5 Common Mistakes While Intermittent Fasting

5 Common Mistakes While Intermittent Fasting

Avoid these five intermittent fasting mistakes as this is where most people go wrong in their weight loss and muscle building journeys.

Intermittent fasting has sparked a lot of conversation with the popularity of the 16/8 diet.

And a cell biologist won a Nobel Prize in 2016 for his work with fasting at a cellular level. [1, 2]

His study proved that fasting for over 12 hours induces a process called autophagy which speeds up the body’s process to destroy damaged cells including cancerous ones.

As such, intermittent fasting has become a popular trend for fitness and body transformation.

In this article, we explain how to do this modern-day fast safely and some common intermittent fasting mistakes to avoid.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting in its most basic definition is cycling through periods of eating, and not eating.

There have been many studies in the area and fasting is proven to have a range of benefits. Yet participants complain of stomach pains, headaches, and low energy.

In the fitness and fat loss world, we are often told to eat small meals at regular intervals to ensure that our body metabolizes it efficiently.

Intermittent fasting flips that thinking on its head. It’s an eating pattern instead of a traditional diet that specifies the contents of what macronutrients you should be consuming.

Although not eating for 24 hours may seem like cause for concern for many, our ancestors did it when they couldn’t hunt or gather food for the tribe.

As such, our bodies are primed to deal with not consuming solid foods for lengthy periods. Intermittent fasting is more natural to our biology than eating 5 meals per day.

How Do They Work?

There are many different methods of intermittent fasting. Some examples include:

16:8 Fasting Method

The 16:8 method is where you chose any 8 hours during the day to eat, and 16 hours to fast. This is a good introduction to fasting, especially for those who struggle to eat breakfast as they’re rushing out the door.

5:2 Fasting Method

The 5:2 method is a calorie-restrictive diet 2 days per week and 5 days per week of regular eating. It is recommended one only eats 500-600 calories on the two restricted days.

24-Hour Fast

A 24-hour fast is not eating for 24 hours 1-2 times per week. One may do this by fasting from dinner to dinner or breakfast to breakfast.

Pros And Cons Of Intermittent Fasting

With any health or fitness trend, there is a time and place for everything. It’s not going to work for everyone. And that’s mainly because of the 5 most common intermittent fasting mistakes below.

Fasting isn’t for you if you are underweight, pregnant, breastfeeding, or under 18. You’ll need medical supervision if you have diabetes, take medications or have any serious illness.

As always, it’s best to check in with a general practitioner when making significant lifestyle changes.

For everyone else? Here are the pros and cons to help you decide if it’s going to work for you:

The Pros Of Intermittent Fasting

  • Speeds up fat loss;
  • Boosts your growth hormone for muscle building;
  • Increases your brain function;
  • It can help with disease prevention;
  • Boosts your energy.

The Cons Of Intermittent Fasting

  • It could interfere with your social engagements;
  • Can be dangerous in some individuals such as those with diabetes;
  • It can be a difficult habit to stick to;
  • Might lead to hormonal imbalances with women.

Knowing all we know, the good and the bad, how do we try intermittent fasting in the safest manner possible?

5 Intermittent Fasting Mistake To Avoid

Many of the negative symptoms people who have tried intermittent fasting can be attributed to some common intermittent fasting mistakes.

Consider these five areas as this is where most people go wrong in their intermittent fasting journey:

1. You’re Not Choosing The Right Foods To Eat

I hate to break it to junk food lovers but intermittent fasting is not an excuse to eat processed foods. It’ll make you feel bloated and tired.

It’s best to eat from all sources of the food pyramid such as whole grains, proteins, nuts, seeds, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Don’t eat a large meal when you break your fast. This is a mistake that most will make, and I get it.

After 16, 20, 24 hours, you’re hungry! If you can resist this temptation, you’ll feel great. If not, it’ll result in a nasty stomach ache.

