lifestyle change.
What Is The Best Way To Break A Fast And Begin Eating Again
Dont take the end of your fast as an excuse to go wild with unhealthy foods thatll undermine the potential success of the diet. The principles of healthful eating and breaking a fast are the same whether or not its a normal overnight fast or time-restricted eating, Lowden says. Focus on breaking your fast with a healthy, balanced meal filled with lean proteins, healthy carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Pay particular attention to protein, especially if you have diabetes. In order to maintain normal sugar levels and avoid worsening insulin resistance, we always recommend eating a form of protein with every meal, particularly when youre breaking a fast, Lowden says. Protein doesnt break down into glucose as efficiently as carbs, so it has a slower, less immediate effect on blood sugar levels, according to Diabetes.co.uk.
Gottfried says having a healthy source of carbs when breaking your fast will help restore depleted glycogen levels. She recommends a Mediterranean-style meal with 40 percent carbohydrates, 30 percent protein, and 30 percent fat.
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How Long And How Often Should I Fast For
Great question! How long and how often you should fast for on a regular basis depends on your health goals and current health status. For example, if you are overweight or have a high BMI, you might be able to fast more often that someone who is already lean. However, you still need to ensure that your daily eating window gives you enough time to consume a healthy variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and plant oils, whole grains and protein.
Its best to begin your intermittent fasting journey by progressively working up from overnight fasting . And yes, sleeping counts as fasting! If you are looking for significant weight loss, you might consider working up to 18-20 hours of daily fasting , alternate day fasting or a 5:2 schedule . Learn more about fasting for weight loss and other benefits here.
Some General Safety Tips
- Drink water when you are thirsty.
- Adjust your caloric intake during your feeding windows so that you consume enough calories to meet your energy needs according to your weight goals.
- If you feel faint, dizzy or nauseous, we recommend breaking your fast early and speaking with your primary care physician. You may have symptoms of low blood sugar or another issue.
- Talk to your physician before upping your fasting window beyond 18 hours per day.
- Break your fast with low glycemic index foods, such as lean protein and healthy fats like avocados
- Never do fasts longer than 2 days by yourself. Always tell someone, a family member or friend and keep them updated on how you are feeling as you progress.
- During fasts longer than 2 days, watch for signs of electrolyte imbalance: muscle spasms, weakness, blood pressure changes, irregular heartbeat, numbness and confusion.
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What Are The Possible Side Effects
There can be a number of possible side effects of intermittent fasting.40 Heres what to do if you encounter them:
- Hunger is the most common side effect of intermittent fasting. This may be less of an issue if youre already on a keto or low-carb, higher-fat diet.41Learn more
- Constipation is common. Less going in means less going out. However, keep in mind this is a normal response to eating less. It is not a concern and shouldnt require treatment unless you experience significant bloating or abdominal discomfort. Standard laxatives or magnesium supplements can be used, if needed.
- Headaches are common and tend to disappear after the first few times on fasts.42 Taking some extra salt often helps mitigate such headaches.43
- Mineral water may help if your stomach tends to gurgle.
- Other possible side effects include dizziness, heartburn and muscle cramps. Learn more
A more serious side effect is the refeeding syndrome. Fortunately, this is rare and generally only happens with extended fasts when one is undernourished.44
Since most of these side effects are manageable, they do not mean you have to stop your fast. However, if you truly feel unwell, are excessively dizzy, profoundly weak or have other severe symptoms, then you should break your fast.
Just remember to go slowly when you break it and prioritize fluids and salt . And of course, if the symptoms persist, see your doctor immediately.
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So What Should You Do
As you can see by now, there is no single answer to how many calories break a fast. Looking at calories is just a part of the equation. The type of food and its impact on your hormonal and biological processes is what ultimately negate or support the fasting benefits you are looking for.
Depending on your main goal, you can allow more or less flexibility during your fast.
Lets start with this goal. Well, whenever we eat something, it will trigger digestion and enzymatic reactions. If your goal is true gut rest, it doesnt allow much flexibility, unfortunately.
Drinking coffee for example will stimulate gastrin release and trigger some digestive functions. What about tea? The research is not conclusive and it mainly depends on the type of tea and your personal biological response to it.
Ideally, this means water-only fast is best for this purpose.
