15 Tips to help you succeed on your fast
Stop researching and get started. Skip breakfast tomorrow and lunch too if you feel like it. Don’t obsess about the optimal number of hours to fast or waste time stocking up on bone broth and apple cider vinegar. Start fasting now, and fill in the details as you go.
Remember: it’s the length of your fasting window, not your eating window, that counts. There are going to be moments when find yourself with 20 minutes before the end of your planned eating window and nothing whatsoever to eat. Don’t scarf down whatever is nearby so you can start the fasting clock on the nose. Just eat calmly, and add an hour to your fast tomorrow if you want to.
Don’t keep foods in the house that you might binge on. This is a cardinal rule for any healthy eating plan, and intermittent fasting is no different. Fasting results in smaller appetites for many people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t override your hunger cues to seriously overeat a favorite snack—and even give yourself “permission” to do so because you fasted all day. Leave trigger foods out of sight and mind.
Don’t stuff yourself at your last meal thinking it will make fasting easier tomorrow. It won’t. You might even feel hungrier the next day. You can’t prevent future hunger by eating more than you need. Just eat to satisfaction.
Drink water, sparkling water, tea or coffee. Drinking non-caloric beverages can help you feel full by stretching the stomach, which sends satiety signals to the brain. Making a pot of herbal tea can feel like a treat, and be a self-care practice while you’re fasting. Coffee is, well, magic.
Be willing to wait through hunger peaks. Depending on the length of your fast, you make experience hunger one or more times. Remember that hunger sensations do not get more intense with time—rather they peak, and then subside.
Keep busy. This is especially helpful in riding out hunger peaks! Fasting augments your free time. Use it to tackle an old to-do list, finish a work project, go to a movie, visit with friends, etc. Just don’t sit around idle waiting for your fast to end.
If you break your fast, go ahead and eat to satisfaction. Don’t try to “keep it light” because you feel like you should be fasting. Realize that some days your body needs different things, and commit fully to the eating window. You will have the opportunity to fast again tomorrow!
Get comfortable with exercising while fasting. Or at least try it. If you don’t feel great, just go easy for a while and let your body acclimate. Remember that humans evolved to exercise in a fasted state: for millennia, whenever we got hungry, we’d run after an animal to catch for dinner. There were no pre-hunt “energy bars”. The body used its fat stores for energy. And you can too!
Focus on protein, fat, and fiber-rich foods when you eat. After a day of fasting you’ll look forward to healthy, nutritious meals. Choose foods that satisfy you and make you feel great. Avoid foods that make you feel sluggish, heavy or bloated. Skip the junk food.
Avoid alcohol. For most people, alcohol just makes fasting harder. It zaps energy. It dehydrates. It prevents fat loss. It disturbs metabolism. If nothing else, it’s a wild card for how you’ll feel the next day. Rarely worth it.
Don’t over complicate your fast with lots of supplements or broth regimens. One of the greatest benefits of fasting is that it’s simple. Keep it that way. If you are doing multi-day fasts, you may find some benefit in taking an electrolyte supplement—otherwise, there’s likely no need for supplementation.
Build a support system. Finding a friend or family member to fast with you is great if you can swing it—that way you’ll have someone with whom to share your challenges and successes. If you can get a fasted group together, all the better (there are many online if you want to join an existing group). Certainly tell loved ones about your fasting plans, and ask for their support to help you stay on track.
Go easy on the carbs and get most of them from non-starchy vegetables. Sugary and starchy foods can wreak havoc on your metabolism (read: hunger and satiety signals). If you eat sweets, try to eat them along with a meal so you don’t experience wild swings in blood sugar and insulin levels.
Give it a try for a few weeks. A lot of people like fasting as soon as they begin, but sometimes it can take a while to get into a groove. If you don’t love fasting from the start, just give it a few weeks.