And if you’re struggling with the hunger pangs, then eating foods higher in fiber and higher in fats will help.

A good source of healthy fats is avocado, nuts, fish, oils, and seeds.

Great sources of high fiber foods are beans, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Or in simple terms, eat the foods that will rot that come from the earth.

2. You’re Eating Too Much During The Window Hours

The window hours are the times in which you’re allowed to eat. For example, if you’re doing the 16:8 fast, it’s the 8 hours of eating time that you have.

Many use intermittent fasting as an excuse to eat whatever they want during those hours.

Unfortunately for junk food lovers, you’re not going to reap the benefits by binging on sugar and processed foods during those hours.

It’s also important to know that eating too many calories will be counter-intuitive to anybody’s transformation goals.

Ultimately, a large element of weight loss is calories in and calories out. Eating more calories than you’re burning will not support a weight loss goal.

Equally, for the bodybuilder, not eating the correct macronutrient break-down will not build muscle mass.

3. You’re Not Keeping Hydrated

The process of fasting is a detoxification method more than anything else. The Nobel Prize won for cellular biology research in fasting was due to the process of autophagy it induces.

Autophagy means self-eating, which is where healthy cells eat damaged cells. Yes, intermittent fasting makes you eat yourself. [3]

But in the best way possible, it’s proven to eat cancerous cells. The detoxification process is facilitated by our lymphatic system.

Our lymphatic system cannot work without water. Water will flush out your toxins to ensure that the damaged cells are leaving your body to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting.

We get 20-30% of our hydration from foods, so you’ll need to increase your regular levels of hydration while fasting.

It’s best to avoid foods and beverages which will dehydrate you throughout the day unless you’re willing to rehydrate yourself.

4. You’re Not Incorporating Exercise

Many people while fasting are too worried to move their bodies.

Will I faint or pass out?

How will I have the energy?

Those are intelligent and understandable questions to ask yourself. It’s important to understand that fasting may impact your ability to perform at a high level while exercising.

For most people, you will have enough energy to keep up your resistance or cardiovascular based training.

Due to the rise in your growth hormones during a fast, you want to ensure you maximize on this. You will build more muscle mass while fasting, ensure you do weight-based training to gain the benefits.

For cardio? Your liver will be breaking down your excess carbohydrates, then your fat cells to ensure you have enough energy.

Unless you have an extremely low body fat percentage, you will be provided with enough energy to train.

What time you exercise is best answered based on your training regime and personal abilities.

Intermittent fasting is a good opportunity to discover when your body works best.

For some, it’s on an empty stomach. These people like to refuel after their training.

Others may have a strict training and nutrition regime. For them, it’s best to exercise during the eating window to maximize the additional nutrients gained.

It’s up to you and your personal trainer or nutritionist to decide when the best time to exercise is. Just make sure you give priority to exercising.

Movement allows lymph to flow through your body and get rid of those damaged cells that intermittent fasting breaks down.

Fasting is not an excuse to stop moving. It will make you feel sluggish and de-energized if you do.

So grab some adjustable dumbbells and do a few sets, then jump on the treadmill and sweat it out for a few minutes. Start slow and increase weight and exercise time gradually.

5. You’re Too Focused On The When

Many become so focused on when. They begin to create an adverse effect on their body through stress hormone production.

The beauty in intermittent fasting is that it teaches you to understand true hunger.

Many people misconstrue thirst or a need for more nutrients as hunger. Fasting teaches you to listen to your body.

Becoming meticulous with timings rather than being able to listen to your body, especially around training, will create unnecessary stress in your body.

Whether you’re trying to build muscle mass or lose fat, avoid these five intermittent fasting mistakes if this is the road you’re taking.

Starving yourself for hours on end may seem counterintuitive to health, yet experts and many anecdotal experiences swear by it’s mental, physical, and even spiritual benefits.

Though it may seem good, intermittent fasting might not be for everyone. As usual, you should always check in with a general practitioner for advice.

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