Weight loss, fat loss, metabolic health
That is when we can become a bit more flexible. Stay away from sugar at all costs. But coffee, tea, a minimal amount of cream, or even bone broth could be great options to support you during your fast.
Dr. Jason Fung is one of the biggest proponents of drinking bone broth during a fast. Because it can reduce hunger, replenish your electrolytes, and is full of vitamins. In short, it can help you sustain your fast longer.
If that is your goal, being a bit more flexible wont negate the main benefits you are looking for.
Longevity and anti-aging benefits
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How Can I Fast If I Work The Night Shift
We recommend fasting through your shift and having your meals at home. Eat at home before you go to your night shift. While you work, use bone broth or coffee while you adjust. When you get off in the morning, have your breakfast at home and go to sleep. This way you get in 12 hours of fasting and avoid eating during the night when digestion is slowest. Another alternative is going to sleep immediately after you get home. When you wake up, have your first meal and eat again before your night shift.
Does Stevia Break A Fast
No. Stevia is a natural zero-calorie sweetener and is a much better choice for making your fasting life easier as compared to artificial sweeteners that might spike your blood sugar. You should be aware, though, that stevia might trigger hunger for some people something you want to avoid during the fasting window.
More on stevia and intermittent fasting: Does Stevia Break A Fast?
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What If Fasting Slows My Metabolism Will I Gain More Fat If I Stop Fasting
Intermittent fasting does not slow your metabolism, counter to popular belief. In other words, intermittent fasting does not significantly impact your resting metabolic rate it does not decrease the amount of energy your body burns at rest. In fact, fasting may increase the amount of fat you burn over time. See this related study on alternate day fasting and metabolic rate.
Resting energy expenditure has also been found to be better preserved with intermittent fasting than with other forms of weight loss learn more here. But if you are concerned, another way to increase your resting energy expenditure is to engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity! Examples of this include walking briskly for 1-2 miles or riding a bike in hilly terrain . Also eat plenty of fiber-containing plant foods including fruits, veggies and nuts during your re-feeding windows!
Its also important to practice intermittent fasting not as a fad diet that you might rebound from in terms of weight loss and regain, but as a long-term healthy lifestyle. For example, you could practice 10-16 hours of overnight fasting for the rest of your life with metabolic health benefits even in the absence of weight loss, while occasionally practicing longer or more frequent fasts if you are trying to lose weight.
Mistake #: Youre Overanalyzing
“Does IF mean no food outside meal times, or no calories?”
Um, they are one in the same, no? Does anyone reading this article know of foods that have zero calories? If so, please share! This persons assumption is correct, thoughno food and no calories outside of the feeding window.
Will eating ______ break my fast?
Does anyone else feel like this question comes up about a thousand times a day? Short answer: Yes. Eating anything with calories breaks your fast. Exceptions to this rule would be black coffee, unsweetened and milk-free tea, water, and diet soda
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What Are The Proposed Health Benefits Of Fasting Diets
As mentioned, the research on intermittent fasting is limited, but mice studies and small studies in humans suggest the approach may in fact be effective.
For example, in one of Varadys studies, published in June 2018 in Nutrition and Healthy Aging, 23 human participants completed 12 weeks of eight-hour time-restricted eating, and researchers compared their weight loss results to a control group from a separate trial.
Varady and her team observed that the time-restricted group lowered their body weight by 3 percent more on average compared with the control group, and they significantly lowered their systolic blood pressure. But the sample size was small, and the dropout rate among the fasting group was high, at 26 percent, for even a short-term trial, though no one in this group reported dropping out due to issues with the diet, researchers wrote.
But what about alternate-day fasting? While Varady hasnt conducted studies directly comparing alternate-day fasting to time-restricted eating, another one of her studies, published in July 2017 in JAMA Internal Medicine, showed that alternate-day fasting was difficult to stick with and didnt result in better weight loss or heart benefits than a calorie-restricted diet. For the study, she and her team randomized 100 participants to follow one of the two diets or a control group, where their diets remained the same, for one year.
Eating The Wrong Foods In Your Fasting Window
The Intermittent Fasting mistake of eating the wrong foods runs hand in hand with overeating. If you have a fasting window of 6 hours and fill it with refined, fatty, or sugary foods, you are not going to feel well at all.
