When doing intermittent fasting, there’s a lot of downtime, which could make it difficult to avoid breaking a fast early. Depending on which intermittent fasting style you choose, this time spent fasting will vary.
Types Of Fasting
There are fasts that can range from 16 hours to multiple days, depending on which method you choose to follow. Here are a few different fasting options:
• 16/8: This refers to fasting every day for 14-16 hours and, then, restricting your daily eating window to eight up to10 hours. This method allows for two or three meals a day.
• 5:2: This involves eating normally for five days and, then, restricting calorie intake to 500-600 calories for the last two days.
• Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, one or two times a week. This method offers some flexibility because there are days committed to fasting, as well as days meant for normal eating.
• Alternate-Day Fasting: This is a method wherein fasting occurs every other day.
For beginners, the 16/8 method is a popular one because it offers a smaller fasting window. A smaller fasting window means less time to try and fill with activities that don’t involve eating. However, others benefit from having a few days of normal eating between 24-hour fasts. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference.
Stages Of Intermittent Fasting
In order to decide which form of fasting is going to be most beneficial to you, having an idea of what to expect during the process is key. There are six key stages of intermittent fasting. These are:
1. Ketosis: This happens around 12 hours of fasting. Ketosis refers to a metabolic state wherein the body begins breaking down and burning fat.
2. Fat-Burning Mode: This occurs around 18 hours, and it’s when generating of ketones begins. A rise in the level of ketones sends a signal to the body, telling it to increase stress-busting pathways, which reduces inflammation and repairs DNA damage.
3. Autophagy: This happens at 24 hours, and is a process of cells recycling themselves. This removes damaged cellular components.
4. Growth Hormone Level Increase: This phenomenon occurs at 48 hours due to a lack of calories, carbs, or protein.
5. Insulin Sensitivity: The body becomes insulin-sensitive at 54 hours. These lowered insulin levels aid in activating autophagy and reducing inflammation.
6. Cell Breakdown And Formation: By 72 hours, old immune cells are broken down and new ones are generated in their place.
All of these steps are important in successful weight loss and acquiring health benefits while intermittent fasting
Ways To Manage Your Time During Intermittent Fasting
Here are some tips for managing your time during a fast to ensure results are reached:
1. Drink Allowable Fluids
Drinking water during a fast can serve multiple purposes. It won’t only keep you hydrated, which has benefits of its own, but it will also help curb hunger and make you feel full. Beyond that, drinking water can also provide energy that will be lacking when first beginning fasting.
While water should certainly be a staple during a fast, there are a few other drinks that can be consumed when the craving for something more hits. Coffee is allowed during a fast, but it must be black, as any sugar or milk will break the fast. Coffee can help curb hunger as water does, but, more importantly, it gives more energy that can be utilized for workouts or to simply make it through the day without feeling exhausted.
Zero-calorie tea is a great alternative as well, but, again, there can be no added sugar or milk as that will break your fast and, therefore, hinder the results of fasting.
2. Stay Busy
It’s also important to stay busy during fasting periods. Keeping your mind busy can help deter those hunger pains and propel you toward your eating window. You can keep your mind busy by reading a book, getting outside, socializing with friends, or doing some form of light exercise, like yoga.
3. Plan Your Meals
When it comes time to the eating window at the end of the fast, choosing what to do with that window is very important to overall success. First and foremost, you can’t eat everything in sight once that window opens. There has to be some control going into an eating window.
A great way to ensure this is exactly what happens is to plan your meal ahead of time. Not only does this mean you’ll have a delicious and healthy meal planned and ready to go, meal planning can be another great way to keep your mind busy during a fast.
Foods To Eat During Fasting Breaks
What kind of foods should you reach for when the fasting ends? These may include the following:
• Lean protein sources, like chicken breasts, plain Greek yogurt, beans, fish, tofu, etc.
• Vegetables, such as kale, spinach, collard greens, and arugula
• Fruits, including apples, blueberries, cherries, peaches, and oranges
Overall, high-fiber foods, like fruits and beans, or high-protein foods, like chicken, should be consumed above all else during your eating window because these will help keep you full longer, making fasts that much easier. These kinds of foods can keep you full longer because the body digests them slower than other foods, like those that are processed.
Some other foods to avoid eating during an eating window include:
• High-sugar fruit juices
• Sugary cereals
• Processed foods, like chips
• Microwave popcorn
Really, anything that’s high in sugar or processed isn’t recommended to be eaten during an eating window because they can make you hungry later as sugar is metabolized quickly in the body.
Managing time while beginning intermittent fasting can be a challenge. However, over time, if you keep a schedule, drink a lot of water, and plan meals to break your fast in a healthy manner, the process will become a lot easier after a few weeks to a month. As with anything, practice improves any skillset, and that includes managing your fasting effectively.