In recent years, intermittent fasting has become more popular. Many people have successfully lost weight or improved their health through fasting.
Unlike other diets, intermittent fasting mainly focuses on eating time rather than the food you eat.
Many studies have also confirmed the health benefits of fasting. Fasting helps reduce inflammation, control blood sugar, reduce the risk of various chronic diseases and delays aging.
However, because intermittent fasting is not suitable for everyone, some details need your attention during fasting.
In this article, we are going to talk about some tips for doing intermittent fasting safely.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?
For most healthy adults, as long as you are not dehydrated, skipping meals for a day or two will not cause great harm to the body. However, long-term fasting is probably not a good idea.
Your body needs vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from food to maintain normal physiological functions. If you don’t get enough nutrition, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, constipation, dehydration and intolerance of low temperature. Fasting for too long may also be life-threatening.
Although short-term fasting is safe, people with the following conditions should not try it, or only try it under the guidance of a doctor.
- Suffering from heart disease, diabetes or other chronic diseases
- Suffering from metabolic syndrome
- Planning for pregnancy
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
- Eating disorder
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Elderly people
6 Tips To Help You Fast Safely
Here are 6 tips to help you fast safely.
1. Start with short-term fasting
There are many ways to perform intermittent fasting. You can choose the time period that best suits your schedule.
Some of the common fasting methods include:
- 5:2 method: This method requires limiting calorie intake for two days a week (500 calories per day for women and 600 calories per day for men) and then eating a normal diet for the other five days.
- 16:8 method: Using this method, you need to limit the time of your eating to within an 8-hour window. During the remaining 16 hours, you can only drink water or other non-calorie beverages, such as green tea and black coffee.
- Eat-stop-eat method: This method involves fasting every other day. In other words, eat normally one day and fast for one day, in a cycle.
The above-mentioned methods are for short-term fasting, that is, generally fasting for no more than 24 hours.
However, some people choose to extend their fasting time to 48 hours or even 72 hours. You can find more fasting methods from What Is The Best Intermittent Fasting Diet Plan For Weight Loss.
For those who are new to intermittent fasting, it is necessary to start using a short period of time, to let your body adapt to this diet. Then you can gradually extend the fasting window.
When your body is fully adapted, you will find it easier to stick to this diet. You can adjust the fasting window according to your schedule. You don’t have to follow a certain fasting method deliberately.
2. Drink plenty of water
It is important to hydrate during fasting. Dehydration can cause certain side effects such as headache, fatigue, constipation, etc. [*]
In a normal diet, 20-30% of the water your body needs can be obtained from food. Therefore, dry fasting can easily lead to dehydration.
Make sure to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day. This not only replenishes water to your body but also helps you overcome hunger, making fasting easier.
3. Avoid overeating after fasting
Hunger is one of the biggest obstacles for those who just started intermittent fasting. Many people tend to have a large meal when they resume their diet.
Generally speaking, intermittent fasting does not limit calorie intake and does not deliberately restrict certain foods. However, if you want to lose weight faster, it is best to consider the total calories you consume.
When you follow a high-sugar and high-carbohydrate diet, your blood sugar and insulin levels will still fluctuate drastically. The result is that you will not be able to control your hunger, making the next fasting period even harder.
The safe way is to eat some high-protein, high-fiber foods in the first meal after fasting. These foods are low in calories, rich in nutrients, can increase satiety and can make you feel more energetic.
4. Stop fasting if you feel unwell
In the early stages of fasting, your body needs time to adjust. During this time you may experience hunger, fatigue, constipation and other reactions. Don’t worry, these are normal.
You are used to eating three meals a day so when you skip a meal or two, your brain will issue a warning and your body will respond accordingly.
Try to gradually expand the fasting window and make sure to drink plenty of water during this period. When your body’s biological clock is adjusted, most adverse reactions will disappear.
However, if the symptoms persist or worsen, or you experience severe dizziness or other low blood sugar symptoms, you need to quit fasting and start eating immediately.
5. Eat enough protein
One of the reasons why intermittent fasting can help with weight loss is the corresponding reduction in total calorie intake. Like other dieting methods, fasting also has a problem, that is, muscle loss may occur.
The best way to prevent muscle loss is to consume enough protein. [*]
If you have the habit of exercising, drinking protein powder shakes before and after a workout can help you increase energy, burn fat and build muscle.
In addition, eating enough protein can increase your fullness, reduce appetite, and help extend the fasting time, thereby improving the efficiency of weight loss.
6. Avoid strenuous exercise
Some studies have shown that exercise during fasting may affect muscle biochemistry and metabolism, which is related to insulin sensitivity and the stability of blood sugar levels.
During fasting, the glycogen reserves in your body are likely to be depleted. This is a good thing because you will burn more fat.
However, at the same time, there can be a problem. When exercising on an empty stomach, your body may begin to break down muscles to use protein as fuel.
In addition, strenuous exercise during fasting can make you feel more tired and weak and may decrease your athletic performance. Continuous heavy exercise will also make your body consume more calories and energy, which may eventually slow down your metabolism.
You can still participate in appropriate exercises, but preferably some low-intensity aerobic exercise, such as stretching, yoga, walking or general housework.
The most important thing is to listen to your body, rest and regain strength in time.
Intermittent fasting has obvious effects on weight loss and health improvement. For most healthy adults, short-term fasting is safe.
In order to maximize health, the safest way is to start with short-term fasting and proceed gradually. Meanwhile, drink plenty of water, avoid strenuous exercise and follow a healthy low-carb diet.
The most important thing is to pay attention to your body’s feelings and make adjustments at any time. If you have any health issues, please consult your doctor before starting the intermittent fast plan.