Eat nutritious whole foods as described in my post, Eating Clean for Beginners. Lean proteins, healthy fats, nuts, legumes, unrefined grains, and wholesome veggies and fruits become the mainstay of your diet. As well, in between fasting, follow these clean eating tips:
- Cook and eat at home as opposed to in a restaurant
- Read nutrition labels and become familiar with forbidden ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and modified palm oil
- Watch your sodium intake and beware of hidden sugars
- Avoid processed foods and cook whole foods instead
- Balance your plate with fiber, healthy carbs and fats, and lean proteins
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Not Exercising When Intermittent Fasting
Some people think they cant exercise when in a period of IF, when in fact, its the ideal scenario. Exercise helps you use up stored fat. Additionally, the Human Growth Hormone is increased as you work out, helping you to build muscle. However, there are tips to follow to maximize your workouts.
To get the best results from your efforts, keep these points in mind:
- Time your workouts for during the eating periods and then eat healthy carbs and proteins within 30 minutes of the exercise
- If the type of exercise is intense, make sure you eat before so that your glycogen stores are available
- Base your exercise on the fasting method if you are doing a 24 hour fast, do not plan an intensive activity that day
- Stay hydrated during the fast and especially during the workout
- Listen to your bodys signals if you feel weak or light-headed, take a break or conclude the workout
Be Mindful Not To Overeat
It can be easy to overeat between fasting periods.
Although fasting doesnt emphasize what you eat as much as when you eat, its not designed to be an excuse to eat unhealthy foods.
Overeating and eating junk food between fasting periods can cancel out the health benefits of fasting. Instead, choose minimally processed, whole foods as much as possible for the most overall health benefits.
When youre ready to break your fast, start with foods and drinks that will be gentle on your digestive system. Avoid foods that are especially high in sugar, fat, and fiber. Additionally, take care not to overeat.
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I Didnt Sleep Very Well
Im not sure if this was one of the results of intermittent fasting, but I noticed that I didnt sleep very well during my experiment. After a few days, I woke up multiple times during the night feeling super thirsty and had to get up to drink water before I could fall asleep again. I tried to adjust the types of food I was eating to fix it. Other bloggers who have tried the diet reported similar problems, but I couldnt find concrete research linking the issue with fasting besides my fellow IFers accounts. I normally dont have a problem sleeping, so this was definitely a negative side effect.
How Supplements Affect Fasting
Becoming deficient in nutrients while fasting is unlikely, but it depends on how restrictive your fast is and how long it lasts.
Some people choose to take supplements while fasting to ensure adequate vitamin and mineral intake. Fasting too frequently could lead to nutrient deficiencies if your diet is already low in vitamins and minerals .
If you supplement while fasting, its important to know which supplements could break your fast. This will help you decide if you should take them with a meal or during your fasting period.
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How Does Intermittent Fasting Work
Basically, intermittent fasting is a healthy way of managing your eating habits. It is a type of dietary management where you consume a small amount of food every day, usually between 12 and 16 hours apart from each other. Intermittent fasting can either be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your particular circumstances.
Some people who are underweight or under-fit may find that it helps to drop a few pounds per month as they fast. Since the body needs fuel to function, some people find that intermittent fasting is a great way to get food to spare. While it would be wise to be careful with the amount of food one is taking in, this is not the case for intermittent fasting.
Talk To Your Primary Care Doctor
He or she can determine if this eating style would be beneficial for your body. If you have questions about what is right for you, it’s important to talk to healthcare professionals, Lowden says. Everybody is an individual, and your specific doctor might have preferences about what you do and don’t do based on your specific circumstances.
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Mistake #: Youre Pushing Yourself Too Hard
Ive been doing IF almost 2 months, mostly OMAD, sometimes 48/72 hours extended fasts. The last 3 or 4 days whenever I break my fast I feel a great regret. I always feel like I could push the fast a little longer. What should I do?
Extending a fast doesnt supercharge the powers of IF. If this sounds familiar to you, please find yourself a counselor who specializes in eating disorders. Im not saying you, or this person here, has an eating disorder, but food should not induce feelings of remorse or regret. Left untreated, this could develop into a larger problem. And also, huge kudos to this person for so bravely speaking up and sharing their food feelings!