Many people often go through the process of intermittent fasting for many reasons. These include improving focus levels, building endurance or bettering their health by improving blood pressure, and reducing inflammation. That being said, one of the main reasons for undergoing intermittent fasting is to aid in weight management and weight loss. With many weight loss diets, the focus is on what you eat and how much food is consumed. But, with intermittent fasting, it’s not just about these factors, but also about when you eat – with this, food is consumed at certain periods of time.
Intermittent fasting can be a lifestyle change and one which poses great health benefits. However, if the sole purpose is to lose weight, it is important that you master your “eating window”, in order to see the desired results. This means, understanding when you should eat and what foods to consume when you break your fast. With this in mind, here are some factors people sometimes miss when embarking on intermittent fasting, that might be hindering progress, instead of helping shed the kilos.
Consuming too much food during the eating window. The fundamental theory of weight loss is the number of calories in versus the calories out. In other words, you would be doing yourself and your weight loss goals a disservice if you consumed the same amount of calories you would normally eat when not fasting, into the eating window, when fasting. Instead of overindulging, understand your body and the calories it needs to properly function, and base your meals on this. That way, your body remains nourished and is able to sustain itself, until your next eating window.
No portion control. There is a recurring theme with many of my patients, and it is that dreaded feeling of hunger and not feeling full. I have noticed, through my years working as a nutritionist, that portion control plays a huge role in weight loss success. This is why you have to pay attention to what you eat and how much, and understand when to stop. Whether or not you snack on celery sticks, carrots, and other fruits and vegetables or your vices are donuts, chocolates and a multitude of sweet and savoury treats, if not consumed in moderation, you can do your body more harm than good.
Balanced meals are key. Whilst intermittent fasting focuses on when to eat, that does not mean you should be loading up on sweet treats and greasy food, and still expect to lose weight. Opt for wholesome, nutrient-dense foods such as lean protein, healthy fats and foods with high fibre content, to help maintain a fully functioning body.
Dehydration. Drinking water frequently is essential, when not fasting. As reported in a study published on Nutrition Bulletin based on hydration and health, it is shown that even 1% dehydration (loss of fluid by 1% of your body weight) has a negative effect on psychological and physical functions, causing headaches, fatigue, and lack of concentration. Higher temperatures which we are all too familiar with in the region can also cause dehydration, so you want to give preference to more hydrating foods during your eating window, but as usual, in adequate portions.
Fail to plan and you plan to fail. Start by figuring out how you want to go through the process. Will you stick to time-restricted fasting, whole-day fasting, or even alternate-day fasting? Or a combination of all three? Find out what your body responds to best and then set realistic goals for yourself. Weight loss will not happen overnight, so you must be patient. Seek out a plan that is tailored to you, to ensure long-lasting success.
With all this said, weight loss still remains a complex phenomenon. And whilst intermittent fasting is a known tactic to aid in its success, it is still not a one-size-fits-all solution. I often advise patients, who are looking to go on a weight loss journey, to look at it through a 360-degree spectrum, using a holistic approach. This means, seeking out methods that combine science with the support of healthcare professionals. Most importantly, make sure you are not alone and that you have a trusted group to guide you along your weight loss journey.