The practice of fasting, regardless of the type, yields excellent results and can aid a healthy lifestyle.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves a partial or total abstinence of foods for a certain period of time. This technique dates back to several centuries, and is considered to be a crucial part of different cultures and religions.
In most religions and cultures, fasting is associated with spirituality and the actual purpose goes beyond refraining from edible items.
It is an act of worship, self-sacrifice, and is considered to be a means to cleanse one’s soul. Muslims fast in the month of Ramadan, during which they abstain from eating and drinking, from dusk till dawn.
Apart from the spiritual facet linked with this practice, research has suggested that fasting accelerates weight loss, improves blood sugar control, decreases levels of inflammation, and elevates overall heart health.
“Hunger is a state of mind, not a state of stomach”
One thing is certain: despite the health benefits associated with fasting, it can be a nerve-wrecking task. Hopefully, this complete guide to fasting can make it smoother.
See, us humans are prone to random cravings, and the urge to munch on niblets increases exponentially when our brain is telling us to practice self-control.
However, when there’s a will, there’s a way, and here we present to you a complete guide to fasting to help you achieve your fasting goals.
Set a plan and stick to it
The first part in this complete guide to fasting is all about setting a routine based on realistic goals.
What’s important is creating a holistic plan, which is realistic and achievable. It is not advisable to set impractical aspirations. It is also not recommended to starve for longer durations to the point where it is unhealthy.
Consistency drives results, hence it is important to stick to the predetermined plan and set deadlines for yourself.
There are different methods of fasting employed by individuals, based on their overall routine and fitness goals.
The two main types of fasts include: calorie restriction and nutrient restriction, while other common fasting mechanisms are OMAD (one meal a day), alternate day fasting, the warrior diet and spontaneous meal skipping.
The most common practice of fasting is calorie restriction, which simply means abstaining from food for a certain period of time. This is also known as intermittent fasting, which involves defining fasting and eating windows based on one’s daily routine and preference.
The second type of fasting involves restricting a certain nutrient (it could be either proteins, carbohydrates, or fats), from the diet.
The other types of fasting techniques typically involve eating only one nutritional meal a day (OMAD), eating low-calorie foods during a certain time of the day, and then eating a calorie rich meal in the remaining time (the warrior diet), and so on.
Hence, the fasting technique can be altered based on your preferences and targets. However, it is necessary to consume the daily calorie requirement and include nutrient rich foods in your eating windows, in order to avoid fatigue and weakness.
Discovering your ideal fasting technique can be possible through trial and error, and once you figure out your mojo, stick to it in order to achieve your required results.
Once you have your fasting plan laid out, the next essential step in this complete guide to fasting is to create a daily schedule.
This includes necessary meal prep ideas to keep you motivated throughout your fasting journey. When the body is in the fasted state, one may experience a surge of cravings, especially for munching on junk food, which is mostly unhealthy.
Therefore, in order to ensure that your hard work is not going to waste, make an eating plan for yourself. Prepare meals in advance to ensure that you have cooked food readily available during your eating windows.
It will also help in restricting binge eating, and will make sure that you hit your daily calorie requirements.
Foods to eat before and after the fast
While you may fast for long hours, the key to achieving optimal benefits from your fasting journey is to consume the “right” kind of foods during your eating windows.
Now you may wonder, what are these “right” foods?
Essentially, your body will need more nutrients to survive the fasted state, which can be acquired from food items like vegetables, legumes, avocados and foods rich in healthy fats, eggs, fruits, and foods abundant in protein.
You’ve probably heard of the old adage that carbs are the root to all evils, and must be avoided at all costs. However, this is not completely true.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that 45 to 65 percent of your daily calorie intake should be carbohydrates.
Hence, this macronutrient should not be ignored in your diet. Opt for whole fiber-rich carbohydrates, instead of refined carbs which are actually unhealthy.
Examples of whole carb foods include:
- Whole grains
While breaking the fast, one should be mindful of the quantity of food consumed directly after coming out of the fasted state.
It is best to eat in small portions so as to not overwhelm your digestive system. Consuming foods containing high levels of fat and sugar, may cause bloating as it may be difficult for the body to digest.
Further, it is not advisable to consume a large amount of fruits post-fast as the fructose (sugar element in the fruits) may be hard to metabolize and break down by the digestive system.
Foods high in protein like whey protein shakes, Greek yogurt, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower should be avoided because of the same reason.
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Tips to achieve your goals through fasting
The last part in this complete guide to fasting are a bunch of tips to make your fasting journey all the more better.
- Lay out your goals and action plan for fasting. The days, timings, and your objectives for embarking on the journey of fasting should be laid out and locked in advance.
- Be in the right state of mind before starting your fasting journey. Remember, in order to successfully execute your fasts, it is important to be in the right mindset to successfully curb all cravings and practice self-control.
- Cut down on intense workout sessions during your fast. This is a no-brainer. Since your body is bereft of nutrients during the fasted state, you will not have the energy to be able to work out as hard as you normally do.
- Listen to your body. While fasting may be the ideal mechanism to lose weight for some people, it may not work out for you. Try to experiment with different techniques, and pay close attention to your bodily changes. If you feel that fasting impedes your daily activities and it isn’t manageable for you, don’t push it.
- Track your progress. It is important to set realistic goals and track your progress throughout the fasting period. This will help you understand how effective the entire process was for you, while also giving you the motivation to continue your fitness journey.
A Wrap Up To This Complete Guide To Fasting
So, there you have it. An entire guide on achieving the best results through fasting.
No matter what your fitness goal is, remember, your health comes first.
So, listen to your body, curate a fasting plan that aligns with your targets and lifestyle, and make the most out of this technique.
Lastly, be on the lookout for more fasting related content on our blog page to learn more. If this complete guide to fasting was helpful, do spread the information!