Appendix B: Intermittent fasting tips & tricks
Here’s a quick overview of some of the key concepts of IF and what to keep in mind if you want to try it.
1. First, decide if it’s right for you.
Although there are some neat benefits, IF is not for everyone. Your exercise and nutritional experience, and your lifestyle, should determine whether you try IF. If you’re new to exercise and nutrition, I strongly recommend you learn the essentials first.
2. Start slowly. Start simply. Start small. Start gradually.
If you decide you’d like to try IF, there’s no rush. Pick one small thing to try, even if that’s just adjusting regular mealtimes by an hour. Try it. See how it goes.
3. Focus on what IF approaches have in common, rather than getting bogged down in the details.
Sometimes you eat. Sometimes you don’t. That pretty much sums it up.
4. Stay flexible.
5. Know thyself. Observe your own experiences carefully.
Be a scientist. Get started, gather data, gain insight, and draw conclusions that you use to guide future action. Do what’s right for you.
6. Give it time.
There is no rush. Especially since it usually takes a few weeks just to adapt to your new program.
7. Expect ups and downs.
They happen, it’s part of life, and it’s part of the process. By staying open-minded and not panicking during the “downs” you’ll figure out how to have more “ups.”
8. Think about what you truly want from IF. Focus on the quality of the process, not the outcome.
IF is a great way to:
- go deeper into the psychological and physical experience of true hunger;
- learn the difference between “head hunger” and “body hunger;”
- learn not to fear hunger;
- improve insulin sensitivity and re-calibrate your body’s use of stored fuel;
- respect the process and privilege of eating;
- learn more about your own body;
- lose fat, if you are careful about it; and,
- take a break from the work of food prep and the obligation to eat.
IF is not healthy if:
- you’re using the pretext of “health” as a way to have an eating disorder and/or rigidly control your food intake (which is really the same thing);
- you fast too often, too long;
- you’re also overexercising or not getting enough sleep (i.e., under too much additional physiological stress);
- you’re using a lot of supplements, legal or otherwise, to kill your appetite so you can make it through your fasts;
- you’re food-obsessed and/or binge during your non-fasting periods; and,
- you use IF as a way to “compensate” for poor food choices or over-eating.
9. What you DO eat is as important as what you DON’T.
Get the nutritional basics down first. Eat good quality food, in the right amounts, at the right times. For most people, this is enough to get into great shape. No IF required.
For more on this, see our 5-Day Fat Loss course, in the resources section.
10. Respect your body cues.
Pay attention to what your body tells you.
- drastic changes in appetite, hunger, and satiety – including food cravings;
- sleep quality;
- energy levels and athletic performance;
- mood and mental/emotional health;
- blood profile;
- hormonal health; and,
- how you look.
11. Exercise, but don’t overdo it.
We strongly recommend you combine exercise with IF to get the most out of it. Just don’t overdo it. See #12.
12. Consider what else is going on in your life.
- how much exercise/training you do, and how intensely;
- how well you rest and recover;
- how well IF is fitting into your regular routine and normal social activities; and,
- what other demands and stress life offers you.
Remember: IF is one of many nutrition styles that work. But it only “works” when it’s intermittent, flexible, and part of your normal routine – not an obligation, and not a chronic source of physical and psychological stress.